A personal message to friends and colleagues

by David Gilbert

April 2, 2018

I decided to send this note to everyone at Sussex MSK Partnership (central) where I work. A tiny contribution to challenging stigma.


Dear friends and colleagues

This is to let you know that I am going through a bad bout of anxiety and depression.

It may be due to withdrawal effects as I tried to come off my meds. It is proving another very hard time.

I want at least to break the stigma by saying this because I know a lot of others at work who sometimes go through similar problems.

And I don't think in our society we talk about it enough or support each other adequately - there is still a taboo and people do not know how to talk about it. We call it stress at best. And it is still regarded as a weakness - more so than physical health problems. I worry a lot about perceptions people have of my capability when I also know I am damn good at my job and have lots of talents. As everyone with mental health issues does too - sometimes I think we are just more sensitive to life. We have gifts - but also burdens.

I have managed to write about it a bit here https://futurepatientblog.com/2018/03/26/abg-three-ways-i-try-to-cope/ and have managed to carry on working a bit every day. But it's not easy

At the moment, I will need to work from home and do as much as I can. I have several reports to write and will do my utmost to hit the correct deadlines.

You are welcome to try and call me or email me. It is good to feel connected. But I may be slow in response.

It's often hard to know what to say to someone in emotional distress. But I won't take offence to things if it's an awkward conversation. I don't want to be treated with kid gloves. Or be patronised! 🙂 Just with a bit of care and consideration. As you would.

And please feel free to share this with others.

Mental health problems are horrible. Let's talk about them if we need to and look after ourselves and each other.

I hope this message finds you well. Let's be gentle and kind to ourselves and others.

Best wishes


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10 comments on “A personal message to friends and colleagues”

  1. Dear David,
    All the way from Canada, I applaud your courage and openness. You give us permission to feel what we're feeling with no apology! Feel well soon! You and your work, make an enormous difference.

  2. David -

    I am so sad to hear this.

    I thank you for your honesty, integrity and courage but mostly for your humanity. You are an awesome role model for the many people living and working with serious mental health issues.

    Also, your leadership in ‘patient leadership’ has made a huge impact on me and my work in Western Canada. I am wishing hard for many better days ahead for you. Will hold you in my heart.

  3. David, Thank you for speaking honestly about how things are for you and I hope plenty of people reach out in support. Also, that it encourages people to find the courage to be honest when they need help. You are strong and talented and admired by many. I hope soon you will believe this again, once this particularly dark time has passed. PS Have just read Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Would be interested in your perspective on it sometime if you get chance to read it. Take good care.

  4. David a typically brave piece of authentic leadership from you. Hope we can still meet next week but will understand if not.

  5. Thank you so much for your candid post, I lately have been feeling very down with the frustrations at work ie not being able to help people. Even deep down I know it is out of my control but none the less I am feeling I am letting people down. I show my emotions too freely too which worries me and maybe not professional and then I worry for days after if I have upset anyone or done the wrong thing. My logical self would say "It is because you care" and I do and strive to help and please people but the evil twin tells me I need to 'get with the programme and man up'' so seeing your post from someone I respect and admire has given me given me hope. I have many foubles and do wrong but reading this you have made me feel I am maybe not so bad after all. I think to feel these emotions makes you more in a position of doing a good job and helping other people as when we are back strong we can truly emphathise what people may be going through and it shows. By the way I am no likening my self to what you are going through, I feel down but sure not to your extent as my intelligent, amazing brother goes through the similar as you are and it is hard to see and not explained but please take faith in your lower times you are giving hope and inspiring others. I hope I have not said anything out of order and please take this in grateful meaning intent - your deed for the day you have eased worry of the weekend for me and maybe I am not so bad. Take care, give yourself the time you deserve as it will pay great dividends for all in the end that I am sure! Thank you. Be kind to you and indulge in what makes you happy. With upmost respect and thanks. Katie x

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