Against all odds, I'm still alive.

In 2005, when I began to realise that Kathy McCabe was mistreating me, I increased my alcohol intake to help dull the psychological pain, and to stop the intrusive thoughts that prevented me from sleeping at night.

In case you only intend to read a small part of this post, let me tell you that that was not the correct response to bullying. So if you are being bullied at work, I do not advise you to drown your feelings in alcohol. The correct response is probably to see your own doctor. If your employer has an Occupational Health doctor, then you might want to visit them, however you should be aware that they may not be completely independent. They could just be an extension of management, in much the same way that HR may be. Yes, I had foolishly thought that HR was there to look after the employees. Many people still do!

Unfortunately, I didn't seek help from a doctor. For one thing, I didn't have a doctor, but even if I had, I probably wouldn't have visited them. I'm a man, and it seems that we men have a natural tendency to bottle up our problems. 'Doctors are for people who are REALLY ill. They don't need the likes of me taking up their valuable time.'

To be honest, I thought the alcohol was helping me. It helped me get some sleep, and if you're sleeping, then all those nasty intrusive thoughts can't fill your head and make you toss and turn all night. To be honest, that still seems to me to have been a tangible benefit from drinking alcohol at that time, but I think the problem lies in the longer term. The underlying problem of the bullying didn't go away, and I found that I was having to increase my dosage in order to gain the same relief. My main choice of medicine was whisky, although I also added wine, vodka, brandy and lager to the mix. By 2009, I was consuming roughly 120 cl of whisky every day. That's almost two bottles, or nearly 3 pints.

Looking back, the weird thing is that it didn't effect my work or my attendance. I didn't need or think about alcohol while I was working. Ironically, work was therapeutic and helped to reduce the stress. That is until there was a bullying incident, or a discussion related to bullying that would cause the stress to go through the roof.

I've never suffered from hangovers. That may not be a good thing though. Maybe hangovers are nature's way of telling you to cut back. And I should have cut back, because while I was enjoying the benefits of the alcohol, I wasn't giving any thought to the damage it was causing me.

Firstly, alcohol is a depressant. It's like Kathy McCabe in a bottle. Secondly, it kills. It kills people who drink far less than I did for far shorter periods than I did. I've read up on this a bit, and I'm amazed to still be alive. For several years I was drinking as much as 16 times the recommended limit for a man.

It still wasn't enough to prevent the intrusive thoughts. Around the same time that I began over-drinking, I began to gamble excessively. The theory was that while I was thinking about gambling, I couldn't be thinking about anything else. And to some extent that worked. However, the higher the level of stress I was under, the higher the amount of money it was necessary to gamble. Like work, it was therapeutic. But under the conditions of stress and alcohol, my gambling was erratic and out of control.

I had a particularly stressful meeting with Mark Toole and my union rep in December 2009. He pretended that he hadn't witnessed Kathy bullying me. After the meeting, I was shaking like a leaf. When I got home, I filled up with alcohol, and gambled away almost £10,000 (ten thousand pounds) that same evening. Losing that amount of money is depressing too, but only for a relatively short period. It's not like being bullied for years. In a two week period in June 2010 when I knew that Mark Toole was conducting a sham disciplinary process and I was about to lose my job, I lost £32,909.47 by gambling erratically. It was different from my previous gambling. I had given up on life. I had no need for money because it was inevitable that I was going to kill myself.

I was seeing the Occupational Health doctor regularly at this time. He was aware of the alcohol and gambling and my intention to kill myself. He had advised me to cut back on the alcohol, but there was no point in that. I wanted to be dead, and it was killing me, while at the same time, providing a measure of relief.

I hadn't intended to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, because I thought I would most likely be dead by the time the case came to court. However, I was aware of the three month time limit for claims, so just before time ran out, I lodged my claim. Unexpectedly, I was still alive, and I thought I'd better make the claim just in case I didn't kill myself. Ironically, I think it's the ET case, and the possibility of justice that has kept me alive. Initially, my blog was intended to be my suicide note.

However, the suicidal thoughts haven't stopped, and I still have intrusive violent thoughts and intrusive memories too. Eventually, I visited my GP. I'd had a couple of days when I'd felt an improvement, so I made an appointment. By the time I was due to see my GP, three things had happened to make me feel worse, but I attended anyway. I was prescribed anti-depressants, but I didn't notice any difference. I was referred to a psychiatrist. The problem is that the psychiatrist felt nothing could be done to help me until I had greatly reduced, or even eliminated my alcohol consumption. As I said earlier, alcohol is a depressant, and an obstacle to treatment.

I've managed to reduce my alcohol consumption by a large amount, but I've still a long way to go. I was referred to a substance misuse expert. They want me to go into hospital for about ten days to detox, but I said No, No, No! I keep a daily diary of every drop of alcohol I take. I have good days and bad. When I was working, I generally drank between 6pm and 1am, except at weekends when I'd start earlier. Without work, I now start to feel an urge to take alcohol around 3pm; earlier if something causes me to feel anxious. Unfortunately, by reducing the alcohol, my sleep has reduced too. I'm told that alcohol induced sleep is not good quality sleep, but for me it's a case of 'never mind the quality, feel the width'.

A word of caution to anyone who intends to reduce their alcohol intake. Please seek advice from your GP as it can be very dangerous to do this too quickly, ie cold turkey.

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