Hey you, it’s time to talk!

Although my website suggests that everything is tech, I have wanted to talk about Mental Health for a long time. A recent blogpost from someone in the vExpert Community has made me decide it was time [link].

**Please consider that the following subject involves my personal experience. Names have been left out due to privacy and that others might have experienced it differently.**

Mental Health and subjects around it has always been close to my heart, as I was struggling myself when I was young. Starting from an age of 8, I was extensively bullied at school and my local sports club. I was a skinny young boy with a lack of confidence and social skills. Being a gymnast also didn’t help, wearing a tight leotard/maillot was the “perfect reason” to bully me. As I didn’t know how to handle bullies, I was eventually always the one that got angry and therefor expelled. This anger stayed with me for a long time, getting me into trouble even more.

After years of trying different therapies, my parents decided to put me on a after-school youth care (best decision ever!). During my time there I had Social Skills Training to learn to talk about myself. Having others around me with similar problems also gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone. Because feeling alone is something that I really struggled with besides anger. And that loneliness was killing me, literally.
It took the caretakers over a year to get me back up my feet. Loving myself and taking care of myself mentally was something I learned during that time. And things changed, majorly. I went to a different school to leave behind the bullies and have a new start. I quit the local sports club and took on self defence courses to gain confidence. When I was a little older I started going to the gym, to gain some weight and also as an outlet for stress. Working out is something I do till this day, it’s a great stress relief and also good for your physical health, win-win:)

During the following years I always tried to improve myself mentally, while helping others by talking with people with similar issues. I still struggled with anger issues sometimes, but it was less and less. I even considered becoming a Psychiatrist, but I loved technology too much to not do something with it. I eventually did Electrical Engineering with a minor in Embedded Systems, can’t go more technical than that.

When I joined VMware, I noticed that Mental Health was something quite big on the agenda for a tech company. It amazed me that within such a big company, there was a form of openness about mental health I hadn’t seen before. One of the programs that VMware has for instance, is the Mental Health Programme. Having a team across NEMEA with Mental Health First Aiders to reach out to whenever needed. With my background in Mental Health issues, I felt like I had to be part of that. And so I did, I became a Mental Health First Aider. The first line of psychological support for employees. Attending the MHFA course to get more insight into mental health issues helped me mentally but also enabled me to help others in a better and structured way. I am currently also a member of Mental Health Steering Committee within VMware, creating more visibility for Mental Health within my region.

In sharing my story I hope to inspire others with Mental Health Issues. You are not alone in this world and it’s okay not to be okay (sorry Joe Baguley for stealing your line):

If you have any questions please reach out to me.

You can also reach out to MentalHealth@vmware.com or see the VMware website at https://benefits.vmware.com/gb/worklife/nemea-mental-health-programme/