On World Mental Health Day, during an in-depth article in the The Telegraph, Geoff shared how he came back from the brink.
The tingling had been spreading through my fingers for a few minutes by the time my heart started to pound vigorously. I was struggling to breathe; my chest felt like it was closing in. My bed sheets were wet with sweat. Gasping, I told my wife I was having a heart attack. She asked me to walk slowly around the bedroom, taking deep breaths. I obliged, and once my breathing was under control I returned to bed. I was left staring at the ceiling, wondering what exactly had just happened.
I was 46 in January 2008 when, out of the blue, that episode struck. Being an HR executive on a six figure salary at Unilever required hard work and long hours, and I was a husband and father of two young girls life had its stresses, yet it wasn’t unmanageable, I thought.
But my symptoms at our Surrey home that night were, I would later learn, typical of a panic attack. An emotional breakdown, as some might describe it. It’s not something I ever believed would happen to me: I was raised in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, an era when men were not encouraged to dwell on their feelings. My mother taught me the importance of dental hygiene, but never the importance of emotional welfare…