Middlesbrough College staff are sharing their stories to help promote health and mental wellbeing, with an aim to help others who may be suffering in silence.
Steven Pollard, Lecturer for Performing Arts is sharing his story to help raise awareness and hopefully help others to speak up.
“In the November of 2017 I suffered from a heart attack while weight training at home. I was training and suddenly felt a little strange so took a break but didn’t feel any better. After ringing my doctors they told me it was a heart attack – it certainly didn’t feel like what I would expect to be a heart attack!”
Steven was taken to hospital where he was given defibrillation and had a stent fitted.
“Luckily from weight training a natural bypass had been created meaning I didn’t fully damage my heart, had I not been an active weight trainer this wouldn’t have been the case, something I didn’t know.”
As a result of the heart attack Steven is now on medication for the rest of his life and has made life changes such as stopping smoking to lead a healthier lifestyle. However in addition to this major incidence in Steven’s physical wellbeing, there was an effect on his mental wellbeing as well.
“I know we all die at some point, but this was the first time in my life I felt truly vulnerable. My heart attack was in front of my children and it felt like I had showed a weakness to them, something which is perfectly fine but at the time I wanted everyone to see me as this strong, indestructible person.
“I had always used comedy as a coping mechanism to battle any negative thoughts however after my heart attack that no longer worked for me and I didn’t’ understand how to manage this change.”
After speaking with his managers and HR Steven was referred to Alliance for a six week counselling programme as support.
“In my role I am dealing with individuals with wellbeing issues and talking quite openly about various things however I found it really hard to open up to my counsellor but when I did, it really did help.
Steven has two key messages he wants to share with others:
“Be healthy and active, my weight training is ultimately what saved me and stopped my heart from being fully damaged.
“It’s also good to talk but it is better to talk to the right people. This could be your Line Manager, HR or a 3rd party professional. There is plenty of help available that you can access.”