Councillor Richard Worrall’s story

In 2012, Walsall Councillor Richard Worrall was diagnosed with severe depression and later spent time as an inpatient at Bloxwich Hospital. He is keen to share his story to help others who may be suffering from depression and break down the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.

“Ten years ago, I suffered from a bout of depression,” explains Richard. “It was the run-up to Christmas and a stressful period in my life. At the time, I thought it was horrible, but it was nothing compared to what I experienced more recently.”

In November 2012, Richard suffered a much more severe episode of depression. “I can’t put my finger on why it happened but, looking back, I was experiencing lots of change in my life. After a break of eight years, I had recently returned to my role as a local councillor and found that everything had changed. I also had some relationship problems and financial worries and I think everything got on top of me. I wasn’t coping anymore.”

At first, Richard went to see his GP and was prescribed antidepressants. But the feelings didn’t go away and he started to have suicidal thoughts. “I lost all concentration and the ability to think. It turned my personality on its head and I changed from being a hard-working and giving person to demanding and needy.”

His family became increasingly concerned about him, so he was referred to the Trust’s Older Adult Mental Health Service at Bloxwich Hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe recurrent depression.

It was at Bloxwich Hospital that Richard met Dr Chandran and his team, who he credits for helping him recover. “Dr Chandran explained that I could access various day mental health services or admit myself to Bloxwich Hospital. I realised that something had to happen, but admitting myself seemed like a drastic solution. However, after trying the day services and talking it through with my family, I decided that staying at the hospital would be the best option for me.”

“I didn’t like the idea of being in hospital, but the staff were really good to me,” says Richard. “Throughout my illness, I always felt involved in decisions about my care and the best pathway for my recovery. As I started to feel better, I was gradually allowed more freedom, for example, going out for a walk with a friend or a run. They also allowed for a reflexologist my son knows to come in and give me some reflexology sessions.”

After spending six weeks in hospital, Richard was discharged back home where he says the aftercare was excellent. A community nurse visited his house and he took part in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) course, which taught him to manage negative thoughts and feelings. After several months, he was discharged back to his GP, who organises follow-up visits with Dr Chandran.

Richard now feels that, thanks to the support of his friends and family and the healthcare he received, he is in a much better place and is looking forward to the future.

“I’m not back to my old self, but pretty much,” he says. “Depression does leave its mark but you can come back from it. Life can be so stressful and scary sometimes that it’s no wonder that depression is so common. It’s easy for me to spot it in others now and I hope that sharing my experience will help others.”