Stephanie Walsh is a senior first-opinion veterinary surgeon at Rutland House Veterinary Hospital.
I qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 2004, and spent three and a half years in mixed practice before moving to small animal practice. I am now senior vet at a busy, multisite first opinion practice, involved in the British Veterinary Association as regional representative for the North West, and co-chair a veterinary wellbeing group.
Compared to many of the experiences shared through the &me campaign, mine may seem quite minor, but if I hadn’t been in the lucky position to have amazing and supportive colleagues and friends and family around me then maybe things would have been different.
I initially visited my GP because I thought I had a chest infection as I was struggling to breathe. The GP asked me if I was sure it wasn’t anxiety, but I was adamant it must be something physical. I thought anxiety was a weakness, something that effected other people.
Several weeks later, as I slid down the wall in my consult room to sit on the floor crying, unable to do anything, it became apparent it was not a chest infection. I was lucky as I only needed a short period of time away from work, and talking therapy worked well for me.
There is increasing evidence that early intervention for mental ill-health can reduce the need for time away from work, reduce the risk of relapse and lead to improved recovery.
Hopefully by sharing my story, we can work to reduce the stigma, and open early channels of communication to help look after the mental health of ourselves and others.