Following the tragic suicide of one of my favourite comedians, the comedic genius Robin Williams, I decided to publicly come out as someone who suffered but had sought treatment for depression in the vain hope that I might encourage others who have, or thought they might have depression, to seek the help that can be lifesaving in some cases.
I should say at this point that I don’t have bi-polar disorder as manic depression is now often referred to and I am not in any way qualified to give advice on depression or any mental disorder or illness. However, I have received treatment for and do suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder*) and depression and what follows is written in good faith.
Mental health used to be very much a taboo subject but is now, thankfully, becoming more widely understood and sufferers receiving better understanding. So why do I say that estate agency is purpose built for bi-polar?
Estate agency, as with many sales related jobs, is one of targets, pressures, endorphin fuelled highs when a sale comes together and, often crushing despair when it falls apart. It can be a cruel career choice and destroyer of nerves on occasions.
For anyone who has ever wondered how they are going to feed their children, pay the mortgage (or your colleagues) simply because, through no fault of their own, a buyer has changed their mind, a customer neglected to mention the property has no building regulations approval until ‘now’ or, a solicitor has simply ‘forgotten’ to send the commission cheque in time; estate agency can be a veritable roller-coaster of emotions.
Throw into the mix that estate agents are often dealing with people who are themselves going through other highly stressful life events that have triggered the need or desire to move (marriage, divorce, pregnancy, death etc.) and agents are having to do so with sensitivity and, often, great patience. It can be a recipe for depression. No one is immune.
No one with depression has it easier or harder than anyone else and everyone deals with it differently. As an estate agent, I’ve battled the black dog for many years as both an employed agent and a business owner. As an employee, I had the ability to take time off had I chosen to. However, as a negotiator on a low basic and commission and as a father of two small children within an unhealthy relationship, I did not feel that this was a realistic option for me so, I had to work through it at the time (storing up more problems for later as it transpired).
As a man, you often feel additional social and self-pressure to be a provider, be strong and to “man-up, knuckle down and just get on with it”. As a business owner, you may also place additional pressures upon yourself to set an example to your colleagues, earn a living and to keep your business in profit and so, on occasions, I have often quite literally shouted at myself to get out of bed as I would have done at a recruit when I was an NCO; when all I really wanted to do was crawl into a ball under the covers and cry.
Depression is not easy to deal with. It can affect anyone and in many different ways. At its least severe, it can be a general feeling of unworthiness, failure or inability to function at a level you are used to. Depression at its worst, can become a debilitating illness with a total inability to function normally, get out of bed, work effectively, be a good father, mother, wife, husband or partner. Dark thoughts can become the norm rather than an easily dismissed and ridiculed. For some, this sometimes leads to self medicating with drink or drugs, self-harm or attempted suicide. However, if you recognise any of these feelings, can I assure you that people do care about you, you have a value in this world and are valued and, that seeking and accepting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Its’s rarely easy but it will and it does get better. Speak to your GP. There is some excellent advice from the mental health charity ‘Mind’ here.
*My PTSD is not combat related as some have thought due to my time in the reserve forces.
About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall and was included in the Daily Telegraphs’ list of the UK’s top 20 best small estate agents “who go above and beyond to help their customers” in 2013. He is currently championing the fight against #PortalJuggling in the media along with a number of other agents, journalists and agency suppliers.
He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco.
A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK.
No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter
Chris has previously competed in the National Laser sailing championships and, as a Sabreur with a top 300 UK ranking in fencing. A long-standing member of the Territorial Army; in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade but was medically evacuated back to the UK before deploying to his forward base with his unit and is now medically discharged from the army.