LEADERSHIP: Who is in charge?


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Any organisation that has to deal with major incidents whether that be the Police, Fire or Ambulance use a command and control system. For those not familiar with the structure, there follows a brief overview.

A gold–silver–bronze command structure is used by emergency services of the United Kingdom to establish a hierarchical framework for the command and control of major incidents and disasters. The so-called “platinum control” is government level (COBR). Some practitioners use the term strategic–tactical–operational command structure instead, but the different categories are equivalent. Whilst this system does not explicitly signify hierarchy of rank, with the roles not being rank-specific, invariably the chain of command will be the same as the order of rank. Whilst the gold–silver–bronze command structure was designed for emergencies, it has been utilised for all manner of planned operations, such as football matches, or firearms operations.

The structure was created by the UK Metropolitan Police Service in 1985 directly after a serious riot in North London on the evening of 6 October where Police Constable Keith Blakelock was murdered. Scotland Yard soon realised that their usual rank-based command system was inappropriate for sudden events. For example, it was never clear who was actually in operational charge of the police that night. A small team, including Inspector Peter Power quickly decided that three essential roles were more important than numerous ranks in these situations and set about creating and promulgating a new structure that was soon rolled out across all UK Police Forces and became the ubiquitous command standard it is today.

The gold commander is in overall control of his or her organisation’s resources at the incident. This person will not be on site, but at a distant control room, gold command, where he or she will formulate the strategy for dealing with the incident. If the gold commanders for various organisations at an incident are not co-located, they will be in constant touch with each other by videoconference or telephone.
The CCA requires police to host and chair the multi agency gold command. This responsibility will usually fall to the local chief constable or their nominated deputy.

The Silver Commander is the tactical commander who manages tactical implementation following the strategic direction given by Gold and makes it into sets of actions that are completed by Bronze. Depending on the organisation, they may or not be at scene: Fire tend to be, police tend not to be; however this is a dynamic decision. Other organisations make their own decisions although many are encouraged to attend or send a representative to the police-led multi-agency silver command as detailed in the CCA.
This could be located in a command vehicle at or near the scene or a remote building such as the police HQ. There is a common misconception that all blue light services share one big control room and emergency control centre. This is generally not the case.
This role is often not strictly rank-related but does often fall to senior officers as opposed to constables or sergeants.
A bronze commander directly controls an organisation’s resources at the incident and will be found with their staff working at the scene. A commander or representative from each involved responder will be present and take direction from their organisation, with the overall effort generally coordinated by the police.

It is a system that works generally very well and indeed is entirely necessary. The system relies on trust from those above to those below to competently carry out the mission plan to a successful conclusion. Gold decides the overall aim or goal to successfully conclude an incident. Silver given that brief then decides how to achieve that goal. Bronze will then be in control of implementing that goal.

But in the day-to-day workings of a police force how well does that system work because it is a format that is loosely followed in pretty much everything that it does. Does a command and control system allow the growth of an individual to betterment or address the well being needs of its employee’s?

A question. Does your organisation suffer from micro management? If it does, how then does that make the leaders and the coalface workers feel? Are leaders allowed to fail every once in a while or are they expected to 100% successfully complete every brief they are given? If the latter can you imagine the enormous pressure heaped on that individual. Are near impossible portfolio’s purposely given to subordinates to solve using their own judgment with the expectation of failure whilst easily achievable briefs are micro managed to ensue certain success? A bit like pass the parcel, who wants to be holding a thorny thistle when the music stops. Reputation is important to a leader whose current role and potential future promotion depends on it.

I see on a daily basis micro management certainly from the coalface up to middle management level. Now earlier on I said that the command and control structure relied on trust. Trust that those tasked with orders from above competently complete the job in the best way they see fit. Trust of competence evaporates in a culture of micro management. It eats into self-belief and confidence.

My Sergeant gives me an order, which I follow. I know that order has been given by their Inspector. The order was passed down by the Chief Inspector. As the coalface worker’s gaze wander’s into the middle distance they see a line of leaders being told what to do. The coalface worker scratches their head and wonders if the leaders out of sight, over the horizon, beyond the middle distance have also passed the order down. They don’t know because they can’t see and so the question naturally arises and they start to consider the possibility of who actually is in charge?

Why do some leaders fail to let go? It must be a dark place to live. For not only do they worry about the order being followed, they worry that those they have given the order to follow it also A bit like giving a order to make sure the order you have given is followed. Double worry and stress. And we all know because we have talked about this previously, traits like worry, fear, stress feed upon themselves gathering speed like a stone rolling down a hill. It stops the moment you let go.

Does my success depend on your success? Is that for some a leap of faith too far, something too valuable and precious to trust to others? And in a catch 22 scenario does that mean that they are indeed a good leader themselves for surely a leader inspires others to make the best of their abilities and give them the confidence to do so and paradoxically if they had those very same qualities the question would not arise.

I keep using the word trust. It is a fundamental pillar in the support of wellbeing. If the coalface worker see’s a lack of trust between their leaders it would not be unreasonable to expect a lack of trust at the coalface. Without trust there is no engagement and without engagement there cannot be progress and growth.

All that being said there are numerous excellent leaders of men out there. I do recall a particularly difficult case where I was the FLO. At one of the court hearing’s the deceased family had been let down terribly by the general legal process. The Senior Investigating Officer, a DCI got it both barrels tied to an anvil. After the family had left he asked me how I was doing and enquired to my well-being. I then asked him how he was doing. He told me he was on his third baby death that week. How much did I trust that man….100% How much did I think he trusted me? …..1000% He was truly a leader of men.

So in summary is the command and control structure failing us in our day-to-day business? I don’t believe it is but I do believe it has been bent a little bit out of shape. The altered system has inherent micro management built in but there is also the secondary micro management aspect that I have described above. The out of shape model can be panel beaten back into shape. Maybe that will be an encouragement to change the latter. Lets hope so.

LEADERSHIP: Your mate’s your boss.


ladderMy abiding regret in 18 years as a police officer is that I never went for promotion. As you get longer in service you see friends climbing up the ladder. Police Sergeant, Police Inspector; before you know it they have gold braid on their hats.

I regret not going for promotion not because my friends have over took me. I regret not going for promotion because the process to select a supervisor was less corporate then, more focused on leadership, capability and the job allowed the supervisors to work with their staff, on the street. Yes, that still happens to a certain extent but nowhere as much as it used to be and to be honest it is as much as to do with the individual as with the system.

Several things happens when a mate, an equal get promoted, either permanently or temporarily. Firstly, I suspect you both feel embarrassed for each other and for each other’s work positions. Your mate feels embarrassed about giving you an order.  You feel embarrassed following it.

Friends newly promoted I know have been told “You can’t mix with them now, your different!” In contradiction with that the mates of the newly promoted think; “He’s my mate, he will see me right.” Straight away there is a conflict between friendship and job ship. I pity the newly promoted supervisor who has to juggle this balance especially if they now supervise the team they were once a member of. Equally I pity their work mate who’s work relationship with them changes for ever.

“To thine own self be true.” I know of a few friends that have sacrificed themselves in order to become what the organisation wants them to be. A goal they themselves originally set out to better themselves, to make a difference in a system they chose to become a part of. Best intentions in a system they have no control over. Now this is all sounding pretty negative with regards to promotion. Similar to the chicken and the egg what came first? Supervision made the rules to choose the future supervisors? Or does the established system now mold the future supervisors.

There is a danger that the system that builds you up with good intent absorbs you to the extent that you no longer remember why you wanted to be promoted, stuck on a continual conveyor belt of stamped out “boss’s” doing what there are told. You are less a leader that you were as a coal face worker.  To their credit, several high profile officers have conceded that the very system that enabled them to rise to the rank they hold has enabled them to criticise that very same system. A paradox no doubt.

So to refocus, as there are a few side issues here that no doubt will be discussed in more detail. What do you do when your mate becomes your boss?

Ideally your mate will still be your mate and you will follow their orders because they are your mate and they make good operationally sense, ideally. If they take a position to hide behind their rank or equally you try to make capital out of a friendship advantage then your relationship will very quickly break down.

Ultimately, as with any work balanced relationship, it is not so much as us and them. It is more to do with WE. Its all give and take.  IDEALLY, a system should exist where that relationship should flourish and not be frowned on.

Ideally.

LEADERSHIP: An Introduction.


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Well here we are. In the last series of blogs we covered Well Being. A subject in itself. But it is nothing to the subject of leadership!

This is an introduction so this blog will be brief, more an index to kick off the subject as a whole. As I have always said, these are my views, seen through the eyes of my own experience. There are far cleverer people than myself who can encapsulate leadership and I hope in the coming blogs for those people to add their own educated take on this most thorny of subjects.

Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others, while others define leadership as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”.

As with Well-being, I aim to explore the person and not the role. The responsibility of self as opposed to the responsibility of office. I started to type this sentence and corrected the start as I typed their responsibility. Straight away, unconsciously I had separated leaders from the coalface worker. This is perhaps the most common problem we face with leadership and indeed they face with us.

It is no longer a secret that the police service now exists on what I have heard to be described as discretionary effort. Workers not just doing enough but doing much more than they are being asked to do. Another word is goodwill.

These blogs are I suspect going to get a little tricky because as I explore leadership not only will I suggest leaders to question themselves but also the coal face workers under whom they are led.

I hope to explore leaders vs managers; their goals vs your goals; a culture that allows no growth; how can a command and control structure, essential to a disciplined service, serve your needs; when did you last see your boss, too busy or don’t care. The list has several more topics to discuss. So this is going to take some time.

As I said I hope to include some guest contributions, who are really pushing the boundaries of how we can change from where we are now to where we ultimately want and indeed need to be. Clearly EVERYONE needs to consider change.

Below is a video from Canada. A Police Chief, giving a press conference to the press. Everyone who has seen this video, has said to me, “I would work for this man.” Watch it and ask yourself why you may feel a loyalty to this Chief.

To give you a bit of context. Officer Manney approached a male sleeping rough in a national park. He roused the male who became violent and was ultimately shot dead. The chief sacked the Officer not because he killed the male but because he should have realized he was dealing with a deranged male and should have approached the situation differently. The Union of fire and police officers held a no confidence vote against the chief but there was a dispute against the voting turnout. On the other side, protesters against the killing voiced their concerns.

Ultimately, it came to a head in a meeting between the two groups. Whilst this meeting was going on the Chief took several calls on his phone and was accused of showing no interest in what was a fractious meeting. Now you know the whole story, this is what happened……… Oh by the way watch the reporters face drop.

WELL BEING: A Recap


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Over the last month or so I have attempted to describe the various things that make up well being through my own eyes of 18 years as a police officer. No one gets it right all the time but that is not what is important. For everything is a journey which, takes time and effort. If you remember I described my own journey as a boat drifting on the water and what that signified to me.

So what have I learnt and hopefully spur you on to think about you’re own well being?

Well, the first thing I have learnt is that what ever you want in life takes an effort on your part. The most successful athletes are born with talent know no doubt, but if they didn’t train for six hours a day, they would not achieve the success they do. It’s about responsibility of self. If want to stop smoking then I have to stop. If I want to be an elite cyclist then I have to get out on my bike and train. If I want to be happy then I have to stop doing all the things that make me unhappy and seek out the things that do. It all takes effort.

The second thing that I have learnt is perspective. Decide what is important to you and discard the rest. You see, chasing things that in the short term provide happiness are ultimately futile. Like the sugar rush of a cyclist taking an energy gel before a climb will no doubt help the rider up that hill. But at the top, the sugar levels crash and the rider feels worst than they did before they started the climb never to finish the race.

And it takes time to realize just what is important. What was important, as a teenager will not be important now.

Thirdly is NOW. Its no good letting the past dictate your now. You see it may be useful to use the past as a sign post to now but don’t live in the past. Nor look to the future too much. Because the future is not now and right now that is where you are and will always be. To live anywhere else but in the now is simply doing a disservice to you. By now I don’t mean enjoying the material things that have no value but to fully experience life right now because that moment will never again repeat itself.

Finally, it’s about YOU. You weren’t born into this world you were born from it. You don’t live in this universe you are a part of it just as much as the trees and the stars. And when you leave this world you go back to it.

You are as important to the universe as the matter contained within, as important as the galaxy stretching millions of light years across, as important as the particle a million times smaller than an atom..

So the key to all this is change. CHANGE how you see yourself. CHANGE how you live at this very moment. CHANGE yourself to follow what is important. CHANGE and take responsibility for yourself.

The next set of blogs will concentrate on leadership, in particular with regards to disciplined service.

WELL BEING: # 4 Stress


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“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

I want you all to hold onto that sentence for the time being.

My previous blogs covered worry, depression and burnout ultimately leading to stress.

I keep on saying this. I am no expert in the human condition and certainly don’t have the answers. I am not a scholar and have no idea of what people cleverer than myself say about the subject. I keep on falling back on my own experiences. I have two grown up sons. As a father I wish I could plug a cable from my head to theirs, showing them the mistakes I have made in order that they would not repeat the same. But if that were possible, then possibly life lessons would be cheaply bought without any sort of graft. One thing I have learnt about life is that the result usually comes before the lesson. Life can be quite unfair sometimes!

So stress. What’s all that about and how do we overcome it? Well, the answer is rather simple and as human being’s we hate things that are simple. That’s why we stress.

I have learnt that there are two types of stress in relation to police work. There is the stress that that we have at home; a divorce, a wayward son, financial worries. We bring that stress to our work place. Once at work, collectively our stress adds to the stress of our work place, which ultimately infects our colleagues. How many times have you left the house in a good mood with your partner that has very definitely fallen out of the wrong side of the bed. Within minutes you become stressed because they are stressed! Your work place is no different and stress is as infectious as laughter.

Stress is a horrible condition, taking every bit of energy from you. Yet for all that energy that you expend being stressed where does it get you? A pointless, futile expenditure of emotional energy, that moves you exactly zero inches.

It’s self-serving and self-feeding! It affects the people in charge of you. Don’t think for one minute they are immune. Your shoulders are as broad as there’s. No man is an island and one of the worse feeders of stress is thinking that no one else is feeling the effects.

At what point do you realize that stress is a waste of time. Well we become accustomed to stress, it becomes the norm. You put up with it. Usually at work when a supervisor who is equally suffering from stress puts on you and you think “What! That just doesn’t make any sense at all.” A wake up call, you sit upright and think, “this is crazy.” Parking spaces, the area above your locker, a dictate saying that you must password protect your printouts to save paper, the list goes on. Superiors making an issue out of nothing and you sit there thinking if only they would show their attention to matters that may affect my life and that of my colleagues. That is when you realize you are under stress.

Ultimately coal face workers are scratching their heads as to what to do. Your mates are stressed. You have a close bond to your mates, you feel empathy with them and so you share their stress as well as your own.

It’s an emotion that feeds itself, breeds like a virus to the point you can feel it in the parade room prior to the start of a tour.

All this leads to stress.

So how do combat this stress? Well how about taking responsibility for your own well being?

It may not be your fault that you are stressed but it is every bit of you to make sure that your stress does not over power you. Now that is easier said than done.

Put your stress into perspective and ask yourself “Why am I stressed?”

Are you stressing over the tiniest of things? If you are, its time to check yourself and REMIND yourself just what is important in your life. For stress, has a habit of stripping away the important things in life, the things that matter, the things that SHOULD matter to you. When you forget those benchmarks, you have no point of reference and so you take off with little or no encouragement at all to a point of paralysis.

Connect with yourself. Remind yourself of who you are and why, despite all the odds, you are where you are.

You see, when you put life into perspective and prioritise what is important to you, things become very simple. You could call it being selfish. I ask of yourselves to become selfish with yourselves. Unless you look after yourself and ground yourself in what matters, you will simply float away in the waters of “what could I have done.” Distracted by the stress of “Theres too much to do.”

So ultimately then, stress is all about where you are now…… right now. Its relative. It can destroy you or it can make you. x

WELL BEING #3 Burnout

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burnoutWow doesn’t that encapsulate our role as police officers. Burnout however is not confined to those engaged in stressful occupations. You have heard the phrase “The straw that broke the camels back.” What ever you do, when you’re ready to snap and give up, then you are at the same place as those that risk their lives daily. You may have taken a different journey to get to that place but the same place nonetheless. Those of you that either know me or follow this blog will know that I often opine from a position of ignorance. What I rely on are my own personal experiences and what I have drawn from them. In that respect I am an expert on myself. It is however useful to put some structure on this topic by people far more clever than myself.

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have theorized that the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially.

The Compulsion to Prove Oneself

Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. This is one’s desire to prove themselve’s while at the workplace. This desire turns into determination and compulsion.

Working Harder

Because they have to prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organization that does not suit them, people establish high personal expectations. In order to meet these expectations, they tend to focus only on work while they take on more work than they usually would. It may happen that they become obsessed with doing everything themselves. This will show that they are irreplaceable since they are able to do so much work without enlisting in the help of others.

Neglecting Their Needs

Since they have devoted everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating, and sleeping start to become seen as unnecessary or unimportant, as they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.

Displacement of Conflicts

Now, the person has become aware that what they are doing is not right, but they are unable to see the source of the problem. This could lead to a crisis in themselve’s and become threatening. This is when the first physical symptoms are expressed.

Revision of Values

In this stage, people isolate themselves from others, they avoid conflicts, and fall into a state of denial towards their basic physical needs while their perceptions change. They also change their value systems. The work consumes all energy they have left, leaving no energy and time for friends and hobbies. Their new value system is their job and they start to be emotionally blunt.

Denial of Emerging Problems

The person begins to become intolerant. They do not like being social, and if they were to have social contact, it would be merely unbearable for them. Outsiders tend to see more aggression and sarcasm. It is not uncommon for them to blame their increasing problems on time pressure and all the work that they have to do, instead of on the ways that they have changed, themselves.

Withdrawal

Their social contact is now at a minimum, soon turning into isolation, a wall. Alcohol or drugs may be sought out for a release since they are obsessively working “by the book”. They often have feelings of being without hope or direction.

Obvious Behavioral Changes

Coworkers, family, friends, and other people that are in their immediate social circles cannot overlook the behavioral changes of this person.

Depersonalization

Losing contact with themselves, it’s possible that they no longer see themselves or others as valuable. The person also loses track of their personal needs. Their view of life narrows to only seeing in the present time, while their life turns to a series of mechanical functions.

Inner Emptiness

They feel empty inside and to overcome this, they might look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs. These activities are often exaggerated.

Depression

Burnout may include depression. In that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believes that there is nothing for them in the future. To them, there is no meaning of life. Typical depression symptoms arise.

Burnout Syndrome

They collapse physically and emotionally and should seek immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, usually only when depression is involved, suicidal ideation may occur, with it being viewed as an escape from their situation. Only a few people will actually commit suicide.

There are a lot of topics to discuss in that list, some of it management speak and blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, if those terms of reference are useful to those that use them AND as a result can bring about real change then bring it on! To me though there are a few headings that instantly jumped out at me. Proving oneself, work harder and depersonisation.

weird shitIt is easy to forget that as Police Officers we do a job. Day in day out attending incidents, not knowing what we will have to confront, taking responsibility for other peoples actions, there is simply no other job like it! As a road policing officer I attend Fatal collisions. Sometimes there is disruption to the body of the deceased. It becomes the norm. Ladies and gentlemen what we witness and see, what we do, what we have to deal with is very definatly NOT the norm. Remind yourselves of that fact!

The police service is performance based, it shouldn’t be but there you are. Things are changing ever so slowly to change this outlook. So you set off, all guns blazing to meet the targets placed against you. You place expectations of yourself and try to meet them. When you can’t you try all the harder to the point where all other things that SHOULD matter no longer do. You become obsessed with the very thing you can not hope to attain, neglecting the things outside the job that keep you a rounded person which ultimately give you the strength and armor to pursue those targets. It’s a snake eating its own tail.

And so, eventually, because your so obsessed with those targets and forgetting the things that matter to you, the force that makes you YOU slowly weakens to the point where you can no longer remember why you are the person you are and why your chasing those targets. Little things cause great strife. No staples in the staple gun, a printer that won’t sync to your work station, no elastic bands, a bin overflowing with rubbish which ordinarily are set backs become problems that cause you to shout aloud.

At some point in our lives we have had problems at home or at work. We escape home to come to work. We escape work to find peace at home. But when there are problems at both ends then either environment provides little comfort and breathing space. This is a vicious circle, we become burnt out.

Just as physical activity requires energy then so does mental/emotional activity. So just like a battery with a constant drain on it, the odd moments you try to recharge your battery you will never become fully charged. This is burn out.

So how does one combat this worry?

Look at your situation, as a whole and it will seem insurmountable. Break it down into manageable chunks. The old saying “One thing at a time” is as relevant today as it was when first uttered. A tray full of files, numerous telephone enquires and the constant demand of that bloody radio.

Before you finish work for the day, set yourself one goal for the following day. Whether it be to finish a file, interview a long outstanding suspect or update those taskings you should have done the day before but couldn’t. Tell your supervisor that is what you are going to do. Have a plan.

To recover from burnout takes time, a lot of time. Like the battery draining faster than is being charged, you have to address the balance. At first your battery will still drain. As you slowly get through your work whilst all the while picking up new work you will slowly get to the point where the charge in equals the drain out. At this point don’t give up, keep going and get your battery charged.

And one of the best antidotes to burnout is to rediscover your love and passion in what you do. Use your energy to rediscover yourself and take it from there, be gentle with yourself. You have to go at a pace that you will allow you to make progress on your own terms.

WELL BEING. #2 Depression


qiUnBt7The worst thing to hear when one is depressed is “Pull yourself together”, “It will get better.” For years depression has not been recognised as an illness and as a result those views have continued to pervade. For anyone that has suffered depression, they will know the stigma that the illness attracts. One is thought as weak which only goes to reinforce the view’s of those that suffer from this dreadful illness; because it is an illness, just as much as Flu or Cancer. If one suffers from Asthma it is no good telling that person that the air is full of oxygen!

So what causes depression? Unfortunately, some are born with it. For others it is a single event or a series of unfortunate circumstances that grind a person into the ground. Some are predisposed to depression preferring to see the glass half empty than half full.

Treatments for depression vary from chemical/electrical to cognitive behavioral treatment, also known as talking the problem through. For myself, this is what worked for me, and more on that in a moment.

When one is depressed you have no energy to do anything, even to seek happiness. Yet happiness is the one thing you crave so you look for things to make you happy with the least amount of effort. That is a slippery slope to addiction. Alcohol, drugs or even an unhealthy interest in what ever makes you happy at the time. The problem is that these “effort free” solutions are short term and ultimately compound the very problem you are trying to resolve. Happy in the short term then you slide back into that depression that raises the worst of emotions…….guilt!

Like everything in life including happiness, means a little bit of work of your part. The last thing a depressed person wants to hear. That person wants to hear a magical solution, a solution that means they can become happy again without any effort on their part. Emotional exhausted the last thing you want to do is explore the very thing that caused your breakdown. Raking over glowing embers of your own demise.

And so it was that I took the offer of a series of counseling sessions provided by my employee. As a police officer who had pretty much seem it all I slowly found myself grinding to a halt, like swimming through treacle, running out of energy and slowly drowning. The event was the death of my mother, my last surviving relative. For some reason, as distressing as losing her was, it really pressed on me that I was the only one left. It made me question everything. What was the point, everything was futile, why carry on. Certainly not suicidal, but for the first time, seriously I thought about everything. Everything is a very big subject to contemplate! I found myself not wanting to love those persons still alive, still important to me. For if I didn’t then I wouldn’t have to suffer the pain of me losing them. That caused me much guilt and anger, primarily because of my own selfishness.

So I talked through the problems with my counselor. I didn’t find it helpful and it was difficult to open up. Persistence prevailed and whilst talking a voice came out of my throat that wasn’t mine. “My life has no foundation!” As soon as I said that I broke down. I was talking to myself. The truth knocked me sideways. An unhappy childhood came back to haunt me.

That was the turning point. I thought about what has stability without foundation. After some thought I imagined a boat. A vessel floating on life’s problems and as long as I kept water tight, then I would not sink. Myself being water tight meant looking after myself both physically and mentally.

It meant that I was important, as important as any other person alive on this planet. I was no better than any other but equally I was certainly no worse.

Depression is horrible and will find out any one. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can rise again. But don’t see it as a flaw. See as it something that made you stronger, better. Anyone can have faith in themselves when things are going great. It hard to see how valuable you are when you have no value in yourself. For someone that has hit the bottom and thankfully come out of the other side I can tell you that where ever you see yourself right now, if your in that muddy pit with no hand holds to grab on to. Trust me they are there, just outstretch your hand.