For 10 years, Ash Robertson lived and breathed daily deadlines and endless targets.
As a top-flight Business Development Manager, he was the person his company relied on to bring in leads, manage customer relationships and develop company growth strategies.
But after years of relentless pressure and a bullying culture, the workplace became a source of emotional pain.
The onslaught triggered a raft of symptoms that led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety and depressive disorder.
“At first, I didn’t really understand [what was happening] as I’d never felt this way before,” Mr Robertson said.
“I was in a black cloud where weeks, months and ultimately three years turned into one long day.”
After his diagnosis, he was unable to work which led to a further spiral in his mental health, culminating in several attempts on his life. And whilst he survived, there were other practical hurdles to overcome. Periods of hospitalisation meant his savings were nearly gone and bills needed to be paid.
By the time Mr Robertson showed up at the MAX office in Wonthaggi, he was at his lowest ebb.
MAX consultant, Mezcal Manners, recalled Ash as being very withdrawn.
“He did not want to come to his appointments, he was drinking in his car before coming into the office. He was on the wrong track,” she said.
The turning point was convincing him of the value of talent development session.
“I had enough of being unwell and was determined to get me back,” Mr Robertson emphasised.
“It lit a spark in me which helped me to see my own self-worth.”
Through sharing his story and experiences with others, Mr Robertson was soon the person other people in the group relied on and looked to for mentorship.
“I thought that no one would employ me given my illness,” he confessed.
“But the expert advice, guidance and empathy from Damon, Mez and the team at MAX Wonthaggi, my life seemed to have a purpose.”
Before long, an opportunity as meter reader for Spotless came up and Mezcal decided he was ready to take the plunge.
“We spoke to Ash about this opportunity, and he was very excited about it,” Mezcal said.
It offered – a company vehicle, phone, working outdoors and best of all, no micro-management or unachievable targets. And rather than being turned off by the prospect of walking 20 kilometres, Mr Robertson realised it was a chance to develop a ‘healthy body and mind’ approach to life.
Since then, he’s been offered other opportunities in the company and no one has celebrated his success more than MAX Wonthaggi.
“I can only thank my family, friends, GP, Mental Health Team and most importantly Mez, Damon, Brooke and the team at MAX Employment Wonthaggi for helping me make this huge adjustment to my life,” Mr Robertson beamed.
“It hasn’t just been a new job opportunity, it has totally changed my life.
If you, or someone you know, is in crisis and needs support, contact Headspace on 1800 650 890 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.