Patrick Connell, 75, from Stockport, a husband and dad to two grown up children, is recently retired. He talks about how losing his job, his purpose in life, led to a breakdown and how a social prescription has given him a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

I was a sales engineer for about 50 years and loved my career. I wasn’t ready to stop working, despite my age but it all went a bit pear shaped and abruptly stopped.

Work was such a big part of my life – apart from injury and illness I’ve only ever had two days off work in my life, when I changed jobs. I was completely lost and felt I didn’t have a purpose or a reason to get up in the morning. I felt I just couldn’t carry on.

I just always thought when my time was up, I’d be leaving this life from work – it sounds daft now but I had never considered life after work. My wife was so worried about me, she called my surgery and I met with a doctor who was very caring and said a few things that I still think about now. She was worried about me taking my own life.

I wanted to get better for my wife and children and was talking about doing something related to my work, maybe teaching people at night school, something where I could pass on the expertise and knowledge. I’d done it all my life.

Patrick with his link worker Rod

However, after we’d spoken for a long time, the doctor said the opposite of what I wanted to hear. She said; ‘you’ve had your career, now it’s your time’. She mentioned all the wonderful things happening in the community and gave me a ‘social prescription’, a prescription for activities and support rather than medication, and put me in touch with a link worker, Rod.

So, I met with Rod and we talked about what other opportunities were open to me now I’d stopped working, the things I like doing and what I always wanted to try but never had the time.

With Rod’s continued support, I’ve seen that when one door closes, another can open. I’m now a member of the bowling club, I’m doing a holistic health ‘Men Matters’ course, joining others on weekly walks and after a cooking lesson made my first ever meal (which my wife didn’t think was too bad).

I’m doing things that occupy my mind and get me up in the morning. I’m busy and I even had to buy a diary again, so I can keep track of where I’m supposed to be and when.

I’m meeting lots of wonderful people too, people who are hugely inspirational, like Winston who had drug issues after taking steroids for bodybuilding but now is helping other people. With Rod’s guidance, I feel as though there’s a network of people around me – people I can talk to and trust, people who (like me) needed some support, and together we’re helping each other through difficult times.

I’m in a better place and for the first time in many months, I’m getting back to more my old self, taking things in my stride and feeling positive about the future.

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