Rogue Traders / Mental Health / Mental Health First Aid

Rogue Traders / Mental Health / Mental Health First Aid

Some of you may recall a few weeks back I stepped in as a Mental Health First Aider when I saw someone, a good friend, in crisis.

My good friend, I’ll call her Buddy for the purposes of this blog, is ex-military and a current NHS Key Worker. She’s the most caring, considerate, and first to act for those in need. A true gem of someone who looks out for others. She, like me, suffers with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. We are quite a mix when together- sometimes having to finish each other’s sentences to being able to recognise when the other is having a bad day. The thing we haven’t mastered yet is how to help when the bad days hit. 

The day in question, a few weeks back, I popped in before the school run. We were happily chatting away until it was like something shattered in the room. Her behaviour became erratic, she couldn’t sit down, she couldn’t speak, her hands were rigid up and fingers spread by the side of her head, and she was shaking.

Seeing her go from “Normal” Buddy to this quite scary state in a split second was quite frightening. What I saw before me, was exactly how I feel when I have a “moment” or attack of anxiety. I went to her. I gave her space but put my hand on her shoulder and told her everything was going to be ok. Her movements became even more erratic. I have never seen someone behave in this way that wasn’t a seizure. We both know she needed meds to get her out of this state. I remember her jerky reactions trying to fumble with her dosette box to get the meds she needed. Really awful to watch. 

I hadn’t/ haven’t told her how upsetting it was for me to see her this way, and I immediately felt for her family having to witness this when this happens.

It took some time for the additional meds to kick in for Buddy to return to a relatively normal state. There was still a great deal of anxiety there, but the meds had knocked the edge off somewhat.

When talking to Buddy, it had started due to her thinking of having to go into the garage- and then knowing what she would see when she went in there. The rogue trader had still not collected their belongings, nor arranged for the skip to be collected, nor for the cement mixer to be collected by the hire company.

The Landscape gardener she appointed the previous year was STILL causing problems. From initially agreeing the project a 10% deposit quickly moved to a 50% deposit being required to book the project in. That’s where I feel Buddy made their first mistake, but they believed he required that fee to secure their “slot”- what followed for them unfortunately was so distressing she couldn’t even mention her garden to me and didn’t for around 9 months. For 9 months her family had been fighting a losing battle to get their garden started let alone trying to get it completed!

What I was seeing that day was it all coming to a head. She needed this awful man out of their lives- first, his belongings had to go! It was like he was there tormenting her daily.

Within a few phone calls from an outsider it was finally happening. His kit was being collected and the skip was going. I won’t bore you with the details of how much it took to happen, but within 2 days all of it was gone. Buddy was able to start trying to recover from the torment he put her through.

Now reader, the reason for my tale is to highlight the importance of using a recognised trader. There’s a lot to be said for checking with Trading Standards and using only those who are regulated by National Organising bodies, something that Buddy won’t forget anytime soon!

The trouble is- the rogue trader has essentially blackmailed her with her own money, making her promise not to tell Trading Standards or the press about the months of mental distress he has caused the family, (let alone leaving the garden into a muddy swamp) just so she could get a bit of the money back she paid as part of the deposit- as ultimately another company was required to come in and finish the garden that the rogue traders had left behind, which they had not only failed to complete the garden, but had managed to block the drains and air vents within the brickwork of the house! Truly Awful!

Buddy is petrified of saying anything to anyone as she made a promise to not name him or his company, as long as she got the money back, she was after (might I add it wasn’t the full amount she was after, but it was enough).

This angers me, but I can completely see Buddy’s point. She wanted the matter to be over for herself, on the other hand though, there is a real sense of we must stop others being put in the same position.

Fear not folks, this tale is not one of complete woe. This next part is of my absolute admiration for Buddy. For months HE had beaten her down and he won, she was defeated. BUT what the Rogue didn’t expect was the return of this strong lioness- unrelenting and not one to back down. Her fighting spirit returned bolstered by her people around her- carrying her, there to support her, and then behind her when she was ready to resume her lioness role.

She triumphed. She got back the money it had cost her to have her garden of her dreams completed by another company.

I think this leads me to my whole purpose of the post…. So, let’s draw some conclusions:

  1. Research a new tradesman you are using or thinking of using. Ideally go with someone who can give you a personal recommendation.
  2. Don’t be fooled by low prices- It’s usually low for a very good reason!
  3. NEVER, EVER under-estimate the strength of someone who openly talks about their mental health or poor mental health. Dealing with PTSD, Sever Depression etc in itself is a full-time job. Team that with employment and a family life, it is tough, and it is draining – but yet still we carry on!
  4. NEVER assume everyone is ok. We ALL have mental health. Some of you may be incredibly fortunate to be able to maintain good mental health. Support those around you that can’t
  5. Look for the signs that someone may be struggling. Get yourself educated on Mental Health Awareness or a Mental Health First Aider course 

Notice the changes from how someone around you “normally” behaves

If you’re in the Electrical Industry, Get in touch with the Electrical Industries charity and access the CPD Sessions from the NICEIC on “The Wire” about Mental Health

Look after each other folks x