by Michael Holman
We all look forward during our working careers towards a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement. There is never a good or convenient time to hear the devastating news that one has been diagnosed with a serious, painful and very troublesome condition such as pemphigus vulgaris, but for me it came on top of other serious health problems. It’s difficult enough coping with the condition itself but coupled with the side effects of all the medication it made the future look bleak, onerous and at times almost hopeless.
For me, a lengthy and very demanding career in the police force resulted in a serious nervous breakdown which seemed to be the obvious start of all my health problems. As a Detective for most of my career, my days were filled with excessive working hours dealing with daily confrontations, very unpleasant people, death and other extremely distressing incidents. This was during years when very little, if any support was available to help police officers cope with the unreasonable mental and physical demands of the job. I always strived to give 100% and although I had seen others similarly affected, I never dreamt that I was a person who could be so seriously affected by the excessive stress imposed on me. Specialists told me that my recovery from such a serious breakdown would be a very lengthy and very difficult path.
I was told I was seriously burnt out and it might take a considerable number of years to restore my mind and body to reasonable health. To then be diagnosed with both Haemachromotosis and PV (both appearing to be triggered as a result of this stress related illness), was — to say the least — traumatic, bewildering and completely unhelpful to someone already suffering serious stress related illness. When coupled with the added difficulties that the heavy medication can cause, it would have been easy in the beginning to give up mentally and sit indoors without any focus, ambition or hope whatsoever. But fear not fellow sufferers! It’s still possible to achieve ambitions. I have now been living with this illness for five years and am unfortunately still on high doses of steroids and immunosuppressants with active lesions in my mouth, on my face and occasionally on my body. A relatively new complication is troublesome muscular and joint aches and pains probably resulting from the steroid treatment.
I decided about two years into the illness that I must stay focused and do something to take my mind away from my symptoms as it’s so easy to become completely encapsulated in the problems this disease presents. Something perhaps which would satisfy a lifelong ambition. Perhaps something that would make me proud of myself because, particularly with a breakdown, it’s easy to feel ashamed of oneself or to feel a complete failure.
What then? Well, I love books and bearing in mind my career experience I decided I should write a crime fiction novel, but with an approach that would give the reader a realistic image of British Detective work, the serious side, the light hearted sometimes humorous side, the stresses and the temptations. Well, little did I know how difficult and time consuming writing a book would be, although time was something I had plenty of whilst at home coping with illness! I had some rough ideas but decided to just write and let the story take me wherever it wanted to go rather than have any set plot and ending from the outset. Many times I nearly gave up, but with encouragement from friends and family I am proud to say that three years later the book, Three Steps to Hell, by me, Mike Holman, is published and available through Amazon.com and several other internet books shops and a copy proudly adorns my bookshelf.
I hope the book will be a great success but only time will tell and any help available out there to assist in publicizing my achievement would be very greatly appreciated. However, the most important thing to me is that I can feel proud that I have managed to achieve something despite and in spite of such difficult years. So, if the future is looking bleak for any of you, try and focus on achieving something which will mean a great deal to you and help to divert your thoughts away from the problems surrounding this distressing illness. Trust me it helps!