My names Liam Bewers, i am currently a junior sous, and have been cooking for roughly 9 years now.
Being a young chef within the industry, I probably haven’t faced the stresses and struggles of some, but just over a year ago everything changed rather quickly, I had been feeling down for some time, and quite fed up in general really with the pressures of work and trying to make time for myself everything was a bit too much.
I had come into work one day at a job I had been at for around 3 months, I didn’t realise my life was about to change for the worse that day.
Accidents happen, and you never think they can happen to you, I always heard of nasty accidents happening in kitchens, or on the usual health and safety videos you watch but I never thought I would experience anything in my life like that.
I had come in around 5 minutes late one day due to traffic, nothing was going right for the day at all, deliveries late, fridge was down and lost all of my prep, trying to remain positive as hard as it is sometimes, it can only get better ? Oh how very wrong I was
I had just come back into the kitchen, a colleague was panicking, I didn’t know what was going on, walked back to my section, glanced over, and saw a blow torch bobbing up and down in the fryer. Instantly I thought I need to get it out or turn it off or something, I panicked and turned off the fryer, thinking it was the right thing at the time, not knowing how long it had been there, as soon as I turned off the fryer, it exploded, luckily I managed to move my face, but my head and back was covered in burning hot oil.
I feared the worst and as I couldn’t see the burns as they were on my back I could only imagine I looked like a roast pork loin covered in cracking.
I felt like it was all my fault, I had felt like it was my punishment as I have done something wrong
Luckily the team I was working with, and especially my General Manager and friend Mark Gigg reacted so quickly, I was not left with any permanent injuries. I ended up in hospital, and was told it wasn’t as serious as I thought
So I thought
Although I was not left with any permanent scars, the impact this event has had on my life has been brutal. Several of my close friends know how much it had changed me for the worse
To start with I did the usual “man” thing to do, “No it’s fine I’ll come back to work, I’m only bored at home” having just one day off after the incident, didn’t help me at all.
I was burnt out (literally), exhausted, hurting, but I just kept going and going and going, which is a recipe for disaster.
It was only until I was waking up in the night having nightmares barely being able to sleep and having flash backs that I knew something was wrong. My motivation was at zero, my moods could sometimes be bad, but they were very awful at this point I was not a nice person to be around, I was on edge most of the time, my appetite was zero, I was barely eating or drinking, and I could feel myself becoming worse and worse. The love for cooking at this point was definitely gone.
I thought everything that went wrong both at work and in my personal life was all my fault, any and everything that went wrong at work I felt like it was my fault.
I felt like I was genuinely falling apart. I’d wake up everyday for work, aching, not wanting to move, or even leave the house, even on my days off, I barely wanted to go out and do anything, I could feel my life and career slipping away from me, I needed to take control.
I was put into contact with a high intensive CBT (cognitive behavioural therapist) I had PTSD. I then began a very long and in-depth process to help deal with what has happened, and to make it more manageable.
Since then I have finished therapy, although it was a long and sometimes draining process i am so glad that I have managed to get through it,
I can now recognise stress a lot easier and how to deal with it in a proper way.
I’m not so threat focused now and can actually start to enjoy my job again. And actually focus my energy into cooking instead of everything going on around me.
I’ve gained a lot of positivity back and feel like I’ve got myself back now. I feel more in control of myself and the way I deal with a lot of things.
Sometimes flashbacks happen
Sometimes I have bad days
Sometimes I feel like the accident didn’t happen
Sometimes I feel great
Then sometimes I feel horrendous
But I won’t let it stop me from doing what I love
I hear loud bangs sometimes and feel like it’s all happening again
Sometimes I can’t even bring myself to use a blowtorch
Anyone who feels anything like this, please speak to someone, being a fellow chef, a friend anyone. We all as chefs can struggle at some point in our life/career, and you never know when someone may need help. It’s okay to ask for help.