I wish that back in 2016 I could have seen what my life would have been like today, as I feel like a completely different person, my whole attitude towards life and mental health has completely changed for the better. Back in 2016, I was working at a job that was excellent for my career however, I really disliked the working environment. I was suffering from mental health issues at the time, and could barely get myself out the door, let alone, out of bed. Every day I would question myself if I had the strength to get through the day.
I decided to share my mental health issues with my boss, thinking that him knowing what I’m going through would help with the overall work environment, however, the situation just got much worse. I was repeatedly belittled, and told that my mental health was having a negative impact on my coworkers, and that I couldn’t work flexible hours because he didn’t want my coworkers to think I was getting special treatment, even though, everyone had flexible working hours as it was part of the work policy.
When I would take days off for being sick, I would receive emails that were of bullying nature, and when I was diagnosed with depression, I was told by my boss that I am making his job harder. This all happened at a time when I was finding it difficult to see the bigger picture because I was stuck in this black hole of depression. Therefore, I took all that happened very seriously, and was very sensitive to it all, and this made my depression much worse.
I didn’t get the help I needed or deserved from my workplace, until I decided to make a formal complaint of harassment and bullying after months of receiving all these negative comments and associations regarding to my mental health. If my boss and my coworkers had training to teach them how to support someone with a mental health issue, I might have still been there. I will never forget the feeling I felt every day before going to work, always fearing what my boss will say to me, and the feeling of not wanting to wake up the next day.
To feel like I had gone from someone who strived in her career, to being told that I was failing to make a contribution, was very upsetting. I eventually received an apology from my boss, and soon after he left the company. I ended up finally getting the help I needed to help me move on from that experience, and I was able to manage my mental health at work. I don’t feel depressed anymore, however, I now know that my depression can creep up on me at any time, like it has before. There are days that I feel as if a dark cloud has come over me, however, I’ve learned to accept these feelings, and deal with them as they come.
Now I can finally look back on this negative experience I had at work as a learning experience. It taught me to grow and accept my mental health issues, rather than be ashamed of them, or fear what others may say or think. Now I have the confidence to stand up for myself and know what is best for me, and when to ask for help to get the support I need. In facing one of the hardest years of my life, I have learned what true resilience really is. I wish that my workplace had been given the support that they needed to be able to support me. Both my boss and I had to give up our careers at an amazing job just because neither of us knew how to cope with mental health issues at the time. Mental health education and training is very important as we all deserve to feel safe at work, or any other environment.
When we are feeling weak, we need the support of our workplace in order to provide us with the flexibility we need to be well, and also to be productive. Without a correct understanding of mental health at work, the same thing that happened to me will continue, and it will continue to be the norm as it is in most places now.
I recently read a few articles about bullying and mental health at work, and while this made me realize I am not alone, it also made me realize just how important it is to be able to speak up and openly about mental health and to share how we are feeling. We must call out any injustices that we see people with mental health issues facing at work, if we do not, then we will not make any real change for the future. No one should suffer what I suffered and be belittled into thinking that their mental health is a burden because their boss doesn’t have the right experience or training to support them.
All mental health issues are difficult for the one suffering them, and for the people around them. However, with the right tools and the right help, they can have a successful career. We have a long way to go to get there, but there is hope. I didn’t feel that way back then, but I definitely feel it now. It really is time that we change the way the world views mental health.
Mental Health in the Workplace. (2019, April 10). Retrieved July 26, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html
Publishing, H. (2010, February). Mental health problems in the workplace. Retrieved July 26, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/mental-health-problems-in-the-workplace