In September, I began to spiral with anxiety at work. I had a tough home life, two projects at work…
In September, I began to spiral with anxiety at work. I had a tough home life, two projects at work went wrong, and my confidence in my skills, my abilities and my own value was quite a blow.
Thoughts I could not control began taking over my concentration. Bad thoughts. Thoughts that my boss would be disappointed. Shall be angry. Would think I was damn. Thoughts I was a fraud. How did I work for this job a year when I was clearly inability and an idiot?
It was not just a bad day. I was a bad person.
I sat there staring at my computer screen, and from the outside everything looked good. I read emails, handled requests, answered questions, but inside I melted.
So I told my boss I was sick, and I went home for the day.
And I was sick, but not the way I told her. I told her I had an upset stomach that I felt calm all day, and I thought it was a cold to come on. I went home and removed myself from the situation that made me spiral with anxiety and gives me a chance to regroup, curl up in bed for an afternoon and overcome panic and negative self-esteem.
I wanted to feel better and go back to work the next day fresh and ready to deal with the problems with a clear mind. I wanted to feel well again. In exactly the same way I do when I need to recover from a cold.
I lied to my boss for an unfair stigma regarding mental illness at the workplace and in general. When someone takes a sick day because of viruses or colds, their absence is not considered as proof that they can not handle their work. No, they are temporarily ill and return to work when they feel better ̵
1; no better or worse at work than before.
I wanted to feel well again. In exactly the same way I do when I need to recover from a cold.
This is the case, but: The same should be said to those living with mental illnesses, but it is not so.
I do not want management thinking I can not do my job. On the contrary, I’m actually very good at it. But mental illness can have invisible symptoms without any signs that you can not cope until you suddenly fail
. Leaders can not see it coming and renting or marketing someone who sees having a ticking time bomb inside them seems likely to be a risky move compared to picking someone who has no bomb in them at all – as they know anyway. The mental illness bombs within me, but not always, and when it starts, I can – and do – take action to disable it.
But there is still stigmatization. Those of us with mental illnesses are seen as weak. And why am I so stubborn about this that I feel obliged to lie to my employer about it?
Since I have experienced the first hand of stigmatism.
Once again, when working for a multi-month contract at an earlier workplace, all managers in the various departments spent half a day training on how to support their mental health. At that time I went through a rather rough, stressful and distracting home situation because because of the special training that my boss had completed, I thought it would be reasonable to inform her about the temporary problems I had because I feared It affects my concentration and my work.
I got the support I needed: If I had to take a day off at some point to take care of myself, she said, then I should let her know.
At least she said that she would be supportive. But when it came to being supportive, she did not show up.
The stressful and distracting home situation came to mind, and I thought I was about to snap. I felt like I could get mad from the stress of everything and my anxiety about the impact it had at work. I needed a day to pull myself together, sort out some things and rearrange. I arranged for a colleague to handle some work that might have to do, and she understood, more than happy to help keep my project on track.
My boss, however, was not so understanding. After her previous offer, when it actually came to take a sick day, she said she found it inappropriate and unacceptable. And then to work I went – felt delicate, felt a little less than skilled and felt embarrassing and anxious to request the leave that I thought would have been accepted at the beginning.
Of four contract workers, I was the only one who had entered any personal struggles (although I was not the only one fighting) and was the only one whose contracts were not renewed. It is a very real result to acknowledge poor mental health.
My mental illness is a strength. These parts of me make me really good at my work.
So I’ve learned to lie. The lie increases short-term anxiety, but is unfortunately absolutely worth it for the stability and the continuation of my career. A chronic pain person has a chronic illness, just as I do with chronic depression. But chronic pain is not seen as a weakness in character as mental illness is. I do not understand it.
To me, my mental illness is a strength. Living with deepening obscures my thoughts, covers emotions so that I can not feel anything, it takes a lot of strength to continue with that burden. It takes a fee on me, but when I can take care of myself and my mental health, my depression makes me stronger.
My depression makes me more empathetic and compassionate to others because I feel the heart and emptiness and do not want others to go through it too. My anxiety makes me ready I often think of the worst scenario, so if the worst case occurs, I know how to handle it.
These parts of me actually make me good at my work. Not bad. But these forces still do not feel often.
An inability to do your job because you have a cough and throat is seen as an inability to work effectively in the short term. No one will even remember in a month. But excuse yourself from work for one day because you’re breathing with anxiety and need to go back and get over it can affect an employer’s longer term view of your abilities, even if you take the day that you can recover and be better than earlier.
Stage mathematics is real and undeserved. Mental illness does not define me, and I’m stronger than I care for. But until managers and employers begin to treat mental illness as equally as manageable in their employees as physiological disease, and not a weakness, I’ll lie and there are so many others.
Has a persuasive first person story you want to share with you? Send your story description to [email protected]