Anyone who follows me on Facebook will know I work now. Yay!
It’s no secret I’m a suffererer of depression.
Ok that may be news to my work colleagues. But it’s not like it’s the first thing you want to say. Hire me, I’ve got depression! In fairness, it’s a charity that work with people with disabilities. I hear the words ‘mental health’ every single day, and I only look after the office. But still, it’s not something you NORMALLY boast about. So if you’re a new work colleague reading this: I have depression. I’m not ashamed of it. Depression teaches you things. Depression makes you a better person, eventually.
I’ve been in work now for nearly two months.
I’ve learnt things.
Work teaches you things. (Who knew?) it makes you a better person. Probably.
I’ve been in work now for nearly two months.
OMG I feel like a different person. I wanted to go back to work because I was bored. In hindsight I was halfway towards another breakdown. I’d lost interest in everything. All I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn’t be bothered to eat, but drink? Yes, pass the wine.
But I’ve been in work now for nearly two months.
I’m interested in things. I’m looking for things to learn. I want to be a better employee, a better mother, a better wife, a better governor, a better person. I’m managing without my daytime nap (obviously) at least 5 days a week. And I’m thinking about lunch and eating properly. And I’m finally managing a few days without wondering where the next wine is. Life is better.
I work (for nearly two months now, did I say?) for a charity that helps people with diasabilities and/or disadvantages find and retain work. So it’s quite sensible that I’ve found working for them so cathartic.
But i still have the depression. As much as I’d like it to have been cured by working. It hasn’t.
I feel the effects every day.
I concentrate all day so concentrating at home is harder. And that’s more obvious now because my mind is more tuned to wanting to be better.
I feel things at home more. I have to pretend at work so the kids’ annoyances are felt more quickly.
If something happens at work: a busy day, something goes wrong, they dont react as I think they should, or I do something wrong (OMG I’m not perfect! Is it possible?). It’s felt harder than I think it should. The old responses are deployed: wine, sleep or avoidance: I’ve considered leaving at least twice a day. Is that normal? I’m not sure I know what ‘normal’ is anymore.
In work I have coincidentally been reconnected with a cause I feel strongly about: Time to change (Time to change Wales). It’s time to change the way we talk about mental health. Depression doesn’t go away. Mine is better, under control. But it’s still there. But it doesn’t make me a lesser individual, a lesser employee for having it. I think I’m ok at my job. They like me because sometimes I have some wacky ideas. Some wacky ideas may need moderating, but some are a breath of fresh air. Diversity is good. Diversity is the future.
So maybe tomorrow I’ll tell them I have depression and ask them to make reasonable adjustments. (But of course I won’t: it’s not ‘done’)
Reasonable adjustments: what exactly are they for depresssion? Asking if I’m ok? Checking I know what I’m doing and it’s not too overwhelming? Checking I’m not too stressed?
Shouldn’t all employers do that?
Isn’t ‘reasonable adjustments’ for mental health just good HR practice?
Does that mean good HR practice assumes everyone has mental health problems?
Which is what I’ve been saying all along.
Show me someone who has never experienced some degree of mental health issues: stress, anxiety, post natal depresssion, grief (yep, that includes you RR81 followers), and others. They are few.
Why are we dealing with everyone as if they were the few? It’s because the many don’t speak out.
It’s ok to have mental health issues. Just as it’s ok to have physical health issues. It’s ok to have the flu, it’s ok to have a broken leg and it’s ok to have MS: reasonable adjustments are Ok. Stay off work for a a few days and don’t infect the rest of us. Work from home for a few days. We’ll sort a disabled parking space and not ask you to move around the office too much. It’s all doable. You’re still a worthy member of the office. You still have skills to add.
You having a bad day? Just complete your priority tasks.
You stressing out about having too much to do? Talk to your supervisor and prioritise and delegate.
You thinking you’re useless and everyone hates you? Ask for a performance review to outline what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong so you can improve.
It’s not rocket science. Any worthwhile employer will accommodate this. Most will if you phrase it right.
But will we?
it’s not British.
We might be sacked for being weak.
Does that make us wrong or the system?
It’s time to change. http://www.timetochangewales.org.uk/en/
Ps. My work have very good HR practices and carry out these as best they can with the information I give them. And therein lies the problem: what WE choose to say.