May 18, 2012

Photo of a woman stood in front of the seaI had been working for my current employer a few years when one day my depression spilled over into a breakdown right there in the office in front of everyone. No one really knew what to do but they calmed me as best they could and got me home safely.

I went on sick leave and during this period of sick leave was admitted voluntarily into the local psychiatric unit for two or three weeks. While there I received my diagnosis and rather than being upset, I was actually relieved to finally have a name for the beast that had stalked me all my life. I saw it as a chance for a positive change.

While in the hospital I had a couple of visits from my colleagues at work and at every stage they kept in touch. When I was discharged, my boss worked with me to create a phased return plan and eased me back into my duties very gradually.

Over the following years they were happy to allow time off for any and all appointments

Over the following years they were happy to allow time off for any and all appointments as they arose and have always been incredibly understanding when I have had to take time off work when my condition worsened.

Over the past few years I have also self-harmed. Always at home and usually where it could be hidden. However, a few weeks ago I was consumed by stress and without thinking went to a back room and self-harmed. It wasn't very bad but it did need a dressing.

The first aider told her manager who told my manager who told the boss himself and suddenly I was in the spotlight. I was got safely home and was given a few days paid leave while they investigated the cause of the stress.

When I returned I had a meeting with the boss and then with my immediate boss who were both very understanding and helpful. I am now back at work and I feel comfortable because of all the support they have offered me.

Everyone in the office now knows about my mental illness

Everyone in the office now knows about my mental illness and my self-harm. I feel like a weight has been lifted and my boss has supported my decision to be totally open about things.

I have an open door available with my boss if ever I feel I need to talk or if I have an issue I need to discuss or if I am feeling unwell. I meet just for 5 mins every friday with the personnel manager just to check in and let her know how I'm doing. My manager checks discreetly a couple of times a week just to make sure I'm coping ok and I'm happy with the workload.

she has told me that she will be there for me if I need her

My manager and I go out every lunch time for a short walk in a nearby park and just chat away socially and she has told me that she will be there for me if I need her. I get all the time off I need for appointments - and sometimes there have been up to 3 in one week. They are totally fine with that.

They are aware of my ongoing problems such as concentration issues or occasional social withdrawal but they offer support discreetly and allow me to work through the issues in my own time. By the end of the week/month the work is usually all caught up so my fluctuating performance is seen to balance out over time.

I haven't actually been off sick since September

I haven't actually been off sick since September but I know that if I need to go home early or run late due to a bad night that no issue will be made of it.

My actions that day scared some people and worried everyone. By deciding to be totally open I have created a more comfortable atmosphere and my boss approves of this. Some of the staff have asked questions and opened discussions about my mental illness. It's good to be able to openly talk about things.

 I actually can’t think of other ways in which this small family firm could be more supportive. I am so lucky.

I have asked that I be told if anyone notices a change in my mood or behaviour that may be of concern - just incase I lack insight. They have agreed to this. I actually can’t think of other ways in which this small family firm could be more supportive. I am so lucky.

I just wanted to share my story to show that the work to raise awareness and lift the stigma of mental illness has really helped me.

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