To the HR manager sitting at your desk, perhaps sipping a cup of coffee, whilst going through the big pile of application forms. Please do not just throw mine in the bin, as soon as you see I have a mental illness. Take the time to see the positives; the value I can bring to your organisation. You may see me as a ‘challenge’ or ‘problem’, but if you support me and give me a chance, I will show you the hard work and commitment I am capable of.
To my manager who, later than expected, realised I have a mental illness; Generalised Anxiety Disorder partnered with Autism. It took a lot of courage to share my experiences with you and was a scary thing to do. It also took a lot to manage a history of anxiety and self-harm, to the point I could be a little happier about myself.
Please do not treat me as a ‘challenge’ or ‘something to be gotten rid of’. I did not choose to have a mental illness; mental illness does not discriminate. I want so much to do a good job and I love my job. I know there may be challenges but if you support me, I will do everything to ensure I do my job to the best of my ability. Do not see my illness as ‘a risk’ or something to fear. It makes me have huge amounts of compassion and empathy for others in a world that is too quick to judge.
If you judge, question or criticise me because of my mental illness, I will fail at my job. I will lose self-esteem and confidence. My health will deteriorate. Once the problem has gone for you, remember you have left a mark on someone. You may not see it, but it is there - it hurts and stays with you forever. I will find it difficult to trust others. I will be less likely to discuss my mental health with others, which in turn will cause further damage that cannot be taken away. Stigma is just as wrong and damaging as physical violence.