Dawn, December 13, 2018

“Anyone with a mental health issue has good and bad days, copes well or struggles, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible, reliable, or able to do a very good job.” - Dawn

In my role as a Chief Operating Officer for a charity, I have come across many different views and opinions on mental health issues. These have been both a lovely surprise or struck me silent with shock.

I once sat in a meeting and was told that a volunteer wasn’t able to give their time in the office because “she isn’t reliable or stable enough”. When I asked why, I was casually told; “Oh, she has mental problems, you know what these people are like, they cannot cope.” Now, as I myself have bipolar, I was very surprised to find out that I also shouldn’t be stable or reliable!

I spent half an hour explaining, as politely as I could, that the simple act of this lady offering to volunteer would have taken courage and that she should be encouraged and supported. People looked at me around that table like I was an unexploded bomb about to go off or like I had suddenly declared that I am an alien from Mars come to take over the world. People suddenly avoided eye contact and shifted away like I had something contagious.

One of the comments I get, that annoys me the most, is when people say that they “would never have guessed you had a problem” and that despite my mental health issues, I have “done well!”…NO, I have done well through hard work and determination, and by working on my issues every single day, thank you very much!

I am never ashamed of having bipolar and will not be apologetic about it. I know many intelligent, dedicated and hardworking people who have mental health issues and are fantastic at their jobs and have responsible roles. And I am proud of every single one of them.

When you have bipolar, you often have self-doubt and feel worthless - to have the courage to get out there and try your best takes a lot of inner strength. Sometimes it takes all of your energy just to go into work in the morning and get through the day - but you do it because you are determined to.

Anyone with a mental health issue has good days and bad days, copes well or struggles, but that doesn’t mean to say we aren’t responsible, or reliable, or able to do a very good job. So, let’s all support one another out there in the workplace. Every tiny bit of understanding makes a huge difference and breaks down the stigma around mental health at work. 

Read more personal stories >

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.