My mental health hasn’t truly impacted my life for a long time, until now that is. I have suffered with mental health issues since being a teenager (well over 10 years), yet my life so far has been full and thrilling. I have been to university, held down jobs, travelled abroad, progressed in my career and got married. Mental illness doesn’t need to take over your life, or be overtly visible to those that know you.
However, recently I have felt the need to resign from my job. After a particularly stressful period at work I started to suffer from acute panic attacks. I mentioned these to my superiors and took a few days off in order to regroup, yet things didn’t improve when I returned. I continued as best I could for the subsequent weeks but finally reached a time when I was unable to function. In fact, when my alarm went off that morning I was simply unable to move.
There came a point where I had to take time off work
I took my first ever ‘mental health’ sick day from work and lay perfectly still staring at the ceiling as I didn’t have the energy for anything else. I debated with myself whether I could check myself into a mental health hospital without ‘creating a fuss’ and spent hours tearfully apologising to my husband for being such a burden. This turned into a two month recovery period with regular visits to my GP and a referral to the CMHT.
My family and friends were all as wonderful as usual (I tend to have bouts of depression at least once a year, but not severe enough to take time off work), and put up with my neediness and inability to function socially. Above all my husband has been the best spending a fortune on Lush products to entice and motivate me to get a bath, encouraging me to go out walking with him on his days off and inventing games and challenges to aid my recovery that meant I had to leave the house at least once a day.
I also found a great deal of comfort and help through a local women’s project in York named Kyra (@KyraWomen on Twitter). The staff, volunteers and women who attend are welcoming and friendly, instantly making you feel at home. There is no judgement, just coffee, crafts and chat making it a place I feel safe and accepted. Something you don’t find very often when you experience mental health problems.
However, my employers were incredibly supportive
Throughout all of this my managers and HR team were incredibly supportive. I kept them updated with my progress and was trying desperately to get back to normal, and was pleasantly surprised when out of the blue I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my friends and colleagues in a bid to ‘cheer me up’. After a few months when I still felt unable to return to work I thought that resigning from my position would be in the best interest of both my employer and my health.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as I have discovered that employers can be extremely helpful and supportive when coping with a bout of depression, and it has allowed me the time and space I need to recover, as well as considering whether my current career path is the right one for me.