Habiba, October 9, 2018

an image of the author with the quote: “Some days, I might be feeling overwhelmed and riddled with anxiety. Please know this isn’t me, it’s my illness taking over.”

Dear colleagues,

I want to be open with you all about my own mental health, particularly at work and I would appreciate it if you could take the time to finish reading this.

Most days, I am great. I’d be talkative, smiley and be my usual silly self. Other days, I’d be quiet and will keep myself to myself. Those days, I may be feeling overwhelmed, scared and riddled with anxiety. I may be a bit slower than usual. I may snap at you and become angry or rude (not intentional) and any noise around me will quickly irritate me (I have sensitivity to loud noise). Please know that, this isn’t me. It’s my illness taking over.

Please do not think any less of me because I may be a bit different to others around you. Borderline Personality Disorder, anorexia, anxiety and depression, all turns you into someone hard to recognise. I’ve been battling those demons for years. But it doesn’t mean I can’t do normal things. I’ve shown you all that I can. I adore this job and love how you all made me feel so welcome.

But when my illness is in full swing, I may need extra support from you guys. I’m not asking for much. Just listening or even just coming round to my desk to ask me how I am and a little chat will do. Sometimes when I’m feeling low, a nice chat from a friendly face can lift my mood. There are days when even getting up from my desk will be difficult for me due to complicated perfectionist reasons. Offering me to go for a walk (maybe not alone) can be helpful.

I may not always be able to come to staff lunches or events outside work because of my anxiety, especially if it involves food, so please understand that it’s not me being rude. I may not attend at all or may need a little bit of encouragement and support to be able to pluck up the courage to go.

There are days when I’ll be in physical pain (I have chronic arthritis) and may need to take the occasional sick day to recover. I tend to feel guilty for calling in sick or coming in late but please know that I need to put my health and recovery first. Please don’t think I’m unreliable. I am a hard worker and always go the extra mile to make sure others are happy with my work.

I want us, as a team, to be able to talk openly about our own mental health and this is why I’m telling you all this. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Please don’t treat me any differently. I’m still the Habiba you all know and can do all the things you can do.

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