I’ve suffered with anxiety and OCD for well over ten years. I didn’t know for a long time what was “wrong” with me – it gradually got worse and consumed more and more of my life. For most my teenage years leading into early twenties I thought I was just a bit “weird” and it was just who I was as a person – awkward, unlikeable and a clean freak terrified of germs.
A few weeks ago my best friend came to visit me and although she knows about my eating disorder, I was still worried about seeing her. We have a long-distance friendship and I hadn’t seen her for over a year - so naturally my anxiety started to kick in as I just wanted the day to go perfectly.
I was worrying about everything, from what we were going to do, talk about, how long she would stay, what time she would arrive, would I get too tired, what if I can’t handle it…and most importantly I didn’t want things to dwell on my relapse.
I've been a Time to Change Champion for a number of years now but it's only very recently I have joined with the movement. I would be lying if I told you this involvement has been easy. But I hope, my struggles make things better for others like me who are living with a mental illness.
I'd like to talk about my experiences with work, good and bad. The reaction of a manager to your disclosure of mental health difficulties can really make a difference to the way you feel and how open you’ll be with future employers.
I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve been diagnosed with panic disorder. Over the years my anxiety has had peaks and troughs and I’ve needed to tell my managers about it.
When it comes to the need to talk about our mental health, we seem to put all of the responsibility in the court of the person who is already struggling. Sure, nobody can read minds, and people can’t expect specific help without asking for it. But mental health problems can make it harder to talk and ask for help in the first place. The responsibility of reaching out for help has to be matched with our shared responsibility to look out for each other - to provide safe spaces to talk, to listen, and to offer caring responses.