I have experienced mental ill-health for all of my adult life. In recent years, I have become more comfortable identifying myself as a mental health consumer in my personal life and have become involved in some incredible opportunities outside of ‘work’.
However, in the last few months I have made a conscious decision to speak honestly and openly about my mental health at work.
I’m comfortable talking about things I know others might shy away from. I have to leave early for an appointment – with my psychiatrist. My joints hurt today – it’s a side effect from my medication. I’ll probably be quiet today – I’m feeling anxious and human interaction is difficult. When the setting is appropriate, I’ve talked about my symptoms, my diagnoses, my therapies, and my medications.
Because I want other people to know it’s ok to be not ok.
Because I think it’s important we talk about mental illness and how the colleagues we see around us as ‘normal’ often have invisible struggles.
Because it is very easy to accommodate small changes in working practices and habits that can be lifechanging if we embrace a culture of transparency and honesty, not fear and stigma.
I’m very lucky to work with supportive colleagues and have excellent managers. When I’ve experienced periods of mental ill-health that might have seen me unravel in the past, their approach has helped my recovery. But I talk about mental illness at work so much, not just so that I can get the support that I need, but so that we can normalise a workplace culture that empowers other people with mental illness.