Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. A day, I hope, many people took note of.
I have particular empathy with people who are struck down with stress or depression because I have been there myself.
In a nutshell, it was an accumulation of various events, mostly work-related, that led to my annus horribilis, as the Queen might say.
I am sure many of you reading this have experienced this at some point. And if you haven’t, the sad truth is you probably will at some point in your career.
Having some form of mental illness at work is as common as having a serious physical illness at some point. (Okay, I don’t have the stats to back this up, but it must be about right?)
But we never talk about mental illness quite as openingly as physical illness. And if we do, instead of getting tea and sympathy, all that happens is people look uncomfortable and shuffle away as soon as they can.
Like many others who have suffered this, in the weeks when it was worst, I still came to work and tried to carry on as normal (not an entirely successful strategy). It took months to fully recover and be able to cope with even the smallest stressor.
I was lucky – it was a light dose. Many others suffer worse.
Talking to people who have never suffered, I can understand why they do not get how debilitating this is, and why someone who used to be able to deal with work easily simply cannot anymore for no apparent reason.
But this is why we need to share more openly about mental health in the workplace. It is real, it is with us and no doubt one of your colleagues is dealing with it right now.