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Topic: Might revealing depression to co-workers/boss lead to better acceptance in the workplace?

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. Succulent Queen
    Succulent Queen avatar
    6 posts
    26 August 2020

    Hi All,

    First time posting so hope I do this right. Here we go..

    Over the years I've encountered many issues at work due to my long standing experience with depression. I have quit several roles in order to escape the judgement/stigma and my own resulting downward thought spiral stemming off of that judgement/stigma. In general the issues I've had are to do with building/maintaining rapport with co-workers/bosses/authority figures and an inability to make work friends or even acquaintances. I've also repeatedly experienced what I'd call a mild level of chronic bullying. The bullying was subtle but humiliating and devastating. Whilst it certainly didn't feel very subtle at the time, on reflection I can see that I blew things up to clinical proportions in my own mind. I think the bullying may have occurred as co-workers may have interpreted my aloofness/weirdness as rudeness or rejection ( have recently reflected on my own behaviours with a psychologist to consider how I may be coming across to others and the negative/unfriendly/awkward cues I might be displaying etc).

    There's a fair bit to the history but essentially I'm wondering if anyone has come clean, so to speak, to their employer or co-workers regarding depression. How did you go about doing this, what was the reaction from others and what was the long term result for you ie: did people leave you alone once they finally understood that you have a medical condition.

    I feel that to come out of the mental health closet may be the only way to make my work day emotionally manageable and continue with my right to earn an income. Just have no idea how to casually do this if it can be done.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.


    1 person found this helpful
  2. Gambit87
    Gambit87 avatar
    535 posts
    26 August 2020 in reply to Succulent Queen

    Hi Succulent Queen,

    Welcome to the forums!

    Based on my experience - opening up to my employer,boss and co workers has been done of the best things I have done and the best way to do it (IMO) is just be up front about it.

    When I told my boss and co workers they were so supportive and they continue to be supportive. If im having a bad day I let my boss know and I tell my team and they take the lions share of the work and cover for me while I do as little as possible. My Employer knows that I am taking steps to stay on track with my mental health (seeing a psychologist etc) so they have no issues.

    I think alot of employers (especially since covid) are more empathetic towards mental health these days.

    I hope this helps!

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Beccs
    Beccs avatar
    2 posts
    26 August 2020 in reply to Succulent Queen

    Hi there,

    My first time posting here as well :)

    If your depression/anxiety is affecting your work then yes, definitely speak with your manager privately, however, your colleagues do not need to know. If you feel comfortable telling them then sure, but I would suss out first their character/personality - are they mature enough? Do they believe in mental illness? While mental health awareness has come a long way not everyone takes it serious, not everyone believes it’s a real thing! (I’m married to such a person).

    My experience:

    I have suffered anxiety, depression since my teenager years. Never knew it then though. I’m 42 now.

    I was diagnosed with anxiety 6 years ago when I found out my husband had an affair. Since then anxiety has never been to far away... it will lay quiet sometimes for months only to resurface in full force, sometimes for no reason, other times because of what’s going on around me.
    so as I’m writing this my depression and anxiety is fully awake. I have had 3 days off work & really don’t want to go back at all.
    I have made my team leader aware and while she has been understanding I can’t help think she’s not getting how debilitating this can get. Maybe she does and it’s just my own paranoia, me analysing everything she says or does not say - I do my own head in!

    The point I guess I’m trying to make is this:

    It is important to let your boss know about these issues when they arise and only if it is going to or is affecting your work.
    if you have an altercation with an employee or feel they are making fun of you then address everything with your boss - let them know then. I would not recommend telling them unless it is affecting your ability to do your job.

    Sorry, probably didn’t help you at all :(

  4. botmij
    botmij avatar
    10 posts
    27 August 2020 in reply to Succulent Queen

    Hey succulent queen,

    Thanks for sharing your story, I think this is such an important topic. I know someone who shares a similar story to yours - that mild level of bullying where it is awkward to bring up, but also slowly just eats away at you and drives you insane. It's frustrating how some people don't understand the consequences of their actions, and I'm sorry you had to go through that.

    In my experience and personal opinion, the extent you share your mental health really depends on your environment. I think that as others have highlighted, letting your employer know at a surface level when you are suffering extreme moments of depression or anxiety can really pay off, by being honest with them without divulging too much of your personal life can can help build a relationship and some trust with them. The more comfortable you get at a workplace, the better they will get to know you and it will hopefully get easier. But at the same time, there are just some people out there that are too focused on working and are not ready to try understand your mental health. Similarly to what Beccs said, I also agree that talking to your co-workers about this is not the best unless you are really close friends outside of work.

    You could always start small, like by letting them know when things happen in the workplace that cause you discomfort, that way your days at work can be more of a clean slate.

    Also, I really liked the stuff you said about self-reflection on your actions. I think that speaks really highly of you and I hope to also achieve that kind of self-awareness one day as well :)

  5. Succulent Queen
    Succulent Queen avatar
    6 posts
    28 August 2020 in reply to Gambit87

    Hi Gambit87,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like you work with a progressive and understanding group of colleagues. It makes me happy to know that there are still great working environments out there where anyone experiencing mental health symptoms is supported and can hang onto their job. I often wonder what industries are most likely to do this for employees and whether I should re-train. I'm glad someone out there is getting a break. It instils hope for others who are being stigmatised. Thanks again for your input.

  6. TheBigBlue
    TheBigBlue avatar
    131 posts
    28 August 2020

    Hi Succulent Queen,

    I have told my immediate manager & she has been wonderfully supportive. One colleague knows I see a psychologist but she doesn’t know the extent of my mental health - I have anxiety, depression & complex trauma so some days it’s really tough to just get myself out of a bed.

    There are certain people in my office who I just know would think it all as make believe, & I’m certain there would be some stigma. So I only told my manager (as it was obviously affecting my work) & the 1 colleague who I trust.

    No body else needs to know unless you want them to know. You could always just mention you have a health condition that you don’t wish to speak about & just leave it at?

    Best of luck

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