“If we lived in a stigma-free world, my experience of acceptance in the workplace would be common. I would not be incredibly lucky to have taken these risks and gained rather than lost.
The anonymous responses I received when I looked for different perspectives and stories of opening up about mental illness at the workplace reminded me of this. Most people on a popular forum I joined, including several therapists, advised against discussing mental illness among co-workers and supervisors, either under any circumstance or unless absolutely necessary.
“I personally do not tell my employer I suffer from depression,” one woman said. “I grew up when it was essentially Not Done to admit to any sort of mental illness, and if you did admit to it one of your employment prospects would disappear.””
Unfortunately, this is the reality. I had no choice but to tell my boss, Erin, about my mental health struggles (Disappearing for a couple of weeks tends to get noticed), and I was lucky. She was absolutely fantastic about it and did everything she could to help get me back to working normally. Seriously, I wish I had not lost touch with her and could tell her how much I appreciate what she did.
Later, another boss found out about my history from the previous job and he was pretty awful. Not mean, but just didn’t seem to know how to interact with me, ending up with me feeling extremely awkward at work. I wish there were more bosses out there like Erin.