When you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, or any other unpleasant feeling it’s not uncommon to feel alone. I’m very lucky to have an incredible support system of loved ones and mental health professionals, but one of my favorite support systems came from an unexpected place: work.
During the first few months at my job I changed medications and the process was anything but pleasant. I felt physically and mentally drained, and was having a hard time keeping it together at work. With the fear of being reprimanded or even fired, I decided to say something to my boss. Not only was he completely accepting, he had been through a very similar experience himself. I felt more comfortable at work and mentioned that I had a mental illness to a coworker who told me about a mental health group at our company; an online support channel made up of employees.
In this group we share the highs and the lows and speak freely without fear of judgement. We even started meeting in person in the New York office, which have such a loving, supportive energy. This groups gives me a feeling that my company supports me and I have a support system within these walls.
But don’t just take my word for it, here’s what some of my amazing, brave coworkers have to say:
“I took a 4 months of medical leave from work to deal with a debilitating episode of depression. Managing my ongoing transition back to work (along with the continued depression symptoms, and the seemingly endless search for “the right meds” and “the right therapist”) has been difficult. But having a manager who I can be completely honest with during down and unproductive weeks, a team that proactively reaches out to offer their support, and a group of like-minded individuals in a public slack channel (!!) who are open and honest about sharing their own positive and negative experiences has motivated me to continue prioritizing my wellbeing and self-kindness. Without these compassionate work support networks, I imagine that I’d still be on leave, and I feel grateful to work at a company that really does let me “bring my whole self to work.””
“Having an inclusive and safe channel to discuss my mental health at work helps make me more productive. I’m less afraid and anxious to go to work in the morning when I know I have a place I can turn to for support from my peers that understand what I’m going through and can help me navigate my way through the tough times.”
I know most companies don’t have support groups like this, but there are hundreds and thousands of other online support groups out there. Just having someone say “me too” or “that sounds really hard, I’m sorry to hear that” can have such a positive impact. Do a Google search for the type support your looking for and you will find endless resources. Remember, there is no need to suffer alone; there are people just like you who will understand.