People should be encouraged to disclose mental illnesses to their boss as easily as they would disclose physical ones. #endthestigma
Most of us work (or have worked) in artificial environments where small talk substitutes real human connection and people use verbal abominations like “synergy” and “tiger team.” Authenticity might be the new social media buzzword, but it’s hard to come by in Corporate America. Of course, I’ve never felt a sense of belonging in Corporate America and I don’t want to. I like being a weirdo with a dry sense of humor who wants to skip the water cooler talk and wants to learn what drives someone or what brand of fucked up they were raised with.
Look, I’m not a (completely) out-of-touch idealist. I know that coworkers depend on you doing your job well and sometimes you have to suck up your feelings to get the job done. This blog is semi-anonymous because companies, like people, simply don’t know how to deal with mental illness and I wanted to create a safe space. Nobody wants a depressed neurotic who questions the corporate status quo. More importantly, if you talked about your depression or anxiety as openly as you would tell your coworkers you’re coming down with a cold, you’d be met with blank stares or be labeled “crazy.”
We need to stop acting like plastic professionals who don’t have struggles, flaws, demons that drain us and strengthen us. I work hard, I play hard. When I believe in what I’m doing, I’m an unstoppable force of nature. I think quickly because I think all the time, I’m always on. It’s my blessing and my curse. My brain has no off switch, so it tells me things like “you will die never having achieved anything real” or “you will have a seizure driving this car.” Some days I live with anxiety and depression, some days I suffer from it. People with anxiety and depression aren’t any less capable of doing their jobs than those without. We just work differently. Consider this:
- More than 41 million Americans–18 percent of the population have some type of mental illness.
- Untreated mental illness could cost employers as much as $100 billion per year in the U.S. alone.
- Depression has become the world’s second leading cause of disability.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t feel the need to lie to our employers. We could call in depressed or anxious as easily as we would call in sick without fear of stigmatization or being fired. But we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in this one.