Today is World Mental Health Day. A day, according to World Health Organization, created
“with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.”
This year the focus is on mental health in the work place. And on that note I would like to share my journey with obtaining accommodations at work.
In 2016 I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (one day I’ll have to tell y’all about the day I got THAT letter in the mail from Kaiser…that was a tough pill to swallow). I had just decided to go back to therapy but I’ve struggled with symptoms of depression and anxiety for much longer. Honestly, this is my 4th or 5th (I don’t even know anymore) shot at therapy and the longest amount of time I’ve spent with one provider.
Okay so look…I wouldn’t dare try to sit here an act like therapy didn’t work and wasn’t worth continuing. I just wasn’t ready and used my busy schedule as an excuse to not go and ignore what was going on with me. I know better now though.
At the time I was going through a lot emotionally that was exacerbating my symptoms and my feminine health had become unbearable physically which was also taking a toll on me emotionally. Suffice it to say – I WAS A WRECK! Truth be told I had been for a while but I hadn’t faced it yet, again…too busy! I was in a new job and had been having issues with getting up for work on a regular basis. I was calling out often or simply going in late because mornings were impossible, especially after the nights where my hormones decided sleep was not in the cards for me.
It was then that my new therapist started talking to me about accommodations at work. When I tell you I looked at this woman sideways…
I was surprised, confused, and offended all at once. I had been working in social services and therapy for several years but I never knew that accommodations were available for people who had mental or emotional health diagnoses. I honestly only thought it was for physical health concerns but even then I was offended by her suggestion that I needed accommodations in order to manage my workload given the toll my physical health was taking on my mental and emotional health.
You see, YES I decided to study mental health and make a career of it but this was never something we talked about in my house growing up. Mental health was only mentioned in passing jokes regarding people who talk to themselves which of course was referred to as “crazy”. I had a few obvious spells of depression in high-school and my parents did a good job of checking in with me and trying to manage it but never was I taken to a professional. To be honest, I don’t think they knew that was even an option for my roller coaster of sadness and anger.
And, although my menstrual cycle was always a problem that led to many missed days of school, doctors said it was normal at my age and I would grow out of it. They gave me pain meds and birth control and sent me on my way. Basically, I learned to talk when things got REALLY bad or pop a few pain pills for the physical pain but mostly just to push through, stay busy and never give up.
So naturally when my therapist brought up accommodations I struggled with the idea. I always took pride in being able to get everything done despite how I felt. Obtaining accommodations meant admitting defeat.
It wasn’t until my supervisor at the time, an amazing and supportive woman who created an environment in which I felt comfortable enough to share my struggles, said “you need to take care of yourself” that I realized an accommodation wasn’t about admitting defeat. Here are the points she made that stood out me:
- It doesn’t mean you can’t do the work
- It helps you not have to work harder/over compensate when you aren’t feeling well
- Over compensating is stressful on your body and makes it difficult to heal & recover
- YOU ARE CAPABLE! No one is questioning that
- Accommodations don’t have to be forever but can be if you need them to be
- It can help to protect your job
- Be gentle with yourself
Fast forward to now, about a year since I acquired the accommodations, and I have to say she was right. I hadn’t realized how much additional pressure and stress I was putting myself through by simply pushing through when I really needed to take more time to rest. I was so busy trying to keep up with everyone else that I was inadvertently neglecting myself in the process.
The best thing that came out of all of this? PEACE OF MIND! No more super stressful weeks of not resting 12 hours a night when my body needs it simply because I’m too busy trying to keep up.
Moral of the story: You are not weak for taking care of yourself! Your mental health is important!!
In Perfect Love,