Despite advances organisations are making in reducing the stigma around mental ill-health in the workplace, making the leap to ask your manager for time off remains a daunting and challenging prospect.
When one is experiencing acute levels of depression or anxiety – as was the case for me at the beginning of the year – it can be hard to distinguish, and adapt, between the personal and work spheres.
Everything becomes consumed by a swinging pendulum of emotions, and there is seemingly no centre ground to anchor oneself in the routine of everyday life.
This can be scary, daunting and often hard to communicate with your colleagues, friends and family.
Having said that, acknowledging there is a problem is the first step in feeling better.
The opportunity to explore what in Gestalt psychology is called a ‘Fertile Void’ – a period allowing emptiness, reflection and flourishing – can be the most productive and beneficial solution in the long term for your work and personal life.
It is likely that those in daily contact with you will have already noticed small changes in your behaviour which may indicate you are struggling.
Luckily at Well at Work, we practice what we preach – and our team have harnessed an open and inclusive culture.
Speaking honestly to my line manager was a massive weight off my shoulders, and it provided the action for the second step – which was to ask HR (having seen my local GP) for time off and have all responsibilities put on pause. Much to the thanks of a very supportive and trusting team.
During that two-week period, I was able to fully ‘switch off’ from work (aside from a couple of messages with my manager keeping them in the loop), sign up to group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy classes through The Richmond Fellowship, and be given appropriate medication as a crutch to help.
Alongside this, I took time for myself; writing poetry, running, meditating and making a genuine attempt in doing some soul searching – which meant that I am now back at work feeling much more confident, resilient and energised.
Having now been back for just under two weeks, I have had regular ‘return to work’ meetings with HR and Management – who have supported me every step of the way, making sure I have been given what is needed to help get me back into the swing of things.
Recognising that it is a process is also a healthy way of approaching each day, rather than looking for quick fixes. Be kind to yourself and value the small wins.
It is especially important to look after ourselves during this period of change and uncertainty.
- Talk to your GP and honestly explain your symptoms. This will give them the information to best support you practically moving forwards. For example, therapy or medication.
- Be open to new suggestions. Writing a daily journal, meditating, exercising and reducing alcohol intake can make a massive difference to your wellbeing.
- Be kind to yourself and continue to communicate with your manager throughout this period. We are all human beings and will experience personal struggles throughout our professional careers, it’s perfectly normal, and they will in turn appreciate you keeping them updated. As will your friends and family – even if it is just a short message.