The alternative of course, is suffering in silence because we fear being judged, ridiculed, and made to feel weak and responsible for the situation we find ourselves in. This is perhaps one reason why depression is called the silent killer. Still there exists a taboo around mental health. I have spoken to people who are reluctant to declare it on an application form or at an interview due to fear of having it used against them. People in work are reticent to disclose due to fear of reprimand. In fact a study was carried out a few years ago which found that people were more likely to disclose Cancer or Aids than a mental health problem at work.
In 2005 I endured a very difficult time personally and took time out of work. I was open and honest about how I was feeling and the rationale behind my absence. I have to say I had a very supportive manager and still to this day appreciate how this was handled, but I still didn't feel I could open up to everybody on my return. For a couple of weeks I would smile around colleagues on the office floor, be friendly and joke with customers over the telephone, but would periodically go into the toilets to cry to release the hurt I was experiencing. I didn't feel like I could be myself, because I felt there was this expectation that I had to be somebody else.
This is a very emotionally challenging situation to be in and ultimately may have repercussions on the individual. You see you are devoting your time and energy to wearing the mask and being the person you feel you are expected to be, which ultimately means this time is not being spent on addressing the root cause of your distress and focusing on strategies to move through it. If there were more acceptance and encouragement for us to be ourselves then perhaps people like Robin Williams, Gary Speed and Terry Newton may still be alive. Of course these are just three of many and the tale is just as sad for non-celebrities.
Recently I have again found myself in a challenging situation, which has been testing my resolve, this time, I am just being me though. I'm no longer wearing that mask and being the person people may expect me to be. It doesn't detract from the role I have as a Counsellor, but it means away from that, at home and at work I am comfortable disclosing to people how I am feeling and the things which are impacting me. Whilst I am battling through, this is an ongoing battle and irrespective of how I am feeling now, I will come through this and both in private and in public, I will just be me because ultimately that's who I am. I am not infallible, I am not unbreakable, I am not invincible, untouchable or immune. I am just me.
As usual stay safe friend and thanks for reading