Iris from YellowDog is talking about mental health: sharing her own experience of depression on world mental health day. Her blog entry here is an important step for her on her journey and perhaps a helpful read for others. Her brave honesty is below.
Today, to raise awareness about World Mental Health Day there is a donut eating match going on at the ground floor café here at Runway East. It is here that I work as part of the team at YellowDog. People scurry out of the office to go and check it out. The quietness surrounds me and makes me think for a second about my own mental health.
Not many know this of me, but I have been struggling for the better half of this year with depression. It started off after a very difficult year with a new born baby. Only after her first birthday did my husband and I realise that I was dealing with ‘a thing’. I was dealing with postnatal depression. Giving ‘the thing’ a name and accepting that it was a thing was a big step.
“Well now that I have named it, it will be better, I can work on it” I naively thought. Alas, that was not true. I sunk away deeper, my desire to come into work started to suffer, my marriage started to suffer, I started to lose myself. I had dark days, and I had very dark days.
I felt like I needed to let the team around me know that I was not performing as well as I could because of this. I didn’t really want to have that conversation. I dreaded that chat; I’ve never been good with these sorts of emotional conversations and I don’t like crying in front of my bosses and peers and friends. Nobody does I would imagine. But it had to happen. I had the chat and I did not expect anything. Just for people to say “OK. Thank you for letting me know.”
I was afraid. I was afraid that there would be consequences for not performing well. Afraid that people might say that I had to step down for a bit. I had all kinds of irrational fears. The opposite was true however, YellowDog – our CEO, Gareth and a few others in the team – offered help. Things were set up that helped me get to terms with my emotions and with my struggles and I got on top of it. The only condition was that I’d try to be at the office as much as I could. I struggled with this because the idea of getting dressed felt like an enormous task each day. But I did as they asked – with the help of the mental health nurse and the social contact at the office – and for the first time in a long, long time, I felt like I was beating my inner demons. And it was not like the steps that I took were huge. They would be activities like thinking of what triggered me into a dark episode, or practicing mindfulness, or going outside and doing exercise or even just going for a brisk walk. Being able to admit that things were difficult and having space and safety to feel that way was just what the doctor ordered.
Now, several months later, I feel good. I do struggle from time to time and I do have bad moments. But nothing like it was before. World Mental Health Day for me is a day to reflect on what I have learned, how I have grown, and to appreciate the help that has been given by so many to guide me through this process. It also makes me think about people that are still struggling and how a small act of kindness: just listening to their story or just being there and trying to understand makes such a huge difference in someone’s life. I am grateful that I work in an environment where struggling and/or failing is not a bad thing – even when it affects work from time to time. I have learned so much and weirdly, I am thankful for the experience.
So, I am taking this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me: at home, at the office and everyone else. And I want to say to all who do struggle, there is help out there. Please reach out.
While eating doughnuts may seem like an odd link to #WorldMentalHealthDay2019, the simple act of bringing people together to do something fun can be the small thing that makes a big difference to someone's day - cheers @RunwayEastBRS pic.twitter.com/2d6TqfItjZ— YellowDog (@YellowDog) October 10, 2019
🌎 Tomorrow 10 October 2019 is #WorldMentalHealthDay! 💚— Mental Health Foundation (@mentalhealth) October 9, 2019
🔹This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention.
✅ Check out the things that you can do for World Mental Health Day: https://t.co/C0Wi8Dh1tS #WednesdayWisdom pic.twitter.com/jkqPrYZEia
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