How I Told My Boss I Had to Go to a Partial Hospitalization Program
I work for a mental health agency so when it was time for me to go to a partial hospitalization program in a nearby county, I thought telling my boss (a therapist) would be easy. I had been open about my diagnosis before, so surely telling her I would be taking some sick time for more intensive treatment wouldn’t be a big deal for me.
I was wrong.
I was extremely nervous and practiced over and over again what I would say. While I had been candid in the past with her about my depression and anxiety, the concept of going to a “place” seemed beyond the realm of what was acceptable, even for someone who, as I said earlier, works for a mental health agency. Once I “outed” myself to my boss, I would no longer be thought of as a respectable person who could be trusted with important work. After all, who needs to go to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks? I watched my fledgling career drift away.
The day soon came when I had to tell my boss. I spit out the words quickly, “I need to take time off to go to a partial hospitalization for major depression and suicidal ideation.” There wasn’t even a pause on the other end of the phone. My boss was supportive and calmly told me how to proceed. Because of her unwavering and unquestioning support, I was able to open up to others in the agency. One coworker said, “I admire you,” and I felt pride for the first time in a long time.
This is not to say that I have told everyone about my partial hospitalization. There are still plenty of people I feel uncomfortable discussing this period with. Although I can easily proclaim, “No more stigma,” when it comes to others’ struggles, it’s not so easy when it comes to one’s own.
I am grateful my boss and my workplace were so accepting of my need for treatment. I pray that others seeking help will experience a similar reception, one of tolerance and love.
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Thinkstock photo by mactrunk