Why I Decided to Change My Work Situation for My Mental Health
Most of my life has been ruled by fear of others and what they might say about me. The more authority they have over me, the worse the fear. There have been times when this fear was so debilitating I could barely speak. At school it wasn’t so bad. Teachers were nice to me. In fact, their kind, encouraging words helped me overcome the teasing and name-calling from fellow students. The world of work, however, was very different.
It’s amazing that the words and attitudes of one or two people can have such a major impact on me. It takes so little effort to smile, yet that can make all the difference. You don’t know the difficulties someone may be going through and one smile or one put-down can have a profound impact.
Several months ago, my manager began treating me differently, as though I was not capable of doing my job, let alone train someone new. Furthermore, words were said and decisions made that severely affected my confidence. For the manager, it was about being in control of what her staff members were doing. When you struggle with mental health, these sorts of things make recovery far more difficult. I already felt inadequate and insignificant, there was no need to reinforce these views I hold of myself.
For these reasons, I think it’s so important to treat people with kindness, because words do hurt. They can break you. It certainly tore me down after a year of trying to rebuild myself. I used to use work as a distraction from the things I struggled with at home, but my manager was inadvertently reminding me of these things while at work. There was no escape and I didn’t think I could keep going for much longer.
Fortunately, I work in a large department with several different sections and was able to request a transfer in order to avoid this manager and her second in command. Some people are strong enough to deal with this and I applaud you. But the important thing for me was that I recognized my gradually deteriorating health and managed to act in time.
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Thinkstock photo via Sergey Khakimullin.