10 Ways My Daily Chats With My Boss Help My Mental Health

I have been lucky.

Before I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, I had many symptoms and they could have made it impossible to hold a job down. But my manager stuck by me and helped a lot. Here are 10 ways our regular five-minute catch-ups have helped.

1) When I am depressed I become extremely anxious, so her reassuring me I was doing a good job and helping me to break down what was causing me to panic was really helpful.

2) When I viewed everything in a negative light, she helped me to see what was good about the situation. Often I was on the brink of tears when beginning the conversation; she didn’t know it, but I was having suicidal thoughts. She helped to temporarily lift the veil of darkness. Sometimes I left laughing.

3) When I thought I couldn’t carry on working, she made me feel valued enough so I wasn’t rushing straight out the door

4) When I was manic, she let me perform a monologue of a jumbled collection of thoughts. There wasn’t much she could’ve said, so she just let me rant.

5) When I felt like I was speeding through a world that couldn’t keep up, she encouraged me to channel the energy into my work. At those times I was at my most productive and working hard definitely helped to ground me.

6) Focusing on the work I was doing also helped me to deal with racing thoughts and anxiety. My manager knew work was a stabilizing influence, so even when going sick was justified, she encouraged me to stay.

7) Fixed rules and boundaries are necessary, especially when mania made believe I knew best. She told me when I was wrong and didn’t back down. Rules were rules and they regulated my behavior.  I often joked work kept me on the straight and narrow, but it was true.

8) The company’s policy of zero tolerance to alcohol and illegal drugs made sure the temptation to self-medicate didn’t become a reality. She reminded me of the policy when I sounded like I was considering it.

9) By keeping the dialogue going, I felt able to tell her about a problem before it became overwhelming.

10) The most important by far — tea!  We must have drunk hundreds of cups of tea together. Tea makes most things better and by making her a brew, I didn’t feel so guilty about taking so much of her time.

I have often thanked her for all the help she has given me, but I’m not sure words will ever describe my gratitude. I hope other bosses learn from this.

By being supportive, you will retain a motivated workforce and you will help break down the barriers that prevent many people like me becoming overwhelmed by work.

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Thinkstock photo via diego_cervo

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