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How I Told My Boss I Had to Go to a Partial Hospitalization Program

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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.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by mactrunk

Originally published: January 16, 2017
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