Should I ‘come out’ about my mental health issue at work?
Posted Thursday 19 May 2011
You’re not going to like my answer… ‘no’, not at the moment.
I’m writing under the pseudonym of Julie because I have (or had) a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (extreme worry) and depression.
I have been determined to get better and am lucky to be in Oxford, where there is an excellent service know as Talking Spaces, which offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This, in combination with supportive family and friends, a high-ish dose of medication, and some hard work on my part has really helped me turn the corner. I am in the process of accepting that I have a vulnerability to mental health problems, but I reckon that with CBT practice and the support of others I will get well.
For me the choice of whether or not to go public about my mental health stuff is about identity. I do have a diagnosis, but there is a lot more to me than that! I do have a diagnosis but I don’t always want to explain what generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is, or for others to be more sensitized to look out for my anxious behaviour.
I also don’t want to label myself because I might change. Having a diagnosis has been useful to get the right help and treatment, but what if I am getting well? Am I to cling to my diagnosis, fearful of moving on? So whilst the diagnosis was helpful at the start it is unhelpful now that I am making progress towards recovery.
Having said all this, I do want other people to know about GAD, because one in 25 people have it and suffer without knowing they could get help and make simple changes that make a real difference. So I am writing a blog about GAD in the hope of sharing my experience and publicising the possibility for change.
So I’m not going to ‘come out’ at work just now, because it might be worse for my future mental health if I did.
*Not her real name.
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