Katie shared her experience of living with depression and severe anxiety last year as part of Bupa’s ‘Let’s talk about mental health in the workplace’ video campaign. A year on, here she shares how her colleagues responded to her talking openly about living with mental ill health and how she has learnt to manage her depression and anxiety.
“It took me a long time to talk about my experiences with mental ill health. I was anxious about what people would think, whether they would judge me or treat me differently. However, I was completely overwhelmed with the response I received. So many people contacted me with a whole range of reactions, but it was all so positive.
“The most powerful one was during a team meeting. A conversation about our videos led others to share their own struggles – some of whom had not felt able to do so before. I remember coming out of it thinking ‘this would not happen anywhere else I’ve worked’ – which I guess is a good and a bad thing. Good that we were able to have an open, honest conversation in a safe environment, but bad that there are so many people out there who still feel like they can’t because of the stigma.
“In October 2017 my good friend Suzy took her own life. No one knew she was struggling and I think the stigma of having a mental health condition contributed. Last September, I ran a half marathon in support of Papyrus, the charity for the prevention of young suicide.
“There have been times in the past where I have felt I’m not able to leave my house, go to work, or see anyone for days or even weeks, and I felt like I was failing at life. Those days still happen, but they are much less frequent. When you have a mental health condition it’s easy to feel like there is something wrong with you, that you are crazy and alone. One of the reasons I agreed to participate in this project is because I want people to understand that none of these things are true.
“Unfortunately, when you are in the midst of a condition like anxiety or depression it’s hard to see past that and difficult for others to understand. I’m lucky enough to have a team that have been incredibly supportive and let me be myself at work.
“When I am feeling anxious about something I now talk about it with my manager and team which means they can better support me. Being able to talk about things when I am struggling, instead of pretending I am fine, has been a huge support for me.”