Why depression is not ‘career cancer‘
In recent weeks, the media has been focused on mental health services and the implications of not receiving appropriate and prompt treatment. I’ve been considering mental health in the workplace – why are conditions such as depression and anxiety considered ‘taboo’ in the workplace?
Although we’d happily call in sick if we were suffering from a cold or the flu, (or just feeling hungover,) we’d never think to call in and say ‘I can’t get out of bed – I’m feeling on the brink of insanity and I’m not sure life is worth living.’ We imagine we’d be scoffed at or sacked for our insolence, which naturally adds to anxiety-levels and feelings of hopelessness. A good and understanding boss, upon hearing this, however, would hopefully feel concerned, and subsequently want to provide support and care during difficult times for their employees.
According to mentalhealth.org, 13.3 million working days are lost every year due to stress. If this is such a common problem, why has it been so neglected for so long? I’ve been very lucky in my career choices in this instance and I’d like to share some of my views.
As a writer, I am able to utilise my issues, pouring each emotion cathartically into my characters and stories. I’ve also found solace writing for some fantastic people, who understand my needs totally and are willing to work with patience and compassion. For example, my work at indycube CIC is incredibly accommodating – I work 16 hours a week, mostly flexibly, and more often than not, I am able to work from home if I am feeling truly rubbish. However, working in a coworking space can be comforting – sometimes being forced to paint on a smile and chat with others is helpful, and can actually make me forget how brooding I had been feeling.
Steps Training Ltd are a training company dealing especially in conflict management training – they really care about people, from their delegates to their employees. I’ve actually blogged for them about my experiences with depression. I can’t begin to explain how liberating it has been to be able to talk so openly about my experiences, within a working environment, without fear of judgement.
Another company that I work with on a regular basis is Natural Dermatology, a skincare company focused on depression, anxiety and the cycle of self-image and mental health. I have written several posts for Natural Dermatology about mental health, stemming equally from my own experiences and from talking to others. I really enjoy this work, and find it useful in reviewing my own situation – you have to practice what you preach.
As a freelancer, I work on an ad-hoc basis, and though I have several regular clients, I am able to set completion dates for my copywriting and then work to my own pace. If I want to sleep until midday, and work through the night, I can. If I need to take a long lunch-break to meet friends and unwind, I can do that too.
Of course, working for yourself does come with its own stressors and complications, but it’s unbelievably gratifying and suits me down to a t. I’ve written this post because I want to put it out there that there are other options – everyone should have the opportunity to find happiness. Life isn’t all about working, stressing and worrying – there is much more to live for.