DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. I'm just someone who suffers from depression. Always seek help from a mental health professional if you are suffering. This post is also written in the context of UK employment law.
I'm not quite sure whether this article fits on dev.to, but I've had this rattling around in my head for the better part of a few months, but I've never quite been brave enough to commit it to paper. I apologise if this article is a bit intense, but it's a bit of an outpouring from my heart.
I've been suffering from depression and anxiety for the better part of two years, but I'm on the road to recovery. It has definitely affected me in the workplace, and I would like to share some things which have made coping with it easier for me.
The intended audience of this post is for those who also suffer, but I hope it helps improve the wider awareness of mental health issues in the community as well.
I mean this in two ways: You are not the only person in the world who feels like this, and there are people out there who care about you. It's easy to forget this when you are suffering. Put it on a post-it somewhere on your desk as a reminder, or have a photograph of a loved one or your family. Surround yourself with people who complement you, instead of those who detract from you.
This was one of the hardest things for me to do, but if your co-workers don't know that you're suffering, they can't be there for you. A lot of stigma towards depression comes from a lack of understanding, and if you're honest with your colleagues that you're struggling with your mental health, they can start to understand and help you.
Linking to the above, a lot of stigma towards depression manifests as being told to "man up" or being told to "cheer up". Don't listen to it, depression is real, and it claims tens of thousands of lives a year in suicides. In the United Kingdom, a mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on your normal day-to-day activity , and you are entitled to support from your employer . Don't let people belittle your suffering.
Seriously. Cut back on the caffeine, or cut it out entirely. Withdrawal can be a hard process to go through, and it can take a serious amount of willpower, but constant ups and downs caffeine gives you makes it a whole lot harder to cope with the rest of things. Cutting down was one of the best things I did recently, and it has given me a lot more energy in my downtime to do things I enjoy.
This isn't always possible, but it is probably one of the best assets you can have in a workplace environment. I'm blessed with having a manager who has worked for me before in a previous job, and understands my situation. Help your manager understand your position in one-to-one's, and figure out what you can do for each other to make things easier.
If things are getting on top of you, take a break. Walk around the office, or go down the street to a corner shop for a cold drink. Some employers provide spaces for people to have some quiet time to themselves, take advantage of those if available. Try to clear your mind of troubles and stay centred. Don't let work consume you, and don't bury yourself in work to hide how you feel.
Don't ever give up, there's light at the end of the tunnel. You matter. ðŸ’™