Yesterday I had a difficult mental health day. I woke up later than intended, so that was a great start. I quickly showered and started to get ready for work. At the moment I am not feeling confident enough to go to the office without make up, so the getting ready part takes longer. This is odd considering that many of the people I work with have seen me without it. I share my bare face on social media often, yet right now, I want a mask. Even as I write this, I am wondering if it’s because I started a new job. I was feeling nervous about it, because I’d have staff to manage and a lot of challenges. I felt unworthy and like I was going to fuck it all up. I worried that my staff would wonder how I ever got the job. Somehow this has transpired into “if I wear make up I will look more professional and ‘together’ so they won’t question how I got there”. As much as I know this is crap, I still intend to put my make up on today. Maybe next week I’ll go bare face…
I am also struggling with my body image, so after what felt like 27 outfit changes. I finally just put on a baggy jumper. I am always boiling in work so jumpers are usually a no go, but right now it is all I feel comfortable in. Needless to say, after my clothes meltdown, my hair taking ages because it was so knotty and applying way more make up as compensation, I was late. I missed my first meeting and barely made it for my second. I felt awful and this fed into my feeling of not being good enough for my new job.
I wanted to hide away in shame, but instead I apologised to my line manager for being late. I was honest about the reason and she accepted it without question, only asked if I was feeling ok now. When i went back to my desk, one of my staff members looked at me and said “are you alright, are you having a bad day?”. All I needed to say was yes, but I’ll be ok. The relief here was incredible, I was able to then just get stuck into my work and forget about my bad start. This was possible because both my manager and my staff are aware of my mental illness. I told them straight away and explained the signs and what I would need. I didn’t feel worried about my manager knowing, I’ve already experienced how much that can help with previous managers. Telling my staff was what made me worry – what if they perceived me as weak and unworthy?! Well that did not happen. If anything I am perceived as strong for sharing. I am able to just say “yes, but I will be ok” and there was no need for any further explanation. I had already explained that on a ‘bad day’ it didn’t mean they couldn’t ask for my help, I am still their manager and I will still support them, I just may look a little more frazzled doing it.
Yesterday was not a great day, but it was made 100 times easier to still function and go to work, by sharing. I told them upfront and on a good day, so that I wouldn’t have to explain on a bad day. There should be no stigma around mental illness, it is an illness and can be managed. Some days sure, it requires staying in a duvet fort, you know, like a cold. Some days you can function, it just hurts a bit, like a headache
This is a perfect example of why I am totally open about my mental illness. It helps. Don’t ever feel like you have to suffer in silence and alone. I didn’t need support yesterday, I just needed understanding, and that is exactly what I got. Nobody walked on eggshells around me as I had told them not to. Nobody asked me repeatedly what was wrong, because they already knew.
Consider this when you feel like you can’t tell people as you may be perceived as weak. There is nothing weak about mental illness. We are warriors for fighting with our own minds every day. Yesterday was a battle, but today I am stronger for it.
Stay strong warriors 💜