By Mandi Luis-Buckner
Seven years ago I was a successful employee at a large financial organization, and if depression hadn’t hit me, I would now be retired with benefits and a 32-year unblemished record of outstanding achievement.
But depression did hit me, and it hit hard. I underwent an 11-month struggle before I realized that I was experiencing depression. During that time, a number of personal life challenges erupted which compounded the stressors at work. My confidence ebbed day by day—I was suffering. As a result the quality of my work also suffered. I lost a career that I loved.
I now know that with the proper information and support, my career did not have to be a casualty of depression. I believe I could have remained employed and avoided the financial impact and trauma of losing my job.
Depression looks different for each of us
Perhaps you are unable to start projects, focus on tasks, or meet deadlines – and people are noticing.
Perhaps you are obsessed with details, or everything seems like a blur.
Perhaps you are worried about your lack of productivity, and feel guilty about letting your team down.
Perhaps you are irritable with colleagues, and feel like they’re ganging up on you.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed, guilty, frightened, and pressured-and see your self-confidence slipping away.
Perhaps you feel powerless to voice your needs because you can’t seem to determine what they are.
Perhaps you wish to have time off, but you’ve used up all your sick days and short term disability, and the paperwork to apply for long term disability overwhelms you.
Perhaps you are concerned about losing your income if you go on long term disability.
Perhaps you are worried about losing your job because you are experiencing depression.
I wish I knew…
I Was At Risk For Depression
I Was Ill, Not Weak
Information About Treatment
Depression Would Impact Every Area Of My Life
I Needed Help Earlier
I Was Not The Only One
I Needed To Be Valued At Work
It Was Okay To Ask For My Manager's Help
I Needed The People At My Workplace To Listen
I Needed Ongoing Support At Work
I Needed My Benefits To Cover More Than Six Sessions Of Therapy
I Needed Organizational Support When Discussing My Recovery
I Needed To Return To Work Gradually
Information, Support, And Adequate Time To Consider Options
It Can Take A Long Time To Recover From Depression
As a peer, I use my story to help others who are experiencing mental health problems in the workplace…
What I discovered is that recovery is a process based on continual growth, occasional setbacks, and learning from experience. My recovery encompassed my whole life, including my mind, body, spirit and community. My hope is that you will explore the recovery process fully – while you are still employed.
Mandi Luis is a certified Peer Support Specialist and Career Consultant. Her focus is on facilitating a successful Return to Work process that is in the best interests of both the employee and employer.
Mandi Luis-Buckner has over 10 years’ experience as a Career Practitioner, a Return-to-Work Instructor and Coach, as well as a Workplace and Peer Consultant specializing in the field of Mental Health. After leaving a 27 year career in the financial industry due to depression, she shares her story to help others experiencing mental health problems at work.