Thursday, 28 June 2012

Depression: I Love Ruby Wax but I'm keeping it secret...

Oh I loved Ruby Wax talking about her depression at BritMumsLive! It was funny, heart-breaking and way too close to the bone.
She said stand-up, be counted, but..oh yes there’s a but; she’s been filming people who do just that, who stand up and say they have a mental health problem in the workplace and guess what she’s having a hard time getting people to say a word.
I know that one so well…
In 1995 I was in a great job, I loved my job then one day I came in crying. I had broken up with my boyfriend and I stupidly let slip that I was on medication for depression. The fact is throughout my employment at that particular firm I had been on Prozac seems to have completely passed my employers by.
I mean only the week previously they had been talking about bonuses for the team which definitely included me. I was the account manager. I did the job standing on my head and still had time to juggle clinical depression, training for a North Pole expedition and balancing my bank account against my prediliction for Bond Street shops.
I’m a multi tasker - what can I say…
But within 24 hours I was asked to leave. Nothing was said as such about the D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N and I was too shell shocked and emotional to do anything about it at first. It was all done so very, very, nicely. I was given help to find a new job which they paid for and then I was let go. I think they told everyone that I was leaving voluntarily. As far as they were concerned they did everything right and proper. I suppose my problem was that I thought so too, that is until I took a long hard look at the legacy I was left with.
The feeling of tawdriness, uselessness, the feeling that I had done something wrong, that I was bad at my job, that I could never ever say a word about depression and my role in it to anyone. I had been gagged even before I had ever opened my mouth and suddenly it felt so fucking wrong!
And then I fought back.
I fought back like a vicious trapped weasel baring my teeth in a most unladylike manner. I went for them like something possessed but it pretty soon petered out, I am pretty ineffectual and a coward so even though I told my Union all about it we never fought about the dismissal in terms of them chucking me out because they had heard about my mental health issues, it was merely implied. I got £4K to shut up and got another job. The company I worked for have gone onto greater things in that dark and murky world of politcal lobbying. Bish Bosh over and done nobody the wiser and nobody hurt.
I have NEVER made the same mistake again. Paranoid, I was ever after that, about mentioning mental health issues in the workplace. Kept it quiet. That is until I finally started my polar adventures then I spoke up, big piece in The Times, stupid idea… but that’s another story for another day…
Check out Ruby Wax’s Black Dog Tribe….

7 comments:

Zoë said...

depression, like having cancer, or a bereavement in the family seems to be the fast track to loosing your friends/family and job. 2 of the three have caused me untold sadness over the years.

Prejudice will always remain, because there will always be people who fear it, or simply don't want to understand another's pain because it would involve them thinking about life from another's point of view.

God I could rant about this, but I wont xxx

Tattie Weasle said...

Zoe - Rant away I have a funny feelign that I will and unchecked. I go between being brave about it and then hiding away. It pisses me off something chronic I can tell you! And the things people do and say OMG! I WILL be writing about that some of it is tto funny in a sad sick kind of way...

Expat mum said...

Presumably these days they'd be in a lot more trouble for what they did.
In the US there are many people who never mention their depression for fear of not being able to get health insurance. At the moment, the whole medical thing is up in the air, but until recently, health insurance companies wouldn't cover existing conditions, which included depression.
Even now, when I'm filling forms in for my kids to do any kind of camp that involves sleeping away, there's a question about whether they've ever had therapy etc. Not sure why they'd need to know nor what they do if anyone says yes, but it's creepy.

Tattie Weasle said...

Expat Mum - creepy indeed. I held down jobs in the middle of serious episodes sounds silly but having a job and focussing on somethnig else was teh only thing that kept me sane - although of course that is relative! :)

Minerva Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

I'm so sorry to read this, and know that it is happening all too often. Sadly menatal illness is thought to be different than physical illness which can be fixed. I admire Ruby for telling the truth but she gets plaudits for it whereas those she hails to 'come out' may suffer.

Rob-bear said...

I have lived with depression for decades. In the process, I have finished a Master's degree at University, served as a Church minister, won awards working in the high-pressure world of commercial radio, and managed a small corporation.

I am appalled that your employer fired you, an effective leader, because it believed you were depressed, and somehow a menace, even though yours was a medically-managed illness. That is horribly sad. And so prejudicial. Which is why I spend blog space (from time to time) talking about depression. If we talk about it, as Ruby does (and so very well), we de-mistify it to an extent, and make an open topic for public discussion. And great for you in speaking up!

Blessings and big Bear hugs, TW.

Tattie Weasle said...

Minerva - it is certainly what I felt. Yet I know that if everyone stood up and was counted then the stigma would vanish as there would just be too many people. It is difficult being one of the few brave or foolhardy enough to do so...
RobBear - I know you write about it. I try too then almost immediately regret it. You are correct though in the belief that the more we bring it out into the open the better it will be. It's scary though...

Go on you know you want to...

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