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….