When I walked into my retail cosmetics job that day, I was on a mission. A mission to talk as openly as I have been on the internet, a mission to become completely transparent—a mission that was found to be no easy undertaking. As I sat down with my manager, I outright cried. I told her how bad my mental health had been in the past few weeks, and I told her all the times I had called out of work recently (or had others call out for me) were not for migraines but for panic attacks. I told her the truth, and for that, my tears were not of fear or weakness, but rather relief. The result of this conversation? Relation, understanding, and a hug.
This is a reminder for you, the you out there that is struggling, that you never have to hide from your truth. You never have to hide your struggle. Most of all, you never have to neglect your mental health for a job, for school, for anything. Your mental health does not get left at the door when you leave for the day—it doesn’t work like that.
Being transparent is the most crucial thing you can do in a situation where your mental health is run down. You most likely wouldn’t hide the fact that you had a physical, more visible illness from your teachers or your boss. If you feel you are debilitated in any way, you need to speak up. Do it for yourself—you owe yourself that much.
Getting accommodations for work or school can be life saving. It can be the line between keeping a job or a class and losing it. It is such a weight off your shoulders knowing that someone understands, that someone is there for you to support you.
It is important to note that I am very fortunate to have an employer that is understanding of what I am going through. That may not be true for everyone. However, you have the right to a reasonable accommodation, privacy, and protection against harassment and discrimination. Do not tolerate any of the above being taken from you.
It’s true that this time a year ago, I left a job shortly after being hired because of my mental health issues. No longer will I let them stand in my way. I, as are you, am stronger than the stigma, stronger than the pain, and stronger than the illness. There is nothing that should or can stop us from achieving our goals, and that is so vital to remember.
Your mental health is so important. It is crucial to do all you can to keep yourself mentally and emotionally well. The workplace and school are a part of that. Your mental health follows you wherever you go, so advocate for your rights and do what you are capable of doing to keep yourself well.
If I could go back to talk to that girl a year ago, or even further back to talk to the girl in high school, I would tell her that it’s okay. Nothing is worth losing your sanity over. It is alright to tell the truth about how you are feeling. There’s no need for a mask, and no need to pretend that your mental health doesn’t matter anywhere other than in the seclusion of your room. You are worthy, and health and wellbeing are not these insurmountable things that don’t apply to you.
All I’ve said goes for you out there reading this, too. You have worth, and your healthiness means something. Don’t forget to be honest, and don’t forget that people care. If we were all a little more honest, we might find that we have more in common than we think. Everyone struggles, it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to not be okay. I promise you that not being okay will change down the line, so sit tight and do what you can to help yourself in the meantime, because things will change for you, and you will get better.