In June 2019, I broke down in tears in the middle of a management team meeting during a peer feedback discussion.
I struggled for years with depression and anxiety, without knowing or having a diagnosis. Despite being successful, I had a deeply negative self-image and viewed my world through that lens.
In the discussion, I couldn't process the gulf between my peer feedback and that negative self-view. Unable to speak, I just cried.
It was a huge weight off my shoulders and meant I could get help
The reaction in the room was one of:
- shock: nobody had any idea of what had been happening to me
- care and concern: everyone was concerned for me, leaning in to show care and to understand more - there was no negative reaction.
I realised how the enormous burden I'd carried alone had been exhausting.
Asking for help changed my life for the better
Once people knew about my struggles, I could get help and support. It led to my diagnosis, recovery, and journey of self-discovery.
My fears of not knowing what to say, that I would never come back from it or that I would lose my job were just fears.
I still have challenges, but I am now thriving rather than surviving.
Talking about mental health is vital
We don't need to suffer in silence.
Sharing our stories, role modelling, and asking for help are critical for improving mental health experiences and smashing stigma.
I'm hopeful that as we talk more, learn more and change cultures, people won't need to break down before getting help.