Today I realized first hand that telling your boss you need to go home because you are feeling mentally unstable is not done and not even considerable. Today I was close to having a panic attack, a mental shut down. Instead of explaining my mental situation, I considered physical illnesses that could require me to leave quickly. Instead of telling my boss I was lost in my own mind, I lied and said my mum was picking me up and taking me for lunch, when really she took me home so I could calm down for an hour.
It was when I got home that I realized just how many times I had been in this situation whilst working at the restaurant I also work in. On many occasions, I have told my boss I felt sick, or was about to have an asthma attack, when I really wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear.
These realisations have made me re-question what I already knew: why isn’t mental illness considered as serious as physical illness? Why, if someone suddenly has, for example, projectile vomit at work, can they get sent home, when someone who has an anxiety attack is forced by society to hide in the toilets until the red of their eyes disappears and they stop shaking? If someone has an accident and has to quit their job for a while, they can make a full recovery and get a new job afterwards. Or, even better, their current employment will make alterations to the workplace to fit their new needs. However, if someone falls into depression, not only does society encourage them to cover it up, but when they go to get a new job, they will most likely have to lie on their application and say they have never suffered from mental illness. Who wants to employ someone who may call in sick because they’re feeling down? They don’t know what down means.
Mental illness can be caused by almost anything. A death, your upbringing, your health, your finance, your job. There needs to be more understanding in the workplace about mental health. People suffering are still people and still deserve the right to work – it can often help you get better. If they are unable to get a job, they stay at home, they get lonely and more depressed. In what world is this okay? This one, apparently.