Some of us decide to be open about our mental illness in the work place. Some of us choose not to let co-workers know of our disease. So what do you do when you are outted against your will at work?
Sometimes judgment, rumors, and gossip can float around work when your colleagues discover you are mentally ill. And this can be a hard adjustment for those that prefer to keep their health private. If you are in a bad mood, instead of just being in a bad mood you might get labeled as “moody.” People are quick to go to buzz words like “crazy” or “odd” when really, you’re just like everyone else that has their good and bad days. But, sometimes it can be really frustrating and quite frankly, annoying.
Here are some tools to consider trying when your private life becomes public:
- Take a mental health day – I had a co-worker once that survived breast cancer and had a clean bill of health. However, once a month she got to take a day off. She more or less (admittedly!) pulled what she called the cancer card to gain sympathy and to justify taking a day off when no one else was allowed to validate time off. Guess what..you can!! So, do it! If they know you’re mentally ill, what’s wrong with taking a mental health day?! Some may say you are exploiting your mental illness but, in my opinion, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable work situation due to public knowledge of your mental illness, why not take a day, or two! It’s only fair!
- Courage – don’t be afraid to address toxic rumors head on. If you know the source of the office gossip go straight to him or her and set things straight. Be honest about your feelings about your mental health when you find yourself in a compromising work situation cause people talk, and half the time they don’t know what they are talking about, and don’t have a right to talk trash to begin with. So, stand up for yourself, because you’re mental health deserves it!
- Have a sense of humor – people are going to talk, and sometimes gossip and rumors can be hurtful, however, maintaining a sense of humor can help those days when you become bombarded with stereotypes surrounding your mental illness.
- Be confident and proud – know that you are awesome and, to be honest, how much do your colleagues really know about mental health? Probably not much. You are above it, so let ignorance and fear roll off your back!
Crazy at work photo available from Shutterstock