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Silent Struggles: Workplace Mental Health and Finding Balance

Rebecca Hilliard
Guest Blogger
mental health and the workplace
Balancing Responsibilities: A Role Beyond Description

A few years ago, I worked as the Youth Programs Manager at a well-known botanical garden. My responsibilities included contacting schools, organizing field trips to the garden, and conducting presentations and tours for students. My dedication to the job earned me additional tasks from my boss that were unrelated to my job description, such as presenting on unfamiliar topics to adults and attending out-of-town meetings unrelated to my work with students. Sometimes, upon arriving at work, my boss would inform me of a two-hour drive to meet someone I didn't know. I often wondered if she enjoyed having me along or if it was because I found it difficult to decline or set boundaries. Although I enjoyed working with the students, managing 800 visitors to the garden simultaneously was overwhelming. However, I couldn't reduce this number as my boss believed it was beneficial for the garden's image.

Overwhelming Struggles: Workplace Mental Health

Throughout this period, I grappled with worsening suicidal thoughts. Each morning, I'd compile reasons to keep going, but it became an exhausting challenge. Despite needing time off, my boss's demands made it impossible. Once, these thoughts became so intense that I had to fake illness for a day off. Even then, my boss persistently called, inquiring if I'd return to the office. Eventually, the severity of my condition led me to resign to seek treatment.

As a trauma survivor living with PTSD, managing it in the workplace is challenging. I easily get overwhelmed compared to those without PTSD, and my panic and triggers often interfere with my work. Despite this, I need to work to cover expenses like rent and food. I'm competent when not triggered or overwhelmed, but I wish more companies and bosses understood the realities of living with a mental illness.
Seeking Recovery: Embracing Change and Acceptance

Currently, I'm still navigating the balance between work, self-care, and recovery. Working from home has proven to be the best option for me as it allows for a safer environment and flexible hours. Though I sometimes feel disappointed that I struggle with jobs requiring me to leave the house, I'm learning to accept it. Living with PTSD and mental illness presents more challenges, but I prioritize my recovery, even if it means not having my ideal job at the moment.

Hope Amidst Struggle: Encouragement and Advice

If you're facing mental health struggles in the workplace, know that you're not alone. Finding a balance that suits you, whether through remote work, seeking less overwhelming jobs, or establishing boundaries at work, is crucial. Seeking advice from a therapist or connecting with supportive communities like the WhiteFlag App can be beneficial. Remember, taking care of your mental health matters as much as your financial needs. You and your life are important.


Connect with someone who understands on WhiteFlag: a free, anonymous, peer support network. Now!

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