Depression has many faces. Sometimes it looks like the struggling mom trapped in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, and sometimes it is the working woman on Wall Street.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many professionals who face the daily challenge of balancing their mental illness and their career--and it can be a daunting task.
But just because one is battling depression, or any other form of mental illness, doesn't mean they can't still function on the job. While it may be difficult, it's not impossible.
Here are some useful tips on balancing depression in the workplace.
TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYER OR IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR
A mental illness may be a setback, but it doesn't necessarily have to feel like a handicap. Still, it's important that you're not battling your depression on your own. Sit your employer or immediate supervisor down and inform them of what you're going through. Being transparent allows them to understand if you happen to seem a little off while on the job. Your boss may also cut you some slack if or when you need some personal time. No one wants to feel like they are being coddled at work, but living with depression is a serious and sometimes lonely walk. Why not have someone in your corner who can make things a little less stressful?
FIND A CONFIDANT
Like any person struggling with depression, it's important to have support. It wouldn't hurt confiding in a co-worker you know and trust. While the entire office doesn't need to know your personal business, having that one person you can turn to during down moments can be comforting. Extra points if they're able to cover your work load when you're feeling overwhelmed--or at the very least they can cover you when you need to disappear.
LOOK INTO FLEXTIME
Most companies today offer flextime, which allows employees to work from home or come to the office during flexible hours. Talk to your HR department and find out what your options are. This could be incredibly helpful when you're not feeling up to being around other people. Any sympathetic employer or supervisor would understand that a someone battling with depression has their bad days.
Though you should certainly have your personal time where needed, it's important not to isolate yourself when struggling with depression. Do not allow your mental illness to stop you dead in your tracks. If you wake up in the morning feeling down and not up for the day, push yourself to get out that bed, in the shower and out the door. The last thing you want to do is allow your mental illness to win. It's a part of you, sure. But it doesn't rule your life.
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
This is really the golden tip for anyone suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that employers implement health-related services for depression. These include Employee Assistance Programs that offer counseling to workers with depression, and training to help managers better recognize the signs and symptoms. Talk to your employer about services that may be available to you. It also allow your manager to learn how he or she can better facilitate your mental illness.
Find information on mental health services in your community. Call or email the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org.