MHAW - Soph's Story
"Well, you're just going to have to get over it".
That the response from one of my ex-managers when I first opened up to her and told her about my anxiety.
The conversation with my manager at the time, came about during one of my feedback meetings. My role required me to visit clients offices and ask questions about their business face-to-face. Some of these conversations weren't always the easiest, and clients never liked it. As a result, you would often get rude, blunt answers and I'll be honest - sometimes it made you feel a bit shit.
Apparently, I wasn't going to see the clients 'quick' enough, and instead, it had been noticed that I would wait a few minutes before going through. I explained to my manager that this was due to my anxiety. The thought of having to go and see the client would often make me feel terribly anxious, and I would need a few minutes to build myself up to it, to rehearse in my head what I was going to say… and obviously every possible scenario that they could come back with so that I could feel as prepared and confident as possible.
And, well - she told me to 'get over it'. Unsurprisingly, I quit that job 3 months later and have never looked back. My mangers response made me angry. I was shocked, upset, but mostly angry at her ignorance.
However, this is exactly why we still need Mental Health Awareness Week, why we still have so much work to do, but also why there is still so much stigma around mental health at work.
Thankfully, my next boss was incredible. He was supportive, understanding and made me feel totally comfortable chatting to him about anything and everything. He encouraged me to speak up if there was anything bothering me, or if there was something about the job that could be changed to suit me better or how I would like to work.
The comparison to physical illness is made all of the time and it's not a new statement, but you could guarantee my ex-manager wouldn't have told me to 'get over it' if I'd have hobbled into the office on crutches with a broken leg.
Wouldn't it just be amazing if every boss, manager and employer was understanding and knowledgeable about mental health in the workplace? Actually no, it shouldn't be amazing, it should just be the norm, right?