Depression and Professional Life - by Bhavana Nissima
We have heard plenty about depression and many of us assume we know what it means. I am not concerned whether or not what you know is correct. Nor am I concerned about how you should seek help—from whom and why. I am, instead, concerned about how folks who who suffer from depression and other mental health problems can navigate professional life.
Many mental health problems like physical health issues can be debilitating. These problems can be chronic or come in waves in acute forms. They have an impact on your professional life.
Within India there is no provision for state support for chronic debilitating conditions like in United States. We each have to fend for ourselves if these conditions arise. Some suggestions on navigating depression and professional life:
Check if your workplace allows flexi-timings and occasional work from home options. This will allow you to sometimes tide over bad days and give you a safe space to suffer the acute moments.
Please understand you will be discriminated against because of your illness, by your colleagues and supervisors. That is the way it is. Keep strict boundaries about with whom you will discuss it and how. Protect yourself from damaging messages.
Instead of seeking a full-time job, a part-time or freelance job may be a good option. If you can cut down your expenses, part-time job can be sufficient for many.
Starting your own enterprise along with partners can be a good way too as long as your partners know and understand your condition. Please remember, your condition doesn’t mean you are dumb or useless. It means sometimes you cannot work.
For some, the episodes may be for many months. You have to plan for it and save money whenever you can. Frugal living helps to navigate without incurring crazy debts.
When you return from an episode, do not give up on yourself professionally. Return to work with a new burst of energy. Depression can help clear cobwebs. You will find your clarity increase along with an overwhelming abundance of wisdom. Illness brings its gifts that others cannot have.
Please don't believe that you will be unsuccessful professionally and/or will be poor rest of your life. Some of the very successful and rich people in the world have suffered from it. Your time will come.
Finally, have faith in the Universe. Some way somehow you will be provided. Just keep chugging on.
It is finally an illness, like all others. Take care.
The author, Bhavana Nissima, is a Communication Consultant and Researcher. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or @tw_bhav
A Q&A on Linkedin about this topic:
Q: Well written. But some
counselors recommend regular full-time work because it brings in a
"routine" that is a much needed part of recovery/cure.
A: I do agree with
"routine" part because it brings in discipline. But some folks have
rapid cycles and episodes. In such cases, part-time may be the way out. At
least, there is some routine and responsibility.