I have a broken leg coming out of my head
I posted this on LinkedIn last month and it caused quite a lot of discussion – so thought it would be worth reposting it here!
On most days I’m fairly positive and productive but in the last few months, I’ve had dark days when I’ve been body slammed with panic attacks, anxiety and crying jags that have put me out of action for many hours.
And I have felt guilty & embarrassed about it. I have work to do. Meetings I need to be at. Deadlines to meet. Anxiety, stress & panic are just all in my mind so I need to snap out it, pull myself together. Get on with it. Harden up.
The thing is – I’ve found that I can’t. And then I feel more guilty and unprofessional and unreliable and awful because of that.
When I was 22 I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot that goes to you lung) which almost killed me. I woke up and couldn’t breathe but thought I was just stressed about going to work (I had a toxic HR Manager that I reported to). Actually I ended up in hospital for a week then several weeks at home to recover. I don’t remember feeling guilty. I don’t remember telling my lungs just to get over it.
There are a lot of great things happening about raising awareness of mental health issues. But I still haven’t read much from people who are currently suffering (and I understand if you’re fighting depression you’re probably not thinking about writing about it). I am currently suffering and am in a position to share. I’ve realised my dark days are like I’ve broken my leg.
You don‘t tell your leg to get over it, you go to the hospital, have it seen to, and then you take some time off work to recover. On my dark days I’ve got a broken leg – it’s just in my head. The great thing is, unlike a broken leg, I might be completely fine again the next day. This is what it’s like for me – and I’m hoping that in sharing this it gives some insight into the people you know who might be having issues too.
What I would like to apologise to you all for, is for when I’ve put any negativity out there. My counsellor recently took me through an awesome little model which makes you think about whether the choices you make & actions you take are taking you away from the person you want to be, or towards. You need to think about your values, who you want to be, and then if what you’ve said or done is moving towards that, or away.
On a black day a few weeks ago I updated my LinkedIn profile. It started off by saying that after being repeatedly sued by HRINZ I was getting out of HR. This negative statement was influenced by the negative state I was in – but it doesn’t reflect my values of being positive and forward thinking.
I have now changed my LinkedIn profile to talk about what an amazing ride my 19 year HR career has been and all the learnings it has given me! Thank you to Dave Wild to pointing out the old one wasn’t me at all – before I could see it myself.
On that note, I’d like to thank everyone who has realised that I haven’t been who I really am. Who has seen (perhaps even before me) that I will have days where I am broken and just need to know there are people that care.
When my counsellor asked who my support network was, I told her the HR community were there. You guys have sent me flowers, emailed, texted and called me to check I’m okay and let me know you appreciate what I’ve done. You’ve resigned in huge numbers from HRINZ to tell them you don’t think what they are doing is right. You have made a horrible situation less painful!
And so I know there will still be awful days as the legal action continues, and I am sorry for when this means I have to call in sick & not get back to you.
But I’m not going to beat myself up about it anymore.
I’m going to focus on making sure the choices I make, the things I do and say and actions I take move me towards the person I want to be, not away.
As the man in the Dilmah tea advert says “Won’t you try it too? I think you might like it”.