mental illness in the workplace: an open letter to my unprofessional boss

*Editor’s Note: For confidentiality purposes, the author of this piece has asked to remain anonymous.


According to research, about 18.2% of people in the United States suffer from mental illness. That being said, approximately 92% of people in the United States are employed, making it safe to assume that a huge portion of those 18.2% of people are experiencing their mental illness while at work. That means that for [nearly] every 6 or 7 people in your office, restaurant, store, or building, one person may be struggling just make it through the the day. Hi, I’m that one person, among many.

Why does any of this matter? People can pop some Xanax and go for a run to shake it off when work is finished at 5 p.m. sharp, right?

It matters because we spend so much time worrying about people getting the work done, but we don’t worry about what the work has done to the people.

So here is a little note to my unprofessional boss dealing with mental illness in the workplace:

When I express to you that I experience memory failure as a lasting effect of medication and my documented illness and you respond to my questions with, “Don’t you remember…?”, I feel ashamed.

When you look over my ten hours of work to tell me that my few, small questions for clarification are “unnecessary to ask” and “just required a bit of thought on my part”, I feel useless.

When you see my emails going out at 1 a.m. because I am still trying to keep up with the numerous tasks you have given me and the next morning you ask me, “Why do you always look so tired?”,  I feel completely unappreciated.

But worst of all, when I tell you things about myself so that you’ll understand, and you use my weakness to make me feel inferior and unintelligent- I feel sorry for you

…because I’d rather be mentally ill than be as ignorant as you.

 


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