Not About My Hair: Depression & Hospitalization & Work
Dear Wise and Wonderful Amalah,
I’ve written to you before about hair and skin and the like, but this time I have a question that may actually mean something. I’ve been following your blog for a while, and I remember when you had problems with depression. I always respect, and almost always agree with your opinions and perspective on things. And it’s actually because you don’t know me, or my life, that I would like your opinion. I need a little objectivity right about now. To save you from a ridiculously long email, I will instead direct you to a ridiculously long blog post. My question lies within here –http://www.sillylittlegirl.org/silly_little_girl_corpora/2008/01/asking-for-help.html
I would appreciate your response however you choose to deliver it. If you want to use it as a Smackdown post, I’m ok with that. Name and/or story and/or site, whatever. Or, if you just feel inclined to shoot an email, I’d appreciate that, too.
Thanks a bazillion, Kate
(Edited: I’m sorry, Kate, that I didn’t see your email until this morning [two days later!]. And I rushed to write this without checking for an update, which I have now read. Thus rendering this the Most Pointless Column Ever, Too Little, Too Late, etc. Anyway, I’m posting this anyway, in case there is anybody else out there in a similar state. And I’m willing to bet there is. AND regardless of my pointless ramblings here, let me just say: GOOD FOR YOU. YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR, GO KICK THE CRAZY’S ASS.)
Whew. Wow. First of all, I have so much respect for your bravery and willingness to put this all out on the Internet. Second of all, I’m sorry you feel like you have to put this out on the Internet to get objectivity and advice, but…well, I understand THAT completely. This blogging life, it gets like that sometimes.
And third of all, I am not a doctor, not YOUR doctor, and far from an expert. I came very, very close to seeking inpatient care once, under similar yet very different circumstances. Which aren’t really important here, and I hope you can forgive ME for lacking the bravery to retell the story and rehash those details. It’s the past and it doesn’t define me and I rarely ever think about those days anymore. You’ll get to this point to, I am sure of it.
You sound very aware of your problems and illness, and what you need to do about it. I think you DO know — probably not even that deep down — what you need to do about it, but are afraid of taking that step, because it’s a big step. So let’s look at what’s stopping you: the fear of telling your workplace about something THEY HAVE NO NEED OR RIGHT TO KNOW.
You do not have to tell them you are entering inpatient psychiatric care. Really! You do not have to tell them you have a mental illness. Really! You go in and you say you need to take an emergency leave of absence for a medical emergency. Your medical records and history and current conditions have an absolute right to privacy.
If your boss dares to ask for more details, you say that you’d prefer to move the conversation to Human Resources, with your HR representative in the room. He or she will know better than to fish around for the specifics of your medical problem, be it mental illness, a trip to rehab or just getting a boil on your ass lanced.
Beyond that, and I know this is hard to believe when you are swimming in the bottomless pit of feeling depressed and worthless and FAIL, but you are more important than any job. Trust me, your family wants YOU more than it wants your paycheck. If you do not get the help you need…well…it’s not an exaggeration to point out that suicidal thoughts often turn into suicide attempts and THAT would be letting your family down, way more than a possible (and unlikely) temporary stint of unemployment.
Take care of you and screw the rest. Inpatient care is not failure. Survival is not selfish.