Kim's secret: like many, she suffered in silence
12 October 2017
Porchlight worker Kim knows how dangerous it can be when you don’t feel able to talk about your mental health.
She was diagnosed with clinical depression at 21 and hid it from everyone except her family: “It was a very taboo subject and I felt ashamed, but hiding things made me feel guilty which fed back into my depression.”
Several years later, she was working as a college tutor and keeping her mental health secret. This ended costing Kim her job.
“When I applied to work at the college I hadn’t been depressed for several years, so never mentioned my mental health to them. Things were going well - but then one day my depression returned with a vengeance.”
“I was really unwell with depression but making excuses to cover it up: migraines, sickness, toothache… anything but admit the truth.”
By the time Kim told her employers about her health she was too unwell to continue working at the college. “If I had spoken up earlier things might have been different. Instead I was very ill for a very long time,” she says.
A long period out of work followed, including 6 months where she was unable to leave the house. Recovery, which included regaining confidence by volunteering for various community projects, took several years.
Eventually, Kim joined the Porchlight team and this time was open about her mental health.
We saw how much she has to give and put measures in place to help her thrive, inculding a service that allows her to gain easy access to support including counselling. She now uses her experiences to help others with similar mental health issues.
“I have flexible working hours. This means that if my mental health takes a downturn, I can make coping with it my priority. I also have a few colleagues I talk openly with about my mental health. They know what to look for and if they see a change in me, they’ll let me know and I can take steps to prevent things escalating.
“The more we talk about our wellbeing, the less taboo mental health becomes. So many people with mental health issues have so much to give. It would be a travesty to our communities if we were to stop engaging them.”
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