I'm not an attention seeker, I'm depressed
July 7, 2009 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Should I reveal my depression to my co-workers?

I've struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and began taking meds and getting therapy a couple of years ago.

Throughout my life, I've always put on a happy face to hide my true self. This was partly due to a bad family situation and the shame I felt because of it. As a result, I'm outwardly gregarious, while I feel low down inside. There are times when I fall into a deep funk and withdraw into myself.

I see my psychiatrist twice a month, and haven't told my co-workers why I take an afternoon off every couple of weeks. I keep getting asked why I take time off, but always deflect these questions by saying its a private matter.

Last week, I was in one of my funks and was keeping to myself, which runs counter to my usual habit of going around and talking to everyone. Today, my boss was joking around and said that she and my other co-workers found my moping last week to be very unpleasant and that they thought I was faking to get attention.

I feel bad now because people don't know my internal struggle. I laughed off what my boss said, but it hurt. For so long, I thought my condition was something for weak or damaged people. My boss bringing up the possibility of my faking mopiness brought up some bad feelings.

So, I'm wondering whether I should reveal that I'm seeing a psychiatrist and my struggles with depression. I don't want people to think I'm just trying to get attention when I'm really in a funk. I'm really confused as to what to do.

Any help is much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Do you really need to take off an entire afternoon to see a shrink? Can't you just leave for a couple hours?

Anyway, tell your boss that you're in pain and that you need to see a chiropractor. Let her know that you can make up the hours if you need to. If any of your coworkers ask, tell them the same thing.

Don't tell the people you work with that you're depressed. What could you possibly gain from that?
posted by Sloop John B at 6:54 PM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

For so long, I thought my condition was something for weak or damaged people.

Keep in mind it's quite likely your co-workers will treat it the same way you once did.
posted by smackfu at 6:56 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Depression and anxiety isn't a sign of weakness at all. Many people, myself included, struggle with it every day. That being said, you have to weigh the relief you might feel from opening up to a few people at work with the possible damage it could do to your career.

Depending on your profession, people could use your mental illness as a way to deny you promotions and things like that. I'm thinking of the military, or maybe a law office or something.

Illegal? Yes. Reprehensible? Yes. But I'm certain it goes on.

The bottom line is that you should only talk about your mental health if a) you want to and feel comfortable doing so and b) you're certain it won't impact your career at all.

Good luck with your decision.
posted by elder18 at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2009

From the way you've described the atmosphere of your office, it is likely that telling your coworkers about your depression or psychiatrist will just give them something else to gossip or complain about. They could well think your telling them was another try at attention or sympathy. I would not tell them, if I were you - it's none of their business anyway, and I could see it doing more harm than good.
posted by frobozz at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

What would the purpose be of revealing this information to them?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:02 PM on July 7, 2009

If it's affecting your work (and it sounds like your boss is trying to let you know that it's at least affecting your work relationships) then imo it's appropriate to speak privately to your boss to let him know - and especially that you are being treated for it.

When I first started getting treatment for my depression, that's what I did. I knew that it had been affecting my work (I also had the very low times), and my boss was relieved to know that I was seeking help. He cut me some slack while I got my act together and more importantly, since he now understood my behavior, he wasn't influenced by any office gossip or speculation on same.

Your boss can then decide how to handle your co-workers - but if it's reached the level where he's trying to let you know that your low periods are becoming an issue, then he deserves an explanation.

If you're not comfortable speaking to your boss about this, at least speak to HR.
posted by Billegible at 7:05 PM on July 7, 2009

No, of course don't tell them. It's not going to forge some kind of bond or deeper understanding, it could potentially lead to alienation, and in no way alleviates any pain you could ever go through during your depressive states. Take medication, exercise, eat right, talk to your shrink and manage it on your own. Tell your spouse, tell your family, maybe tell your friends (if you continue to feel this need to unburden yourself) but for gods sake don't launch an emotive attack on your coworkers. How on earth could they respond?
posted by thatbrunette at 7:08 PM on July 7, 2009

I would definitely not reveal it to your co-workers, and if this boss thing is really invasive, you might consider going to HR about it. That is if you work somewhere where the HR Office isn't the Front Door to Introducing Yourself to Your Next Layoff.

I used to work in a multi-national insurance firm where gossip was as ubiquitous as water. The leadership wasn't amenable to any kind of squishy human emotion content, so much so that they started having weekly "take you aside to teach you how to ignore, ignore, ignore" when the layoffs began. Your boss sounds like a typical, middle-management tone-deaf kind of person.

The only advice I can give you is to do the best you can to take care of yourself, and know that no one at your job needs to know anything about your personal schedule. If you are granted the time away from work, then that's your business.

Another thing you might consider is seeing if there's any way you can do group therapy aoround your issues - sometimes the best thing is to be in the room with people who are going through something similar. You need to re-calibrate yourself after the fishbowl office environment.

If you can handle it, you might consider volunteering somewhere that deals in mental health work. Sometimes giving back to people facing your same situation can help you with yours. Or maybe finding work with animals somewhere, relieving their pressures from the energy created by your own.

One last word of support: kudos for seeking help! You are a strong person inside for doing so, and are on the right track to living well. Seek people out away from work for support who can competently guide you on your path. I believe in you.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:08 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

If your funks are that apparent, you need to talk with your therapist and come up with some strategies for mitigating the effects of your emotional ups and downs at work.

I definitely would not tell your co-workers. Telling people that your time off is private is entirely appropriate; publicly sharing your health issues at work is not.

IF your boss is sympathetic and trustworthy, and IF the culture at your workplace is supportive, you could take your boss aside and say something like this:

"I want you to know that I sometimes struggle with depression. I'm getting help with it, and my doctor and I are taking steps to make sure it doesn't affect my performance at work. I'm telling you this because I need you to understand that this is a real problem, but one that is under control. I don't want my emotional state to be the talk of the office ever again, so I appreciate your keeping this in confidence."
posted by ottereroticist at 7:10 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

In some cases, I'd say yes. I've done plenty of therapy time, and my supervisor knew about it. I'm sure I could have made up an excuse, but we have a good relationship, I knew my supervisor was also in therapy, and was absolutely sure it would be no big deal. Which it was not. I did not tell my other coworkers only because it never came up, but in that work atmosphere I would have been perfectly comfortable doing so.

But your coworkers sound not so very supportive and weirdly pushy from what little you've said here. You're the best judge, but it sounds like maybe you should err on the side of not telling them. That said, your boss may be a different story, if she has concerns about you taking off time regularly. It would be perfectly reasonable to mention to her that you have a medical issue, you need that time off for treatment, you'll make the time up, and you would really prefer that it not be made a big deal of around the office. She doesn't need to know details.

Being in therapy is absoutely not anything to be ashamed of, but not everyone gets that, and it sounds like you've got enough on your plate without having to be the poster girl for Therapy Is Great! at your workplace.

Why not toss this question around with your psychiatrist, too, if you haven't already?
posted by Stacey at 7:12 PM on July 7, 2009

I'm not quite sure what to make of the fact that the other commenters assumed that your boss was delivering some sort of veiled message to you, while I assumed that she truly was kidding around. At the risk of swimming upstream here, it's possible that she was indeed kidding. It's hard to tell from something written.

Only you can judge whether she was kidding, half-kidding, or deadly serious.

In the best-case scenario, she was trying to convey that she and everyone else in the office cares about you. The fact that you felt hurt by it was the very opposite of what was intended. In the worst-case scenario, she was delivering a specific message and the fact that you felt hurt by it was precisely what was intended.

Either way, it's really none of their business (assuming you're doing your job competently) that you're depressed and are in therapy. Deal with your hurt feelings on your own or with your therapist. Consider it an echo of you seeing depression as a sign of weakness.
posted by DrGail at 7:19 PM on July 7, 2009

nthing the suggestion that you toss this around with your therapist. If your "funks" become a bad enough issue for your employment to be at risk, would your depression afford you legal protection if it was known to your employer - ie, would it be classified as a disability?
posted by Lolie at 7:19 PM on July 7, 2009

What you do with your afternoons is a private matter. See HR if this is an issue that you need to quell with co-workers and Boss, but it's really no-one's business that you are depressed and in therapy. Everyone has off days.

And don't let them get you down. Good luck.
posted by waitangi at 7:22 PM on July 7, 2009

posted by SirStan at 7:23 PM on July 7, 2009

There really isn't much to gain from revealing your depression to your coworkers. Depression is still widely stigmatized and poorly understood, and many people erroneously consider it to be something you can just "get over" or "cheer up" from, rather than an actual illness. You could come in with a million doctors' notes, and some people will still think you're malingering or feeling sorry for yourself. Or they'll think "if they can't pull themselves out of their funk, how can they accomplish X or Y difficult work task?"

In short, lots of people just won't understand either way.

What I do, when my mental health needs and workday collide, is mention that they're medical in nature without mentioning the big D. I need time off for regular "doctor's visits" - a psychiatrist is a doctor, after all. The big light therapy lamp I bring to work in the winter is because I get "tired" rather than "fucking miserable." It's still the truth, and surprisingly, I get coworkers saying "hey, that's a good idea, I should try that."

Anything beyond that is none of their business. You probably don't need to know if your coworkers have asthma or diabetes or various reproductive issues; likewise, they don't need to know about the details of your health.

And regardless of your diagnosis, it's pretty rude for your boss to suggest that your bad week was just for attention. Who fakes a bad week? If that happens again, tell her quite simply that you genuinely were having a bad day, and her flippant attitude towards your emotional state isn't doing it any favors.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Last week, I was in one of my funks and was keeping to myself, which runs counter to my usual habit of going around and talking to everyone. Today, my boss was joking around and said that she and my other co-workers found my moping last week to be very unpleasant and that they thought I was faking to get attention.

Your boss is an insensitive extrovert-- definitely not the kind of person depressed introverts should bare their souls to. That said, this comment sounds like the kind of thoughtless BS blather that doesn't mean a thing to the people who say it.

After your talk to therapist, if things don't get any better, you might want to start looking for another job. Life's hard enough, why not make things easier on yourself?
posted by aquafortis at 7:37 PM on July 7, 2009

Hey, look at me with the over-empathizing with the question to the point of assuming the OP shares my gender. Read my post as "poster child" of whatever gender, please.
posted by Stacey at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2009

Absolutely not.

You need to be the most professional version of yourself at work. If you can't do this, I'd suggest that you take some vacation time.
posted by ohyouknow at 8:08 PM on July 7, 2009

I've been there. I'm so sorry you are going through this. It isn't bad enough to just have the depression. And then society and work culture pile on shame and stigma and self-doubt and the effort of having to hide it all.

Imagine if people going through radiation or chemo HAD to hide their treatments for fear of losing their job or being labeled weak and somehow deficient. How cruel to put them through fear and shame and isolation on top of being nauseous and in pain.

In my search for a successful treatment for chronic depression, I once had to wear a Med Alert ID bracelet, because the meds I was taking had potentially lethal dietary and drug interactions. (MAOIs) I was terrified of taking those meds, even though they could potentially help me. But I loved, LOVED the Med Alert bracelet. Here, finally, was a physical talisman. Proof that what was happening to me was not in my head, was not just something I could "buck up" from. I had a serious medical condition, you *sshole doubters, that just happened to also prevent me from sleeping, made me fatigued, contributed to chronic pain, made me struggle with a deep despair and a complete inability to feel hope or remember ever feeling hopeful. I never took the damn bracelet off. I didn't wave it around in anyone's face or use it to milk sympathy. My sister had her wigs after chemo, her catheter, and her biopsy scars. I had my bracelet.

I don't like to lie and I don't like to hide things, especially since those things contributed to the culture I had grown up in that helped to fuel my inability to protect myself or set healthy boundaries with others when I was younger. Living honestly was part of my recovery from that unhealthy mess. So having to hide my depression (whether it was active or in remission) or doctor's visits to maintain my treatment was very, very difficult. Because it felt like moving backwards instead of forwards in my ability to conquer and live with my condition.

That said, I think that the people who are warning you to protect yourself are wise. Like someone who has a same sex partner who can't reveal that at work without wondering if they will be treated differently. Like someone who is a recovering alcoholic who never drinks but needs to attend their AA meetings. Like someone who suffers from Chron's disease and has to endure ignorant idiots who snicker behind office doors with jokes about your visits to the restroom. Sometimes you have to protect yourself first, because some people are unenlightened, uneducated dolts. We've come a long way in fighting for acknowledgment that people who suffer from clinical depression, with successful treatment, can do most anything that anyone else can do. That we have the resources, the medications, the therapies and the tools to manage our condition and go on to have productive, creative, peaceful lives. But we aren't all the way there yet. So, protect yourself. Don't feel you have to explain. Know that you are taking care of yourself the best way that you can. Be well.
posted by jeanmari at 8:40 PM on July 7, 2009 [8 favorites]

publicly sharing your health issues at work is not.

but for gods sake don't launch an emotive attack on your coworkers

You need to be the most professional version of yourself at work.

Jesus Christ. An "attack?" Is a person in a wheelchair "attacking" his co-workers by not walking on his own? Is a person with cancer being "unprofessional" if he tells his co-workers he took the afternoon off to go get chemo?

That said, stone-aged attitudes like the above are still quite common, so consider that before you "come out." Your boss certainly sounds like a completely insensitive dick from your description. On the other hand, you have nothing to be ashamed of, so if you'd feel better about yourself being open about it, do it. Your health is the most important thing- there are a million jobs in the world (yes, even in this economy).

Maybe start with your most trusted co-worker and see how it goes, rather than a group announcement, which would probably be awkward?
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:42 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

What you hope to get by telling them is understanding. You may get that from some people - awareness and acceptance of emotional conditions are a lot greater these days than in days past, after all. But the other things you should expect to get from varying percentages of people are pity, mistrust, disgust, hostility, and keeping you at arm's length.

You're not asking people for pity, you really just want to explain yourself so that people will stop filling in the mystery void with other things they dream up. But some people will pity you anyway. And when some unrelated thing or another goes wrong at work, you'll get the look of concern, the hand on the shoulder, and the soft patronizing voice saying, "is it the depression again?" And you'll say, "Uhh, no it's the vendor. They lost a shipment." And then they'll humor you with a nod, still with concernface. Well-meaning people who imagine themselves to be amateur psychologists will think they understand depression and will try to attribute things to it or interpret everything you do through that lens. That can be sort of a problem, when people see you as a disease not a person, when they consider your depression in any given situation regardless of what you say and regardless of whether it's actually involved. You lose a degree of control of how you are perceived and treated.

Relatedly there will be the doubters. They'll think on some level, "I'd like to give him the project/promotion/whatever, but I can't risk them getting all depressed and screwing it up." Or if you explain the reason for some problem or another, they will secretly think and privately theorize to others that the real reason for the problem is your depression and that you're just trying to cover for it. Suddenly they feel they can't really trust you. Again they see the disease, not the person, and deny you fair consideration.

People who haven't experienced depression have no idea how it ruins you inside. Think back to before you had it, could you have imagined it? Many think it's just people being self-indulgent and mopey. They say, "Quit whining and get up and go do something. Quit your drama." Odds are you work with some of those people, even if they seem perfectly nice otherwise. Just you claiming to be depressed will be an offense to them. They don't think you deserve what they see as special consideration of any kind for what they see as selfish play-acting. They'll wonder with exasperation why you can't just cope like any other person and may feel disgust for you for what they see as weakness. They may not be overt about it, but there will be hostility under the surface.

Then there are the distancers. They find out you have some kind of mental issue and deep down are kind of scared of it as an unknown. They know they don't understand you and are uncomfortable being around you. They see you as kind of unpredictable now and look askance at you. Whatever the two of you are talking about, inside they are thinking on some level or another, "alien, strange, crazy, broken, bad, risky." They don't want to think or feel those things, don't want to deal with them, so they avoid you, push you away, keep you at arm's length. It's subtle from your perspective, but they're done with you for good.

I can say these things because I was each of those people at one time or another pre-depression. Poetic justice I suppose. I've since recognized those same characters repeatedly in various situations, including at work. Maybe you have an office full of knowledgeable, understanding, and nonjudgmental people and maybe you've got some mix of the above.

Those are the things that together make up the stigma against people with mental and emotional issues. They all suck, but in a professional context I think the worst of them is actually the one where you are not seen as entirely trustworthy, when people aren't sure whether they can count on you, and when people factor depression in to their judgment of you even in situations where it's not a factor.

Much like you don't show your hand when negotiating salary, consider this another instance where it's smart to keep your cards mostly hidden. It's your livelihood, so be smart about what plays you make even if it's tempting open up and speak plainly so you don't have to work so hard to hide things anymore. I think it's just a tossup as to whether you'll get the result you want by telling them. Like others have said upthread, tell your boss if it's necessary for practical reasons, and only then if you really feel you can trust her discretion, but leave it at that.

One old boss of mine thankfully revealed her scornful and dismissive thoughts about depressed people just days before I had planned to tell her I was one of them. I didn't tell her of course. The next two bosses were fantastic though, and I eventually told them. It helped me worry less about slipping out to the therapist. They were totally cool and really didn't think it was a big deal - or at least made the very decent gesture of convincing me of that. They were very supportive of me in general and I didn't get the sense that they'd ever pass me over because of it.

As for the practical aspects of slipping out to therapy, I tried to find days when my therapist had either her very first or very last appointment open so I'd miss less work and be less noticed. I managed to draw zero questions about it.

PS - I don't think we can divine much at all about your boss at all from the very little you've told us and I don't think getting a new job as someone suggested is called for at all. Your stuff comes with you and this will be an issue anywhere.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:24 PM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

I would tell the next coworker who asks about the afternoons off that you have an ongoing medical condition and you need to see your doctor regularly. You could say "ongoing and treatable" or just ongoing. A thoughtful coworker won't ask what it is (because obviously if you wanted to say, you would have), but a clueless one will - to which you respond, it's personal, but thanks for your concern. It is obviously very rude to continue asking, but if someone does, just repeat that you prefer not to discuss it & you're being treated for it.

Then, if someone asks why you're acting differently, you can just say that your medical condition is acting up a bit and you're not feeling so great (you might need to, again, deflect questions with "it's personal.") People will probably assume that you mean that you're not physically feeling very well.

Yes, this might lead to some speculation as to your medical condition, but most people will assume it's physical, which might reassure you. Of course, if most of your co-workers are jackasses, this might not be the best route - but if they're good people who will respect your privacy, I think it will work well. I wouldn't tell them about the depression because it's simply none of their business.

I have an eating disorder (and depression too, for that matter) and have about 4 appointments a week related to it. Add in your normal dentist, MD, OB-GYN, etc. appts and I'm "at the doctor" all the freaking time. Since I'm in school during the year and I have a flexible-hours job this summer, I don't run into as many questions as I would with a 9-5 job. However, I do end up telling other students/ professors/ supervisors that I have a doctor's appointment pretty frequently. Out of probably 20+ people in the last year, many of whom I've told I have a doctors appointment several times, I've only been asked once what it was for (I said it was personal, she dropped the subject), and once I had someone ask if I was okay (yes, I said, just a routine thing).
posted by insectosaurus at 9:28 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Electrius at 10:26 PM on July 7, 2009

No. My boss was supportive, but the rest of the office staff was so cruel that he felt he had to apologize for their behavior. I quit soon after.
posted by baho at 10:34 PM on July 7, 2009

It sounds like a pretty bad idea to me.

It also sounds self-destructive and I think you should have a little red light going off in your head about this idea. It is tempting... "You fuckers want to know? You really want to know?! (Rarrrr demonic-ripping-off-face)" Also I could see myself doing it as a futile, beautiful, doomed, and disastrous move. Don't do it.

Don't let the bastards wear you down.

Anyway I'm sure they didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Probably they were gently probing for a reason why you seemed quieter ("My aunt died"). Feel free to invent a lie.
posted by fleacircus at 11:00 PM on July 7, 2009

(I sense a trend here)
I would not tell anybody I didn't trust completely, including the boss.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:09 PM on July 7, 2009

Unfortunately, if anyone in your office actually suspects you of attention-whoring, any discussion of your medical situation will just be taken by those people as more attention-whoring.
posted by Lazlo at 12:56 AM on July 8, 2009

My coworker leaves early once a week to see a psychiatrist. She has pretty much handled it the way people are advising you to - i.e. she has generally not told anyone why she leaves early other than that it is for a medical appointment. I agree generally with the advice not to tell anybody you don't trust, but want to reassure you that there may be someone you can tell *eventually* and there are ways you can figure that out.

I say that because in my office I was the one that my co-worker "J" eventually trusted to tell that she was seeing a psychiatrist.

She has told our boss, as she knew our boss would understand, because our boss gets treated for ADD and has dealt with her husband's depression. She eventually told me she was going to see a psychiatrist, but only because we are work buddies and only after I had told her that my mother was depressed and that we were trying to get her treated and that depression runs in my family. J then felt that I would probably understand what was going on with her and told me what was up with her. I had already pretty much guessed what the situation was with J, but thanked her for trusting me, and told her I was glad she was doing what she needed to do to deal with her issues.

I think insectosaurus has good advice for you. Note though that if you are usually an engaged extrovert at work (at least on the surface), then your change/withdrawal last week may have genuinely confused people enough to be concerning. While you probably don't want to tell your co-workers what is up with you, the next time you really feel down you may consider at least *alluding* to things not going ok as a kind of explanation ... something along the lines of "Man, this is just not my week, I just dropped a whole cup of coffee all over the floor of the break room and that just seems to be how my week is going! I am just going to keep my head down till the planets reallign in my favor" ... something like that. Everyone at work has those kinds of issues/weeks, so they will be able to sympathize with you, and can then categorize your behavior in a way they probably will not think about too much.
posted by gudrun at 1:28 AM on July 8, 2009

You may want to tell HR, because of how protective legislation works. In the UK for someone to be liable for not making 'reasonable adjustments' at work under the Disability Discrimination Act they have to be aware of the disability; easy for physical disabilities, but you have to tell them for anything hidden. I suspect that something similar is the case in other countries, whether or not it is explicit.

Some people have been a little insensitive on this thread ('emotive attack on coworkers'?). Please don't take this to heart.

From the little you've given in your description your coworkers sound like utter and complete bastards. Sorry, but if someone is moping around you do you (a) assume they have good and genuine reasons to be upset and try and comfort them, or (b) accuse them of being attention seeking? If you answered (b) then you probably deserve a smack in the mouth! It doesn't matter why someone is upset; it could be something trivial to you, but they're upset and they're a human being. This should generate some shred of empathy. Apparently this is lacking in your co-workers.

That is a major reason I'd advise against disclosure. Some people here seem to be advising against disclosure in any circumstance, and that just perpetuates stigma and discrimination (think of it like being 'out' as gay; you make it into a positive statement). I've had good experiences disclosing my mental health problems to co-workers, but I knew they were nice people beforehand. It sounds like you are not surrounded by nice people.
posted by Coobeastie at 5:41 AM on July 8, 2009

You might want to mention it to your boss so that he/she can avoid making remarks to exacerbate your difficulty with explaining your absences. Don't tell anyone else, and make sure your boss knows you want to keep this private.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:33 AM on July 8, 2009

One more voice saying No. You have a health issue that requires regular treatment. Sometimes you have flare-ups and come to work even though you aren't your most energetic and cheerful self. You have zero obligation to explain your health status to anyone.

If you are "teased" this way again, give them a slightly surprised, slightly hurt look, and say, "I was feeling out of sorts. Of course I didn't mean to offend." They're being jerks, but probably not in a malicious way.
posted by theora55 at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2009

It depends. If you're in the US, any communication between you and any of your superiors or a human resources representative are covered by privacy laws and they're unable to tell anyone else without your expressed permission. If your workplace has a difference between PTO, unpaid time off, and medical time, you might be able to gain back some vacation time or make up for salaried time in a way you couldn't by not discovering where you're going.

I realize I work for a very pleasant manager and have an understanding workplace, but I've been forthcoming in revealing personal medical details as they pertain to my work. The general attitude, which I wish every employer would have, is that you need to have things in line at home and in your personal life in order to do well at work. My workplace is not every workplace, though.

ohyouknow's comment rubs me completely the wrong way. Most professional self? The most professional person is the one who can balance work and life to be most productive in each, and communicates with others clearly and simply. Mental illness is illness. That's it. Don't constantly bring your home or personal issues into the office, but don't hide a medical issue or let others trivialize your mental state.
posted by mikeh at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2009

No, and--as I have learned in therapy--this is a "boundaries" issue. You need to develop the instinct that it's just weird to talk to co-workers (and even non-close friends) about mental health issues. That's what your therapist is for.

I'd suggest:

A) Seeing your therapist more than twice a month
B) Finding a therapist with evening or weekend hours
posted by mpls2 at 7:12 AM on July 12, 2009

And the absolute best way to react to anything you perceive as an insult or criticism is with a gigantic smile and--if you know how to do it right--a subtly deflecting comment (hard to explain).
posted by mpls2 at 7:14 AM on July 12, 2009

I admire you for keeping it from your co-workers. Good move. It wouldn't do any good in the slightest and might do some harm. Plus, the knowledge that you have that sort of strength has to be good for you and your sense of control.

I'd invent a serious lower back pain. Great to zing these somewhat-creepy individuals: "Oh, yes, I was a little low last week but that's because I was in terrible pain!" and then flash them a smile (perhaps a little worn-looking). (Then deflect any further questions... "It's my back." "I really don't like talking about this.")

Good luck with the therapy, and keep up the good work. People do recover from depression - and I'll bet you have a better chance than most with that level of discipline (which I know I could never attain.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2009

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