what kind of help do i need to ask for at work?
January 2, 2013 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Please help me articulate and figure out the help I am looking for, from my boss, at work. General tips on how to ask friends for the help you need (depression/ADD/anxiety related) are welcome.

As my posting history suggests I have had a lot of depression issues, and I am still grappling with them. I am in a new work environment with a supportive boss, but I do not know how to ask for help, or what help I am looking for.

I've been losing track of my projects and am really behind. I was hoping to catch up while people were gone for the holidays, but it didn't work. Things went slowly, I got spacey and got nothing done. I am afraid to go into work right now to see her and bring this up, without feeling ashamed, like a disappointment. My immediate supervisor and her boss know I am looking into treatment for depression either partial hospitalization or a different program for people who are emotionally stable/not actively in danger. I brought this up to them a few weeks ago, I think I can get in in a few weeks. Just not sure how to hang on and ask for help to get through the next few weeks. I keep on feeling 'up' enough to get a few tasks done, and i think i am reflexively acting okay because while i am overwhelmed, i don't want the more 'fun ' projects to pass me by because i can't handle more work... so its this weird conundrum where i probably do need help, but i don't need coddling or being made to feel like i am broken or helpless or stupid (long term family issues i think feed into low self esteem and not being confident) so... i want to be independent and strong, but falter at doing the work independently when i actually have opportunity to do my own thing,... uh, so, what are some ideas of the kind of help i can ask my boss for? like i mentioned, she is supportive in that she would give me advance leave to come back and be stronger (she said it herself), but i can also tell exasperated because i seem ok (trying to hold it together so it's not office-wide known im cracking up) and i guess inviting other projects from other groups/being helpful to my own employees because i seem ok, trying tobe as ok as possible, but really am overdue with independent projects i run, and dont know how to tell people that.

really my instinct is to hide at home, and i guess i already need to email in that im coming in late... ugh, sorry for the ramble, i just would feel better if next time she says "im willing to help but need you to tell me how" i have something to say....thanks

I guess it would help to explain that i have a very diverse job that involves communications, outreach, writing, social media, and managing some folks in a completely different field (team lead -- hard to explain but its the minor part of my job)
posted by ArgyleMarionette to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is what I do for one of my direct reports who has some similar issues (obviously I can't guarantee it will work for you):

1) I review and prioritize his to do list once a week with him and chat about how he's doing and how much he can handle doing that week (we chat midweek so he's had time to gauge the week)
2) I have reconfigured his job so that it is more about short term immediate reward projects and client interactions than long term projects and any long term projects have flexible due dates
3) I have made it clear that I will help him out and not be upset if he is overwhelmed provided he tells me before he blows a deadline
4) we work on strategies to avoid being overwhelmed.

Now, I have a lot of experience problem solving around disability/mental health issues and this employee is amazing at his reconfigured job, which my employer was happy to give me the flexibility to make happen. I think the most important part is that you need to remember to ask for help early and often and she needs to tell you how that can be ok.
posted by eleanna at 7:45 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I personally love using the lists of possible formal accommodations for mental illness:

AskJAN (they have a TON of resources, this is honestly just a sample) MentalHealthWorks (Canadian site)

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace)

How does mental illness affect my work performance? (Boston University, Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation)

I deal with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more - and I literally just returned to work after an extended absence including partial hospitalization. Please MeMail me if you want more suggestions/moral support/etc.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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