Depression is hard enough to talk about with friends and family, let alone with an employer you’re intent on impressing. Shame, guilt, humiliation, disapproval: There are many reasons, real and perceived, for keeping depression under wraps. But whether you say it out loud or keep your lips sealed, you’ve got to face your depression head-on or risk it ruining every aspect of your life, career included. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during this difficult time:
Confide in your boss. If your work has suffered but you’ve begun treatment, you might want to bring your boss up to speed and let him or her know that you’re on the road to recovery—especially if you have a good relationship. Don’t be surprised if your boss reveals his or her own struggles with depression; you could end up on the receiving end of some priceless advice from someone who’s been right where you are.
Keep your co-workers out of it. The office cooler is not the shrink’s couch. Though giving voice to feelings of loneliness and despair deserves applause, sharing your deepest feelings at every opportunity isn’t going to inspire any confidence in your employer or co-workers. Workplaces are human driven organisms, and humans can be coldly calculating. In the wrong hands, your personal information could be used to discredit you (“You don’t want someone that weak or unstable to handle the new client, do you?”). Don’t allow your depression to define who you are in the workplace. If you’re aching to share your struggle with a co-worker who also happens to be a good friend, do it outside of the office.
Treat yourself with care. Everyone’s depression is different. Sometimes it ebbs and flows, feeling better or worse at certain times during the day. Deep breathing and meditation during your afternoon coffee break can help keep it in check. On other days, a brisk walk in the sun or a lunch-hour chat with a close friend or family member does the trick. Indulge in little treats for yourself within the framework of your own workday routine that soothe your depression without putting your job at risk.