My two years working in a call centre Customer Service department has been a topsy turvy struggle, especially after returning to the workforce after nine years of illness. The customers are very demanding to deal with at times and frankly they test my patience. I wrote my “Brown Bagging It” series on the hunt for a job; and in hindsight, that was the uncomplicated part. One of the chief obstacles was stigma in the workplace; for I lived in major anxiety of anyone finding out my secret living with a mental illness, yet at times I wished they were aware of my struggle each day.
Throughout the course of the two years, there were road blocks; a department reshuffle requiring training (a major challenge and upset due to a new computer system), adjusting to two new managers (one was fired), and now another reshuffle. I do have problems coping at times, but it is now that I begin to feel differently as far as the mental illness issue is concerned.
I sense as if at the two year mark, that I’ve made my mark and shown the company that I am someone trustworthy, dependable and can handle what is thrown my way. I will not holler from the rooftops that I have major depression, however, if word does leak out I feel now I will not fall to pieces. And really, why should this illness be such a secret? I did nothing wrong. I know though, I would never disclose that I see a psychiatrist; my years spent in hospitals/institutions, ECT treatments, or tucked away in seclusion on suicide watch. The general public will never grasp this; there will always be mental illness stigma.