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Leah’s story: how I managed my mental health family monster and my job

07 June 2019

Administrator, Leah shares her own mental health family monster as part of our series of blogs celebrating Family Action’s commitment to promoting positive mental health in the workplace and our Time to Change Employer Pledge.

Prior to the birth of my daughter, Ivy, in 2015 I did not have any experience with family monsters like mental health. Family members had monsters like depression or anxiety, or sometimes both but it was not something that was spoken about openly. You would not hear conversations like you do now, there seemed to be stigma attached to anyone who had mental health issues and it was portrayed in a negative way.

It’s not until you’re getting through the other side of your own ‘journey’ when you realise family monsters like mental health can affect anybody, you don’t choose to have mental health issues and there is nothing you can do to stop it from happening. Having depression does not make you any less of a person and certainly doesn’t make you a bad parent.

When it came to my own experience, I felt like I was completely on my own, as I didn’t know what was going on. A time, which I felt, was meant to be the happiest in my life felt like the worst; I just had a baby, which was completely new to my partner and myself. I love my daughter more than anything but there was this feeling that something was not right, but I could not explain what it was. I had an amazing health visitor who noticed the signs early and helped me with appointments with my doctor, although I was hard to work with, as I was adamant there was nothing wrong with me.

I felt I was going to be judged by doctors and other healthcare professionals. I thought I would be referred to social services, as I was a bad parent for feeling this way. I initially refused medication, as it would mean I had failed at being a parent and feared it would affect my future career. My partner, like myself, had no understanding of mental health and just thought it was a phase I was going through. Which, in itself, was yet another obstacle as I constantly felt criticised as I was explaining daily I felt really low but did not have a reason why.

“When I accepted that I had post-natal depression, I realised I had a massive support network around me even though it felt at the time that I did not have anybody”

When I accepted that I had post-natal depression, I realised I had a massive support network around me even though it felt at the time that I did not have anybody.

Having mental health issues has made me more confident within my job role, some clients we work with I feel I can relate with, as some of their experiences I have also gone through. I am now at a place within my job role where I would love to work within the Perinatal service and provide support to mums experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues. It took me a while to get back into work as my confidence had plummeted. I applied for my current role as Project Administrator at Family Action as I loved the idea of the family support and perinatal aspect of the project and I started working for the Families Together project in Wales in 2017. Although I felt that I had to disclose that I had depression to the manager at the time, as I thought it would affect me in employment, I was made to feel at ease immediately. I have the most supportive team who openly have chats and pick each other up when you are not feeling 100%.

Mental health and other family monsters become a huge pressure on us when we don’t talk about them and they can impact all areas of our lives. We are committed to reducing the stigma around family monsters like mental health in the workplace so all employees feel they can talk about them. On 27th June 2019 our CEO, David Holmes, will be signing the Time to Change Employer Pledge and making our commitment to end mental health discrimination. Stay tuned for the next installment in our series of blogs from employees sharing their own mental health journey.