Having depression in the work place.

There is a funny time in my life when I was suffering with depression in work and I was unaware of it.
When I was about 34 years old, I decide I needed a change from hair dressing. I had always been helping out in my hubby’s office, so I had some computer skills. I decided to apply for a cashier job in Ulster bank. I had to go to that huge impressive Ulster Bank building on the keys there in Dublin city centre for an interview with human resources. I didn’t even know then fully what human resources meant, imagine, and me going for a bank job!
 It was the year 2000/01 and Dublin was booming still with the ‘Celtic Tiger’. Anyway, somehow I had enough skills to convince the young woman that I could do the job. I was so excited! I couldn’t believe I had actually got a job in a bank!
I had to do a couple of weeks training and I for my position in Ballsbridge branch.
Listen, all I can say is that it is a great job, with great hours and proper pay. Why I had never known there was an easier way of making money than hairdressing, is probably because I never paid attention in school.
 Anyway it was great. I had a 10am till 2pm job and I settled in grand. There was a great buzz in the air and because of the location, there were various famous people that banked there, one of which was Gerry Ryan. I remember one occasion with Gerry when he had come to my station. He was lodging his yearly salary and no I won’t tell you how much it was for, but I will tell you I was holding the check for quite some time counting the zero’s! Well, I needed to be sure!
Let’s just say it was better pay than the bank, so broadcasting could be even better folks!
“It’s real,” he interrupted my counting, LOL, “Oh, yes, sorry,” I giggled! (mmmm starstruck)”I just want to lodge the right amount!” I’m not sure gerry quite believed me but he laughed along with me.
You see in my first week, I had counted up my cash balance wrong and the staff were all running around looking for 17,000 missing euros in coin. And I was sitting at my station unaware that the hullaballoo was all because of me! I promise I didn’t put it in my handbag.
Well, I soon learned to do an excellent job, if I do say so myself and I really liked working with finance. I liked the bureau de change the best, it was great figuring out the difference and I realised I may have been good at maths again if I had have paid attention in school!
Around this time, the young female college graduates that worked in the accounts section decided they didn’t like me. I was doing too good a job, (sorry) and they were typical ‘Celtic Tiger’ spoilt kids who only did what they had to do. I was from a different time, you know, born in the 60’s, we were only taught to work hard and bring home the money. But these kids had no idea of going without. They decided to exclude me from conversations and believe it or not, I caught making fun of me behind my back, or more seriously jeering me,”Who does she think she is? She never even went to college! I’d like to know who she know’s in this bank…. sneer.” This is what I heard as I walked up the stairs behind them one morning. I did pull them up on it and they were embarrassed, but never the less, it made me feel bad about myself. (I had already experienced severe bullying in Peter mark’s in Tallaght that had really knocked my confidence, another day’s blogging, I promise!)
So, I was sad. It’s hard to work in a place where you’re not included.
Anyway I got on with it and some time afterwards I became pregnant. We had wanted a third child so I was delighted with the news and as on all my pregnancies I was really well physically so I just carried on. I couldn’t share the news with my colleagues as I knew they wouldn’t be interested. But at seven weeks I knew I wasn’t pregnant anymore as my boobs had stopped being sore and I had spots of blood coming from me.
I was really fine about losing the ‘baby’ because I knew realistically it was only still a bunch of cells and I would try again later on. But because hormones do their own thing, they took over my body and I went into post natal depression. Now I really had no idea that I was in post natal depression at the time but my emotions were all over the place. I used to cry spontaneously in work while I was serving customers! I knew the staff saw me, but they ignored me. At one point I asked a senior member of staff could I go home and she said I had to wait till all the lunches were finished, so I continued to serve customers with snots running down my nose. I kid you not.
You know, when you have to suffer that experience in front of everybody, it really doesn’t help your self esteem. I was really embarrassed. I thought maybe it was time I asked for a transfer. There was no point working with these un-compassionate people. I did talk to my manager (a female, my own age, very attractive in her own right, but for some reason didn’t gel with me), I told her I was thinking about leaving and she said yes, maybe it was for the best.
So, I left. I hadn’t gone to a Doctor during that time apart from the experience of the D and C, so, I really didn’t know I should have gone out sick with depression. A few weeks later, I did write into Human Resources with a complaint and I received a letter saying, ‘Good luck with your future’.
Now listen, I don’t have any regrets now or resentments towards anybody during that time. I needed to be on that road in life to find me now.
But depression is a real illness. If you’re mentally ill you cannot work. You can’t do a proper job. Managers need to be more aware of their employees. It might seem annoying that someone is coming and going sick a lot of the time, but inevitably, if there was more information out there for suffers or if the Doctor’s were on the ball, people would be getting the right help. Ireland has a long way still to go in helping people suffering from mental illness. And it’s starts with patients trusting in their doctor or health service. If there was more compassion from these services or indeed work mates and employers, people would open up more about their illness and go and get the help they need.
Lucky for Ulster Bank that I got rid of their little headache for them.

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