Hello world, it’s been a while and we at Gbm were on a sabbatical on the way forward. Today is the 25th World Mental Health Day and since we are an organization equally focussed on mental wellbeing, we decided not to let this day go by without adding our voices to those of all other brave and dynamic mental health advocates the world over be they individuals or associations.

GBM Mentally Healthy Workplace Pledge

Thanks to the brilliance of the World Federation for Mental Health, this year among the awareness activities to chose from, there was a pledge to be signed by any organization committing to ensure their workplace is mentally healthy. Talking about a mentally healthy workplace, our country director Ms Marie Abanga took some time off her busy schedule to share a personal essay about her experience at a workplace and the help she got. She didn’t get it from the company per se, but her direct supervisor could see through the pain in her and give her some support which helped her a great deal. In her own words below:

“It is close 9 years today and I can never forget the tragedy which struck my family and 1 on that fateful february 2008. The pregnancy I had carried to full term, led to the birth of a pretty baby girl. We named her Ange Claire (A Clear Angel), and I was so super excited because I already had two sons and will now be having my own baby girl. She had so much hair like myself, and although I didn’t get to breast feed her because she very soon after being put on my chest she developed a respiratory infection, I looked forward to her getting well and coming home with me very soon.

That never came to be because the very next morning at exactly 4 am, my Angel was no more. I think that was the first and best (I prefer to use this adjective) devastation I have ever suffered. Even ECT may not shock you to this extent. I remember so vividly crawling under my bed in the hospital – I just wanted to disappear from this earth. How was I going to face the world, me who had already so excitedly announced her birth barely 12 hours prior? Could I brave to go back to that Job, and stand all the stares and repeat the narrative?

There is no dispensary sort of at the office for trauma related counselling and yet I knew I would literally die if I kept all this inside of me. Who was there to talk with? My ex husband preferred maybe to grieve internally and avoided any and all discussion thereon both related to our daughter or otherwise. It was real tough for me and I started to spiral very fast. Insomnia, delusions, paranoid thoughts, suicidal ideation and more – neglect of self, sons and home – devastation was nearby. Going to work was so challenging, some days I just couldn’t.

Colleagues at work kept away from me like I had become contagious. Surely the rumour was out and my face could tell. A handful or even less called to condole, but my Supervisor at the time went the extra mile. She called, came to visit and invited me over to her place. I talked about whatever and when she chastised me to go upstairs and sleep, I did sleep for hours. I am forever indebted to her for her kindness, patience and empathy. I wrote this poem on my personal blog for her. I wish there could be more like her and why not companies with safe spaces and therapists for counselling and just listening if that’s what’s needed”.

Please, sign the pledge over at the World Federation for Mental Health like we just did. Kindly get involved in our activities so that we may step up our awareness and advocacy drive for epilepsy and mental wellbeing. Thank you very much

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About Gbm-em

The Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing maintains this blog to contribute towards the fight against all forms of stigma, rejection and abuses of epileptics and mentally ill from the social and medical systems.

4 thoughts on “World Mental Health Day 2017: Mental Health at the Workplace, a personal essay!

  1. The world does not understand the anguish and pain that mental health issues produce. Often I hear people claiming, “these people need to “man up” and face their challenges head on.” Besides a clear lack of compassion, these people are clueless about the paralysis some of these issues produce. It is important to see organizations sharing these stories. Some may not want to hear it, but the masses benefit as well when society works together to find solutions that exist. Many times they’re simply well hidden.

    1. Dear Doctor,
      Thank you for your thought provoking comment. I believe if we each keep doing our mite without so much focus on if the ‘world gets it or not’, someday we or the next generation may just realize the world did get it. Targetting grassroots where the biggest suffering and impact is, makes us take the hardous steps. The world federation for mental health for example was created in 1948 alongside the WHO, I don’t want to say any further but we can both see which one the world maybe loves better.

  2. Thank you so much, Marie, for sharing such personal aspects of your heartbreaking journey. I’m so very glad your Supervisor was incredibly supportive and went above and beyond the typical call of duty to help you during such an arduous time in your life.

    The fact that you’ve gotten through such tragedies to thrive, help others in all sorts of ways, and be a truly powerful & effective advocate is profoundly inspiring.

    1. Dear Dyane,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I am happy I finally got to be able to share this aspect of my story without breaking down. I think the theme of this year’s commemoration also sparked the sharing. It makes it so much worth it if I survive, thrive and then move on to be a powerful and effective advocate as you put it. You are also so inspiring.

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