On The Observed Dichotomy Between Mental and Physical Illness

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bellbird

Sponsor
I'm really keen to hear the groups' perspective on this topic.
Apologise if this has already been covered somewhere and I've missed it.

So yesterday, a friend [for anyone who reads my diary, this wasn't N] told me that I shouldn't go in to university on days when my depression is bad because it isn't fair on others who have to share the same space as me.
(context: I had been crying, at times, at my desk. But only silent crying; no sounds; just the type where the tears fall down your cheeks. At other times I had rested my head on my hand because, well, I was exhausted and needed to in that moment.)

My friend told me that it isn't fair on my officemate (or anyone whom I interact with/encounter during my day) to have to experience (merely by being in the same room) that type of behaviour from me. That if I'm going to act that way, I should just stay home.
That people come to work to get away from troubles that might be happening at home, not to face more.

I didn't have much to say back to her at the time, but having now slept (albeit not that long) on it, it has me thinking about the dichotomy between the perception and (inter-personal) treatment of mental and physical health.

Say I had a broken arm, would this conversation ever happen? :
"So yesterday, a friend told me that I shouldn't go in to university on days when my depression is bad arm is broken because it isn't fair on others who would have to share the same space with me.
(context: I had been crying, at times, at my desk. But only silent crying; no sounds; just the type where the tears fall down your cheeks. At other times I had rested my head on my hand cradled my arm with the other because, well, I was exhausted and needed to in that moment.)

I can see how there would be an obvious issue if someone had a broken arm that they had refused to get any treatment for.
Or if I was there with a contactable illness.

But are the tears rolling down my cheeks really that offensive to other people that I must lock myself away until they've dried up and have once again been replaced by my usual facade of some happiness-derivative?

It seems the very people who encourage you to "open up" and "talk about it" because "you're not a burden" are also the fastest to want to shut you away, to act like mental illness is something that Just Doesn't Happen, and then exclaim how they haven't seen you in two months and wonder why.
 
Of course you're right. And it sucks.

I think it's going to take a major change in the way people look at mental illness. And that isn't going to happen until we're willing to tell people we're mentally ill ... and maybe even be OK with crying at work.

I hate to say that it's on us to change people's minds ... but that's the way it usually works.
 

bellbird

Sponsor
I think it's going to take a major change in the way people look at mental illness. And that isn't going to happen until we're willing to tell people we're mentally ill ... and maybe even be OK with crying at work.
So here's the thing: both that friend, and my officemate, know of my mental illness(es).
Sure I could have run to the bathroom to have a sob, but by her standards would have thus inadvertently traumatised everyone I passed in the corridor on the way and the janitor. :gasp:
 

Friday

Moderator
I’m going with the middle ground on this one.

Because, yes, unregulated emotions ARE contagious.

So it’s very much like going to work with a cold or stomach flu -to begin with- and -somewhat worse- refusing to cover your cough, or go to the bathroom to vomit but simply vomiting into your wastebin and continuing to work.

Sure, there are absolutely times when we’re going to head to work sick, or don’t make it to the loo in time. Just like there are absolutely times when we’re going to head to work depressed/anxious/enraged. There are simply going to times when that’s necessary, and that’s always a judgement call. We know we’ve made the wrong call when colleagues are just like, Dude. Go home. If not for your own sake, for ours. You might be able to work whilst vomiting at your desk, but we can’t. Come back when you feel better. Seriously.

Even the broken arm example? If someone is in so much pain that they’re crying at their desk? Only an uncaring asshole ISN’T going to send you home.

The dysregulation might not bother US... but whether it’s someone with rage issues shouting at people and slamming things around, someone depressed who’s crying at their desk, someone so anxious everyone else around them is starting to freak out... there’s a point where the professional thing to do is go home. Or, as an interim step, get your temper under control and stop lashing out at people / wash your face in the rest room / take an antiaxiety pill or go for a walk ...if you think you can get yourself back in hand... and try again.
 
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digger

Moderator
I can see what you're saying, but I think if someone is overwhelmed, or distressed, to the point of crying, I can also see how that could be disruptive in a workplace. Not because other people necessarily find it offensive, but because they are going to be concerned about the person probably to the point of distraction.

I'm not sure the broken arm works as a comparison, because that compares more to a more regulated mental health scenario. If someone was crying in pain from their broken arm, I would think they shouldn't be at work, or should take a break until their pain was under better control again - again not because I'd find their pain offensive, but because I'd be concerned for their welfare.
 
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TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I'm really keen to hear the groups' perspective on this topic.
Apologise if this has already been covered somewhere and I've missed it.

So yesterday, a friend [for anyone who reads my diary, this wasn't N] told me that I shouldn't go in to university on days when my depression is bad because it isn't fair on others who have to share the same space as me.
(context: I had been crying, at times, at my desk. But only silent crying; no sounds; just the type where the tears fall down your cheeks. At other times I had rested my head on my hand because, well, I was exhausted and needed to in that moment.)

My friend told me that it isn't fair on my officemate (or anyone whom I interact with/encounter during my day) to have to experience (merely by being in the same room) that type of behaviour from me. That if I'm going to act that way, I should just stay home.
That people come to work to get away from troubles that might be happening at home, not to face more.

I didn't have much to say back to her at the time, but having now slept (albeit not that long) on it, it has me thinking about the dichotomy between the perception and (inter-personal) treatment of mental and physical health.

Say I had a broken arm, would this conversation ever happen? :
"So yesterday, a friend told me that I shouldn't go in to university on days when my depression is bad arm is broken because it isn't fair on others who would have to share the same space with me.
(context: I had been crying, at times, at my desk. But only silent crying; no sounds; just the type where the tears fall down your cheeks. At other times I had rested my head on my hand cradled my arm with the other because, well, I was exhausted and needed to in that moment.)

I can see how there would be an obvious issue if someone had a broken arm that they had refused to get any treatment for.
Or if I was there with a contactable illness.

But are the tears rolling down my cheeks really that offensive to other people that I must lock myself away until they've dried up and have once again been replaced by my usual facade of some happiness-derivative?

It seems the very people who encourage you to "open up" and "talk about it" because "you're not a burden" are also the fastest to want to shut you away, to act like mental illness is something that Just Doesn't Happen, and then exclaim how they haven't seen you in two months and wonder why.

Really- people who are uncomfortable around tears probably themselves are uncomfortable w their own emotions. Then there are those who can’t feel empathy- and like narcissistic folks- tears are a sign of weakness to them. Yeah well, I try not to intrude my depressional days on others but like Shrek said, “Better out than in”-
Tears versus a total apiolyptic meltdown- I’ll do the tears any day. Good luck- it is hard sometimes.
 

digger

Moderator
Where does one draw the line on this, though? There are plenty of things that distract me, but I can't use that as reasoning to have them all be put out of sight?
I guess to a large extent, when it's workplace type stuff it's going to come down to whether 'most people' would or do find something significant enough to be distracting from their work. Can you say that if you noticed one of your colleagues in distress from either a mental or physical ailment, you could just ignore that? I'm struggling to think of a work situation where if a colleague of mine was in obvious pain (physical or mental) or crying, I wouldn't need to stop what I was doing to check in with them. If that's a regular thing then that's going be problematic.

I think there's a middle ground where someone is regulated enough to be able take a time out and reassure colleagues that they've able to manage this themself?

I don't think this is necessarily about trying to pretend mental health doesn't happen. I don't think 'fair' was maybe the best word your friend could have chosen, but it could equally be an acknowledgement of mental health being as important as physical health and saying if you had a physical ailment that was you weren't able to manage you would be expected/allowed time off for it.
people who encourage you to "open up" and "talk about it" because "you're not a burden"
I think part of learning to manage a chronic mental health condition is perhaps learning where it's appropriate to do this?

Obviously I don't know the tone of the conversation with your friend, it sounds like it may have felt that they were getting at you and criticising you, which wouldn't be nice. But personally, I think if I'm finding it too hard to regulate my emotions, then work is probably not where I should be. Doesn't mean I have to hide myself away, but that I need a more appropriate place to take it than work.

Taking time off is not always as easy as that of course. If you need to work you need to work.

When you are crying is it that you don't feel able to take time out for a bit? Or is it that you don't think you should be expected to?
 

bellbird

Sponsor
it's going to come down to whether 'most people' would or do find something significant enough to be distracting from their work
I must admit, this part made me chuckle; quite ICD-10-esque.
When you are crying is it that you don't feel able to take time out for a bit? Or is it that you don't think you should be expected to?
It's that my desk feels the safest place, really. And my officemate and I have had discussions where he has said he doesn't want me to feel that I can't come out to the office if I'm not feeling my best and if being in the office is helpful for me.

Usually outdoor walks are something I do to help regulate, but we're in the middle of winter here.

Going to the bathroom and just sitting on the toilet with the seat down, too, is something I occasionally do to take a time out, but that one's potentially triggering due to its connection to my abuse.
 
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