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At 16, I started to struggle and never thought I’d finish high school. In college, a doctor told me I needed to drop out to get treatment. But treatment for what? It wasn’t until I was in treatment that I was properly diagnosed with Bipolar II, generalized anxiety and, later, ADHD.
Mental health affects us all. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five US adults experience mental illness. But many times, it’s not talked about or addressed. Many struggle to understand what’s happening to them and aren’t even able to find health care professionals who can help. It’s an invisible illness.
The Moment I Felt Comfortable to Share
Up until now, I’ve only shared my illness with a handful of people. It wasn’t until I was asked to speak at a student conference about my role at Genesys that I realized the power of sharing my story. The keynote speaker at that event talked about her mental health, the struggles she faced and, most importantly, how she has triumphed. I spoke with her after the event and explained what her talk meant to me — and how I wished I had heard it when I was younger. She told me it was time to tell my story.
The Real Moments and the Importance of Support
While everyone has experienced their own struggles this past year, for me, 2019 was extremely difficult. I struggled multiple times with bouts of severe depression and increased anxiety. I spoke with my doctor; I talked to my friends. My mental health wasn’t just affecting me. And that November proved to be one of the hardest times of my life.
I scheduled a meeting with my manager and explained my current situation and my overall mental health. When I started at Genesys a little over five years ago, I sat down with my manager at the time and discussed my struggles. We put accommodations in place to help me be successful. But I hadn’t disclosed any of this to my current manager; yet he kept the same accommodations in place without question. We discussed what options I had, and the resources Genesys and my team could provide.
Two weeks later, I called him back because I needed to ask for time off to take care of myself. He asked, “What’s up?” but changed it to “What do you need from me?” when he realized I was struggling to talk. I felt comfortable enough to share what was going on — and cannot stress enough what a game changer it is to have supportive leadership.
One thing that has stayed consistent for me — from 16 years of age to now — is my drive to be successful and be here today. Fortunately, at Genesys, I’m treated like more than my symptoms in the bad times. I’m an employee who works to do his best. And, having a team that’s there for me and that I can lean on for support in those hard times means the world to me.
What It Means to Belong and Thrive
I still struggle. But being armed with knowledge and self-awareness means I can use the resources and benefits at Genesys to continue to get treatment. And, in the past six months, I’ve found others at Genesys who have dealt with similar challenges.
The Genesys culture is rooted in empathy; and I’m surrounded by people and leaders who continue to be helpful, understanding and, most importantly, supportive. As we commemorate the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act Day, I encourage everyone to understand that others might be going through something you might not see or know about. Share your story if you can, it helped me. It took over 15 years for me to feel comfortable doing so but connecting with others made a difference.
Take a moment and imagine what we can do as a collective when we continue to foster inclusive behaviors — and provide equitable opportunities of success for persons of all abilities.
If you are in crisis or need someone to talk to, please call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255). It’s a free, 24-hour hotline — your call will be connected to your nearest crisis center.
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