There was a whole lot going on when I first moved to Brisbane that my fragile mind was struggling to cope with. I got a wicked job on the sunshine coast that I absolutely loved. My manager at the time was a bit of hard ass. Let’s not mince words, she was a bitch and eventually led me to leave a job I really enjoyed.
At the time, I thought I should have a conversation with her about my mental anguish in an attempt for her to have a better understanding of what was happening with me. I mustered every bit of strength I had to tell her about my depression. Bear in mind, some of my closest friends didn’t even know so it was a big deal to tell her. Shit you not, her exact response went like this… she rolled her eyes, sighed and said, “ Not you too. Seems like everyone has depression these days. So what are you going to do?” She spat out the words with contempt.
Anyhow, this is not about her, I just needed to set the scene of where I’m at with telling employers about being messed up. Fast-forward six years and I find myself freelancing for a parenting website, School Mum.
The lady running the show (my employer) is Sam. An incredibly savvy businesswoman who has an enviable gift of turning anything digital into gold.
Another editor I wrote for put me forward to this gig. She gave me Sam’s details and I met her for a coffee. Once again, I was in a place of despair. My mind was racing and I was questioning my worth as a human because…anxiety! So getting ready to meet a potential employer was kind of a big deal.
Compound that with the fact that I don’t really consider myself as a writer, and you can only imagine the panic attacks that ensued.
I managed to get my shit together and meet her. She was so lovely, so talented and so smart but in a way that wasn’t intimidating or threatening.
We hit it off and she offered me a gig to write a bunch of stuff for her site on a regular basis. It was all going so well. I absolutely loved writing again and getting paid was a huge bonus. I felt like I once again had purpose.
To be honest, I can’t even remember what set me off, but I went on a downward spiral to darkness again. I found myself staring at a blinking cursor, desperately willing for words to appear on my computer screen. I froze. I couldn’t write. I could barely keep my shit together. And I was on deadline.
I had only just locked down this gig. I was finally making a financial contribution to my family and I desperately didn’t want to fuck this up. I had so much to lose. I painted myself into a corner and I had no idea what to do.
I hadn’t spoken to my husband (he had no idea what was going on) and I did all that I could to maintain a pretense of normality. As deadline loomed, I knew I had to talk to Sam. I emailed her and just went for brutal honesty. I unleashed month’s worth of darkness and depression on her in that email. Without going into too much detail, I explained to her how difficult everything was. I said how I had tried but just couldn’t produce anything. I apologised profusely, took a deep breath and clicked “send”.
As the email flew into the ether, a huge weight lifted. I had completely expected to lose my writing gig but I was so relieved to no longer have the pressure of letting down someone I respected.
I got a reply fairly quickly. Not only had she been completely supportive and understanding, she encouraged me to write about how I was feeling and use this as an opportunity to heal.
Due to previous experience with a not so understanding employer, I was in utter disbelief. I just couldn’t understand that she wouldn’t immediately fire me. But what really struck me was how empathetic she was. And that was what made such a difference.
Much like Sam, a lot of people don’t realise how far even the smallest of gestures go. It’s that kind of understanding, the human compassion that can make all the difference to someone’s well being.
Sam made mention that someone dear to her suffers from a mental illness and that she was more than aware of the impact it can have on someone’s life. I think that’s certainly a part of what made her so adept in dealing with the situation. But I think more than that, she’s just a top chick.
So Sam Maree, for extending your compassion and being so empathetic, this is your tape.