Well, just how do you start a piece about 'the hidden disability' that you’ve had since you were 15? That’s how old I was when I had my first 'nervous breakdown', which is what it was called then.
When I was 15, not many teenagers were diagnosed as suffering with depression. Now it’s known that many young women, hitting puberty – at the same time as exams, boyfriends, social lives and responsibilities – may develop mental problems too. And I hope they get the help they need. At 15, I was (and still am) very lucky to have very supportive and understanding parents and friends who helped me to cope with my ups and downs and odd behaviour.
Since then, I’ve had several periods of depression. I’m in one at the moment but I keep slugging on. If you meet me on campus, you won’t know. I’ll smile at you and say hello. If I’m lucky, you’ll smile back and say hello too. You won’t know you’ve just spoken to a “nutter”, to someone who spent last Sunday crying all day because of the stress caused by my family and work. It’s no-one’s fault, it’s just the way things affect me.
I have worked at the university for some years and it was only recently that I was registered as having a disability. At the time I was having some problems with some aspects of the job that I was doing, in so much as I didn’t seem to be able to remember everything I needed to do. This was causing more work for my colleagues who were having to correct my mistakes. I was sent to Angela Breen, Disability Advisor, she explained that long term mental health problems were also seem as a disability and ‘reasonable adjustment’ could be made for me in my job. A meeting with my line manager was made and adjustments were implemented.
My line manger then arranged a meeting with the rest of the team and the situation was explained to them. Since then, I have had a few bad days in the office but most of the time my colleagues are very understanding and willing to overlook the strange turns my behaviour sometimes takes. I am very grateful to them for this and to my line managers for being so willing to support me.
Julie Rudd, Library Services