Last Saturday, I attended a meeting with former colleagues from my old job. It was nice, better than I expected actually; my personal criteria always are whether I start wishing I was somewhere else or feeling uncomfortable, and neither was the case.
Before leaving, I had not really been in the mood for going anywhere and the only reason I went was because I had missed my own farewell party back in February due to train strikes. I did not feel like I could cancel without a bad conscience, but the day turned out enjoyable.
I told them that I was undergoing psychotherapy for chronic depression, because I didn’t feel like hiding the fact and pretending everything was ok, always had been. The reactions were positive; I believe a few people were a little uncomfortable because they didn’t know what to say or how to react, but I didn’t mind as I can relate to that kind of discomfort, plus they were still nice about it. One of my former bosses even told me a friend of hers had been an inpatient at the same hospital last year.
Part of the reason why I mentioned it now and not when I was still working there, but already undergoing therapy, is that I do not see them as often anymore. I don’t have to deal with their awareness of my mental state every (work) day, so I can afford to disclose it since it’s not going to affect my job.
Part of the reason is that the whole team had been aware of my health problems for years – they saw me cycle in and out of severe depression without anyone having a clue what was causing the problems, including me. I was good at my job and got an excellent reference letter, despite all my issues (to be fair, they always were understanding of people being sick; not only me, but everyone) – however, I wanted them to know that I finally had an idea of what was wrong. I had never mentioned the emotional distress to them, but they were cognizant of some of the physical complaints: the muscle pain, the cognitive impairment, the insomnia alternating with hypersomnia.
Four days later, I still don’t regret disclosing that I am undergoing psychotherapy for chronic depression. The particulars of it aren’t any of their business, but I feel relieved that I won’t have to lie about what I’ve done during the past four months.