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Corporate spaces are mostly capitalist and ableist. Despite all the talk about DE&I policies, they are rarely supportive to invisible disabilities.
October is observed as Disability Employment Awareness Month in the US, so I decided to write about one of my experiences with employment as a disabled person.
The scenario is the same whether it’s India or the US. How do I know this? Because I am one of them. My disability—clinical depression—is invisible, but it still qualifies as a disability.
I have been living with clinical depression since the age of 13, and I have learned to handle it reasonably well. Plus, I have medium-functioning depression, which means it impacts me moderately. As a result, even though I have been chronically depressed, I completed my postgraduation in my chosen fields of study. In fact, I have been able to make quite a few life choices despite the presence of depression.
So I confided in her and told her about my struggles with depression, thinking that I was finally going to get some much-needed mental health support at work.
At first, she was supportive in the sense that she made time to listen to what I had to say. If I felt a depressive episode coming on, she encouraged me to tell her about it so that my workload could be rescheduled accordingly.
But just a month or so later, I noticed that she grew tired of being supportive. It was as if she expected me to snap out of my depression after a while, even though I had told her it was a chronic condition. I don’t know what got into her but she began gaslighting as well as talking down to me.
Our supportive talks ended abruptly and were replaced by weekly one-on-one grilling, where she compared my productivity levels with neuro-typical peers and asked for explanations. When I told her why my pace of work was slower, I was told off for making excuses and not trying hard enough. I was also asked to turn in daily reports that accounted for how I was spending every minute of my time at work.
Needless to say, this was demeaning and ableist on her part and made me both anxious and angry. So I quit as soon as I could because I had never felt so othered at any other place of work in my life. Even though I was doing the best I could, and my coworkers had no complaints, my manager’s mistreatment made me feel incompetent. It took me a couple of years to build up my self-confidence, for she had crushed mine.
In fact, she is one of the primary reasons why I turned to freelancing. Now that I have written about depression for platforms like HealthyPlace, TheSpill, Metro, and my blog, in which I speak of my challenges, I have made it harder for myself to secure a full-time job in the future.
The D-word turns off a lot of employers, and like most disabilities, makes them think of people with depression as liabilities.
What will it take for this attitude to change? People with disabilities too have rights at work. But when will we get them? It is very easy to indulge in practices like wellbeing washing. When will companies actually start caring about the wellness of their employees?
Published here first.
If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080-25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
SPEAK2us – Tamilnadu 9375493754
Image source: a still from Bombay Begums
Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. read more...
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If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
Smita could visit her mother only in summers when her daughter had school holidays. Her daughter also enjoyed meeting her Nani, and both of them had done their reservations for a week. A month before their visit, her husband told her, “My mom is coming for 4-5 months!”
Smita shuddered. She knew the repercussions. She would have to hear sarcastic comments from her mother-in-law for visiting her mother. She may make these comments directly only a bit, but her servants would be flooded with the words, “How horrible she is! She leaves me and goes!”
Maybe Animal is going to make Ranbir the superstar he yearns to be, but is this the kind of legacy his grandfather and granduncles would wish for?
I have no intention of watching Animal. I have heard it’s acting like a small baby screaming and yelling for attention. However, I read some interesting reviews which gave away the original, brilliant and awe-inspiring plot (was that sarcastic enough?), and I don’t really need to go watch it to have an informed opinion.
A little boy craves for his father’s love but doesn’t get it so uses it as an excuse to kill a whole bunch of people when he grows up. Poor paapa (baby) what else could he do?
I was wondering; if any woman director gets inspired by this movie and replicates this with a female protagonist, what would happen?. Oh wait, that’s the story of so many women in this world. Forget about not giving them love, you have fathers who try to kill their daughters or sell them off or do other equally despicable things.
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