Thursday, November 19
I have a wonderful employer and incredibly compassionate colleagues.
When I decided I needed to take a medical leave to begin really healing from my Depression and General Anxiety Disorder, I was open with my direct team regarding my reasons for stepping away, but they respected my privacy and were vigilant about not sharing any of my personal information with anyone else in the company.
Their actions conveyed complete respect and sincere hope for my full return and (more importantly, for my) lasting recovery.
In these first few days I am met only with acceptance and authentic happiness. It feels truly good (and even more than that, safe) to be at work again.
Though, there is confusion. While I am met with many hugs, smiles, and honest, It’s so good to see yous…there are of course questions, though nearly all of them go unasked.
No one wants to invade. Everyone knows that something happened, and it’s clear that no one wants to cause (however unintentional) anymore pain.
But, the truth is, I want to tell them. Not out of obligation, but understanding. I want them to know (really know) that I am well. That I am here. And, above all, that I am grateful.
But, how do you start this kind of conversation at work? How do you make this potentially heavy message easy to receive – an actual gift, and not a burden of too much information.
And then I remember the cards.
While writing my first gratitude blog for the 29 Gifts Giving Challenge (after reading the book, 29 Gifts), I received a gift package that included a small stack of beautiful cards with the simple but beautiful inscription:
You are a gift.
I bring the cards to work and when I see someone who is clearly thrilled to see me, and sincerely wants to know how I am, I take out a card & say:
“Right before I left, I was diagnosed with Depression and General Anxiety Disorder. It got pretty bad, to where I wasn’t eating or sleeping and had a lot of fear over basic things – like even being here. I took the time to get the help I needed, and during my treatment I came across this book called, 29 Gifts. It’s all about the philosophy of gratitude. The cycle of giving and receiving. It made a lot of sense to me, so, I started putting it’s philosophy into action and started a gratitude blog. While I was writing the blog they sent me these cards, and I want to give one to you. The intention is to hang it somewhere where you’ll see it often and be reminded that you are more than enough, that you are, in fact, a gift. Your concern certainly has given so much to me – like the strength to get better, and I want you to know that I’m really grateful for that – and for you.”
The conversations that have manifested out of this action are simultaneously grounding and uplifting. They are powerful, and yet gentle reminders that we are all only truly seeking understanding and connection. And once you have that, everything seems to fall so perfectly into place.
Weeks before my return, when I would catch myself beginning to wander into worry about what I would say when people would ask where I’d been, what had happened, and if everything was okay, I reminded myself to stop. Breath. To have faith that when the time came, I would know then what to do, and wasting any time stressing about it before that time would offer no answers.
So, I just let that worry go, and then without any pain or punishment, when the time for a solution arrived, it simply and lovingly revealed itself.
I suppose, it was (always) in the cards.