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It’s strange how two comments can instantly knock my confidence. I suppose it’s because I’ve spent the last three years at work living under the banner of mental illness. No matter how well I do, I know I’m still judged.

One: Starting that new job will be very stressful, you may not be able to cope with it. If so, you will always have a place here where we support you.

Two: I was discussing your situation with … and we think you should tell your new line manager about your mental illness.

All of a sudden seeds of doubt are placed in my mind. Maybe it will be too stressful for me. I will have more responsibility and very little structure for support. In fact, I’ll be responsible for setting up the structure. How will I cope with that?

I went from “yay, I’ll be setting up a whole new thing!” to “OMG, I’ll be setting up a whole new thing, gulp” in minutes.

And then I got really angry. How dare people talk about me behind my back?! What is it about mental illness that makes people think they can completely invade someone’s privacy and violate boundaries whenever they like?

I am still angry today and can’t wait to get out of this job, away from toxic people who make me feel small. But I also have familiar feelings of fluttering inside me. My mind is snapping to and fro, sending waves of what ifs over and over. I am currently trying to ignore flashing memories of humiliation.

People think I’m weak. I am not weak. Mental illness has made me strong. They think I can’t cope with stress. You know what I think? I think I cope with stress better than they do. Because I not only handle work-related stress, same as everyone else, I also handle the stress my own brain creates for me. That makes me strong.

My sister said they can “do one” and watch me sail through. I love my sister, my faithful defender. Yes, she’s biased, but she is also right. I am ready to spread my wings, and the people who step on my toes, think I’m weak and try to keep me in the ill person box… well, they can “do one”.