A cry for help – making a difference in the workplace!

May 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm 3 comments

Written by Esther Denn, CCAM, ARM

A close friend recently told me a story about a couple of people in her workplace.  One person committed suicide with a firearm and many individuals at work were left with feelings of guilt wondering if they could have foreseen or done something to prevent this tragedy from occurring.    My friend also mentioned that another person was talking to a few individuals at work about crashing into a car to end the stress of suffering from panic attacks.   Alarmed, I asked my friend what if anything had any one at work done to address what was clearly a cry for help?   After all, she works for an insurance company.  You would think that the employee assistance programs in place are of some benefit to their employees.   If that is the case, then why aren’t people clamoring to take advantage of these often free services.   My friend relayed that most people in the workplace were unsure how to handle these types of conversations, became uncomfortable when hearing them and did nothing.   I insisted that my shy, introverted friend approach the person who was voicing those thoughts and share her experience, strength and hope with them at the very least.  My friend approached the individual and told them about her own experience with a friend who suffered from panic attacks and how that friend found help.  She let the person know that there were resources available and hope for a better life.  When you share your experience, strength and hope with others, it becomes the individual’s choice to take action.  My friend knows that she has done all that she could have done in this situation to help.

I am that friend who suffered from panic attacks.  My friend has never forgotten those late night phone calls when I would call her in terror to take me to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack.  Early traumatic events in my life led me to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts.  Recovery for me consisted of a holistic approach of medication, therapy, support groups, spiritual practice, personal growth workshops and a focus on healthy living to get me on the path to healing.  When I first embarked on this path of recovery, I was so excited about sharing my experience and wanted to save the world.  I remember going to an out of state reunion and being met at the airport by friends.  They were looking at me strangely and when I questioned them, they said that another friend told them that I was “sensitive” in other words “crazy” because I was going to therapy and support groups.  In other words, when you admit to needing help for a mental problem you can’t cope with, society labels you the “identified patient.”  No one wants to be described as “mentally ill” and that is what often prevents people from seeking the help they so desperately need.    Rather than admit to needing help, they seek solutions in drugs and dangerous lifestyle activities.  I know people who have sought comfort from trauma in their lives through shoplifting, adulterous affairs, self cutting, anorexia, overeating, gambling, overspending, alcohol abuse and drug abuse.  It becomes a vicious, self defeating cycle which often leads to a bad outcome.    None of the people I have known wanted to admit that they had a problem and become classified “mentally ill” by asking for help.  I am convinced from years of experience with 12 Step Programs such as Al-Anon that the most powerful way to help others is to have the courage to share your own story.  Everyone has a story to share about the hand of cards life has dealt them and how they handled it.  There is power in the telling and someone could benefit from your story.  There are resources and help available.  I would encourage you to not hesitate to reach out the next time you run across someone in the workplace who is in trouble.   Extend the hand of fellowship if it is within your power to help.  Remember one person can make a difference in the workplace.

For additional resources in helping others dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, depression, go to these links:

Al-anon Family Groups – http://www.al-anon.org

Alcoholics Anonymous – http://www.aa.org

National Institute of Mental Health – http://nimh.nih.gov

La Casa de Maria Spiritual Retreat Center – http://www.lacasademaria.org


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda E. Cummings  |  May 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Esther! I have a daughter with a brain disorder (my preferred term for “mental illness”), and my heart bleeds for the pain she suffers from the stigma our society imposes, reducing human beings to the label of their diagnosis. I would like to suggest one additional resource for your readers. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a wonderful resource for those coping with the challenges of brain disorders and for their families and friends. NAMI’s website is: http://www.nami.org

    • 2. Property Manager's Corner  |  May 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      Thank you Linda. I will add the website to the post.

      Esther Denn, CCAM & ARM Certified Community Association Manager Accredited Residential Manager

      eDenn Property Management (949) 716-2179 Office (866) 723-2160 Fax esther@epm.occoxmail.com eDennProperty.com

      visit my blog @ pmfrontlines.wordpress.com

  • 3. Victoria Meyers  |  June 1, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Esther…My entire heart goes out to you. While reviewing your story, all I could think about was the unimaginable challenge you must have faced to keep taking each step at a time. So much easier said then done. What wonderful rejoicing accomplishments that you have acquired at the same time! You are a remarkable woman you are! I’m so glad that you posted your experience where others can most definitely benefit from! While so many today are waning with financial responsibilities, family needs that aren’t being met, job insecurities, rejection from lost opportunities – then those who aren’t caught up in the unemployment scene, but still have similar issues – the list goes on. I lost a friend this year to suicide and he, having a history with depression, just gave into it – lost the will to fight it. Very sad to say the least. Thank you for sharing this most intimate and important message. I only wish you the absolute best for your continued success. Many Blessings, Victoria


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