Are you OK?
With Mental Health Week last week (7-13 October) and hearing from Patrizia Iacono about her career journey and experiences at our recent Speaker & Sparkles event, and her comments about ‘finding your voice’ and empowering ourselves to speak up and stand up for ourselves, made us think it was timely to do a post about mental health and the struggles that many of us go through or have been through in our roles as Assistants.
Why do so many assistants struggle with mental health or being treated poorly? Is it because as assistants our whole work life revolves around one (or sometimes, two or three) people who are our main focus and priority, and the nature of our roles is so personal with our managers that no one else usually sees how we are treated and what we have to endure?
We are pleasant, selfless, people-pleasers by nature and are always going above and beyond to make sure our bosses and those around us are taken care of. We come to work each day to someone who is our entire world for 10-12hrs a day, sometimes longer, and we do everything we can, including trying to change ourselves, be better, be different, to make it work and be successful in our roles. But if you’re working for someone who sees you as their last priority, this can be a struggle.
Yet we get up, come in, smile on our faces, ready for another day of making the best of it in the hopes that today will be a better day, and that they will be nicer to us today. Still putting them first and at the centre of our work universe. Only to be dismissed, rescheduled or barked at and undervalued.
The more assistants we speak to who open up about how they’re being treated poorly, are over-worked, or struggling from anxiety or depression, the more we realise that we are often the ones who struggle in silence. Why do we not say anything, or leave it for so long that by the time we do say something, it’s so far gone that we’re in a state of despair, not knowing what to do or how to get out of it?
If you struggle with a boss who doesn’t see the true value of the role of their assistant, we know how extremely hard this can be, personally and professionally. Most of us have been there at some point in our career unfortunately. And if you haven’t, you are extremely lucky, because working with/for these types of people is toxic for your mental health. It is draining, it is exhausting, and it is damaging; to your success in the role, to your self-esteem, self-worth, and to your emotional and mental wellbeing.
For those of you who have been through or are going through something like this, we want to let you know that you are not alone. So many of us can relate and understand what you might be dealing with and feeling, and we urge you to open up, tell someone, and not suffer in silence. Because the longer you suffer alone for, the worse it will get.
It’s important to be your own cheer leader, to remind yourself that you are valuable and important, and to find your voice - even when you feel like you aren’t and have someone telling you or making you feel otherwise.
We cannot stress how important a support network is! You need one or two people (AT LEAST!) to be able to go to and say “I’m not ok today” or “this is what I’m dealing with”. Find the strength and courage within you to stand up for yourself, find your voice, and remind yourself that you are amazing, talented, valuable, beautiful, brilliant and brave, and you do not need to suffer in silence.
We are always here for anyone that needs a shoulder to lean on or wants someone to talk to.
Nis & Sarah