Perception in business + mental health

Even though I took Friday and Monday off to go to a music festival this weekend, when I woke up Tuesday morning, I was in a really negative headspace and knew it was best to work from home. Nevertheless, I felt obligated to go in for a full day because of the perception people get. Perception is everything in business. Even though staying home meant I would have been significantly more productive and able to get into the right headspace for the following day, I went into the office. Because of this, I’ve started Wednesday in a negative headspace and it’s been difficult to get my mind right.

To me, this is one of the hardest parts of tackling mental health issues. All of it compounds on itself, making it even more difficult to get your mind in the right space. I’ll convince myself to stay home, then stress about the perception and decide to go in, then decide I’m not in the right headspace and it’s best to stay home, then decide to go in. And the downward spiral continues. This ends up taking up a lot of time in the morning and I always end up getting into the office about 30 minutes late on these days (which then stresses me out even more).

I used to think everyone experiences anxiety like this and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this is not normal. Since then, it’s become harder for me to decide to stay home because I recognize that most people don’t understand what I’m going through and how staying home is actually best for everyone. Even after being open with my boss (and her boss) about everything, there’s still a lack of understanding. Often times when I talk to my boss (or her boss) about it, they ask when I’ll be better. There’s no way to put a timeline on becoming healthy. Each person’s journey is unique and it’s important for leaders in business to advocate for health over the business needs.

I am so grateful to have mentors that support me advocating for mental and physical health. Unfortunately, my mentors are not in my direct line of leadership so I’ve had an uphill battle to educate those above me. What really got me though, was when I provided a doctor’s note to have more flexible hours and my company said that this was a “preference” and not a valid medical reason. WHAT?! Now I’m going through this extremely long process with my company to prove that my needs fall under the American Disabilities Act. I have to work with Kaiser on being able to release my medical records so my company can evaluate whether the request to work from home is valid. Meaning, I have to disclose confidential information even after 2 doctors provided notes saying this request is medically necessary.  This blows my mind!

Has anyone else had to go through something like this?

2 thoughts on “Perception in business + mental health

  1. Mike Campbell


    first, I understand your struggle and hope you can navigate it successfully. Physical and mental health are so closely related.

    Second, in terms of workplaces, this is a tough one. As we transition from physical goods and manufacturing to more of an information based society, the norms around where the work occurs are changing. And the culture of organizations, which translates to how they operate, is a sensitive topic due to the reality that it’s a group of people trying to get things together. And groups of people watch what each other is doing.

    I hope you can navigate through the forces at play here to find the balance you’re looking for.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Katie Chavannes

      Thanks, Mike!

      You make a great point about how the norms of work are changing as we become more data and information driven. Something else to note is the shift to dual-income households and no longer having someone home all the time to take care of the responsibilities outside of work. It’ll be interesting to see how organizational cultures shift to accommodate these societal changes.


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