I’m delighted. Last week, beloved Boston Red Sox commentator, Jerry (”Remdog”) Remy spoke “on air” about living with chronic illness. Explaining to Boston fans that lung cancer (treated last fall) was tough, he said it’s depression that’s keeping him from working since April. What followed was a frank a description about what it’s like to struggle with the debilitating aspects of disease.
We all, and particularly healthy people, need to hear that even strong and successful former baseball players, can become physically or mentally sick. And it’s not something that you can snap out of or will away.
People living with invisible illness, particularly ones that carry stigma such as depression, fear that co-workers will find out about their disease. One of of my chronic illness career coaching clients, took a one month sick leave due to depression. She’d been at her job for 15 years and was in line for Sr. VP of Sales. One year after she returned, she left because she couldn’t take the snide comments and being passed over for the next job. She couldn’t prove any of it but she believed it was there.
That’s why most people don’t want to deal with the fall-out that often comes when others know. They know they could be marginalized or worse, lose their jobs.
I can’t help but hope that when a “guy’s guy” like Jerry Remy speaks about being “unable to get out of bed in the morning”, folks will understand that this is just part of who he is. It’s not the whole picture. And with luck — and using the solid parts of who he is — he’ll be able to return to work when he’s better. He remarked that the experience was therapeutic for him. Talking is good therapy!
The Boston Globe wrote that perhaps this will encourage more people to get the treatment they need for depression. I, for one, hope it encourages more supportive responses when people do talk about it.
How about you? Do you have any bad or good stories to share about disclosure in “public” or work?