Despondency or Despair

With adults 45+ having the fastest growing suicide rate and the highest rates of hazardous drinking in most Western countries, this topic is difficult to write about. Despondency or despair without a way out can lead to extreme measures. The confluence of change in people’s personal, organisational, social and technological lives can sometimes simply be too much…

There are eight forms this can take:

– Lack of confidence, a sense of inferiority. These are the people who are cast aside in an “up or out” corporate environment yet know they are capable, they just have difficulty bringing it to fruition. Time and encouragement are needed here as it is a genuine fear of failure, or success, that hampers their growth.

– Self-reproach. Silently these people blame themselves for everything that goes wrong, they most likely feel unworthy. They apologise constantly.

– Overwhelmed by responsibility. We see this often in the corporate world, people who are perfectly capable but are running at close to full capacity. The tipping point comes when they suddenly feel overwhelmed or unable to keep up with events.

– Extreme mental anguish. In the workplace this is often well disguised but it still exists. Dejection, loneliness and no hope for the future are symptoms. These are the people who most need an, “RUOK” greeting.

– Shock. The loss of a family member or pet. Serious news of any sort, the fright following an accident (work-related or not). All these affect a person’s ability to cope and, while acute, can morph into one of the more chronic forms described here.

– Resentment. Again, a silent plague in the workplace. Being passed over for promotion, feeling short-changed by life, but also begrudging others’ success. If not caught and treated this particularly negative emotional state can poison a workplace – your typical toxic work environment results.

– Exhaustion. Conscientious, reliable, dependable co-workers often push themselves beyond their limits due to their strong sense of duty. Something has to give but the ability to pause and relax has been lost.

– Poor self-image. With all the imagery used, it is not difficult to imagine that many co-workers suffer from symptoms of poor self-image. The body positive movement is working to address one particular instance of this but there are many others. Left too long, this can combine with other examples above.

Despondency and despair will be well concealed in the workplace because we are all encouraged to “bring our best self to work”, to give 110%. Careful and sensitive enquiry will help to render the workplace more human.

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