I'm not right in the head. I've been struggling with depression, anxiety, and other brain weasels since I was young. I used to think that in my professional life I'd have hide this part of me, and if anyone found out, that would be the end of anyone ever taking me seriously - if not my entire career. So, I kept my mouth firmly shut about it. Until one day I didn't.
I'd like to tell you the story of how I started talking about mental health, even in the workplace, and what I learned from it about openness, courage, and kindness, and what Ben Franklin and oxygen masks have to do with it.
Target Audience: Everyone is welcome
There are things you don't talk about with your colleagues - even less so with your boss. Mental health issues are certainly a big no-no. When I first started working as an agile tester, I kept my history with mental illness secret. As a result, I couldn't speak openly about topics that are close to my heart: mental health and self-care. In the Agile World however, we value respect, courage, and openness. How do you reconcile this with these taboos? Can you really be courageous and open if you deny a part of yourself?
When I attended my first ever testing conference, I was in awe about the openness with which psychological topics were discussed. Inspired, and with a head still spinning from the experience (and a serious lack of sleep), I came clean to my boss on the very first day upon returning. From then on, I wore my heart on my sleeve.
And my life at the office began to change: Once I had started speaking up, openness came easier with every new issue. I would suddenly talk about my experiences with sickness and therapy as well as being more comfortable with sharing my thoughts and feelings about day-to-day business and goings-on at work. Conversely, people started confiding in me, asking me for advice and talking to me in a whole new way.
In this talk, I would like to share what I have learned from breaking taboos. I will discuss how communication improved for me, which obstacles I bumped into, and why I will still not shut up about the things you don't talk about at work.
Hi, I'm Sophie!
When I was a girl, I wanted to be an astronaut or a ballerina, or both. Now I'm a tester, holding diplomas in math and yodeling. I'm a dancer, a baker, a fighter and a knitter. Plant mum and doting aunty. I love the sea, walking in misty woods and all things chocolate or ice cream. I get over-excited and I talk too fast.