Today, while in the coaching session with one of my clients, I learnt something deep about mental illness & how the world perceives it. Mental illness is a stigma and hence many people silently suffering from this don't share it with others nor seek any help. My client broke down with the news of suffering from Bipolar I Disorder and that the coaching engagement has to be withheld for a while till the client gets well & recovers completely. I can sense the deep pain with which my client was sharing the news to me. My client was very upset, was not able to accept this fact and was not hopeful about moving forward in life. What my client shared was the stigma attached to it and how people were reluctant in understanding the situation. Is mental illness the problem or the stigma attached to it?
My client was a high performer, who excelled very well at one point in the career. But then, one fine day a realization came when my client wasn't moving forward into the direction of chosen goals, nor able to focus on one thing and suffered from mood swings & many more. We started on this coaching engagement with an intent to create something that my client really really wanted to. Strategies were in place, client started moving forward, success habits were introduced, behaviour patterns analysed, affirmations introduced, obstacles too were taken note of, but as time progressed, my client found it difficult to stick to the weekly focus goals and deviated from the plans. That's when the awareness around the behaviour came and my client consulted a Doctor to affirm my client's fear around the mental illness. Yes, my client is suffering and is in pain. What my client now needs along with medication is moral support, hope and affection from people around. When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.
As a Coach, one of our key focus is to enable & support our clients in moving forward. Coaching talks about forward movement. But today as a Coach I also learnt one thing & that is to always keep my client's best interest in mind and let him/her unfold as per his/her own frame of mind. A coach should be able to create that space for his/her client where he/she feels utterly safe, comfortable & absolutely ok to show their vulnerable side with the hope that an unbiased listening will be given without any judgement & understand the person's perspective without jumping into conclusions. I wish for my client's speedy recovery & am hopeful & confident that the dream that my client had dreamt of, shall be fulfilled after a while when my client returns back from therapy sessions. A coach not necessarily has to coach all the time, but just be with his/her client in the moments of despair. I stand by my clients now & thereafter. No matter who, what they are, I value them for the person that they are.
My intent of sharing this piece with you all is to look around and see if someone else might be in the same situation as this. Your colleagues, your teenage children, your spouse, your friends, your parents, your neighbours or anyone you accidentally come across. Don't let them suffer but join hands with them to come out of this. Your responsibility is not just towards you but to all the people that you come across this lifetime.
By educating ourselves about mental illness, we can open up a line of communication, break down the stigma & get help to those that are suffering in ignorance or silence. Most importantly, I urge one & all, to let these people suffering, lead a normal life not only when they are unwell but once they recover completely.
Click on the link below to read more about the warning signs of mental illness. Let's come together to fight out this stigma & help those in need.
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals