My journey so far has been a little unconventional. From professional dancer to the corporate world, I’ve develop a successful career where I can now use my own experience to inspire fellow business women to thrive in spite of mental health conditions.
Starting off in a career as a professional ballet dancer, up until my very early twenties that was all I had focused on. I had spent my entire school years and most of my young adult life working on that one goal. When it came time for me to leave the ballet world, I was at a crossroads.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to work for a small business that cared about its community and genuinely wanted to make a difference.
I joined HorizonOne Recruitment as it was the perfect fit. Five years later, I am now the Marketing Manager of a busy and hardworking team in a role I love and in a company that shares the same values as me.
Mental illness is not “just another bad day”
The last few years haven’t been all smooth sailing though. One of the things I have had to work through during my time at HorizonOne were some pretty serious mental health issues.
The first and perhaps hardest step was acknowledging and understanding that what I was feeling wasn’t just another bad day. At the time, I had no idea there was something really wrong and it took a lot to seek out professional help.
In my life up until that point, I had not had any real experience with mental health illnesses. No one I was close to had ever spoken openly about a diagnosis and I felt very alone.
I often found myself thinking “this can’t be happening to me. I don’t have anything to be depressed about”. What I didn’t understand was that in my case, having a depressive episode wasn’t about the reality of my current life situation. It was about a chemical imbalance in my brain that was making it impossible for me to function on a daily basis in a logical or productive way.
I also didn’t realise how absolutely normal it was to suffer from a mental health issue. I thought I was alone. A complete weirdo.
But I’m not. One in five Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. What I have also learnt is that more than 50% of people with a mental illness do not access any treatment.
This could be due to the potential stigma people may feel comes with a diagnosis, however I also believe that many people, like me, just don’t understand how normal it is to experience a mental health issue.
I am lucky enough however to have an incredible support system in my life to help with the load. Alongside my family and friends, my workplace at HorizonOne has been instrumental to my success by allowing me to take time and space when I need to.
The role of the employer
Mental health is no longer something that companies can ignore. Taking time off to mend a broken leg isn’t frowned upon, so therefore neither should it be when taking time to work through a difficult mental patch.
Over the years since I joined, we have really worked on prioritising not only physical but also mental health for all team members. We offer fully paid “human days” off once a quarter, a supportive and understanding management team and $500 per year towards health and fitness activities – which have been shown to improve mental health.
Luckily, it is becoming increasingly common for organisations to start taking mental health seriously. And taking steps towards ensuring their staff feel supported and safe to open up about their diagnosis.
And that’s the message I want to spread. I want every day, working women like me, to understand that acknowledging there is a problem with your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of.
My mental health diagnosis is now part of who I am. It is a constantly evolving journey and something I work hard at keeping on top of on a daily basis.
But it doesn’t define me. It hasn’t stopped me from living a positive or fulfilling life, or thanks to the support of my employer, of reaching great career achievements such as winning the ACT Emerging Leader category in the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
If I can do it, so can you.
Fiona Grimmer – Profile
As the Marketing Manager of HorizonOne Recruitment, Fiona Grimmer is helping to successfully disrupt the recruitment industry in Canberra – moving away from the sales approach of transactional recruitment experiences.
After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012, Fiona feared she might never be able to manage a successful career and have a fulfilling personal life. She hopes to use her business success opportunities as a platform to share her story and inspire others in a similar position.
In March, Fiona won the 2019 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Women’s Emerging Leader Award.