Learning to Ask for Help Saved My Life

Profile photo of Susan Wallace

In 2010, I took on a new very challenging role and within 3 months was given the responsibility to run the first-ever cloud event for our company. This was a very high profile project. Running events was not new to me but this was with a division where my contacts were few. I took on too much, did not delegate enough. I worked 16 hours a day for months. At some point, I stopped eating, sleeping, and at the worst, I could not speak. My weight dropped 25 pounds in a month.

I felt like if I moved my whole body would break up into a million pieces. The anxiety felt like electricity running through my legs and a boulder on my chest. It got so bad that my husband took me to the emergency room. When the intake nurse asked me why I was in the ER. I said “I wish I would get a disease so someone would take care of me” I heard myself say that and thought ok that’s it. Something needs to change.

I requested a 30-day medical leave and it was granted in less than 24 hours. My company offered me counseling services, free participation in a teleclass for people with anxiety. I was prescribed medication and started seeing a therapist. Asking for medical leave was the hardest thing I have ever done. I am not a quitter, I keep my commitments to everyone apparently with the exception of the commitments to my own health.

Taking the time and learning how to ask for help, how to feel my emotions in my body, and move through them was a game-changer. I learned strategies for setting boundaries, tools to calm myself like guided meditation, exercise, journaling, talking with friends and family, and the importance of taking the right medication with medical supervision.

After 30 days I returned to work healthier in both mind and body and ready to contribute to my team. Even 10 years later there are times when my anxiety increases BUT now I have the tools to address it immediately.

I am so grateful to my company IBM for supporting me so completely. I realize that not all employers have the same supports in place. But there are organizations that can help. Mental Health of America, Lancaster County Pennsylvania (MHALC) offers mental health screening, free support groups, referrals to mental health professionals, education, and advocacy. I feel so strongly about access to mental health that I joined the MHALC board last year. If you are not in PA, Mental Health America has offices across the United States.

If you need support please reach out and ask for help.
I did and it saved my life.

Mental Health of America Lancaster County 

If you would like to support MHALC in providing access
to mental health services, please join us thisThursday, June 18
7-8 pm Virtual Dueling Pianos Concert
A fundraiser featuring the Philly Keys

  • Register to attend Pasta & Pianos here.
  • Can’t make it, but you would like to donate the value of either your regular ticket or auction item donation?  Click here.
  • Our sponsors are matching your donations, so please donate now and help us double the impact of your support!         
  • See this story as shared on LinkedIn.