Carolina Troncone, Global Well-Being & Mental Health Leader, shares her personal and powerful story of how she coped during a difficult time in her life, and how it deepened her commitment to positive mental health and drove her to give back to the community that supported her.
In recognition of World Mental Health Month, Schneider Electric recognizes that #OurMentalHealthMatters is key to fostering an inclusive company culture where everyone feels safe to be their unique self, even at the hardest moments like when we are distressed, anxious, or unable to cope. 2022 is the fourth year in which we are promoting mental health awareness at Schneider and this year’s campaign theme is “Stay Connected”, emphasizing the importance of asking for help and support.
In a matter of minutes, I went from being on top of a mountain to one of the deepest, darkest places of my life. It was there I met with depression and a severe lack of purpose.
In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, I had a miscarriage. Deprived of the company of my husband owing to public health restrictions, the most distressing moment was upon receiving the news. I recall that after two or three hours of sitting by myself in a waiting room, accompanied only by several other visibly frightened and distressed women, it was finally my turn to see the doctor.
I had barely registered the words “there is no heartbeat” before the doctor began explaining all the various medications, and procedures that I needed to take or follow. I was simply unable to absorb the information and just kept repeating: “No, no, no… Let me go.” Eventually, I managed to get out through the emergency exit door, where my hubby was waiting for me, and we just hugged and cried.
“Many women who lose a baby in pregnancy can go on to develop mental health issues that last for months or years – this can even happen in cases where women go on to have healthy babies in the future”.
Oh, my manager does not even know that I was pregnant…
During those initial days of shock, my brain would not work, my body had frozen and so had my emotions.
Struggling to function personally or professionally, I had to decide whether to share the news with my manager, who had been unaware of my pregnancy.
“Parents, and especially pregnant women, often feel a bond with the developing fetus early on. Yet there’s no accepted way to mark that loss. There’s generally no funeral or ceremony. Friends and family members, as well as medical professionals, often expect the person to move on quickly from the loss”.
Reflecting on that period with hindsight, I regard opening up to my then-manager about something so personal as one of my best decisions. The genuine caring, tenderness, respect, and compassion that I received provided me with a crucial sense of support. I felt heard, understood, and cared for which made my gradual return to work faster than I would have otherwise expected.
Pay it forward
Deeply moved by that experience, I have grown even more convinced of the importance of mental health in ensuring flourishing personal and professional lives. I am also determined to give back to the community that supported me so valuably in my hour of need.
I have consequently dedicated much of my energy to creating a mandatory eLearning module for all employees in Schneider Electric (c. 130,000 at last count) called “We all have Mental Health”.
Designing the module was an intense process as our talented and diverse team needed to consider a range of sensitive cultural topics. In particular, we needed to ensure the content could communicate effectively with people from all different origins and belief systems while ensuring accessibility for those who possessed different levels of prior knowledge.
The module also needed to appeal to all gender identities, all generations, and people with disabilities. And this is before we even consider the fact that the topic of mental health remains taboo in several countries.
But despite these challenges, the early signs have been hugely encouraging. To date, 93% of employees have completed the eLearning, rating it an average of 4.7 out of 5, and we have received really positive supportive feedback.
One of the most beautiful outcomes of this project has been the way that so many colleagues have started to voluntarily open up about their feelings and share very profound experiences that have affected their mental health. Many have also shared valuable strategies and tips on how best to maintain positive mental health through techniques like: “spending time with family and friends”.
2022 is the fourth year in which we are promoting mental health awareness at Schneider Electric and this year´s campaign theme is “Stay Connected”. We wish to promote understanding about how to manage difficult situations, how to build meaningful connections, and how best to receive support.
My key takeaways and the importance of mental health:
- A profound connection can come from anywhere. It´s OK to hesitate to ask for help and it is also OK to take the chance and discover how empathy, compassion, and care can come from unexpected people and places.
- A random act of kindness (or sometimes not so random!) can boost your sense of well-being and help others in surprising ways.
- Quoting a special friend: “it’s a difficult moment that we as women never really get over. Over time it becomes a memory of a hurt – it beats but the pain diminishes over time. It’s something we just have to accept”.
To this day I treasure the support I received from my manager, Sonali – a meaningful connection that helped me to get through a tough time.
Once I dared to speak, many more meaningful connections came through. Thank you to all those beautiful, caring, and compassionate human beings (my husband, family, and friends) that got me back on my feet. Forever grateful.
About the author
Carolina Troncone, Global Well-Being & Mental Health Leader
Read my previous blog about meditation and the importance of mental health.
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