Gelinna Biag, HSE Manager

Published on : 12/15/22
  • At Sodexo, we believe that mental health and wellbeing are key drivers of quality of life. We take mental health as seriously as physical health. We open the dialogue on mental health as a key to create a mentally healthy workplace that is beneficial for everyone. 

    In celebration of World Mental Health Awareness Day, Gelinna Biag, HSE Manager – Sodexo APAC GSA, shares her own story about living with depression, anxiety and ADHD.

    I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2015, and more recently, ADHD. Every waking second then, I would worry about the smallest things, which also manifested physically. I always felt tired and felt stabbing pains on my left rib and back when I breathed, among others. On my way home one time, I suddenly had intrusive thoughts of me getting into a car crash, which led to a bad anxiety attack where I felt my air passage was clogged.

    I started to isolate myself from my friends. It felt like I was living a double life. I seemed happy in front of others, but in reality, I was mostly numb or miserable. I thought I was overthinking things; I felt I was being unappreciative given I had a stable job, a caring family, and great friends. I felt like I had no right to feel sad and depressed because of the things I had.

    My anxiety eventually pushed me to seek help. That decision made me realize that mental illnesses should not be disregarded. At the time I was diagnosed, mental health in general was not as welcomed as it is today, that is why I wanted to be part of Project Colon's advocacy. There is no shame in seeking help and/or taking medications to feel better – to be better. To me, seeking help and treatment for my depression and anxiety is the same as getting treated for flu or any other ailment. As I get better, I am more determined to help others.

    I want to spread awareness and clear stereotypes on mental illnesses, starting off in the workplace. Whenever colleagues ask about my semicolon tattoo, I explain what it means and, if asked, I candidly share my experience. To me, being open about my situation helps lessen the stigma around the subject. Working at Sodexo has allowed me to step out of my shell and learn to cope in various and fast-paced situations, which could be triggering to those with similar attributes as mine. I am grateful to my Line Managers (previous and present) and colleagues for their understanding. Sodexo also has various wellness programs which I have utilized such as EAP, webinars, etc. It also helps that Sodexo has great materials for mental wellness and wellbeing, which I often use as content for my Safety Moments.

    Living with depression, anxiety, and ADHD is a constant battle between getting up or giving up. I am fortunate to have an incredible support system and would like to extend my hand to those experiencing similar situations, especially in the workplace. 

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