Jenny Girard

Area Manager, R.M. Landscape

Jenny Girard 
Photo courtesy of Jenny Girard

Mental health

Those words hold so many different meanings to so many people. Something so vitally important to our well-being, yet most times it is ignored, not talked about or forgotten. When ignored, it manifests itself in every part of your life, becoming so loud it cannot be silenced, yet most of us endure in silence.

I am by no means an expert in the field; I am only speaking on my own experience. I want to bring awareness around mental health by sharing my experience — share what it is like to face some of my darkest moments and what helped me come out on the other side.

I first started noticing something was off when I started college. It started slowly, I ignored it, I kept pushing, making up excuses, kept going as though nothing was wrong. On the outside I portrayed the happiest person, I looked fine, high functioning, I was successful at school, work, happily married, smile on my face and fun to be around.

On the inside I was slowly breaking, feeling weak, embarrassed, lost, lonely, but not wanting to admit there was something wrong with me. Some days were so difficult to put on the happy face to the outside world. My ignored symptoms manifested in many ways like anger. There were days where I struggled to get out of bed. I would become distant and dissociative to the world around me, working to the point of exhaustion, continuously seeking perfectionism and more.

I did not like the person I had become to hide this problem and I sought out help. I suffer from anxiety paired with major depression disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. I have been and continue to be in therapy. Therapy has helped me realize who I am, how I think and how I can improve to continue to be the person I love.

One of the reasons why I felt comfortable seeking help was because I felt supported to do so. Not just from my family or friends, but my job. That support from work provided me with the security I needed to be open about what was happening and acknowledging that not everything was fine.

So, what can you do for your team? Be there, be supportive, lead your team with empathy, be open to conversation and even share your own experience if you are comfortable doing so. Build relationships with your team, ask them how they are doing and recognize when they need help or support. Realize that even the highest functioning people can suffer.

Your company can open avenues to allow team members to seek mental health. There are many great ways to incorporate this into your company. For example, some companies offer counseling services to team members and family through company benefits or mental health tips in a monthly newsletter. Opening that conversation and avenue is crucial to providing the space and security to team members to open up and seek help.

If you are experiencing mental health difficulties, please know you are not alone. Take time for yourself and listen to your body. Know that you are strong and that you matter. It is okay to say you’re not fine and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. There will be better days no matter how dark they may seem.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Women in Landscaping is a column brought to you in partnership with the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Jenny Girard is an active member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals Women in Landscape Network (powered by Envu) which provides a forum for industry professionals to support each other’s professional growth. The Network is free to all industry professionals.

May 2023
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