About a year or more ago, one of my best friends and I had a falling-out on Facebook.
Tired of the constant negative publicity Ireland was getting in Swedish media, I used the “Ireland is open for business” line to update my status.
The genie was out of the bottle.
The torrent of abuse I got was unmerciful, and for the most part understandably so. In addressing one audience, I had innocently offended another.
I had poked the hornet’s nest, and all the bitterness and anger at the destruction of Ireland’s economy was spread over my Facebook wall as I was publicly tarred and feathered.
Eventually an uneasy truce was reached, and as time went on I hope those in Ireland realised I was just as angry as them.
So despite the obvious advantages of living here, I’m very careful not to paint a picture of some Scandinavian utopia. Bad things happen here too.
Take the mail I got last night- it was one of the nicest, bravest, strongest things I’ve received in a while.
Someone wrote to me to thank me for not forgetting the case of Kate Fitzgerald. You could say the person had a vested interest, as they were in a similar position.
When the writer’s illness – brought on from what I understand by bullying in the workplace -became known, sensitivity and help were promised.
None was forthcoming.
Our correspondent with depression was made redundant.
Nor was this some two-bit PR firm that specialises in in smiling through the stench of hypocrisy.
The company this person worked for was one of the most respected in Scandinavia.
Having tweeted about the mail last night, I was shocked at the amount of other people that got in touch to say that they had been treated in a similar fashion.
I was even more shocked at how close some of them came to ending their own lives as a result of what happened at work.
Depression does not discriminate, but employers do.
But like depression, their discrimination seems to know no boundaries.
It happens in Ireland.
It happens in Scandinavia.
It happens everywhere.
And like depression, things can often appear to be OK on the surface, but all the while there is something malignant gnawing away beneath.
A decade or more ago, alcoholism in the workplace was treated in the same way. Ignored for the most part, and then shunned.
Nowadays, alcoholism meets with a lot more understanding – not because employers have changed their opinion of it, but because they have been shamed into treating it differently.
It still causes them problems. It still costs them money.
But they have been shamed into treating it as an illness.
So let me be very clear.
I know the name of this company.
I know the nature of the allegations against them.
I will be following their actions very carefully.
Very carefully indeed.
If you are feeling depressed, don’t suffer in silence- go visit your doctor and get professional medical help. If you feel your depression has been used against you by your employer, contact your union representative.