My name is Samantha Wahl, and I am currently a Portfolio Support Analyst on the Delivery team here at RIVA HQ. I began at RIVA in March of this year as the Delivery team intern and was promoted to my current position at the end of June. Being a part of an extremely fast-growing company like RIVA can be overwhelming due to a demanding and constantly evolving workplace. Managing stress through effective coping mechanisms ensures that we can be our very best selves in the workplace. Additionally, developing an awareness of our own mental health and needs improves our understanding of the experiences of our colleagues and strengthens team bonds. I am a passionate mental health advocate, and it is my hope that this blog serves as a bird’s eye view into my own mental health journey, the important lessons I have learned along the way, and how RIVA works to support employee mental health.
My Mental Health Story
At age fourteen, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, major depression, and an anxiety disorder. I experienced childhood and adolescent traumas and subsequent PTSD, which played a large part in the development of my mental health issues. However, for a long time I remained largely silent about my pain, and I felt that no one around me would genuinely understand what I was experiencing. Unable to express my pain verbally, I instead expressed it through my body – both with the eating disorder and self-harm behaviors. At the time, I believed that my pain would be permanent and that I would never be able to live in freedom from it. After numerous birthdays and holidays spent in hospitals and treatment centers with little to no improvement, I finally found what I needed most in the words of a trusted counselor, and fellow survivor.
When we first met, she tried unsuccessfully to break through my muteness and the protective shell I had encased myself in. One day following weeks of sitting silently during our meeting time, she looked me in the eyes and said,
“Sammy, I want you to know that I know what has happened to you, and I know you feel alone and that no one will understand. But I want you to know that I see you, that I am here for you, and that you can and will get through this – just as I have – and that though this pain is in no means your fault, your healing is your responsibility.”
Her words represented acceptance of my situation and freedom from my misplaced shame and guilt. My healing happened because of her ability to empathize and willingness to share her own experience with me.
Lessons Learned from my mental health Journey
People need understanding from their peers and being there for one another is a means to create wider discussions surrounding mental health. One of the best ways we can demonstrate this support is by simply showing up for those who are important to us. Here is my daily routine that helps me through even the toughest days.
- Every morning, I take time to meditate and reflect upon the good in my life. I focus on all that which I am grateful for, including my incredible job and awesome colleagues.
- I set out with the intent to have a day filled with positivity even if stress or hardships arise.
- I remind myself that each person I encounter during the day may be battling something difficult that few may be aware of, and this reinforces my commitment to speak and act with kindness and compassion.
I encourage you to implement these daily activities into your daily routine in both your work and regular life as they have proved invaluable for maintaining my positive mental health.
Mental Health at RIVA
The culture at RIVA affords team members a space to speak about mental health without fear of judgment. Social connection is strongly emphasized, with employee happy hours and meet-ups happening once every month, or so. This time allows for us to connect deeper with one another, as it allows for more personal conversations to be had in which we really get to know our colleagues apart from their “work selves”. Our current RIVAFlex work option affords employees the ability to take time away during the day, should it be needed. We all struggle with variations of mental health in our lives, most felt in seasons of tremendous stress, and it is essential that we recognize this and take time away as needed.
Additionally, RIVAKarma, our social responsibility committee, often starts company-wide initiatives that stem from employee input. KARMA serves as the bridge between personal experiences and passions and giving back to related charities through donations, volunteering time, and more. The discussion then becomes even wider, as our colleagues receive information surrounding KARMA’s initiative and how they can take action to further it. On October 9th, we will be supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) by participating in a 5k and gathering donations to spread awareness about mental illness. If you’re interested in joining Team RIVA as we walk with NAMI, click here!
It is my hope that you recognize the importance of educating yourself in mental health and the importance of supporting those around you. Although my mental health journey is a more severe example of the struggles individuals can face, we must remember that mental health is a spectrum and that everyone experiences negative emotions and challenges at times. Please connect with me here if you want to talk mental health and follow our social media accounts below to stay up to date with all the latest RIVA news!