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Home » Why You Should Talk About Your Anxiety at Work: Adam Whybrew (Transcript)

Why You Should Talk About Your Anxiety at Work: Adam Whybrew (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of depression truth-teller Adam Whybrew’s talk titled “Why You Should Talk About Your Anxiety at Work” at TED 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Leading Data Science Teams

So I lead teams of data scientists, and we solve business problems using difficult analytics. And when I start working with someone new, I ask them how I will know if they’re struggling. And I don’t mean struggling with a business problem or with a difficult analytics.

They don’t struggle with that. I mean struggling with their mental health. And to make them feel comfortable to tell me, because I want them to tell me, I tell them how I will know if I’m struggling. So I might be just unrealistically calm, or they might get any kind of message from me at all before nine in the morning.

Because I’m not a morning person, message before nine, very bad sign. Now, I do this because I have suffered from anxiety and depression, and it was horrible. And if there was a magic button I could press that would rid the world of those two things, I’d press it straight away.

Recovering from Depression

But if that button only worked for me, if all it meant is that I wouldn’t have got depressed, I’d leave it alone. And that’s because of some things that happened in the weeks and months as I was recovering from depression, but also things that happened years later when I started talking about it at work, and it improved my relationships with colleagues. So let’s step back in time.

It’s 2012, it’s a Friday morning in May and the sun is out in London, and I’m walking to work along the banks of the Thames. And all around there are British flags flying. And there’s this quiet excitement in the city.

And that’s because the Olympics were coming there in two month’s time. And that morning, like every other morning at the time, I’d woken up about three hours earlier than normal, thinking and worrying about work. And I’d got up just retching with anxiety and gone to the bathroom and been sick.

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