I slept through the hotel fire alarm at a corporate sales meeting.

The evening before, I had won the Directors Choice Award at a Business Development Sales Summit. Ironically, the Directors Choice Award was meant for one who is a leader, a trailblazer, someone committed to excellence.

I felt honored to receive that award and also felt like an imposter.

I celebrated with my coworkers after the event, and in usual celebratory fashion, one drink led to two drinks which led to several more. I have no recollection of walking back to my hotel room that night.

I learned the following day that there was a fire alarm in the hotel, and everyone evacuated, everyone but me. I was passed out in my room.

I also learned about “all the funny things I did.” I didn’t recall any of it. Outwardly, I laughed with my coworkers about the events from the night prior but inwardly, I was humiliated and ashamed.

I have been a high performer in the workplace my entire career. I was a mentor, coach, leader, trailblazer, and nightly drinker. My daily dose of evening wine was 4-6 large glasses followed by morning hangovers.

I wore a mask of high performance and happiness in the workplace, but behind closed doors I felt like an imposter. These masks hid the intense amounts of shame and guilt I carried because I knew I had a problem, but I was afraid to talk about it. I was afraid to admit to my alcohol use because I feared being judged, losing my integrity, and ultimately losing my seat at the corporate table.

Because of stigma in the workplace, I didn’t feel like I had a safe space to speak openly about my internal pain. Consequently, I kept it hidden and remained silent.

SILENCE IS TOXIC.

As a result of the hidden pain, I fell deep into a deep depression, experienced waves of anxiety, and experienced intense suicidal ideations.

During this time, I remained a high performer. I wore a suit of armor to hide my pain.

On July 16, 2009, I made the call that changed my life. I called my doctor’s office at 4:45pm and was seen at 5:15pm by the most kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental nurse practitioner. He saw the pain and anguish in my eyes and knew I needed help.

He looked me straight into my eyes and said, “Kim, you are living with a few treatable illnesses. I am going to help you and We are going to do this Together!”

He created a container of safety within the walls of the exam room and allowed me to speak my truth. The safe space he created for me is the reason why I am here today.

At 12 years sober, I have learned that my story is not unique. Many people live behind a mask in the workplace because of fear, shame, and stigma.

What is unique is that I am willing to be vulnerable and share my lived experience to illustrate that we are not alone.

Addressing mental health in the workplace is critical. One in five individuals will experience a mental health episode in their lifetime. The rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental illnesses is skyrocketing due to COVID.

Leaders are searching for tools to help normalize and support the conversation about mental health.

I recognized this need, felt a calling, and made a drastic change.

On 4/1/2020, I stepped away from my role as Director of Partnerships (in the middle of a pandemic), and started Kim LaMontagne, LLC.

I recognized a pattern across the corporate world regarding mental health in the workplace. I took it upon myself to create a training solution that would be easy to implement, user friendly for busy corporate leaders, while providing the very tools I needed when I was suffering in silence.

I created “The 4 Pillars of Creating and Sustaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace Culture.” This training is changing the dialog about mental health in the workplace by teaching leaders how to build a culture in the workplace that encourages open dialog about mental health.

The full day training is currently available live via the zoom platform and on-demand to provide instant scalable access to this critical content.

LEARN MORE HERE

Ready to have a conversation about creating a culture of safety in your organization?

Now is the time to address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Lives depend on it.

Help me, help you, help others.

The most powerful organizations empower employees to speak openly about mental health without fear of judgement, retribution, or job loss.

Kim LaMontagne, MBA, International Speaker, Trainer, and Author.