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Filling each other's buckets

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

When it comes to ‘filling our buckets,’ we can easily think of ways to do that; spending time with friends and loved ones; taking a much-needed vacation; pampering oneself with a spa day; or simply playing a round of golf when they should be at work.

But how do we fill our buckets when it comes to the place we spend so much of our time…work?

The word itself (work) can sometimes incite dread or anxiety. Maybe because the job is mundane. Maybe it’s because some of your coworkers are annoying and seemingly act strange, in your opinion.

But have any of us ever really thought about the people we work with? What is their family life like? Do they have a significant other? What do they do outside of work? What makes them so different than me, where I don’t want much to do with them?

Those questions can easily be answered by starting a conversation. Starting a conversation may also sound anxiety-inducing and awkward but doing so may lead to insightful and honest discussions that could change how we view and treat others. As many say, “You never know what someone may be going through.” That holds true for many – especially me.

More than 20 years ago, my only sibling passed away from a rare disease. She couldn’t be cured and her death at a young age was inevitable. Although as a family we knew this, the agony we faced when she died was more than we could bear. Being in my mid-twenties and out on my own, I had to get back to work after the funeral to pay the bills. I went back to work thinking I was fine, and that work would help with the enormous loss. What I didn’t realize is that I was sad, depressed, and angry. It started to show in the way I did my job and how I reacted toward people. I was in a safety-related job and my depression could have trickled down to others in the workplace and put people at risk.

Fortunately for me, I had a manager who took notice of the change in me personally, and professionally. He encouraged me to get help. That one conversation changed my life.

Many experts believe America is facing a mental health crisis. Mental and substance-use conditions are now among the most prevalent health disorders in the United States. The World Health Organization estimates that mental and substance-use conditions cause over one third of all disability in Canada, Western Europe, and the United States, dwarfing every other health condition. And nearly 8 in 10 workers report mental health conditions, but stigma prevents them from seeking care.

When we focus on ‘filling our buckets,’ we need to focus on every aspect of our lives, both personally and professionally. By learning more about common mental health conditions, normalizing the discussions about mental health, and learning how mental health impacts work, we can begin the daunting task of de-stigmatizing mental health, and learn how to support ourselves and each other.

*Mental Health America of Arizona provides Mental Health in the Workplace training that that helps organizations enhance and promote mentally healthy workplaces by sharing strategies for fostering a healthy workplace environment.

No one should have to suffer in silence. Because when we start a conversation with someone, we may learn that we’re more alike than different.

Erika Irvin

Executive Director

Mental Health America of Arizona


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