Not all disabilities are visible. One employee’s journey of living with a hidden disability
Erin, an Auto Liability Unit Manager in our Corporate Claim department, leads her team with the goal of achieving excellent customer service. Through their management of auto accident injury claims, Erin says they strive to handle all claimant communications with compassion, respect and empathy.
It’s the same culture of compassion, respect and empathy that Erin also finds herself in as an employee at Travelers.
Erin is quietly affected by mental illness, something she only recently realized is considered a hidden disability.
“I suffer from general anxiety, panic attacks, and have faced depression in the past,” Erin said.
She became aware of her anxiety nearly 20 years ago while experiencing her first panic attack in college. At the time, family struggles, schoolwork, multiple jobs, and the general pressure of being a student were all piling on.
“I was spreading myself too thin. Exaggerated worries, doubt, and negativity consumed my every thought,” Erin said.
Since then, her journey into understanding and living with her mental health has been one of self-discovery. Through counseling, the support of her family, making self-care a priority and working in a caring environment, Erin has found life and career success.
“Even with struggles, you can achieve your goals and become successful if you learn healthy ways to overcome them,” Erin said.
Today at Travelers, she faces challenges using learned coping tools and the support from her mentors, leaders, and friends at work. She says they offer encouragement through public speaking responsibilities, interviews, and taking career risks – all areas where she may have otherwise struggled.
“The collaborative culture at Travelers helps you get to know your peers. Building those interpersonal relationships makes me feel trust, and with that trust, I am more willing to put myself out there,” she said.
Erin’s involvement in Travelers’ Diversity Networks (DN), including the Disability & Allies, Women & Allies and the Black and African American & Allies DNs, has also helped her connect with peers who share the same goals of promoting empowerment, inclusion and allyship.
“The Travelers DNs are a great way to meet professionals you may not have met otherwise,” she said, “It offers a great way to connect with a group of individuals who care about a common mission.”
Benefits and wellness offerings at Travelers have also helped Erin access support when needed. Travelers provides wellness resources, referral services, and confidential counseling services to all employees and their dependents.
“Travelers does a great job offering a safe place to seek support,” Erin said, “There are so many resources available for employees.”
Erin says her whole team may not be aware of the depth of her challenges. Still, she does share openly when she feels anxious and, in her experience, feels her honesty encourages others to feel more comfortable being open at work.
“I want to show how far we have come with the mental health stigma. A lot more people struggle with mental health than we probably realize and I am here to say that I can relate firsthand to those struggles.”
After losing a family member to mental illness and hearing more mental health-related stories shared by colleagues and leaders at Travelers, Erin felt compelled to share her story.
“I wanted to share to help someone, anyone,” she said, “Anxiety is part of my story, but it is not the whole story. If I help one person, then I am grateful.”