I’ve always had a job, in one way or another.
Since I was 16, I’ve been employed wherever I can- bouncing between retail, picking up odd jobs, working in a school, working in a bar and now, I’m in full-time employment.
Despite this, I’ve also battled with anxiety and OCD since my early teenage years.
I’ve tried to be as open as I can with my mental health issues, but the thing I feel goes unspoken a lot, is the people who function and continue with everyday life, despite facing mental illness.
I’m one of the millions of people who suffer from anxiety/ mental illness on a daily basis and still manage to carry on pretending that all is well- when sometimes, it can be really fucking hard to deal with.
I’ve briefly mentioned to my boss that I have a nondescript form of mental illness and don’t get me wrong, he’s always been WONDERFUL about it. If I’ve ever mentioned I’m having a tough time, he’s the first to ask what he can do and if I need anything- but it can be difficult.
There have been times when I’ve had a bad morning and felt really panicky. I’ve wanted to burst into tears (and on occasion have done so in the secrecy of the bathroom) and then had to wipe my eyes down and pretend like everything is fine. I’m “normal”, I can handle this.
Other times I’ve woken up with such a sense of doom and dread that I’ve not even wanted to leave bed to head into the office.
I HATE calling in sick. I hate being the person to let people down and I have many a time forced myself into the office when I really needed to be looking out for myself.
I’ve been in situations that have sent my anxiety skyrocketing- presentations, client meetings, live-conferences- and it’s really difficult on the one hand to want to prove that I’m capable and worthy of being promoted, but also knowing that deep-down I’m damaging my own mind.
I’m such a perfectionist it can be hard to accept that sometimes not everything will be the best possible that I can produce. Sometimes I just have to get things done and sent over to clients- and that’s a tricky burden as well.
However, the thing that I’m coming to realize is that a lot of people suffer- and the more normalized it becomes within a workplace, the easier the stigma is to combat.
The more times that I’ve openly spoken about it to people is actually benefiting me in the long run.
You’d be surprised how understanding people can be when I’ve explained to them that a lot of situations that I’m putting myself into are really tough and that only makes them all the more proud when you manage to do it.
If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone who’s in a similar boat to me, it’s don’t hide what you’re dealing with. It’s tough enough having a full-time job, social life, family life and everything in-between, without having to hide a huge part of the person you are as well.
If you’re working a 40-hour-week… if you’re working a part-time job… if you’re doing a degree and you’re fighting it every day and managing your mental illness, then I applaud you. Because you’re doing amazingly well.