When Your Mental Health Affects Your Job

by Gemma Callaway

When you deal with Mental Health issues that leave your emotions and mood all over the place, being employed can actually make it so much worse.

Would you frown at someone who talked about that nasty flu they had? No – so please don’t do the same to someone who talks about their mental health. We have just as much control over the flu as we do depression, be nice. Tah.

I was aged 18 and in college at the time; studying A-Levels and intending to build myself an envious career and a future that would bring me happiness. Unfortunately, the ‘black dog’ followed me everywhere. My attendance grew thin, my motivation non-existent and my grades not nearly reflecting my level of intelligence. The wave of frustration that engulfed my existence finally became too much to bear.

I was diagnosed with Depression and prescribed anti-depressants to take daily which I took until early last year. I had a steady job as a Letting Agent, a healthy income and I felt my mental health was stable. So I made the decision to stop taking them in the hope that it would fix my fatigue issues – every day around mid-afternoon I would be battling to stay awake no matter how well I had slept the night before.

Things continued to go well for me after I weened myself off the meds. I moved out with my boyfriend, we bought a gorgeous French bulldog puppy, traveled to Rome & New York but then late last year, suddenly something went very wrong.

Each day I’d feel more and more afraid of getting up for work, less and less willing to eat and an increasingly dark shadow hovered over me. This is when I was hit with anxiety pretty hard. I went to the Doctor who referred me to a local counselling service where I had 7 weeks of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

It was settling to be able to say absolutely everything I felt and not have the conversation avoided. I’d already seen too many of those frowns and too little eye contact after trying to talk about my ‘problems’. So it was good for a little while, but the CBT just wasn’t my cup of tea. Not mentioning, that after my 7 weeks of sessions I was not eligible for any further sessions for another 6 months. (I detest the NHS’s approach to mental illness.)

Each day I pushed myself to get up and go to work, and each day was that little bit harder. My final day at work was spent being sick and crying with little to no support from my colleagues. And the next day I ended up lying on the cold bathroom floor after being sick, in hysterics in my boyfriend’s arms at the thought of going in just once more.

My Mum came to my rescue. I phoned in sick that day and we went to see the Doctor where I was signed off of work for two weeks and then two weeks again, due to Anxiety & Depression. I felt so guilty for my colleagues but I just couldn’t go on. I stayed at my parents’ house after that and never went home. We handed our notice in and cleared the house. I then made the decision to hand my notice in for work as I clutched onto my sanity.

This was in November last year. I am still unemployed and check up on job sites every single day. However, my mental state has improved beyond what I thought was possible. Giving myself a break and time to reflect has been absolutely priceless. And, although I’m in financial struggles they will never compare to the mental struggles that I have pulled through.

#MentalMovement has provided me with a purpose and a motivation. It has spurred me onto to fully accept the condition of my mental health, and has inspired me to encourage others to speak out and accept themselves.

I’m not where I want to be, but I’ve come a long way and I’m very proud of that.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with their Mental Health whilst in employment and want to find out ways to help them or yourself, visit the Time to Change website here for a full breakdown on dealing with Mental Health in the workplace.

For more immediate support, you can contact The Samaritans

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1 comment

Keith Anderson April 27, 2016 - 12:33 pm

Gem, I don’t know you, but I am proud of you for writing about your depression. I had depression for years and going to the office was so difficult. I understand and appreciate your words. Thanks for sharing.

Keith Anderson


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