The alarm goes off and I’m tossing and turning, feeling weighted by the duvet but also uncomfortable, not feeling well rested in the slightest. “5 more minutes” I think to myself, a pit of dread sitting nervously in my stomach, but why? It’s another day. I don’t snooze my alarm – I stop it. I hope that I sleep in far too late and I have no choice but to jump out of bed and get out the door. I haven’t got it in me today, just like every other day. The dread fills my stomach until I can no longer only acknowledge it – it’s the only thing I can think about. I feel sick. I feel ill. Maybe I could use that? No, I can’t. I feel so groggy and not very well put together and I wonder how I’m going to do this for another 5 days. The Monday morning blues are perfectly normal for everyone, but when you are in poor mental health, the morning before work can bring on a whole new array of obstacles. In the end, the only thing I really, really want to do is pull the blankets up over my head and wish the world would go away. “I’m not ready yet”. But I’m never ready, and I’m not sure what to think of that.
I’ll end up going to work – probably late because I was in bed far too long, and stressed because I didn’t have time to wash my hair/walk the dog/ do the dishes and now it’s one more thing to do tonight.
When I get to work, I am among like minds, “I couldn’t be bothered to come in today” They’ll say. Yeah, me neither. I’m met with “Morning, you alright?” From every corner of the warehouse. I never know quite what to say so I muster up the same crap response every day. “Well, I’m here” I say with a light-hearted sigh. It gets a laugh out of one or two people, at least that’s something. But no, you don’t get it, that’s probably the most truthful answer I could give without launching into a full-on “My depression and anxiety leave me feeling so weak and exhausted that I could barely bring myself to get out of bed and I really don’t think I can keep up with the fake smiles and chit-chat all day” But that’s a bit too heavy for anyone first thing in the morning.
My job makes my depression harder to cope with. I sit at my desk, in an empty office, hearing chatter from the warehouse from a distance far enough so that I can listen, but I can’t contribute to any conversation. I am alone with a computer. The phone hardly rings, but when it does, I groan in frustration and wish that people would leave me alone. But when the obsessive thoughts and self-doubt creep in, I want nothing more than for someone to talk to me as a distraction.
I’m often bored, and it’s relatively quiet. I can sit alone in the office and do whatever I like; which isn’t a good thing. As soon as it gets busy however, I find myself stressed and frazzled and wishing it would all go away. Do I just not like my job? Not really, I can do the work and I get along with my colleagues, it’s not a difficult job to do, it’s just inconsistent in stress levels, so depending on the day, it’s either my anxiety or depression that could be winning.
Some of us who battle a mental illness are unable to hold down a job while we are ill – and that is ok. There is no ‘one size fits all’ time frame that says we MUST be working by a certain date. Everyone is different, and I’ve found that while I can keep a steady job, my mental health really can disrupt my work. I wish I could have time off, but I’m scared I’d be exposed as being incapable because of my illnesses. There is still a stigma around mental illness in the workplace and I feel that by showing up every day and soldiering on, I’m fighting that stigma. I feel like I have a point to prove; to be able to show people that I can do this, and I’ll keep proving every day that my mental illness does not disqualify me from a career and I can still be successful no matter what I suffer with.