Mental Illnesses in the Work Place

So it seems I’ve used this blog as a way to really communicate living with mental illnesses and the affects it has on us who suffer.

Today I figured I’d do my best to explain how I manage to hold down a job and give my all, even on the hardest days.

First and foremost, I believe honesty is the best policy. It’s so extremely difficult to tell others about your mental illness especially when these people are your bosses. I always fear I’ll be looked at differently or pitied or judged.

I own a very helpful book called, I Hate You, Don’t Leave me: Understanding the Borderline Personality. I originally bought it for my family members to share so it’d help them understand, but in the end I couldn’t help buying myself a copy as well. While reading this it talked about how those who have BPD have trouble holding down jobs for various reasons. Which I can tell you a hundred and one reasons why I’ve struggle with it myself. Luckily by sheer will power, being honest, and working hard to handle my BPD I’ve found ways to maintain a good job over long periods of time rather than jumping from job to job every couple of months.

Going back to being honest, now I won’t recommend you come right out in your interview and talk about it, but if you get the job, there’s important things to take into account for. Your first impression of your managers… Do you feel comfortable around them? Do you feel you can be honest with them? If you didn’t answer yes to those questions….sorry the job isn’t worth it, keep looking. As well as finding the right time and way you can explain. Now I’ve had to do this at multiple jobs and each time I received different reactions, but I’ve gotten a decent way of explaining it down now, so it’s not as terrifying.

After moving back home, I was a bit nervous having to tell my new managers about my BPD, especially with the kind of work I do. My last job I had, I was there for 2 1/2 years so it had been a long while since I last had to explain this. Luckily I had a really good feeling about my two managers. After about a month of doing my best to show them I was a good addition to the team and I was willing to work my ass off, I pulled them aside when I could and explained. I told them a bit about BPD, and how it could POTENTIALLY affect my work life not that I’d let it.

Mainly, I explained how some days it feels impossible to drag myself out of bed so in return there would be days where I couldn’t go above and beyond like I normally do, all I could give was the basic requirements to get the job done, told them of my severe anxiety, and how there would be days that I would be extremely quiet, not because anything was wrong,  but I just was having one of those days. Then I explained the best ways of handling it, I told them I’d be more than happy to tell them when I was having a difficult day, to please not ask me, “Are you okay?” when I was being quiet, and asked for a couple minutes to myself when my anxiety was bad. They both completely understood and said they could work with that, no problem. What a big weight taken off my shoulders. I want to add, having a job I enjoy with good people as coworkers makes dealing with it all that much easier, I urge you to find the same.

Now, how I personally handle those harder days. When I’m feeling anxious, I know if I dwell on it I typically will work myself up into an anxiety or panic attack. So I normally acknowledge that I’m feeling anxious, and keep myself preoccupied, if that’s not helping I’ll ask to step outside to collect myself. I play some of my favorite tunes, take some deep breaths and focus on the good things of the day. It also helps I work with dogs so sometimes I’ll just go sit with a couple of the pups and that will calm me down. On the days where even the simplest tasks like brushing my teeth or eating seems impossible, I’ll let my coworker know its going to be rough for me, and I do just the requirements needed to get through the day, in all honesty…the bare minimum. Though after a couple of hours I typically can convince myself to turn my day around and give it my all. It’s so rewarding hearing “wow you worked your ass off today.” “The kennel looks and smells so good, thank you for working so hard.” It makes those tougher days easier when I receive the recognition for my hard work. It makes me want to give 150% every day and makes coming into work all the better. Which everyone I work with are really good about giving praise where due, which is a breath of fresh air compared to my jobs in the past.

In the end, remember. Be honest. Find a job you enjoy, with a good group of coworkers. And to NEVER be ashamed of your struggles, you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who suffer yet you’d never know unless they tell you. Lastly, give yourself some credit you’re stronger than you think, nothing is impossible.

I know this isn’t really sound advice or may not be that helpful to many, but I hope some of you were able to find help in this. Also I urge you to message me whenever, I’m always here to help in what ever ways I can even if it’s just being someone to rant to. I know venting helps me tremendously, just having someone there to listen makes things not seem so impossible.


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