Living with a mental illness is tough, especially when you have to try and juggle your manic episodes along with a full time job.
Earlier this month i was feeling very down and hopeless. I was at work sat at my desk trying so hard to manage my workload but wanting to scream. Everything anybody said to me i took offense to and i wanted to jump down their throat immediately. I get angry with people for no reason and i am fighting off floods of tears all day long.
When i get home i snap at my family and shut myself away in my bedroom, usually going to bed early and crying myself to sleep after sliding a blade across my forearms.
I toss and turn all night having horrific nightmares often waking myself by screaming.
I am exhausted with life and in desperate need of a break.
Usually i can deal with these episodes, they pass after a couple of days and i get through them. But on the odd occasion i cant deal with them – everything starts to get on top of me and i am overwhelmed with stress and desperation.
Its the busiest time of year at work and i know that my work place (like most) frown upon employees calling in sick. This being in the back of my head causes me even more stress to the point where i break down and know that i must take some time off for myself in order to recover.
So i decided take a day or two off work and spend the time by myself in the comfort of my own home – working on myself and just giving myself the break that my brain had been begging for.
I spend these days catching up on sleep, going for long walks alone, treating myself to a bubble bath with a face mask and painting my toe nails or spending time with my close friends or family.
I will also very often go to the doctors on my day off and tell them how i am feeling so that they can change the dosage of medication i take and help me through my issues.
This method may not work for everybody, but it works for me.
On this occasion, i called my manager directly and told her i was battling with depression and needed to take the day off. I told her i was going to see my doctor and that i would keep her informed.
She seemed very understanding.
However, on my return, my manager took me to one side to discuss my issues.
She started off by saying “She wouldn’t of guessed” that i suffer with mental illness as i always “look the part” for work.
By this she is referring to the fact that i wear makeup. I suppose she was expecting me to turn up to work with a bare face. To be quite honest, i WISH that i could. But my self confidence is so drastically low i couldn’t possibly leave the house without wearing makeup. In fact, i tend to wear the most makeup when i am unwell. So for some people, not wearing any makeup may suggest they are unwell. If im not wearing makeup in public – it means i am very, very well!
She then proceeds tell me that while she understands what im going through and will support me the best that she can – i must take into consideration that “when i call in sick, i put my colleagues under pressure”
I decided to sit quietly and take her discrimination rather than telling her how most days when im fighting an episode, i make my way home from work crying, picking at the skin on my fingers until they bled, i then get home and shout at my parents, hide in my room and go to bed early, tossing and turning throughout the night, generally making myself even more unwell than i initially was – BECAUSE i MYSELF am being put under pressure about calling into work to have the day off.
She assured me she was not meaning to be patronising when she handed me a magazine article about “Giving your mind a makeover for Christmas”
I’m not just stressed out because it’s Christmas (I am actually very excited for Christmas) I am mentally unwell and I don’t understand why my employer won’t take it as seriously as if I had a physical illness.
My doctors appointments are on Friday mornings meaning id have to have a couple of hours off work, I mentioned to my manager that i dont mind taking the time unpaid, or staying over after hours to make the time up.
She wanted me to change my appointment to a more convenient time as we are so busy at work.
My colleague has cancer but nobody asks her to change her hospital appointment times because it “puts pressure on her colleagues” or because “it’s our busy time of year”
Another colleague of mine is a new mother, meaning she has to have time off work to take her baby to hospital appointments .. nobody asks her to change those appointments.
Why are my doctors appointments less important? Why is mental health not taken as seriously as physical health?
Should I slit my own throat,would you sympathise then?
I am trying so hard to fight the stigma around mental illness and normalise it in daily life by speaking openly about it and even making light jokes at my own expense. But i have learnt that maybe its best to just lie and say i have a broken arm, as it seems that people are alot more understanding about ANY OTHER part of your body getting sick, just not your mind.