The Adventure Begins
I am finally getting back to normal, and I love it! I was in such a bad spot with that depressive episode. Sleep was impossible, but that was all I wanted to do. I couldn’t sleep because my mind would not stop racing with all these horrible negative thoughts. I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, or even see anyone. I just wanted to disappear, and I was making plans to do so. I don’t think I ever felt that low in my life. I thought it was going to last forever, that I would be trapped inside my own mind thinking all these crazy things. Continue reading
New Thoughts on Mental Health in the Work Place
Over the past few months, I have learned how horrible and devastating it can be for it to get around your place of employment that you are struggling with mental illness and/or addiction. I have never, ever had the stigma be this bad before. I have been out of work on a psychiatric medical leave since 3/13/17 and I am out of work until further notice.
After I told my immediate supervisor what was going on, regarding my mental health, the next thing I knew it was all over my company that I was out of work for psych reasons. I don’t know who started it. Was it my supervisor breaking HIPPA or a “friend”? And I use quotes around the word friend because a real friend would never mention something as serious as your mental health at work.
A month after being out of work on medical leave was when I also had enough of my addictions and decided to get clean. I wish I could say that I am so much better by now, but I’m not. I don’t see myself returning to work anytime in the near future either and my FMLA ran out already. I was supposed to return to work on 5/25/17 but I haven’t as of yet. I am too ashamed to return to a place where everyone knows my personal business. No one needs to know these specific things about me or my life. My mental health was supposed to be confidential. I have been laughed at, made fun of, and told to get over it. Get over it, huh, like it’s that easy. Like I made the conscious decision to have my mind and emotions stay this way.
The Human Resources Department for the Lehigh Region on my company seems to act like since mental illness can’t be seen or physically felt, that there is no reason to miss work. I am so close to getting laid off without having FMLA under my belt anymore. HR even cut my medical insurance already. I even have a valid medical note but my job doesn’t seem to care either way. I really wish I would have never told anyone at my place of employment that I was out for psychiatric reasons. Things would have been so much easier and less stressful for me that way. It is amazing to me how many people still stigmatize mental illness, especially employers.
The whole reason I even went out on medical leave in the first place was due to a mental breakdown caused by work-related stress. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take anything anymore. I was a Senior Direct Support Professional in a residential group home, which means I was basically the assistant manager of the group home and I had no direction or support from my immediate supervisor. Or at least, that is what it felt like to me. I was under so much pressure and already having multiple mental health issues did not help much either.
One would think that since the company was about caring for individuals with mental illness and special needs that they would be more considerate of employees who were going through the same things, but that was so far from the truth. I really don’t want to return to a place that has double standards. It’s really not worth it anymore.
Balancing a number of roles can be difficult, whether those roles are being a parent, partner, friend, employee, student, sibling, child or whatever else. At times, these different roles can compete for your time and attention.
I have listed some tips and strategies here that you might find helpful.
Tips for work-life balance
If you have taken on a new position (paid or unpaid), remember to pace yourself a little – it is easy to be enthusiastic and do more than is required, particularly when starting something new. It is not unusual to want to please your boss and co-workers, or to be so excited about a new project that you become totally obsessed with. Again, try to pace yourself. This will help ensure that other roles in your life are not neglected.
- Use structure to provide some boundaries and routine. For example, maintain some separation between work and home and try not to take work home with you. This will also give you a chance to wind down more effectively and relax after work.
- Keep your regular sleep-wake cycle, that you have during your workdays, the same on your days off as well. To help keep your internal clock regulated, continue to get up within an hour of when you do during the week.
- Plan to exercise, and go out with friends in the mornings to help keep this routine. This can also help reduce feeling frustrated over having done nothing for the weekend.
- Review how you are spending your time. You might already keep some sort of a diary, or you could just note down how you spend your time over a 2 week block. Look back at where your time was spent – it might show that there are important areas of your life that you would like to dedicate more time to.
- Work and home life demands can fluctuate from time to time. Being aware of the need for flexibility can be important in maintaining a healthy balance.
- If you have been asked to take on some additional task (such as more work), think about what that will mean for you. How will you fit that in with your other tasks and roles? Writing down the advantages and disadvantages of keeping things as they are vs. taking on the extra work can help.
- Try to make schedules regarding things that you want to get done in a day. Be realistic though. Don’t put something like, “Monday from 6:00PM to 8:00PM; Read entire ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.” instead write something like, “Monday from 6PM to 7PM; Read 30+ pages in ’50 Shades of Grey.”
- Figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be. Ask yourself, “If I could only focus on one thing in my life, what would it be?” That answer is your top priority. What would you focus on second? Third? Fourth? Fifth? You’ve now identified your top five priorities.
- Try taking an hour out of every day to focus on yourself and just relax. Take some “Me” time.