I have been meaning to write this article for a very long time, but never found the right time to do it. I am a bit obsessed with having themes on my social media pages and posting the right things at the right time. So, I thought to write about my job and my depression in occasion of women’s history month and IWD2021. I also struggled a lot with finding my voice and defining my brand on social media. Although I kept posting and acting as normal, my internal struggle was real. It took a long year for me to redefine my own identity and personality after covid, PhD, moving to a different city and starting life from scratch again. I guess this will be a never-ending project, but I will talk about it in a separate article.
I have been suffering from depression and anxiety since I was 15. I am 30 now, 31 in June, so I have been living with this condition for half of my life. I only started getting proper treatment in 2018 by going to therapy and taking medications. I have actually come to term with the fact that I might be on antidepressant forever. I tried to withdraw once and I relapsed straight after, so the doctor already mentioned that it wasn’t a good look.
During the years, I came to realise that my constant strive for success and the endless list of accomplishments are a side effect of my anxiety. My anxiety makes me run 100 mile/h like a train with no brakes. Rushing through activities means that I am a lot careless, I make mistakes and I definitely don’t tick the box when it comes to attention to details. I used to feel so poor about it until I figured where the problem was and came about a possible solution. The scientific method at its finest!
Anxiety feels like your mind is jumping through 100 TV channels at a time and someone else has the remote!
I get easily distracted which is a symptom of my mental health condition. I am in the middle of doing some lab work and suddenly it comes to my mind that I have to do the cleaning or answer that email. Then I start panicking because I feel like I am failing at doing something and I screw up all the tasks. It took me one year to realise how my anxiety was killing me. NOW, I am on a different page. I plan and allocate time for tasks. There’s a time to set the reaction, a time to analyse the data, a time to answer the email, time for a meeting, time for whatever comes up during the day. There are things that need my attention immediately and things that can wait 1 h, 1 day, 2 days, a week, or maybe they don’t need my attention at all!
Stop acting like your labour is on demand!
My depression works differently because it depletes all my energy. Covid didn’t make anything better because all the activities that I knew to cheer me up, above all the gym, got cancelled. You think that spending half of your time on the sofa would be relaxing and enjoyable, instead pandemic burns out is a real thing. Everyone is suffering emotionally and mentally, imagine what this might be like for people who struggle even in normal times. We have been even deprived of the pleasure to meet up with friends and have a laugh about shit.
Pandemic taught us the importance of rest, resetting and letting go of the things that no longer serve a purpose!
Rant over. Since pandemic burnout is real, I get exhausted easily and I struggle to make it to the end of the working week, I need to be extremely careful about how I use my energy. 10 hours of my day are allocated to my job, this also including commuting, getting ready and all sort of things. A big chunk of my time is sleeping. To recover from my depression crisis I need to sleep up to 12 h. I call it the marathon sleep. They are usually very effective and I walk up fresh the morning after. The rest of the time, outside sleeping and working, is my free time which I try to fill with activities mostly doing things around the house.
Managing my job and my mental health meant setting strong boundaries. I am no longer available for school girl shit, things and people that don’t add any value to my life, useless conversations, acting like I need to please and accommodate the needs of others or dealing with their unresolved trauma and insecurities. A lot of people call it being a bad bitch, I just think it’s behaving like a mature person and an adult.
To conclude this article, I just want to add that it is important to share your disability with your managers. Your work associates don’t have to know necessarily, but I do recommend sharing with your boss. Feeling emotionally safe at work and like your disability is understood is important. There’s no shame in this and, mostly, you’ll get the support you need. If not, run away, there’s no growth and success in a toxic and ableist environment.
This is by no means a guide on how to deal with depression and anxiety. I only shared my expererience, for professional advice, please refer to licenced councellors or therapists.