So if you’ve been following me on twitter and reading my tweets, you’ll know now that I recently entered full time employment. This has been a major achievement for me in a number of ways and I wanted to share how I cope with my job despite some of the issues I still face. I hope this information might be of help for someone, or just an interesting read.
Firstly, when I was searching for a job, I knew that I wanted something that was going to be non-stressful. I wanted a job where I could go to work and then come home and not bring work home with me. As I also recently was a student, I knew that every evening and every weekend spent filled with studies was not doing me any good – it was making me stressed and tired which is a deadly combination for my mental health. Not so long ago, just before I quit being a student, I had started to become paranoid again and was experiencing suspicious beliefs towards some of my tutors there. I knew that this could not continue and the fact that I always have this pattern when I’m stressed and tired made me realise that I cannot have that in my life if I want to live as ‘normally’ as possible and not be scared or frightened about anything. So therefore my job search was for something that I knew I’d be able to do. I eventually found the job I am doing now, which I will not name for anonymity reasons, but it is an office job. It’s not very well paid, nor is it especially interesting, but one I’m trying to get competent at and stick at for a while. I feel like if I can just stick at this for a bit, then I can prove to myself that I am capable of something in life. Of course, this isn’t my dream job nor do I want to do this for a long time, but it’s something.
So how do I keep myself going? There are several things I do to keep on top of myself. Firstly, I get enough rest. As I just mentioned, tiredness for me is very bad for my mental health. Obviously in the mornings I have to be up in time to get to work for 9am, something I never thought I would accomplish. But I’ve proved myself wrong. I take my tablets really early the night before and set more than several alarms on my phone, to make sure that I give myself the best chance for the next morning. I’ve been managing it. Unfortunately some days I am so unbelievably tired in the mornings and have to fight to stay awake, but mainly I manage. The main problem concerning the meds is that they seem to dull my senses, so sometimes I am writing down something someone has asked me to do, but I forget halfway through writing what they’ve just told me. This can be embarrassing because it looks like I’m a bit stupid. I have problems with memory every day. Thankfully my concentration is okay right now, I think this might be out of fear that I don’t want to look like I’m slacking.
Something else that I do is talk to someone every night about how I am feeling. This is mainly my parents or sibling. The problem with me is that I have constant anxiety about everything. I used to have an anxiety disorder, diagnosed when I was 17, and I’m convinced I still have one but I have learnt to cope with it better now. So obviously I have problems with worries about work: things like worrying what people think of me, whether I’m doing okay, whether I’m going to get sacked. I also have problems switching off what I’ve left in the day, things I might not have done quite right or mistakes I’ve made. I obsess over them. This is really not helpful, but I really am trying to talk about things as much as I can to try and rationalise them. I’m quite lucky because at the moment I’m not paranoid about anything, in an ill way. All my concerns are based in reality and I’m hoping it will stay that way. Something else that my parents have helped me with is just to know that if I do ever get sacked or have to leave, it’s really not the end of the world. Yes, it might be humiliating, but at the end of the day no one died and it’s not that much of an issue. I could even leave the job out of my CV if I wanted.
At weekends, I totally switch off. I allow myself massive lie in’s so that I can catch up on the rest I’ve lost that week. I make sure that I remember my medication too, because I know it’s keeping me on that level that I need to function day by day. Some time in the future I’ll probably try reducing again and hopefully that time I won’t relapse. But it’s something that I’ll have to see at the time. For now, I need my medication to keep me this way.
Something else that’s been interesting is that I decided to declare my diagnosis on my health form. I decided in the end it was best to just come clean and after all, why should I be ashamed of an illness that isn’t my fault? Of course, my boss picked this up and we had a short meeting about it. He seemed more intrigued than anything. I was rather nervous about him knowing and whether he’d treat me any differently, but since then he’s been treating me exactly the same. I’ve asking him not to tell anyone else at work and he said that he won’t, which again is really great. I haven’t ‘come out’ to anyone else at work and for now that’s the way it will stay. I like the thought of people finding out in years to come and proving them wrong that it’s not dangerous to work with someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. For me, I feel like I’m breaking stigma day by day without anyone actually realising except me.
And that’s basically all I can say right now. I might do some more posts in the future once I’ve been in employment a lot longer. But I hope that might have been a help or just an interesting read.
Take care, Skye.