[Guest Blog] Taking Your Mental Health To Work

When I first started out in the blogging world and on Twitter, Zoe (@ZoeDonna95) was one of the first people to follow me and I soon found that I adored her work and her passion in helping others, so I am honoured to have her as my first ever Guest Blogger.

A career can give a person a sense of fulfilment and achievement, maybe even a
reason to get out of bed in the morning. But for someone with a mental health
problem, work stress can be incredibly dangerous, and the morning alarm may
trigger more dread than anything else. Despite living with anxiety and depression, I
feel very fortunate to be able to hold down a full-time job, but sometimes I come
close to breaking, and I wonder what makes some of us able to do it, and some of us
not.

I’ve worked since the day I left school; as I believed this to be ‘the way life is’. I’d
work all the hours I could: cheerfully upbeat, enthusiastic, and always wanting to
prove my worth to my employer – all of this was at the expense of my health. I
shrugged off stress as just a normal part of life, ignoring the bigger problem. It
wasn’t long before I was sleeping in on purpose, skipping showers, skipping meals, I
didn’t even have the energy to smile any more.

Every day is a roll of the dice, I don’t know if I’ll be bored, unmotivated, stressed,
frustrated, or just so fed up with life that I see running away as a viable option. I’ve
never been signed off with stress or depression, but I’ve been close to never wanting
to work again, because I feel like mental illness and full-time work are so conflicting
that it’s not possible to have both. Colleagues are so quick to ask about your
stomach bug or your migraine, but very rarely does anyone ever ask about your
mind. It’s still a taboo subject in many workplaces, and it means for people like me,
we have to pretend. We’re exhausted from wearing a mask for 8 hours every day.

As a society, we’ve been taught that in order to contribute to it, we must have a full
time job. But what about those that can’t? A lot of people take breaks to look after
themselves, some of them never return to work, and that’s OK. Everyone’s recovery
journey is different, and just because someone only had to take a week off work,
doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for not working at all. Only you know what’s
best for you, and it’s important to never rush recovery or give in to pressure – from
yourself or someone else – just because it’s what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

Give yourself enough time to heal at your own pace, and then decide what’s next for
you. Your sickness is not your weakness.

You can check out Zoe’s blog posts and follow her here: nolightwithoutdarkness.com

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