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How I Saved My Life

I roll over to the edge of my bed and start searching for my pills: white pill, purple pill and a couple of other pills my psychiatrist said I needed. I'm not ready to get out of bed, but I know I can't miss another day at work. By the time I'm in the shower, I'm already mentally exhausted and ready to go back to bed.

As I step through the glass doors of the office building, I feel trapped. I head over to the bathroom, knowing I need one more cry before I sit at my desk. I stare at my laptop for an hour, still unable to do any work. My mind is racing, making it hard to focus on anything. At any moment, the partner will walk up to me and begin with her shouting: Why am I behind? Why am I not working? Why am I not like everyone else? I know I'm not like the rest, and I hate being reminded. 

I think back to the conversation I had with the Managing Director of the firm. I remember feeling small while sitting in her guest chair, my eyes low, hoping to disappear. I explained to her what I was going through. My body was in a lot of pain; my mind was spinning all the time. I had depression, the diagnosis I had at the time. I listened with a heavy heart as she told me, in her gentle manner, that I should just get over it. She hinted that perhaps I wasn’t praying enough.

I understand where she is coming from. I know that a lot of people do not understand what living with a mental illness looks like. I am saddened because earlier the HR manager of the firm had gone to see my psychiatrist. The visit was prompted by the fact that they thought I was lying about having what we thought then was depression. A visit that was supposed to help me feel more adjusted to the working environment left me feeling like a target.

The weeks after the meeting with the Managing Director were rough. I had to work harder than I had before as I had to prove that I was capable; because for some reason, there was an impression that a mental illness makes you less of a hard worker. My body became frailer and I was constantly getting ill. The battle to keep my job saw me losing my life, so I quit.

I applied for a new job and walked away from the stressful environment of an audit firm. Immediately, I started feeling better. I was no longer scared that people would judge me or my capabilities based on my diagnosis. I did not have to carry work home, leaving me with enough time to do what I love.

I decided that my health was more important than a pay check, and that is how I saved my life.

To read more from Ros, see the rest of her posts for IBPF here, visit her website, or read her contributions to The Mighty.

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Comments

I feel the same as what u wrote. I just dont know how to express it in words. I am feeling like this for so many years now but only resently i undestand that i am depressed. I tried to consult the doctor but when im inside his office i dont feel at ease telling my feelings to a stranger the doctor, so didnt come back to my next appointment until now more than a year now. I also think of quitting my job as a designer in a big firm and find a less stressful job.

Ron

Only problem is I go into a new job thinking it's better. And then it starts all over again

I was the pastry chef for a group of 5 different restaurants and worked alone 4 of the 6 days per week, from 2 or 3 am until 8 am. I kept taking on more responsibility to impress my boss but nothing was enough. Soon demands started piling up, each more outlandish than the last. Eventually I was frantic for 55+ hours per week, mostly due to pressure and time constrains I exaggerated in my head. One morning, the day before the company owner's daughter's wedding that I had to make a cake and 150 individual fruit tarts for, I got a huge dessert order the catering manager somehow forgot to tell me about. That morning I had a sudden understanding of why someone might commit suicide, which was terrifying. Then a month later I had a morning where I seriously considered stabbing a large chefs knife through my hand. The only reason I didn't was because I would have gotten blood on my pants when I got my phone out to call 911. When I told my psychiatrist about this he reminded me I talked about suicide the last time we spoke and asked if I needed time off work. Knowing my bosses wouldn't agree to that even if I had a doctors note, I decided to quit. Food service has been my life for the past 15 years but it has been killing me slowly. I was up to 4 different meds just to deal with the stress (klonopin, buspar, seroquel and lamictal), and after a month away from food service I can finally start cutting back on my steady 3x per day benzodiazepine habit.

This isn't a very practical tip for most people, but what worked for me was working part time. Instead of seeming 50% less stressful, I'd say I felt about 75% less stressful. The benefit was that I could take on more stressful work than when I worked part time. Before I went to part time, I had no idea it would help me. I just did it because my doctor insisted.

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