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 wasnt 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.
Read more of Ros’s writing on her personal website, themighty.com or see the rest of her IBPF posts here.