Dealing with Work and Mental Health

A year and a half ago, I moved back to the town I grew up in and snagged a couple part time jobs to earn some much needed cash. One job was, and still is, a relative breeze. The other was rather taxing on my mental health as it forced me to get up very early in the morning even though sleep was difficult to obtain. I endured it for a time, but my work quality and attendance started slipping. I ultimately asked to be transferred to another department that didn’t report to work at 6 a.m., but was denied.

I ended up leaving that job which sparked two months of struggling financially. This, of course, put strain on my anxiety and depression, causing me to have many dark days where I barely left my room. It is this struggle that I, along with many other people with mental illness, are very familiar with.

Money is my most potent source of anxiety. Not being able to pay my bills, get enough food, and to keep a roof over my head is a major nightmare for me. When I am not working, I feel useless and constantly feel like a burden to everyone around me. It is imperative that I stay working and making money or I go insane.

However, sometimes it’s the job itself that is causing the anxiety and depression. The job I had to leave was doing that to me. I’m not one that can get to sleep easily, and having to be in bed by 9 p.m. every Sunday night to get up at 4 a.m. on Monday was taking a toll on me. The less sleep I got, the more I contemplated just calling in every Monday. After realizing that this was the reason I was having so much stress, I had to make a change.

The key to maintaining mental harmony and a positive bank account is to be very mindful of how your work is affecting you. If you find yourself calling in as much as, or more than, you go to work, it might be time to start looking for a new job. For me, the early shift time was the trigger. For some it could be a co-worker or boss, or a particular task you have to regularly do. Whatever it is, it’s good to identify it as a negative influence on your mental health and find a way to get around or eliminate it. Sometimes this is as easy as asking for a transfer to a different department or location altogether. Hopefully, you have management who is willing to work with you. Otherwise, it would be smart to find a new gig.

The lull between leaving one job and starting another can be just as mentally taxing as staying on the job. Nowadays, employers rarely do face-to-face interviews anymore and all the applications are online. It could take weeks to hear from a company that you applied to and that silence can be killer. It fills you with doubt, then despair, and then you stop caring about things like showering or eating. The key to avoiding this despair is to keep applying. Shotgun apps all over the place and do it every day. Just doing three or four applications a day will make you feel like you’re being productive. It’s also a good idea to apply and then just forget it and move to the next one. Worrying about a job application just feeds that anxiety. Even if it’s a job you really want, just apply and move on.

Rejections will of course start flooding in, but you can’t let them stop you. They are to be expected. However, there is bound to be an accepted application and a job offer or two will be given to you. It can feel very rewarding and fulfilling to finally get that email to schedule an interview. But again, don’t put all your job eggs in one company application basket. Keep your options open and weight the pros and cons of each job. Be mindful of your personal triggers and try to find out more information about each position so you can avoid those triggers.

Once you’ve gotten that job, the final stretch will be surviving until that first paycheck. By this time, you’re probably low on funds and might need things for your new job like uniform pieces or you have to drive further to get to this job and gas money is thin. This is where leaning on your support network will come in handy. See if you can borrow some cash and pay it back within your first check or two and make sure you fulfill that promise.

Work and maintaining your cash flow can be the hardest thing someone with anxiety and depression has to endure. With some active mindfulness, you can identify triggers at work that cause you the most anxiety and bring them up to your boss. If a solution can’t be reached, finding a new job might be a good idea. But that also brings with it difficult challenges. If you persevere, be mindful, and seek a little help, you will come out on the other end with a less stressful job and a positive bank account.