Trying To Work When You’re Mentally Ill

Finding a job is hard, but finding a job when you’re mentally ill is even harder. When you go in for an interview the last thing you want to tell your potential employer is that you have a mental illness. If an employer has two people applying for the same position do you think they’d choose the person who suffers from mental issues or someone who is mentally stable? Due to the stigma around mental illnesses, the fear of being rejected makes most people unable to talk openly about their diagnosis. When going into an interview you may be filled with anxiety and come across as inadequate to the interviewer. Because of this, many highly qualified people don’t get the chance at a job they want or get so scared that they won’t even try for it at all. Mentally ill or not, the bills still come every month and we have to find a way to take care of ourselves if we do not qualify for financial help.

In a sense people like us “wear a mask” to work, this doesn’t mean that we are lying. You can show that you are qualified through your work ethics, but you do have to try and hold your composure during tuff times, especially if you work with the public.

Before your interview it’s a good idea to partake in some confidence building tactics like self affirmations, TED talks, Pinterest and Youtube advice, etcetera. Try to calm your nerves with an at home remedy like lavender oil, CBD oil (ask your doctor before taking this product and buy from a pharmacy for your own safety), or anxiety medication if you have a prescription. Go in with your head held high and know that your mental illness does not define you and that you are worthy of this job.

Speaking from my own experience I do think that it is important to eventually let your employer know that you are mentally ill, just not right off the bat, show them your worth first. The reason I find it important is because if you’re anything like me, eventually something or someone is going to trigger you and you may break down. If your manager is aware of the situation then they will be prepared, have understanding, and be able to intervene (if they are a good manager).

Being mentally ill does not mean you can’t be an excellent employee, it just means you may have a harder time some days. If you happen to be a manager reading this article, I encourage you to educate yourself on people with mental illnesses, don’t shut the door on them before they have a chance to show you what they are capable of. People with depression/anxiety/bipolar disorder could become some of your most compassionate workers. Those who suffer from OCD could turn out to be the most organized and brilliant people on your team. Illnesses are a hard thing to deal with, but in some cases there is a silver lining that shines so brightly that it will make the set backs worth your time and patience. Give us a chance.

At some point in your work journey you are more than likely going to hit a very low point. It may be due to being burned out on the job, or in extreme cases it could be due to a loss (divorce, death, issues with your children, etcetera). During times like this I find it very important to have a one on one with your manager and be honest about your feelings. You may need to take a little time off to go see your doctor or get counseling. If you have proven that you are a valuable worker and you have a good manager this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you have a manager that is not understanding, you have to do what’s right for you. Your health has to come first, it’s like the phrase I’v mentioned before “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.

If you end up losing your job due to your mental health, see your psychiatrist/doctor, get therapy, and do what you have to do to get back up and get back in the work force. Just because you stumble doesn’t mean it’s all over for you. You are important, you have a lot to offer, and you are worth fighting for yourself!

If you are someone who is completely unable to work due to your mental illness this does not mean you are any less valuable. You may be a phenomenal stay at home parent, house wife/husband, caretaker of your elderly parents, and more. And even if you are not married, don’t have kids, or close relatives you still have so much to offer the world.

I’m at the point where I am only able to work part time but does that make me less valuable? No, because I’ve found my purpose in blogging- just like you will find your purpose in whatever passion God has given you. It’s okay not to be ok! If your mental health has disabled you from working completely, there is no shame in reaching out for financial help. Mental illness is an illness, just because other people can’t physically see your sickness doesn’t mean that it’s not real. If you need help don’t be ashamed to apply for it.

I hope this post encourages you to see your self worth and go for the job you want. I also hope that it shines a lot on the stigma against mental illness. Again, I highly recommend employers to seek education on mental health, a person suffering with a mental illness can still be a valuable coworker, we just need a chance.

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