Here’s an update on what I’m feeling today.
I’m feeling less like the world is closing in on me, more like I can and will be able to get through. Reminding myself that feelings are not facts and feelings are temporary really helps.
I had a really great conversation with my mom tonight, which immensely helped my outlook right now.
After sick days and leaving early from work this week, I’m nervous about what my coworkers think. Specifically this one coworker, I’ll call her Jill.
Jill is the one that made quite a few snide and passive-aggressive remarks to me late last year that made me feel really uncomfortable at work. After the bosses had a talk with her, the snide comments almost completely stopped and it was wonderful.
She’s an older woman, and I was told a couple months ago that she’s only a couple years away from being able to retire. I had no idea she was that close to retirement, she ages well.
She’s quite funny actually. Sometimes, when a truck driver pulls up to the warehouse and lays on his horn to get the guys to open the garage door, she’ll say “ope! there’s my date! I better get goin’!” She likes cats and we share funny stories about our cats doing cat things that cat parents laugh about.
So, anyway, Jill seems to keep a watch on everyone at the office. If you leave early or come in late, it seems no one notices but her.
She is one of those people that looks the same, acts the same, does the same exact thing every single day. Works 8 AM to 12 PM, takes a lunch from 12-12:30, then goes home not a minute before or after 4 PM. I know this because I work right next to her and have been for the last year and a half, and it’s always the exact same.
She comes in, turns the phones on, checks the fax machine, sets her bags down, turns on her radio, gets her yogurt and fruit and oatmeal breakfast, gets coffee, and sits down to get to work. Every single day.
I WISH I could be like that. I wish I could be so in-sync with my routine that people know what my routine is after working with me for over a year. But, no one knows my routine, because I can’t seem to get in-sync with a regular schedule.
For one, I travel at least once a month for my job. Whether it’s on a plane to another state, or downtown Chicago, I’m out of the office traveling here and there. Then, I switched my schedule so I work from home on Friday’s. Then, I’m usually in the office between 8-9 AM and I usually leave between 4-4:30 PM. There have been weeks where I was able to get there at the same time and leave at the same time every day, but that’s not how my routine works. She drives, I take public transportation. Sometimes I’m at work at 6 or 7 AM because I can’t sleep and I just say fuck it and go into the office, and then I leave at 3:30 because my 8 hours done been worked. Sometimes, I have to clean up cat poop and then I miss the ‘good train’ (the one that gets to the station right before the bus leaves so I can hop on it real quick) and then have to wait at the station where I transfer to a bus for 20 minutes. Also, I do several hours of work during the evening or over the weekend to make up for lost time during transportation, appointments, etc.
Anyyyywayyyyy… so yeah, Jill, she seems to keep tabs on everyone. Especially me for some reason.
Marketing girl has an even stranger schedule. She comes in at 8:30 and leaves at like 3-3:30 and then doesn’t work on Friday’s. I don’t understand her schedule or how she gets 40 hours in, but it’s none of my business and I trust she’s got something worked out with the bosses to accommodate for her work-life balance. I wish Jill would realize my schedule is none of her business.
Now, this week I was barely in the office. I just couldn’t do it. I can’t explain why, I just was overcome with severe, almost insurmountable anxiety, to the point where I had a hard time putting sentences together, looking people in the eye, etc.
Tomorrow is Friday, my work from home day. So I will see her next on Monday, and I plan on getting back to work on Monday full swing.
I know what I’m doing here; I’m exhibiting several cognitive distortions, specifically jumping to conclusions, about what she’s thinking and feeling. I know I’m doing this and I’m worrying about something that will likely not even happen, so why am I spending so much time and energy thinking about it?
Side-note: learning about and keeping in mind the common cognitive distortions is really helpful in everyday situations for anyone – whether you struggle with mental health or not. Click on the link above to learn more.
I do need to learn how to better deal with coworkers wondering why I’m leaving early, not in the office on Friday’s, etc.
So, I Google “how to tell coworkers about depression,” and of course, I find a few good articles that I’m going to quote.
I like this one from this article: “I have appointments during office hours each week that I can’t schedule for evenings or weekends, so [your employer] and I have set up a work schedule that lets me make up the time.”
I mean, my bosses know I’m a little ‘off my rocker,’ I have to believe the other people in the office know I struggle with mental health, because I’ve hinted at it in the past when Jill passive-aggressively commented “I’ve never met someone with so many appointments!” Well, Jill, I do have a lot of appointments, but I need to stay sane, soo….. I believe I said something along the lines of “yeah, I need to go to therapy to be able to work,” or something like that.
Did you know that: “Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among adults 15 to 44 years old, affecting nearly 7% of adults in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And depression causes an estimated $23 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. each year.” Hmph. Interesting fact.
Anyway, I don’t think my depression is a “disability” per say, and I don’t think I need or deserve “special treatment” because of it, but I’m struggling with how much to tell my employer about it. How much accommodation do I need, and how much can I reasonably expect? They’ve already done so much for me… kept my job for me when I went to jail, allowed me to adjust and readjust and re-readjust my schedule… how much more can I ask for?
I’ve hinted at “mental health days” to my boss versus taking a “sick day” and they are not buying it. She says “when you’re sick you take a sick day. When you’re not sick but don’t want to come in the office you take a vacation day.”
Ugh…. I’m not planning on taking anymore days off anytime soon because I’m actually really looking forward to getting back to the office and the routine that going to the office provides, but.. it’s not like I don’t want to come in to the office, I just… I guess… yeah, I don’t want to.
Furthering my research on depression and anxiety and mental health in the workplace…
You have difficulty concentrating on work, are exhausted because you can’t sleep, feel on the verge of tears all the time, are nervous and overwhelmed, or some combination of the above.
But that’s just part of work and the daily grind, right? Better learn to suck it up and deal, right?
Not exactly. There’s a definite difference between regular ol’ stress at work—a big presentation, a client’s disapproval, a heavy workload—and serious depression and anxiety.
Definitely a difference between working on a big project and the anxiety that causes versus my ‘other’ anxiety that is nonsensical and doesn’t seem to have a root cause. I actually thrive in the stress that a big project has… I like getting down to work and being able to focus on that project for several hours at a time. I’ve tried to explain this to my employer, like, no, it’s not the project that’s driving me insane, it’s this ‘other’ anxiety and depression that I can’t put my finger on…
The article goes on to suggest:
“Take short breaks during the workday—go for a walk and cry if you feel the need, call a friend or family member, or simply take some time to yourself. It’s also important not to isolate yourself.”
Yes! I started taking a walk around the building, which takes about 2 minutes, every hour or so just to get off my butt, clear my head, and get some fresh air. Often times, I come up with some of my best ideas and solutions on my short walks.
I’ve told my bosses about being a recovering alcoholic, and I’m hesitant to tell them about the mental health issues now? Like… one would think that owning the identity of a recovering alcoholic is harder than owning the depression and anxiety, but for me, the opposite is true.
I have come to terms, 100%, that I’m a recovering alcoholic and I have no problem telling anyone I meet that I’m in recovery. But telling them that I suffer from depression and anxiety is like… idk… harder than telling someone I am a recovering alcoholic.
Telling people I have depression and anxiety… it’s like, poor me, right? Fuck! I don’t want special treatment or pity or for people to baby me because they think I can’t handle whatever it is… I just want to be normal 😦 Hopefully, this new therapist I’m seeing on Saturday will help me deal.
I drafted this email to my boss… explaining what I’m doing to get my mental health under control… going to therapy, taking meds, talking to friends and family, making plans with friends, etc. etc. What would be the harm in being open and honest? Should I hit send?
I can’t decide. I would feel better if I hit send. But, will it jeopardize her opinion of me as a good, capable, dependable employee?
Just had an idea. I’m not going to hit send. I’m going to go over the email with my new therapist and then decide. Good decision, Judith.
Thanks for reading.