Written by Taylor Jones.
At the age of 23 I can tell you (begrudgingly) that I have worked for 18 different employers in the past 4 years. Some jobs were seasonal, some jobs were not a good fit, some jobs I quit, and only one I was actually fired from. However, I have gone through 18 different employers, and each time I have had issues at work it all boiled down to one thing; my mental health.
I am a good employee; until I’m not.
I want to make it clear that I’m not a bad person. I’m a very intelligent girl, and even graduated with honors. I’m smart, and witty, and if you check my resume you’ll see I’m even a fast learner. I’m great with math, and I’m wonderful with customers. I know how to present myself. I’m a good person, and I am a good employee; until I’m not.
What kind of excuse is, “Sorry I was late for work, I was contemplating killing myself?”
Things start getting tricky when I’m working. Some days my depression is bad and I can’t get out of bed, which causes my punctuality to be delayed, and I’m late for work; that’s usually the first strike for employers. Employers will tell you they don’t take excuses, and what kind of excuse is, “Sorry I was late for work, I was contemplating killing myself?” Next, I usually start forgetting things, and overwhelming myself with responsibility. Of course, I can take an extra shift, of course I can work these extra hours. Only, when those extra hours (which should just mean extra money) come, I’m dragging my feet. I’m not a fortune teller, and I don’t know what tomorrow will look like for me; I could be motivated today, and an absolute mess tomorrow. I can’t call out, because then the boss will think I’m just lazy, and I can’t explain myself because if most bosses don’t care if you’re sick physically, why would they care if you’re sick mentally?
This becomes an even bigger issue, and it starts weighing heavily on me. I should be able to work; I have the ability, why can’t I do this?! It should be easy, and it’s easy for everyone else, so why not me?
Work is a lot more difficult to manage when you’re mentally ill.
The answer is simple; it’s because a lot of people may think they can function just like everyone else when they have a mental illness. But the reality is, work is a lot more difficult to manage when you’re mentally ill. I know, there are a lot of greats out there who manage to work with a mental illness; Walt Disney, JFK (to name two). But not all of us are greats in standard lines of work. A lot of us need extra help.
There are so few employers in the world who will appreciate and understand how hard it is to be a good employee will managing a mental illness.
I used to just stop showing up to employers; several times I’ve admitted myself to a hospital, and just never went back to work, because it’s too humiliating to say, “I didn’t show up for my shift because it was threatening my life, and overwhelming me.” I don’t see how it’s possible to say that and not get fired. There are so few employers in the world who will appreciate and understand how hard it is to be a good employee will managing a mental illness.
For me, I tried working when I became a mom. And with my last employer, when I had to go to the hospital, I was told child services would get called on me (by my manager) for trying to seek help. I quit on spot, handing back the store key. I could go back to work, but until my mental health is managed, I’ll sit here, writing as my job and passion, because I know it is unfair to myself and those around me to put myself in a hazardous position, such as working when my health isn’t managed. And that will have to do.