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When Depression and Anxiety Affect Your Ability to Keep a Job

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At 34 years old, I’ve had countless jobs, and a lot of them are jobs people would be (and are) extremely content and happy to have gotten.

I have left each and every one of them.

I got the jobs because I am good at what I do. Customer service and sales are my forte and I’m not ashamed to admit it. What I am ashamed to admit is I have never held a job for much longer than two years.

I have never been able to see why I have been such a “job hopper.” Yet tonight, whilst reading some articles about depression and having one of my regular self-reflection moments, I realized something. Could my depression and anxiety have anything to do with it?

I had to write it down while I had the thought clearly in my mind. Looking back, I have begun every one of my jobs with extreme enthusiasm. I have excelled at anything I put my mind to, but after a period of on average six to 12 months I find myself getting worse at my job. I feel angry at myself because once I was brilliant, and now I am always making mistakes. Not only that, but I feel my superiors and sometimes my colleagues are “out to get me.” They don’t like me, don’t invite me to join them in social activities, seem to be critical of everything I do or worse make no comment whatsoever.

I get home and find myself unable to function, my personal hygiene goes out of the window and house work doesn’t even make the to-do list. I find solace in retail therapy and spend money that should be saved for bills on clothes and food on silly things I convince myself I need at the time. For example, I received a large inheritance in August 2015. By January I had spent pretty much all of it. Most of which, I still cannot identify where it went.

I have noticed a pattern in my job changes, and therein lies my epiphany. My depression sets in, and I begin to fail. I don’t concentrate on what I’m doing. I don’t include myself in activities. I try to assert myself at work and end up alienating the people around me. That’s when I start looking for another job. I feel discriminated against, that people are prejudiced against me and on the occasions when I’ve asked for help, I have felt it wasn’t forthcoming or that the company was just doing the “bare minimum” for me. In my last job, I even had at least three outbursts, one causing a director to have a quiet word of warning with me. I was there a total of nine months.

I saw a quote this evening that sums up these thoughts: “Depression lies.” It is so true. Had I not been depressed and just been overloaded, I could have asked for help and come back to my high-performing self. Instead, I let myself get further and further into the darkness, and finally end up finding another job, feeling like I’m “bettering” myself. In reality, I was avoiding the issues all together. I would then start in another role and begin the cycle again.

I am currently unemployed and signed off sick because of my depression and anxiety, which has happened only once before when I had a high-pressure job, which led me to a breakdown. I couldn’t even walk through the door of the office building without bursting into tears. I was eventually let go. Although, due to their management of the situation, I was able to turn that around and offer my resignation instead.

Now, even the thought of going back to work both excites and terrifies me. I want to work. I have always worked, but I know I can’t handle the pressure without a strong mental health plan at my workplace. But even then, will I go back into my bad habits?

My depression seems to have led me down a self-destructive path, which I only recognized 18 years after first starting to work. I am now left wondering, will I ever go back to work? Can I find a job or a career I can be satisfied in? I have begun a business with a friend of mine, and I worry if I am capable of running half a business. I want to succeed, but am I capable of it?

While I’m certain I need at least some time to get my head together, I have seen job adverts and thought, “Oh, I could do that!” Then, I get anxious I will try and fail again. I also feel depressed I can’t work at the moment and I feel useless, lazy and demotivated — a failure.

I find myself wishing employers would educate themselves regarding mental health and how to recognize the symptoms of a depressive phase or an anxiety attack. Until they do, how can I trust myself in any job? With a CV like mine, I will soon become unemployable due to my lack of sustainable employment. Maybe I already am. We’ll have to wait and see.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 13, 2016
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