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Mental Illness' Effect on Work and School

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For the longest time, I assumed I would end up doing nothing worthwhile with my life. Now I am 18 years old, studying psychology at a university, and balancing a job. Some people might think getting a job is not really a big deal, but for me it was (and still is). It’s very difficult for me to actually go to work. I dread each shift, and I’m always too tired. But somehow I pull through. I’ve reached a point where I’ve decided I won’t let mental illness control all aspects of my life.

Yes, there are (many) days when all I want to do is call in sick, stay in bed, watch my favorite shows and eat junk food, and sometimes, it’s all I do. But that’s OK. It is completely OK to “surrender” sometimes.

Most people don’t get it. Somehow, they do not understand it’s not because we want to actually procrastinate. It’s our illness creeping out a bit more than usual, and just because some days we seem more “alive” does not mean we are cured. There are just some days where we don’t feel threatened by whatever is outside.

Recently, I had to have a surgery done which meant I was absent from work for around four weeks. When I returned, I felt horrible. It seemed as though all the anxiety was stored up and burst as soon as I walked into the building. All I wanted to do was hide (and maybe even cry a little bit). Although it was a relatively short shift, the stress and tension were still there. Each coin I gave back gave me a rush of anxiety, as I feared I was giving the wrong amount of change. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Every minute felt like an hour. I always feel incredibly alone at work, and that makes the situation even worse. And the fact that I had such a long “break” made it even harder for me to get used to it once again.

University is very much the same, although less anxiety and stress. The feeling of reluctance is still there, and sometimes no amount of pulling can get me out of bed. The pressure of my eyelids is too much to bear sometimes. I feel constantly drained and exhausted, and no amount of coffee or tea will make it better. But again, I push through it. I guess I see the benefits in the long run.

One thing that makes it hard to push through, though, is hearing people say they’re having the best time of their lives. I am certainly not enjoying it, but then again, I am not dreading it. So is it that bad?

Most times I wish this black dog would stop following me everywhere, but even thinking of it leaving gets me slightly anxious. It’s all I’ve known for the past couple of years, and new things scare me.

But perhaps now I’ve gotten on better terms with him, as daily tasks are more manageable, and I haven’t missed school or work because of him. Perhaps now it is me controlling the leash, rather than him dragging me along.

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Thinkstock photo by g-stockstudio

Originally published: November 14, 2016
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