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3 Things You Need to Hear If Your Job Is Making You Suicidal

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. If you need support right now, you can call, text, or chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or text HOME to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line if you are in the U.S. A list of crisis centers around the world can be found here.

You know what they say. 

“It’s just a job.” 

Jobs, like people, places, objects, or any of the other things wellness books mention when they want us to look at the cup as if it’s half full, are replaceable. Right? That’s the nature of being in the workforce. Unless you’re truly dedicated to that company and you intend to retire from it, you’re not going to be there forever. At some point you’re going to move on and have different coworkers, managers, and probably a different health insurance. We focus so much on how jobs are replaceable and how it’s “just a job,” that we ignore what it feels like when it’s not, and what it feels like when that job is contributing to your chronic suicidality. 

It’s hard clocking in and swiping your ID through the door mechanism knowing that you don’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t matter what wellness initiatives the company puts in place, or how many health tips there are on a poster on the wall in a break room. At the end of the day, it doesn’t change a core facet and principle of being in the work field and on a contract. You work for money. You need money so you need to work. One plus one equals two, and two minus one equals one.

There are hundreds of other people who probably wanted your spot, and it’s those same people that if you disappeared, HR would contact to fill your role almost immediately. As much as companies want to showcase that isn’t the case, it’s the unspoken truth that lingers in the back of every shift, Zoom call, or breakdown in the walk-in like a bad smell you just can’t get rid of. It sucks to say, but you are replaceable and when you live with chronic suicidality, that’s one of the worst things to remember.

You remember it on days where it’s hard to get out of bed. You remember it during rough meetings where you leave and your heart is heavier than lead. You remember it even during a performance review where you’re getting glowing marks from someone who you didn’t even think knew your name, just your ID number. You never forget that, and the thought feeds into a larger cocktail of depression and angst. All of the affirmations that you repeat to yourself in the dingy mirror in the small apartment that you can barely afford because you don’t get paid enough are designed to make you feel like you matter. And yet, there you are, in a business casual outfit you sourced from some fast fashion chain knowing both the opposite, and that you have to play the game to win the game because you have bills, appointments, and a cat that you love to dote on and they deserve a good life. Only you can’t win the game. There is no winning. Just losers who know they lost and losers who have fooled themselves into thinking they’ve won.

A job is just a job until it’s not, especially when you live with suicidal ideation. 

If you understand this feeling, and your chest caves in whenever your fingertips strike a keypad with a force duller than your will to live, here are some realistic tips to remember.

1. It’s OK to feel let down by your job.

So many people will say you should care less, but that’s such a hard thing to do. We (in the States) live in a society that prioritizes work and career over everything else. They want you to work a job you love, a “dream job,” so you work even harder and contribute to our capitalistic society. When you’ve been raised into thinking that, it’s understandable if your job has a heavy amount of emotional weight in your life. Thus, first thing is first — understand it’s OK to feel let down or heartbroken by your place of employment for whatever reason you may have to be. Your feelings are valid.

2. Start de-prioritizing the role work plays in your life.

Yes, we need jobs so we can turn our lights on. Right? However, at what point did we decide our job had to be our entire life? Sure, you may just be a number to your corporation, but outside of that building you’re so much more than that. You’re a human being with hobbies, friends, family, interests, and things that make you happy. It’s easy to assign all of our worth to our job, but I really need you to realize that that isn’t the case.

3. Your job may have EAP. Use it.

I feel like jobs know they’re going to traumatize you when they offer EAP right off the bat. That, and it’s a fairly common practice in corporations nowadays, but I still like to think that’s the case. Self-awareness is king.

An Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) is a great tool to get some quick mental health help. While it’s not a long-term therapist or treatment, it can still offer you some quick tools and solutions for the feelings you’re having now. The only thing better than therapy is therapy on someone else’s dime, especially your bosses’. 

Suicidal ideation is so hard to get through, and it’s rough when your mandatory job that you need to survive is contributing to it. A job is just a job, but it may not feel that way and that’s OK.

Don’t be afraid to break. Please advocate for yourself. You’ll be on to bigger and better things soon. I promise.

Getty image by holaillustrations

Originally published: September 11, 2022
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