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    Community Voices

    New Beginnings

    I recently started my new job after many months of distress and anxiety in a position I didn’t enjoy. All I can say is quitting a job that makes you unhappy and no longer serves you can sometimes be the best decision (I understand in some cases quitting may not be the easiest or most financially responsible decision.)

    However, I feel in my own personal case I had no other option but to quit. I had hit rock bottom. I felt passionless, unproductive, and uninspired. In addition, a overwhelming amount of hopelessness was consuming me. My new position is a much better fit and I am so pleased with my decision to move on from my previous position. Please remember to do what’s best for your mental health! #Anxiety #MentalHealth #Work

    4 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Advice on leaving job/career

    I am two years into a fibro/CFS diagnosis which was ultimately caused by both physical trauma to my body from years of health issues and years of emotional trauma from growing up, placing daughter for adoption and my career, social work. I got COVID last year and still struggle with post-COVID symptoms-especially in my breathing and headaches. I have extreme arthritis as well. After working through trauma and getting to a place where I have more insight, I am seeing that I need a different job/career. One less intense. One with support. I need to heal more and cannot do so while doing the very thing that caused trauma. Any advise on changing careers? It would be beneficial to work from home bc I get sick whenever I leave my house and my anxiety is so strong right now. The world does not feel safe. #Fibromyalgia #ChronicPain #Trauma #ChronicFatigue #COVID19 #BrainFog #Anxiety #socialwork #Work #workfromhome #Arthritis

    4 people are talking about this
    Community Voices
    bluu

    My mental illness won today.

    Finally landed on a reasonable dose of the weed gummies. They greatly decreased my weirdness at work. But it wasn’t enough. Enough to give me hope. But not enough for today to be a success.

    The PTSD and OCD win again. All I can think is how long until this employer fires me now. Trying to keep the impermanence quote I read on here the other day in mind. Trying to remind myself it’s none of my business what others think of me. Trying to remind myself that it’s ok to have mental health issues. Trying to stay present and ground myself.

    All day in meetings trying to mask and suppress anxiety. Im exhausted. Maybe next time will be a win… #OCD #PTSD #Work #Masking

    1 person is talking about this
    Erica Camp

    How I'm Staying a Leader in the Workplace With Bipolar Disorder

    Being a leader is a badge I wear with pride. No matter the setting, I will always have the innate ability to take control and lead others. This was seen in my childhood, in my job, and in my college career. There was no pressure. In fact, it was something that I enjoyed thoroughly, even as a child. I struggle with this as a follower, because in my head I see a path that seems obvious to everyone and yet they cannot see? The best portion of being a follower is that my mental illness rests at a slower pace because of handing over the control to someone else. This has been only in the last three years that having that badge of a leader felt burdensome when I was severely ill. Yet, it was sewn into my heart that in order to accomplish great things I needed to be at the forefront. I want to do great things. I want to inspire and connect. I love how people view me as someone who has struggled and overcome. But is that selfish for those around me? Because perhaps there was someone who could have done a better job. That’s one of the issues being mentally ill. It gives you this feeling of incompetency, invalidation, and being too insecure to take up the reins that you felt safe in being a leader. It includes constantly checking yourself. Coaching was the worst portion of this because you are constantly asking yourself: is this an emotional response or a moment to create growth? Am I reacting as a mentally ill person or someone who needs to encourage our values? Those three years were hard on everyone around me because of my pride. I held myself too high because of my own need to be in control. But this meant that I was constantly searching for goals to outdo, a simple “good job” when my brain was firing all these chemicals to create a dangerous concoction. Being bipolar can give you an inflated self-esteem; mine could become so severe that I would feel like a god for how well I did that morning. I also felt the lowest of lows during my highest of highs. The symptoms of how my version of bipolar manifests becomes mixed state, where I struggle with both extremes. I could feel like a queen for the whole day, but as soon as I walked out the door of my company… depression. I would sit outside for hours crying, because I’d constantly question myself as a leader and a peer for what I did that day. Did I make the right calls? Could we have done better? I wish there was a softer version of myself during those moments. The proud leader I am now that can hold onto those moments of victory and can handle those moments where improvement could be made. To be a great leader, you need to take away the good and the bad. Leadership with a mental illness meant that I made far too many mistakes and yet I was treating that pre-mentally ill version of myself who still peeked through the shroud of mania or depression. There was always this hope that when I would leave for months that the pre-diagnosed would resurface. When people talk to me about the old version of myself, which I still adore and love, I do tell them that she’s “dead” and I had to learn to grieve during these moments of being mentally unstable. My friends, family, and husband also had to grieve for the young woman that was stable. That young woman who took on the mantle of leadership is not the same that stands before you. I am wiser, stronger, and more capable of leading people with understanding and maintaining the expectations for goals. I am and always will be a leader because my mental illness does not define that portion of myself that I love. I love myself more than I ever did pre-diagnosis because I have struggled in the workplace for a better version of myself thanks to my team. Was it hard? Absolutely. But six months being semi-stable means that looking back at the child-like version of myself, and I can see where I could have had more strength, yet still be a leader. The version of myself during diagnosis, bobbing my head over the water to keep breathing is a delicate, but strong leader. I could unravel easily, but I was also patching the underbelly of a boat about to be sunk to the bottom of the ocean. I was healing. What about this version of myself now? I am not totally healed, but now I live through the lens of dignity, understanding of myself and other people’s struggles. I am proud of myself. I have great self-esteem, but also the awareness that there is room for improvement. I’m not even in a leadership position. I am leading those that see me as a role model for taking the time to heal from the mental illness that was my gatekeeper. You can always be a leader, but sometimes it may look differently in the workplace. Workplace leadership is something that kept me from unraveling. It was the expectations, the goals, and the focus of doing better, being better. I’ve learned so much about leadership in the workplace, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you must have that title as supervisor or manager. I am a leader no matter where I am in life. I want to inspire others to be better leaders through life circumstances, because those people are truly the ones who create space in the workplace to grow. They are the creatives, the underdog, those that challenge the status quo, and forge a new path. I am proud of all the leaders that have touched my life, just as I am proud of myself.

    Ishun
    Ishun @snooties
    contributor

    Retiring for My Mental Health and Grieving the Loss of My Profession

    I don’t think enough people talk about retirement. Perhaps retirement is becoming a privilege to so few that we just don’t talk about it much. If you have been careful, thoughtful, and fortunate enough to retire with any degree of comfort, you know you are blessed. However, even under pretty good circumstances, retirement is a unique developmental transition that we don’t really think about until we get closer to the event. We might work with a financial planner, imagine trips we would like to take, or even places we might move to. We don’t necessarily think about what it would be like to leave a career that you spent time, effort, and heart in building. It’s actually even more complicated because there are different pathways to retirement. For me, that pathway was the result of a mental health crisis. When it happened to me, I was floored, gutted, afraid, and I felt alone and unable to really talk about it with anyone other than my therapist. At that time I discovered the Mighty, and read posts and stories from other people who found their way to retirement in the same way. I have found this community helpful in so many ways when I experienced my crisis. It is helpful to know that you are not alone and to get simple authentic words of support from other Mighty members. It’s helpful to hear people’s stories, to just know what this experience of living is like for others. While still a lived experience for me, I am further along in the process of retirement. It has been a complicated journey, but what I would like to focus on is the grief of losing a profession. It is not as painful as grieving a person, but it is profound and transformative. Basically, retirement and accepting my disability transformed my relationship with myself. It made me more aware of deeply held beliefs that were causing me suffering. Self-compassion and self-care became my new focus. The challenge was to accept that I was not equal to my accomplishments. That I have value and worth simply from being part of this common humanity. I read somewhere that retirement is like taking things apart before building something new. The process of taking things apart might include dismantling an office or giving away materials to younger peers, but it also includes dismantling of your attachments to false identities and false priorities. It is an opportunity for growth and freedom. I was a psychologist for over 25 years and I worked with families and children with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities. It was challenging, stressful, and very rewarding. Much of the time, I loved my career. I enjoyed the challenge, the creativity, and the relationships I developed. Most of all, I felt grateful that I had a career with such purpose, that I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of families. I was proud to be a psychologist. However, I felt vulnerable after experiencing significant trauma in my personal life. It became more difficult to carry the pain and suffering that I was witnessing. I began to consider making a change but was unclear what to do next. Before I had a chance to make a change, I had a severe trauma reaction to an interpersonal conflict with my boss. My therapist called it a “blended” reaction. This means that you are in a highly stressful situation that mirrors your earlier trauma. This resulted in a severe trauma reaction. I felt like a raw nerve and I couldn’t think clearly. I had problems with anxiety and depression before, but I had never been this sick and it was frightening. My therapist reassured me this was temporary, that my mental faculties would return with rest, but it was scary and felt like a permanent brain injury. Though I made some weak attempts at returning to my career, I quickly knew that I would never again work as a psychologist. I never want to get that sick again and I am not confident enough that I could continue and be effective. I was left to question what that meant for me and my future. I was fortunate and able to work out the financial implications much more quickly than the emotional outcome. I was left with painful questions that had no easy answer.  Was it worth it? Did I make a difference? Can I be proud of what I did? What does it mean for my identity if I am no longer a psychologist? I felt a deep sense of grief and loss that almost rivaled the loss of loved ones that I had also experienced at this time. Honestly, it took about as long to work through this grief, and I would be surprised if I don’t revisit this grief in the future just as I have done with the loss of my parents. It is a part of me. In this turmoil, I was forced to adjust my relationship with myself and to explore the expectations that I had of myself. I needed to identify and challenge a deeply held belief that my worth was a function of my accomplishments. That I only felt worthy when I was accomplishing things, writing articles, and helping others. It is very tenuous and fragile to base your self-worth on your accomplishments.  Humans are flawed creatures and sooner or later we all experience failure.  If our identity is based on our accomplishments, what does that mean when we fail? When we become so ill we can no longer produce?  Are we no longer worthy? As I unpacked my own trauma, I felt like a fraud for all the years that I operated as an “expert”.  While I was operating as an expert there was actually so much that I didn’t know about myself and my own trauma. I felt shattered. It has been about three years since my trauma reaction. I am grateful for the support I had from my loved ones and that I had access to good medical care. I am not the same person I was before my breakdown but I don’t feel like a raw nerve. Everyday I feel more grounded in the here and now, less burdened by intrusive thoughts of past trauma and my lost profession. I have more control over when I choose to visit these thoughts. Perhaps the most valuable part of this experience is the transformation that occurs in how I think about myself. I know on a deeper level that I am worthy of compassion and care irrespective of my accomplishments. That I am part of this common humanity filled with humans that all want the same thing-to be happy and to avoid suffering. We are all the same. This not only helped me feel better about saying goodbye to my career, it brought more grace and warmth to all of my relationships, particularly my with my young adult child. For others that may be experiencing losing a profession due to a mental health crisis, please know that you can feel better, sleep better, eat better, and think better. There is just an element of time that can’t be replaced. Just like the loss of a loved one, it is just something you need to go through and it takes time. I hope you have support from your loved ones and access to medical care like I have. It is an opportunity for growth and transformation if you are able and willing to entertain the idea of self-compassion. To broaden your idea of self-worth and connect with your common humanity. To find beauty and grace in your own flawed humanity.

    Community Voices

    #triggered by psychiatrist intake call

    I thought this intake call would be a quick med history review, but it ended up being a full hour including being asked to state the method of $uicide I had been thinking of. I had never said that out loud to anyone and now it is just more real in my mind. This call was on Thursday and seriously affected my performance at work as well as my sleep patterns.

    If you saw my last post, you know that I was already feeling super stressed at work because my boss was away sick again. I feel like I made some poor decisions and I couldn't retain information that clients told me. I am not looking forward to going into work today and having my boss bring up some of those decisions. Unfortunately, I can't take a day off this week, though, because it is a super busy all-hands-on deck kind of week.

    This psychiatrist appointment (mid-July) sure better be worth all of this...

    #CheckInWithMe #triggered #Psychiatrist #Work #SuicidalThoughts #Depression #Anxiety #Trauma #MentalHealth

    22 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Stress at Work #overwhelmed

    My boss is away sick again and it's just me in the office. This time of year is extremely busy and I am so stressed. I just want to curl up in a ball under my desk and cry and then take a nap. I'm already getting super anxious about her three week holiday in August.
    I'm trying to focus on one task at a time, but the phone keeps ringing and bringing me new urgent situations.
    I'm chewing some intensely minty gum and drinking very cold water to try to help me stay present and focus, but I'm not coping super well.

    #Work #Stress #Depression #Anxiety #emotionalabusesurvivor #narcissisticabusesurvivor #CopingTips

    11 people are talking about this

    Advice For Returning to Work With Chronic Illness

    Returning to work after any chronic illness can feel daunting and stressful. Sometimes it may feel easier to ask the doctor for another note and stay off of work rather than returning. Getting back into work can help you, though, as it may give you a purpose and add structure to your days. As a life coach, returning to work with chronic illness is an area in which I often work with clients so that their return to work is not only as smooth as possible but is also a positive experience. Depending on the absence policy of your employer, you may have had meetings with your employer while you were off work. These can often be the starting point for you returning to work. I know how daunting these meetings can be, but I also know that with preparation and guidance, they can also be really productive. You may be able to take a work colleague or a union representative with you to your meetings too. At these meetings, I suggest being open with your employer about what your condition is and how it affects you. For instance, my main condition is psoriatic arthritis, so I gave my manager details on my condition and sent her a link to the Versus Arthritis website. Opening up about your symptoms may be especially relevant if you have been diagnosed with a new condition while you were off of work. I understand that you might feel worried about sharing information on your health, but it’s also important to remember that your manager has a duty to keep your health information confidential. Getting your supervisors acquainted with your condition can help you in the future as you learn to manage your health. Prior to your meeting, think about what a successful return to work will look like for you. Going straight back to do your role full-time might seem really daunting, but your employer may offer a phased return or some temporary alternative duties to help you ease back into your job. Go into this meeting with an idea of what you think needs to happen before you return to work. You may not always get what you first ask for, but it’s better to ask and negotiate later than not to ask at all. In the United Kingdom, there are government agencies that can help you return to work. There is also useful legal information on the ACAS website. A larger employer will likely have access to an occupational health department. These departments have qualified nurses and doctors who specialize in advising your employer on the health of their workload. If you can, meeting with occupational health is a good idea. Preparation for this appointment is key, and once again, it may be helpful to take in any diagnosis letters or details about your appointments. Occupational health can be a useful asset in terms of recommending any adaptations to your role too. They can also help you look into how you can most successfully do your job with your diagnosis. You may be ready to go back to work, but I still highly recommend that you take these steps. There usually isn’t an optimal point for returning to work, but it may be harder to return to work if you are away for longer. Preparation can help get you ready, but your preparation will depend a lot on what your condition is and why you have been off work. Improving your mental and physical health during the last few weeks before you return is important. If you have been in bed most of the day while you have been off work, start small, and try to do a little bit more each day. Taking a short walk every day or occasionally having coffee out with a friend may help you ease back into the physical demands you may face at work. I call this “getting work-ready.” What this stage looks like will depend on your condition, how long you have been off, and what your job is. A life coach can work with you to formulate a “return to work” plan. Small steps may be more effective than large ones, and slowly planning ahead may reduce the chances of a relapse. If you need to adjust your job duties or schedule, try to get your accommodations in place before you return to work. You may need physical changes to your workspace, different hours, or more breaks. The important thing is to ask for accommodations you think will make your work life easier and enable you to keep working. Getting yourself in the best possible mental state prior to returning to work is also helpful. I personally found that spending time in my garden and practicing mindfulness helped me get myself ready to return to work. These are still activities I turn to when life is getting hard and I feel myself slipping backwards. I know a lot of people worry about the reactions of your colleagues when you return and how they will act around you. How you approach this part of going back to work may depend on the relationships that you have with your coworkers. You only need to tell others about your condition if you feel comfortable. You can also remind yourself that you don’t need to justify your time off. You were ill, so you needed to be off. Others have no right to make you feel guilty for taking time off. Your first day back at work may feel like a child’s first day of school, and there is nothing wrong with treating it like that. You may even treat yourself to new clothes and a new lunch bag if you’re able to because little things can help you feel good when you return to work. Go into work with your head held high — after all, having a positive attitude can make your return to work easier. At the end of the first day back to work, go home and reflect. Give yourself a massive pat on the back because you’ve made it back to work. Hopefully, you will have a “return to work” meeting with your manager on your first day back to work. This is a good time to confirm any adjustments that you feel you need. Asking for regular review meetings is also good. You can also discuss the future in this meeting and share the likely progression of your disease. It also may be important to talk through how your manager can know if you start to struggle in the future. Having a supportive manager can be a major help in trying to stay well at work in the future. There may be times when you struggle, but the support of your manager can really help in your return to work. I hope you find this guidance helpful for your own return to work. Discussing your needs before you return, making accommodations, and being open about your condition with your supervisors may help you succeed as you arrive back at the office after being ill.

    Affirmations for People Who Get Anxiety Taking a Sick Day From Work

    Raise your hand if you feel as if you should call out more for health, but you don’t because you feel guilty and anxious due to living in a capitalistic society where you’re only as good as the work you produce that day, and if you don’t produce work you ultimately feel like a horrible person. Anyone else raising their hand? I know for a fact that I need to call out for my health more than I do (yes, I do see the hypocrisy), but due to years of working in massive corporations where I was nothing more than a number on an ID, where co-workers and managers would actively be angry if we did call out… you could say that I haven’t exactly been conditioned to prioritize myself first in any scenario, especially health-related ones. To think they really wondered why I was so burnt out . Hmph. Anyways, I’ll keep it a buck – sometimes I do feel as if we need to push through bad days, as much as I hate it. However there’s a difference between pushing through a bad day, and working through days you legitimately should not show up because you are at your limit, or even close to it. However when we’ve been conditioned to feel shame around not producing or showing up to work, it’s hard to actually take care of ourselves. You deserve rest, even if that little voice in your head says otherwise. Taking days out for you and your health are important , and you should feel empowered to do so. If you don’t and instead you’re wallowing in thoughts suggesting that you’re a “bad worker” or that they’re going to be mad at you, then here are some affirmations to hopefully counteract those mean, nasty thoughts. 1. I deserve time to myself, and I don’t have to earn it. 2. I show up every day in the ways that I can. I’m not a bad person for stepping back when I have to. 3. I don’t owe anyone a reason as to why I called out. 4. If they’re understaffed because I call out, that’s a management problem, not a personal problem. 5. Calling out is preventative care, and by doing so I’m actually ensuring my job security. 6. I deserve joy and rest. 7. I’m not a bad coworker for calling out, and if they’re mad at me for doing it, that’s a “them” problem, not a “me” problem. 8. Just because our society overly prioritizes productivity, doesn’t mean that I have to. 9. Even if my job doesn’t support my well-being, there are people (and other jobs) out there that will. 10. I am not solely responsible for the success of my team/company. And for those of you that need to be reaffirmed in a productive way… 11. I will be a better worker, and be able to give more, if I take care of myself now. Calling out isn’t a privilege. It should be essential to the betterment of anyone with a job, simply because you’re human. Take care of and advocate for yourself. You deserve rest, even if that little voice in your head says otherwise.

    Community Voices

    How honest are you about your health at work?

    <p>How honest are you about your health at work?</p>
    10 people are talking about this