Sunday, 21 October 2018

Dealing With Anxiety, Depression & Chronic Illness In The Workplace *

*this post is sponsored
I know this is going to be quite a tough post for me to write and it’s going to be a long one but I think it's necessary to raise awareness for people in similar situations and realising when enough is enough in a job. Which is what happened to me after putting up with so much crap for almost 3 years in a job that made my anxiety and depression skyrocket pretty much during and after every shift as well as affecting a number of other things too. I’m also going to be talking about how I’m trying to manage working (from home) with a chronic illness which is all pretty new to me and something I’m still trying to get my head around but I’ll explain more in this post. 

Flashback to 2013 I was ready to leave my first job as it was seasonal and there was things going on behind the scenes which were disrupting everyone's lifes who was working there too. So basically it was time to leave, I got a job in retail in my town on a part time contract which was less hours than I wanted but I thought it was good to tide me over whilst looking for a job with better hours on offer each week or maybe I’d be put on a better contract after so many months (spoiler: that didn’t happen). 

At first it wasn’t too bad but I soon could see how things really worked and how people worked too if that makes sense, but because I only was on a PT contract and was mainly unboxing stock and putting it out I thought it’d just get on with it and carry on looking for something with better hours. Flash forward about 3 or 4 months I wasn’t lucking out on the job front and there actually wasn’t much about in my immediate area either. I’d started on the shop floor as well as unboxing and putting out stock and this is when I started to struggle more. Along with working on the (super old fashioned) till, having to carry very heavy boxes up and down stairs and dealing with awkward, gobby customers every shift when the technology wasn’t the greatest, I was also being left alone frequently, no matter how busy it got whilst trying to do other work at or near by the till. It was a nightmare and I just felt like it wasn't fair. I tended to work either on a Saturday and Sunday as well as a day or two in the week and the weekends were always busier but it didn't affect how the shop was run.

Then certain fellow employees made up their own rules, went off on their dinner hour together when they should've gone at separate times, sometimes they’d even going into town to get food and then come back all whilst leaving me and a newer, less trained employee alone. There was a lot of favouritism going on and if you were in the good books, you’d get the better job for the day and also more hours that week or the following week. It got to the point I mastered putting on a pretty cheerful, bubbly front but as soon as I got home I was a mess. I was taking it out on my parents when I got home who were worried about me, I felt like a total failure, especially when my friends all were enjoying their jobs and didn't seem to have the same problems as me. I was so moody, I sometimes physically couldn’t eat and then other times I would comfort eat which meant my weight started fluctuating too. When I was in work and I could feel myself breaking or getting more annoyed, I’d say I’d need to go the loo and just sit in there for 5 minutes to try and get myself together and I’d do that many times in a shift. They probably thought I had IBS or something lol. 

It was around this point because my anxiety was so bad and no meds were helping that I started to doubt myself and stopped applying for jobs because I thought I’d just break down in an interview or maybe I was too weak and couldn’t hack a basic shop job. It was a vicious cycle. My body also started to get more ill and I was getting colds and chest infections a lot, I was having to take days off frequently and was given many sick notes from my doctor but it made it more awkward when I went back because I was ‘in the bad books’ then (I know, stupid right?). I was even missing periods here and there and I’m pretty sure it was all down to stress. 

One night I just snapped and I thought to myself I would seriously rather be unemployed than this, maybe I could give myself a few weeks to sort myself out and then start actively looking for work again. So I worked out my current money, worked out how more weeks I could hack to get okay amount in my bank to live off and gave myself an small allowance each week to pay for essentials. I sold a few bits and bobs that I didn’t need or wasn’t using to make some extra money too.

 I remember the day I handed my notice in, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders, I just made out that I was moving onto better things and was bored of retail work. My final shift which I think was about 2 weeks later, I could feel myself beaming, I think I was pretty much skipping at one point. They probably thought I was insane. I’ll admit, it was weird the next morning when I woke up and in my head I was like ‘Kirsty, you’ve purposely made yourself unemployed and you don’t know where your next pay check is coming from... have you actually lost your mind?’

But I hadn’t. Within a few weeks I was feeling somewhat better, I was applying for some jobs, I was going out and doing more things because I felt in a better mindset and so on. I had a few interviews but nothing came of them. At this point I’d already started my blog, I didn’t even know you could make money from a blog. It was just a little hobby to fill time. But then thankfully not long after and when my allowance money had started to get low, I started earning a little from my blog. I know not every one is in that situation but that’s just how I got by and now I’ve turned it into my proper job. You may be great at makeup, hair-styling, organising or cleaning etc and you could make it your own little job whilst looking for work or actually go fully self employed if you've got the right qualifications for things such as hairdressing and so on. Just remember, your health should come first and if you are in the same predicament as I was or know someone who is, you need to get out before it eats you up and basically ruins your life. 

Fast forward about 15 months give or take and my chronic illness started which at the time, I thought was just a badly pulled muscle. Oh how I was wrong. To cut a long story short(ish) it started with my back in January and not being able to do anything without being in extreme debilitating pain but I've had issues with my back since my retail job which I'm pretty sure was the heavy boxes but this pain was different, I decided to just rest up and hope it heals before going the doctors (because I hate going to doctors with a passion). After a few weeks it was feeling a little better, I was still in really, really bad pain but it better than it was before. Then in March, whilst still dealing with the back problem, my stomach problem kicked in with pain, acid and full on discomfort, after many tests completed (including blood tests, IBS/D checks etc) everything had come back clear in that department so I was diagnosed with Gastritis and put on stomach acid suppressants and that was that. 

It started to go really downhill in April when my daily pelvic pain started, dealing with a stabbing, jabbing, pulling and rope burn throughout every single day. Again I’ve had many tests (and many unhelpful doctors visits) and it’s now been put down to Chronic Pelvic Pain even though I have the majority of the symptoms for endometriosis and also been prescribed the same pills as someone with endo too. Great. Everyday my pain level is between a 6-8 which as you can imagine, really sucks. It means I can't plan things or go out whenever I want to, I'm scared of walking around a shop because I'm worried it'll flare up bad and I'll end up falling to the floor in a state. Basically I'm just going to keep going to doctors and getting referred until someone listens to me. Because I'm about 80% I have endometriosis because I've had symptoms for years and now they've progressively gotten worse. So now I'm dealing with chronic pelvic pain, stomach problems and my back pain too every day. 

Now I'm self employed it's obviously a good thing whilst I'm dealing with all this because I would've just had to leave or be fired if I was in an "normal workplace". I try to take photos when I'm having a "better day" as I call them which is when the pain goes down to about a 5 or 6 out 10. I take photos in bulk - usually enough to cover a few weeks on my blog and instagram so it keeps everything looking active. I write posts when I can or if I feel in the right frame of mind because I do get brainfog quite often (again, another endo symptom...). It's hard but I'm just trying to make it work as best as I can.

All I can say is how grateful I am of things which make my life a little easier each day from my dads stairlift which we now both use and send it back and forth to each other lol, my electric hot water bottle, my heated hair straightening brush, my TENS machine and even the basics from dry shampoo and detangling spray and flasks. I really appreciate companies and brands like Millercare who sell stairlifts, walking sticks, mobility scooters and more and cater for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. 

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*this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own
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4 comments

  1. This is such a brave post, sometimes I feel my job really drags me down but I'm always too worried to leave because of bills and things like that, I know I could easily get another job but I think it's breaking that 'comfort' and 'routine' that I'd maybe struggle with. You're actually so brave just handing in your notice even though you knew there was nothing else lines up, you're actually such an inspiration to put happiness before work!
    Charlie | www.charlieswonderland.co.uk

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  2. I chose to leave my job too due to anxiety, they just didn't want to know and I felt like I had no support at all. It's a hard decision to make but ultimately it was the right one for me and it sounds like it was for you too, and it's so good that you've had your blog and that's worked out for you since. I wish more people understood about mental health and workplaces actually took an interest in how they can help rather than just making things worse! xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear you went through this! Retail can and is brutal at times. But so happy to hear you were strong and quit that job!

    I have endo too... got diagnosed back in Jan 2015. Definitely push to have the surgery - that's the only way to know for sure if you have endometriosis. Took me roughly 5 years to be diagnosed - it's a painfully slow road but not many people knew about it then, so you may get identified a lot sooner!

    Zoey | www.zoeyolivia.com

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    Replies
    1. It really sucks doesn't it? and I do think I have endo because of my symptoms. I've had an ultrasound and been told it's not PCOS or Fibroids too. I've been to see so many doctors this year in regards to daily pain and etc and also a gynaecologist but he was useless and basically fobbed me off and told me he wouldn't consider surgery because of my weight and diagnosed me with Chronic Pelvic Pain. So I'm going back to my doctor next month to talk about everything, the meds I'm on (and the pill he basically forced on me which was Yasmin) and also how useless the gyno was in general. Hoping to get referred for a second opinion with a different gyno. For now, I'm on Mefenamic Acid for pain and it is helping a bit I think so I'm hoping it carries on working for me in the meantime x

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