My Boss Made My Mental Health Worse

Working while having a mental illness can be incredibly difficult. I write and design for a non-profit organization which was a choice I made specifically for my mental health (and my bank account).

In my previous job at a local newspaper, I was one of a handle full of reporters covering a wide variety of news stories. My main beat when I left was religion, education, charity, police/fire and general news. Whenever there was a story that needed to be done about those topics, I was the one who was writing them.

I had always dreamed of being a reporter and I loved the actual work of it. I loved getting to meet so many people and tell their stories to the community. I loved seeing how my stories could make a difference in other people’s lives. There are a few stories that I hold close to my heart because of how deeply they meant to others.

I got a card in the mail once from the daughter of a woman that I had wrote about her mom. The mom had passed away and they had the story I wrote about her framed at her funeral. It brings tears to my eyes even now because of how that little story impacted their family and helped them to remember her in a special way.

It wasn’t the stress of doing a million stories at once or meeting deadlines. It was my freaking editor. I’ve never met anybody like this woman, she is absolutely crazy. I know that word can be upsetting for some but there is honestly no other way to describe her.

She has screamed at me, ripped my head off, chewed it up and spit it out onto the unvacuumed floor of the newsroom. I lived in constant fear of her. I worried that I was one story away from getting fired. Especially in the beginning, my stomach was in knots because I was so anxious about getting fired.

During many times when she made me cry, I would usually go into one of the single stall bathrooms or , if it was really bad, out to my car. I would usually be in there feeling like a total failure because of some mistake I made that my editor would intensify.

It was such a battle to love reporting but be terrified to walk into the newsroom.

So when I was asked to work at a local non-profit by my former boss, I jumped at the chance. Not only was I going to get paid more, I was going to be in a less stressful environment. I also believe strongly in the mission and the programs we have to help victims of violence and women and children experiencing homelessness.

Changing jobs really did help my mental health. I got my own office where I could cry in private, the stress was lower and I had a regular schedule instead of one that bounced around.

I still have depressive or anxious episodes that I have to ride out which happened today. I get very distracted when I have a thousand thoughts buzzing around in my brain. I can’t focus on whatever I’m supposed to do so I end up zoning out a bit.

In my next post, I’m going to give some suggestions about what I do to help when my mental health is making work nearly impossible.

2018 Mental Health Accomplishments

I have come a long way in 2018 in my mental health. Certainly I have my horrible days where I struggle to get out of bed, struggle to focus at work and I use everything in my mental health emergency kit.

*Please don’t take this as some sort of bragging post especially if you have had an extra shit year.*

Thanks to my therapist affirming me, I feel like I can celebrate these moments.

1. Fewer Therapist Sessions — At the beginning of 2018, I saw my therapist once a week. As I continued to feel better, I went down to every other week for a good part of the year. Now I’m seeing her once a month which helps me stay on track and work through whatever is plaguing my mind.

2. Decreased Cutting — It’s been around 300 days since I last cut myself. This is something I have struggled with since 2011. I have done so good, I’m shocked. Sure I have had desires to hurt myself but I haven’t acted on them. It was difficult in the beginning but I hope I can keep this up. I haven’t gone longer than almost a year between cutting myself. Here are some tips about how to curb those urges.

3. Improved Mood — My mood has been pretty consistently good for the past couple months. I’m actually feeling pretty happy! Not every day is perfect, the other morning I struggled to get out of bed and some days anxiety doesn’t lose its grip. Feeling good has helped me realize that it is possible to take a breath above the rough of mental illness.

4. Very Few Anxiety Attacks — I always carry my bottle of Larazapam with me, it’s a medicine that calms me down when I’m having intense anxiety that I can’t shake. This year I think I have only had two anxiety attacks which is pretty good!

5. Decreased Suicidal Thoughts — 2018 is the first year since 2016 that my suicidal thoughts have not completely controlled my mind. I do sometimes have those thoughts but they are few and far between.

I think that’s all that I’ve accomplished. I have started writing this blog which has really helped me out in expressing myself and also relating to others who also have mental health problems.

I hope the last few days of 2018 are halfway decent for you! Stay strong, my readers!!

Stars in a Pitch Black Sky

I’ve always struggled with seeing the positive in my own life situations. If somebody else is telling me about an issue, I can usually grasp on to some sort of positive aspect to help that person feel better. But when it comes to me, I only see a dark sky with distant shining stars.

A few years ago I wrote a poem about how my depression is like a dark night sky filled with faint stars sprinkled throughout. It was to represent how I see the overwhelming bad in my life and see the positive things as so minuscule that they’re nearly insignificant.

I have been reflecting on 2018, trying to find some positives. It’s like the whole needle in a hay stack saying, I’m digging through all these negative thoughts trying to find a positive one.

I close my eyes and see shit like: my car being totaled in August, my current struggles with asthma, fights with my boyfriend, crying in my bed while watching Zootopia because I was so depressed, the numbers on the scale and all of the anxious/depressing thoughts that stick to my brain cells.

I wish I could see the good, I really do. Last week my therapist helped me see that I have made progress this year, check the post out here. I’m trying to see what she sees in me.

As I’m writing this there’s only 45 minutes left of Christmas, my favorite holiday, so I will be positive in this moment for Christmas. Today I felt happy to spend time with my family and show them how much I care for them.

Ok positivity over, back to our scheduled programming.

Do you struggle with finding positivity in your life? How do you find positivity within yourself? Leave me a comment! I would love to read it 🙂

Happy Christmas to my wonderful readers!!

When Will It Stop?

I am in this state where it seems that anxiety and depression are reaching their claws around my mind in a slow and dramatic fashion. Each day it all seems to be getting worse.

The negative thoughts, the inescapable self doubt and physical strain on my body is becoming more frequent. I’m getting to the point where I feel that I’m going to have a depressive episode to kick off 2019.

Who doesn’t love those? -_-

I am a professional ruminator. By that I mean during my low points I have the same few thoughts on repeat. Right now those thoughts are starting.

I’m reading so deeply into every single word and action of the people around me. I am reading everything as signs that they don’t really want to be speaking to me. That they wish I would go away and leave them the hell alone.

I keep thinking that they are sick of me being around. That they wish they never began speaking to me in the first place! That they wish they never started a relationship or friendship with me.

My therapist told me yesterday that just because I have a thought, doesn’t necessarily make it true. She said, “Pretend these thoughts are leaves flowing down a stream. Watch them pass by, don’t pick them up and hold on to them.”

My reply to that was, “I can’t not pick them up! I have a little basket and I collect those leaves. ”

Do you, my beautiful readers, ever feel this way? What do you do to stop ruminating thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Things I Do Because I’m Depressed

Whenever I make a mistake and I know that I’ve hurt somebody’s feelings, I immediately fall into depression. It catches me as if I was falling from the top of a building. It’s always there to catch me and wrap me in a blanket then whispers horrible thoughts in my ear.

When I’m in this state there are some things I automatically do as a way to protect myself. It’s a lot of shit that I’ve been doing since I was little.

  1. Hide: This is my natural instinct when something is wrong. Ideally, I hide in my room with my door closed and cover my head in blankets. My goal is to usually escape from whatever is going on either in reality or in my mind. I hide away until I can face the shit happening.
  2. Stop eating: When I’m very depressed or anxious I feel like I can’t eat. It feels like my stomach shrinks to the size of a grape, that if I eat anything more than a cracker I will feel sick. When I was really struggling two years ago, I would go sometimes for an entire day without eating anything.
  3. Sleep: If worries are buzzing in my brain, I can’t focus on nearly anything. Today I have a lot of those so I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on my work. But when I’m hiding at home, I often just go to sleep. I sleep to get away from the anxious thoughts, sometimes it is the only time I can find true relief.
  4. Cry: I am a cry baby. I cry about everything which I find annoying to myself. When I’m really overwhelmed or sad, I just sit down and cry. It can be silent tears or ugly sobbing depending on what is going on.

I know a few of these are not healthy coping mechanisms but I have (for now) kicked my most unhealthy one which is self-harm. At many moments in my life those urges to cut were so frequent that I was hurting myself almost on a daily basis. I am proud of myself that I have been able to work things out in a different way and curb those urges.

If you are struggling right now with your mental illness, I hope that you can make it through. And if you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I have a few posts about potential ways to silence those thoughts.

Stay strong everyone!

Tonights Meltdown

I’m having one of those evenings where I can’t stop my anxiety and depression from bullying me into a corner. They shout horrible things at me, the words that come from my own mind are like a punch in the gut.

Tonight my depression is reminding me that all of my mistakes make me a terrible person. That my errors are why people hate me.

Anxiety backs depression up by saying that everyone in my life is packing their bags and distancing themselves from me. That my mistakes and flaws make me unworthy of their presence.

They tell me my boyfriend is going to dump me because I am not enough. That I will never be enough. He wants somebody perfect, somebody who doesn’t fuck up the way I do.

When everything becomes too overwhelming I want to hide. That is my natural instinct, I’ve done it since I was a child. I want to hide from the people I have disappointed so they can’t look at me with eyes filled with pain that I caused.

I hope that if you’re struggling you can make it through. More than likely the sun will rise again in the morning.

Waking Up Empty

If you’ve ever experienced depression or anxiety, you have probably experienced the emptiness that resounds in your chest the moment you wake up. I felt that this morning for the first time in a while.

I forgot how horrible it feels to be hollow once more. For many weeks I only woke up feeling sleepy, ready to go back to sleep instead of getting up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. This morning I rose, began to stretch then the empty feeling began to settle into my chest.

I have today off so I should be looking forward to everything I get to do (and don’t have to do) today. I have some work for my side gig to do, I’m going shopping, hopefully going to the gym and best of all, I am getting a sauna and massage. My emptiness calls me to forget those positive activities, instead to focus on how depressed I feel.

This is a feeling I hoped wouldn’t touch me until the new year. I deeply hoped that the light inside me could continue to shine brightly. To light me up like a jack-o-lantern, but it seems that my candle was blown out.

I don’t want my depression to ruin the holidays for me. Not this year!

On Christmas 2016 I was remembering that I had been suicidal for 3 months instead of celebrating with my family. The desire to die was so strong even on my favorite holiday. This year, I don’t want that to be the case! I want to be happy spending time with my family, my boyfriend and his family.

This empty feeling may not go away for a while, that’s reality. I know myself and have learned so much through my long journey with mental illness. In time I will be better. In time I will have my energy back and be able to feel good again.

It’s all in time.