The blog-post linked below provides a variety of realistic advice about coping at work whilst managing mental health disorder symptoms. The blogger, Matilda, a supply teacher who experiences anxiety, OCD, attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression and suicidal thoughts, acknowledges the reality that work may be something that must be endured, “to continue our days of being warriors” but there are actions that can be taken to mitigate the difficulties.
The writer suggests keeping our job in context and maintaining a sense, however theoretical, of inherent freedom and control, as well as our individuality. We may be reliant on a job but it should never own us, physically or mentally. If unwell, we can seek to take time off work on sick leave to receive treatment or to rest. When a particular challenges arises, we can face it by telling ourselves that we are not physically bound to the task or the job: “I can’t stand the mess they (schoolchildren) make, I find the food mess disgusting. But I remind myself, over and over – it’s just a job. I get to go home. After this lunch, it’s over. I don’t need to do this again. Even though I need to do it again, I tell myself I won’t, because as my therapist once said: You don’t have to do anything.”
In completing our job tasks, we should avoid ‘toxic productivity,’ the writer argues: “it’s when you feel the need to be productive at basically all times, and only feel guilty when you relax.” To free herself from this tendency, the writer practices speaking basic actions out aloud: “Things like “Now I’m putting my glass in the dishwasher. That is enough for now. Now I will go and watch a movie. Now I will put my clothes in the washer. That is enough. Now I will go and take a nap.” Treating myself like a child has done wonders for my recovery…”
Reminding ourselves of why we are working and of how we will reward ourselves, again, revives our individuality and sense of having some control. Thoughts the writer reminds herself of include: “This hour I made x amount of money, just by doing this. When this day is over, I will have earned X; I’m doing this for me and my recovery; My bed is waiting for me at home, and it will feel even better to return to it when I’ve worked a whole day; I don’t have to go to work tomorrow, I will focus on getting through with this day.”
Work influences our behaviour at home, physically, emotionally and, simply, in terms of reduced time to ourselves. The writer suggests developed preparation for the workday beyond basics of cleaning, clothing and packing. Mental health disorder sufferers may need greater personalised preparation, whether it is meditation, mental relaxation, counselling, watching T.V, journaling, re-reading ‘thought changing checklists’ or checking work time arrangements.
The writer says that she likes to talk through her work with her boyfriend or mum and to send email confirmations about work times to reduce her anxiety. As a supply teacher, she chooses her own work hours, necessitating, it seems, some administrative work from home. However, implicit in her preparation, especially, her active reflections on work at home, is a rejection of the idea of a strict work time-free time separation. For mental health disorder sufferers, especially, work preparation done at home can be beneficial. However, this should come with a warning that preparation should be empowering and not overly consume free time and become ‘toxic productivity.’ Any preparation should be done for the benefit of the individual and not her employer.
Fundamental to most of the advice provided by Matilda is for the individual to consciously and practically re-assert a sense of control over their employment. They may be economically bound to the job but it should also provide benefits. Moreover, being bound may not be the case long-term, it is not the case in their free time and should certainly not be the case intellectually.
To read the full blog-post at matildaminds.wordpress.com click below.