This is a really heartfelt and honest piece in The Guardian from Daisy Buchanan, a writer who had to give up her dream job because of her mental health problems. It rings a very similar note to my own problems and how sometimes the only thing to do, is to back away and regroup.
“Everyone told me that quitting was brave. But last year it felt like my only option, or perhaps the best of three: I could leave; I could get fired; or I could stay in reception weeping all day and hoping people would assume I was some kind of art installation.”
My last job was as a postman, which I really enjoyed. It was keeping me fit, I could work primarily outdoors and I got to meet some great people. For over a year, my anxiety was almost non-existent and I felt as though I had found my perfect situation.
However, as anyone will know who has suffered from anxiety, it can quickly catch you my surprise. Gradually my anxiety started to return to the point that I was even getting panic attacks at work. I was so upset and angry that it was trying to re-establish itself in my life.
“Given that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem every year, we need to accept that, even though we’d love to, most of us can’t regulate our issues so they occur outside office hours. After I left my staff job, fellow anxiety sufferers told me that they struggle too, that work exacerbates the problem, and that many offices simply aren’t nice places for humans to be.”
I got to the point where it was starting to have an effect on my work and my sickness record. I did go through occupational health and while they did understand, I wasn’t convinced that my managers did.
Even now, nearly a year since I left, I still miss the job and the people that worked there. But I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t able to continue the way things were going. I know some will see it as a backward step, that I have withdrawn from the only thing that was giving me independance, but I don’t see it that way.
I can now manage my anxiety a lot better, because I don’t have to push through it get my work done. I can deal with my anxiety and stop it from taking control. By trying to fight it and suppress it, I was only making it worse.
I know that this might not be a solution for everyone, but it is important to know that just because you can’t deal with a set hours job, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a fulfilling and productive career.