It’s ironic that on Mental Health Awareness Week for 2018 I’ve been signed off sick from work. It wasn’t intentional but it is symbolic. People suffering from mental health problems push themselves too hard for too long trying to pretend that things are OK, pulling a shroud of secrecy over their lives in the hope that people don’t find out how they’re really feeling.
Work and mental illness are very hard to balance. Trust me, I know.
Unemployed, I was so miserable, and my mental health took a huge hit. The constant effort I had to put in to get some money was hard to keep up when I felt like a failure after every rejection.
Seeing friends and telling them I still didn't have a job was embarrassing. Everyone kept talking about what they were doing and where they wanted their career to go. I just stood there feeling like an idiot.
The thing about mental health issues is this: you and others can't see them.
I remember when I was at my lowest point with anxiety. I remember thinking: “If I break my leg I can go to the doctor and he'll fix it. If I go to the doctor and tell him how I feel, they might never understand what the real problem is.”
I first showed signs of bipolar disorder at the tender age of 17. Family and work colleagues knew that I was not myself but could not understand what had happened to me, so my mum encouraged me to visit the GP. Sadly, he misdiagnosed my symptoms and assumed I had anxiety and depression. I then commenced taking antidepressants.