How It Feels When You Have to Work with a Mental Illness

I, for one, am terrified of working again, since at my last full-time job was when I struggled so much with the noises and anxiety that I thought customers were out to kill me.  I tried a part-time job where I only worked 8 hours per week at most.  I made it four months before I broke and had panic attacks almost every day I had to go in.

Those are my thoughts, though, not everyone else’s. But the common things such as knowing you aren’t working at your best, or you feel trapped, or you sit there every day and try to calm your anxiety, which leads us back to knowing you aren’t working at your best.

With severe mental illness, like Bipolar I, there’s much more than that, and you sometimes get lost in your own head…. and one day you can be a productive employee, staying late, coming in early to make sure you get all your work done (and your manager praises you).  Then, you can fly off the handle or you can crash down into the pit.  It’s dangerous, and that same manager who was praising you before has to sit you down and talk to you about your work performance.

In thought disorders, like Schizophrenia, there are intrusive thoughts, having hallucinations, getting depressed, not understanding what’s going on sometimes, and sometimes you think you’ve gotten your opinion out there, when no one understood a word.  And, in some cases, extreme paranoia.  There are people who, once medicated, can live a normal life and do the same things that someone without a thought disorder can do.

Which leads me to the subject of medication.  I have Schizoaffective Disorder, bipolar type.  I take 6 different medications that help a lot for me to stay in reality.  Without those meds, I can’t form complete sentences.  And then, if properly medicated, a person can live a completely normal life.  I mean, I might be able to, but it would have to be in a position where I didn’t see or help people.  And I have extremely bad concentration as well.  So, I’m all pro-medication.

Some people, if they read this and know me personally, would say I am completely normal.  Only one person has ever witnessed the symptoms and helped me stop what I was doing and very calmly told me it will pass and then start talking about random subjects that keep my mind from wondering again.

So, extreme kudos to the mentally ill out there leading productive lives and are on the right medication.  You’re an inspiration.

To all of those naysayers out there who think I’m lazy or don’t really have a mental illness…. come sit in my head for awhile.

About I.V.

37 year old woman with Schizoaffective, Bipolar 1 type. I'm also intelligent, mostly positive, fandom junkie. Oh, and I have two cats: Zim and Gir... they're 12. So... fandom junkie? Ah, yes. Supernatural, Merlin, Buffy tvs, Angel the series, LOTR, Harry Potter, old x-files. I also like anime and and Manga. farvorite anime? Vampire Knight... and it cannot be dubbed! I also like plenty of others, I think of Elfin Leid when I say that... oh, and Blood+. Favorite Manga? Junjou Romantica, Vampire Knight, Loveless, Gravitation. I like the anime for these as well if they have it. Books: Dune, HP, LOTR, The Hunger Games, Wicked, the Southern Vampire Series, Snow Crash, American Gods, Pride and Prejudice, comics. Movies: The Boondock Saints, LOTR, HP series, Girl Interupted, SLC Punk, Walk Hard: the Dewie Cox Story, House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Foxfire, Empire Records, Star Wars (only episodes 4-6), Iron Man (both of them), Thor (1&2), The Avengers Video Games: Dragon Age 1,2 and Inquisition, Kingdoms of Amalur, Little Big Planet, Star Ocean. I also love watching other people play Mass Effect, Dead Space and all the above mentioned games Oh, and I love Sushi :)
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4 Responses to How It Feels When You Have to Work with a Mental Illness

  1. If I didn’t have the insane drive that I have, I think it would lessen my anxiety/mental breakdowns when they happen. Since my problems center around fatigue and concentration issues/brain fog, I have to expend the limited amount of energy I have trying to cut through that in order to reach coherence. There are days where I just don’t feel like talking, because it takes too much energy. I luck out in the work department, but I realize I luck out in the world department.

    People who don’t have mental illness and/or personality disorders shouldn’t speak about or judge those who do. They have no idea what it’s like living with it. They have no idea how hard it is to just exist. I don’t talk about all of my issues to everyone, because I think if people know fucked up I really am, they wouldn’t want to talk to me.

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  2. Harley Quinn says:

    Amen to that. It’s the whole “if you haven’t experienced it, you have no idea.” Sadly, there’s even a fight within the mental community. People with the same disorders or taking the same pills for various things doesn’t mean anyone similar knows. We assume people feel this way or that because they may have some of the same symptoms. In reality, we’re all as different as a fingerprint.

    And I’m COMPLETELY guilty of judging others, so I’m not going to be pot calling kettle, but I’d like to think I’ve grown up a bit since I did that. I think with me, it’s like I almost never come across a mentally ill person that has a worse condition to mine, and even people with the same diagnoses as me differ. I look, in all honesty, like I know absolutely nothing about mental illness. I’m lucky. I can afford decent treatment. I can afford my meds. I take all 6 of them religiously, and don’t even consider stopping them. That is the only way I act like I do. And it freaking takes FOREVER to find the meds right for you. Five years ago I was a bumbling mess. I tend to not want to be the “mentally ill friend” but, like said, it’s hard to find someone to “replace” me bc they’re worse. And at one point I stood there trying desperately to put the focus on others.

    And yes, I don’t tell anyone everything about me either. Not even you, Matt, or Clarise, who are the most likely people to talk to about it. Honestly, my mom knows me and everything the best, but I live with her and she sees all these things that no one else has (sometimes with the exception of Matt, since we did live together).

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  3. There always has to be a hierarchy, a “who’s sicker,” “who has it worse.” There’s actually something called “oppression olympics.” It’s kind of ridiculous since you can be both oppressed and privileged nor does one cancel out the other and nor does someone else having it bad cancel out your woes.

    I used to have the idea that if I could manage to do someone, then other people with either what I have or close to it should be able to as well. This is grade ! bullshit. Even if a person has exactly my problems, they might handle it different and it might manifest in a way that they CAN’T handle it how I do. It’s why I’ve grown to hate the “If I can do it, so can you!” mentality that pervades everything from weight loss to mental health. No, people deal with things differently. I might be able to drag myself out of bed to go to work, but getting into an elevator might be beyond what I can manage.

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  4. Harley Quinn says:

    Couldn’t have said it better. I remember when I really tried to connect with others who have bipolar or bipolar as a part of their illness. Boy, I learned that lesson hard. I honestly thought that if I could just talk to someone with my disorder and it’s symptoms and how to deal that I would come closer to accepting it. I went to a forum and everyone experienced the illness differently. I was kinda shocked, but I posted anyway regarding meds and all hell broke lose.

    So, now it’s like (at least for me), acknowledging someone’s illness when they tell me about it. If they’re ever in a situation where I kinda had the same thing, I extend an invitation for them to talk about it all while making sure the other person knows that similar symptoms doesn’t mean the same way to deal with it.

    In the past I’ve offered advice when not asked (especially with Matt). Sometimes that’s ok with the person with the illness, but often times it isn’t. I had to analyze my own life in a way where I had to realize what would make me upset if someone did it to me.

    It’s been a bit over 21 years with my illness, and I’ve only now gotten to understand the big picture and wait for someone to come to me first (unless, of course, there is danger of suicide). And I reach out too, but realize that no one experiences or deals with their mental illness the same way.

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