By Maja Dezulovic
I have Depression and Anxiety, Please Hire Me
I have just completed a book project that was meant to be done in February. Long after the client had accepted that I’d taken his money and run off, I started handing in the work. What went wrong? I got sick and like it says in my psychiatrist’s notes, my deadlines began slipping through my fingers. That’s precisely what happened. Instead of typing to meet deadlines, my fingers kept tightly clasped as the words swirled around in front of me making little sense, and I kept convincing myself that I’d get better and things would get done tomorrow.
One tomorrow, two tomorrows, and many tomorrows later I started realizing that my tomorrow would never come unless I took steps today to swallow my pride and deal with my mental illness.
Step 1 – Keep a routine
This can be particularly hard if you’re self-employed. I have never been good at routines and it was even harder when I was depressed. Nevertheless, creating a routine was one of the things which saved me and is still forcing me to work when I have to in order to meet deadlines.
Step 2 – Manage Thoughts
I’ve found that the best way to do this is by meditating. If you don’t already have one, find a phrase, verse, or chant to repeat to yourself in your head when your mind wanders off into dark thoughts or just wanders away from the present moment. By doing this and being mindful in each situation, I find that I actually hear people when they speak and my conversations and, in fact, all my experiences are richer.
Step 3 – The Results Never Lie
You’ve missed another deadline. Another payment is behind. You’re popping way too many migraine tablets. These are all signs that something’s up. The results never lie. If you aren’t doing well, your body, your surroundings, your work, and your relationships will suffer. Heed the warnings and start searching for the cause to the distress.
Step 4 – Take Time Out When Necessary
Don’t beat yourself up about it. Falling behind doesn’t make you a failure, it just means that you’re going through a temporary setback. Blaming yourself for being ill is like blaming a child who misses school for getting the flu. We all get sick. Things happen. Life happens. And sometimes it’s okay to hit Time Out in order to recuperate and dive back into work once you’ve regained your strength.
Step 5 – Be Honest
It’s not easy telling people that you suffer from a mental illness. When I think of telling people I have depression and anxiety, I remember that the same was discovered about the Germanwings pilot who sent 150 people, including himself, to their death. People always think of the worst. But I’m starting to find it easier to tell people why I am where I am and why I feel the way I do.
“I have depression. Yes, I am taking medication, following through with therapies and it is under control. No, I am not psychotic or suicidal. I’m just human and humans are notorious for ups and downs. I had a down. I dealt with it and here I am. Don’t blame me for catching a mental flu. In spite of all of this, I’m good at what I do. Please hire me.”