Working with Mental Illness.

When people hear I have a job and that I am also self employed after hearing I have mental illnesses they seem to get this puzzled look. Which they’re desperately trying to hide. Simultaneously replying with something utterly patronising, all whilst trying not to sound patronising. For me it’s half hilarious and half humiliation. Like, of course I have a job, I’m normal?! 

Inside my head my brain whirring away ‘but you’re not normal. How do you have a job?! Of course people think that of you, you idiot.’ I then spend the rest of the day, completely off sorts while internally hurling abuse at myself about my incapability to be a human in society. So that’s always fun…not(!)
‘Oh so you have a proper job then?’ 

Yes I have a “proper” job. I compete tasks and work my shifts. Then it actually pays me at the end of the month, complete with payslips and shock horror I pay taxes too. Maybe that’s because I’m still a person and my mental health isn’t an excuse “to be lazy, like the others.” 

Let’s just address that statement quickly. 

No one with mental illness is ‘lazy’. Most of us haven’t had a decent night sleep in god knows when and spend our waking hours in a constant fight or flight mode that makes it feel like you’ve run a marathon then hopped in the ring with Tyson for an added battering. 

Secondly – I wouldn’t wish my mental illness on anyone, especially not people like you, who evidently would ‘make the rest of us look bad with your amazing work ethic.’ 

Finally – Having a job works for me, that is because I have found my ways of making it work for me and I am very fortunate in my working situation. It doesn’t make me better than anyone else. Mental illness doesn’t work like that. It’s different for every person and every person has different situations. Don’t be so quick to judge and stop writing mental illness off. 
Now that’s dealt with, back to working with mental illness. I am VERY lucky to have my job, it allows me to work from home and is flexible to allow me to mooch off for a screen break if I need. It’s part time and I work varying length shifts on a two week rota. I can prepare myself for my hours. I try and get an early night but let’s be honest we all know that just means getting into bed earlier than normal, tossing and turning for longer than usual and analysing the paint on the ceiling in greater depth. 

When I’m not working there I am – usually in bed trying to catch up on that elusive sleep – also self employed. This is hard because I generally have many periods of zero motivation. Luckily it isn’t my main source of income and is more of a paying hobby for the most part. It’s hard to motivate myself to work, when I’m my own boss and I’m not likely to sack myself. I do however beat myself up if I spend an extra hour or five in bed when I should be doing paperwork or painting or packing an order. I do a lot of my work at odd hours but that works for me. It doesn’t pay millions but it does help me feed the dog and buy the ocassional pretty thing. 

So yes I do work, no you don’t need to look/act/sound so damn surprised by that. ‘Good for me right?!’ 

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