For the majority of my adult life, I walked with my head down low and my finger constantly on the apology button, feeling perpetually guilty of each and every moment I couldn’t bear the world, my workplace or anything else for that matter. This constant guilt burned deep and was constantly fuelled by my anxiety disorder. It thought itself psychic and believed it could accurately predict the future with its well constructed and elaborate fantasies. That negative storyteller would attempt to convince me that people were going to judge me if I called in sick where I work for example. I imagined my coworkers saying “I knew John would call in sick again.” As if convinced that I did so because I didn’t want to be there. My sick time was undoubtedly higher than the average. The guilt and sadness that I experienced as a result of having no choice but to stay home ill were just what the doctor ordered, well, as far as the anxiety disorder was concerned. It only made the disorder grow larger and stronger. So too did my need to apologize.
Unfortunately, this exponential growth turned into a monster and it would eventually put the brakes on my ability to live a happier life. I never say a happy life because my mental health is such that its either playing in the background of my day or has wrestled me into submission. So I always say happier moments, days, times, etc. With this demon ever becoming louder and louder, stronger and stronger, I became overwhelmed and overpowered by it and as a result, was left little choice but to take leave from my occupation in long term care. This would be but the first of three.
I have essentially held captive by the constant fear and worry over anything and everything which also amplified my almost compulsive need to explain why I was frequently absent from work. I worked hard on finding solutions to appease myself more than anything even going so far as to ask the director if I could take unpaid sick leave when I had to call in. I tried, I really did. Of course, while I was meeting with her, I took several opportunities to apologize for my absence. It’s just an s***** feeling to constantly feel like you’re less than you are as an employee. I began to feel regretful for my inability to come to work because I, like many others, was under the misguided assumption that mental illness wasn’t the same as being “actually Sick.” As a consequence, I felt like I was slacking, not pulling my weight etc. Over time, this feeling slowly started to disintegrate my self-esteem. I bet you can guess what the results of my dwindling self-esteem were? That’s right, even more, angst.
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apologies for being sick, for not being able to handle the world like others can. Working within your tolerances and understanding that you have little control over the cards you’ve been dealt will set you up for a more successful and happier life. That being said, using one’s illness as an excuse not to fulfill their obligations is wrong! Finding ways to better cope so one can be productive and happier is the goal. Find a way to fit the mould you were born in and pursue the direction you were meant to take, going against your own grain is only exacerbating your symptoms. On behalf of all mentally ill people everywhere I want you to know that we believe in you!