You know what I find difficult to write about?
So much so that it’s impacting my ability to share anything about my life at all these days — work is such a big part of it.
Since making the transition from a small, family owned and operated consumer PR and social firm to the corporate world of B2B communications, work has increasingly dominated my day to day and, if I’m being totally honest, my headspace.
It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up. It’s what keeps me awake when I’m trying to fall asleep. It’s what creeps into my personal space on the weekend. Most days it feels all-consuming.
I love my job. I love my team. I love my clients. I love the company I work for.
And yet, just getting through the week in one piece is usually pretty difficult for me.
Simply acknowledging this truth feels like an act of betrayal. I feel shame and a sense of duty to hide, disguise, reposition my experience to make it more palatable. More acceptable. More in line with the expectations for someone at this stage in her career.
But what I’ve realised is that we’ll never be able to have honest conversations about mental health in the workplace if we can’t hold both to be true: that you can love what you do and be totally, 100% overwhelmed by work.
Maybe even more than my depression, I’m seeing how my anxiety is deeply intertwined with my work life. It drives my reaction to new challenges, it both distracts from and inspires my attention to my to-do list. It keeps me agonising over and second guessing every word I write and every thing I think. It keeps me pushing harder and longer, beyond what it is sustainable for someone trying to have a life outside of work.
And that’s on me.
Boundaries are not easy to stick to at your healthiest. Coupled with anxiety, it feels just about impossible.
Because you’re never good enough. There is always more you can be doing. There is always someone further up the ladder to compare yourself to. Mix that with a desire to please and achieve and a fear of letting people down and you’ve got yourself all the ingredients for full-blown burnout.
At the start of this year, I told myself I needed to do things differently. I could feel myself running on empty and knew that irrespective of what everyone else was managing to do and feel, I had to make a change: shorter days, less emotional investment, more self-compassion.
We’re less than two months into the year and I can count on one hand the days I’ve successfully executed on this. I still feel like I’m teetering on the edge. And I continue to wonder whether it’s mostly all in my head or very real and entirely justified. I think I know what my therapist would say… And, when I check in, I know what I feel in my body.
People will make their assumptions and pass their judgements. Being honest has its risks. But I believe vulnerability is a gift and that more open conversations about the complicated reality of mental health in the workplace are essential to driving genuine understanding and meaningful change.
If you feel similarly, I’d love to hear from you.