UnHealthy Work Environments: Petri Dish for Anxiety & Depression

 

It’s surreal to believe that I lived a life where “happiness” was brought to you by a little blue pill, calm was slipping a white dissoluble sweet sphere under my tongue and energy to drag myself through the day came from chugging venti skim lattes and red bulls. At the end of the day there was never any reprieve, I was still wired and dreading my tomorrows. This left me to drink a night cap along with one quarter pill of benedryl just to fall asleep and be able to do it all over again the following day. That was my life only 16 months ago!

Of course I had anxiety and depression. I only now had the realization hit me like a ton of bricks- I grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic father where walls were punched, doors broken off hinges and cops were called. To say that I had PTSD as a result of that upbringing is  pretty accurate.

Right after college, I fell into finance which is a predominantly male dominated field. I worked with men who have racing tempers and create a hyper competitive and fast paced environment where the margin for error was small. I thrived and exceeded because of my lifetime experience dealing with, to put it mildly,  unstable human beings. I could deal with the personalities, outbursts, unrealistic deadlines, eccentricities, and not having a personal life. Somewhere along the way to being a good employee I forgot about me. I no longer recognized who I was or what I loved/made me tick.
The turning point for me came after quitting and retiring from finance 16 months ago. This period of FUNemployment, along with being magical, also gave me the ability to see that the society we live in encourages individuals to copy cookie cutter lives that are not sustainable. This is what we call success. We’ve created a template for living our lives that is destroying our souls and, subsequently, our health.

I am now able to see that my anxiety and depression was my body speaking to me and viscerally trying to convey that my life was killing me. Stress kills. It is not acceptable. Minor stress that comes with growth and stretching beyond our comfort zone is not what I am speaking about. I am referring to the constructs and craziness in the work environment that  is unnecessary- the cult of busy, rush and lack of compassion. Everyone gets dragged along.

We no longer relate to our coworkers as humans. We are all just cogs on the wheel churning out work product at a ridiculous pace as if lives depended on it. Unplug and step away- It is making us not only mentally unstable but also making us miss out on the best parts of our lives. We are exchanging money for our time and sanity.
I fully support anyone on anxiety and/or depression medications that are using it to deal with a mental health condition in conjunction with therapy. I have been on varying medications and, to put it bluntly, I owe my life to them.

That being said, I personally found that the miracle occurred for me when I quit doing things I did not like. I quit an ex, roommate and two jobs. After finally quitting finance, anxiety completely lifted and I went off all meds, coffee and alcohol. I took up meditation and living my truth. I every so often do get a bit of social/generalized anxiety but instead of reaching for a drink or a pill, I just look it straight in the face and laugh- “Oh, Hi Anxiety, my old friend- I know YOU! I see you hussy!”

My experience is a great reminder to look at what your lifestyle habits are- is there anything there that can be changed to bring about mental well being? In this human experience, we may have blind spots. Reaching out to mental health professionals, counselors, support groups, nutritionist or trainers to adjust lifestyle habits may be a great compliment to the pills to speed up recovery. Taking a holistic approach and looking at your body/spirit/health/habits will help shed light on what may be going on with you. This broader view will then help address the root cause(s) of the imbalance.

Everyone is different. Every road to mental health is different. The moral of my story is- don’t just settle for the pills without asking the hard questions and looking at the bigger picture. Best of luck to everyone living with mental health issues.  I see you. You are my courageous siblings on this path of life and I send you love.

(Full Disclosure- I also have hypothyroidism which is triggered by stress and comes along with it’s cousins depression and anxiety.)

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