I read this article “Working Full-Time With Mental Illness Is Hard: Here’s How I Do It” and it made me realise just how privileged I am in my own work place.
I am in a job which has a very high level of autonomy which means that, in the main, I get to dictate my own agenda and as such I can take a “time out” when needed. I am also very fortunate in that I have managed to find a place to go wherever I have worked – whether that be a quieter bathroom like the author of the Ravishly article, a space in a nearby park or sometimes a prayer room, no matter where I have been based on any given day I have managed to locate my “run to” location as most of the sites I have worked at have a prayer room or at the very least a quiet nook that I can sit in when needed. Sometimes even the knowledge that there is somewhere I can go when it all becomes too much is enough to keep me on an even keel throughout the day.
The article also made me acutely aware of just how privileged I am to be in this position. About 12-18 months ago I was offered a course of counselling which meant taking time out of my working day. I asked my manager if it would be possible to compress my hours in order to make time to attend – I explained to them that I had been referred for counselling and that it was not possible to get a session outwith working hours. Their response was amazing , they were incredibly supportive of what I needed to do and agreed to adjust my working hours so that I did my full time hours over 4.5 days instead of 5. Of course I do recognise that this was just as good for them as it was me given that anything which enabled me to function better at work was good for the organisation as a whole. I also realise of course that not everyone gets this opportunity – not every employer can offer this and so I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend counselling without any negative impact on my employment or salary.
As difficult as it is for me to continue working with C-PTSD I can’t imagine how it would be if I didn’t have the support I do at work or was in a job that did not allow me to make adjustments – there are so many jobs where it is not possible to just “down tools” and walk away to spend 10 minutes on breathing exercises in order to fight off an anxiety attack and I can’t imagine how people get through that.
If you have a dedicated “quiet zone” or Prayer room at your place of work then please do USE IT – the more people make use of these places the more likely they are to become commonplace and enable more people to function better in the workplace.