One of the main themes of Freedom, Birdie! has always been the relationship between mental health and work: which, for so many of us, means surviving in a job we don’t enjoy, for whatever reason.
Everything I write (well, except the vegan burger recipes 😋) relates somehow to my own goal to escape the career path I am in; and to instead work independently doing something which allows me to live the fullest authentic expression of who I am, and be happy and healthy. As an INFP if I have to take a job just for the money, a job in which I have no interest, emotional engagement or spiritual reward, if I have to assume a ‘character’ and repress elements of myself to ‘get the job done’ and be ‘the face that fits’, it is to my mental and physical detriment.
Yet that is the situation I have been in for many years as a professional ‘temp’. You can be sure I’ve spent those years exploring for a better-suited career path, starting up a number of entrepreneurial ventures, and working through my emotional and spiritual blocks – but out of necessity I’ve had to keep taking the ‘soul-destroying’ jobs and in doing so I’ve continued to push my mental wellbeing and the greater my emotional and physical health has suffered as a result.
So I’m currently in another temp job, which started in January and finishes in April.
Three weeks in I was given the workload of 3 people and it was this which alerted me to the toll these many years have taken on my body and spirit. I just can’t tolerate it the way I used to – I used to be able to get through 3 months in a job before I started to feel depressed, trapped and panicky. Now it’s only a matter of a few weeks.
I feel weaker now. In body and mind. It’s not just the usual repercussions: the insomnia, panic attacks, chest aches, sadness that leads to depression, feeling frustrated, drained and defeated. This time I feel tearful all the time, in and out of work. And I’m extremely anxious about work, in and out of work. I ache all over, more than ever. And my hands are noticeably shaking.
People who don’t know how this feels, they don’t get it. My doctor doesn’t get it. My government doesn’t get it. It’s constant and it’s exhausting. I can FEEL there will be great and more serious repercussions on my health, sooner or later. But you are expected to carry on until you crash and burn; only then, once there is visible ‘proof’ that you aren’t well, can you be helped and really taken seriously.
In the meantime you feel alone, scared, trapped, and under the assumption that you must just be so WEAK to feel like this.
As you can see I don’t have a definitive answer but I share everything I share simply to show all those who are experiencing the same that you are not alone. Connection can make a massive difference. And so can speaking out.
Please, do not accept this as ‘the way things are’. You deserve better.