Depression and Bad Jobs

Depression and bad jobs don’t mix.

I’m a writer struggling to find a better writing job in the community, but my day job as a cashier in retail gets in the way of positive thinking. In fact, I have found that retail work only gets in the way of progress for those seeking better opportunities.

I never liked retail because it is one of the more soul crushing jobs for me. I don’t like being face-to-face with customers for five-to-eight hours and resolving their petty materialistic issues.

But the sad thing is, when you need a job to fill in the income gaps, retail is one of the easiest to come by on such short notice. I can work part time while writing as a freelancer. The only problem is, retail saps me of my energy, so when I get home, I only want to read or play video games.

This is where retail interferes with healing from depression, because no one cares about my feelings at my job. Imagine a job where you have to ask permission to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom and wait for scheduled breaks. That’s my job. When my blood sugar drops, it doesn’t matter, because I have to wait for my scheduled break to eat. When I feel a sudden attack of anxiety in the middle of a transaction, I have to wait until I can go back to the break room for my medication.

Also, most days for me aren’t more than six hours, which means I only get a 15 minute break to scarf down food and get back to work. It’s not enough time for me to write or read a book. That’s how the retail system is designed. They make it intentionally difficult to plan your own life around the job.

After seeing so many older people in retail talk about how they just fall asleep when they get home, I realized that I don’t want that to be me. I want to actively find better opportunities and take risks rather than staying cooped up for another day.

I’ve heard an older man say that this year was his sixth Christmas working at Kohl’s. An older employee I spoke with said she wanted to write for newspapers when she got out of high school. I wonder what happened. But that won’t be me.

It is hard to work a bad job when you’re depressed. Positive thinking doesn’t come easy to me, but I took it in these steps. Here is a break down of the way I am training myself to act and think while working a bad job.

1. Don’t feel bad about not writing a novel when I come home. Write a small blog post or a little bit in a short story. Read the news and brainstorm articles for a bit. This keeps me active in my craft.

2. Retail is not permanent for me. I worked hard for four years to learn my craft, and I’ll be damned if I can’t make a decent living from it.

4. Actively seek new writing opportunities on my days off. Wander the neighborhood for ideas to prevent stagnation of my mind and body.

5. This job is temporary, and it is helping to pay our rent and bills.

At 23 years old, I’m told there is still time to make things work out. But time seems to go by so fast, and in order to make my dreams work out, I must actively seek the solutions when the opportunities arise.

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Why it’s important to keep an anxiety journal

Every time I go to a therapist, I draw a blank on specific topics to talk about. I always have broad topics such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks and so on. But there is always something bugging me that I forget about once I start talking to a therapist. That’s why I just started keeping a journal to record my panic attacks, anxiety, depression and when I have to take klonopin.

The process of keeping a journal challenges me to have a dialogue with myself. I pose these basic questions: What’s causing my intense fear/depression? Is it worth worrying about? If not, let’s acknowledge the anxiety and let it go. What’s bringing me down? What can I do to overcome depression on a daily basis?

But it’s not that easy to “let it go.” Often, the anxiety builds up no matter how much I assure myself that there is nothing to be anxious about. Even if there is nothing to be anxious about,that doesn’t stop my mind from worrying. 

The more stressors in my life, the harder it is for me to function. I just become an emotional rollercoaster going from one extreme emotion to another. It’s important to understand the cause of those emotions in order to come closer to healing.

These are all things to write in a therapy journal because these feelings, thoughts, and episodes are all pieces of the puzzle of your mind. Piecing these fragments together will give you and your therapist a better idea about what coping strategies will or will not work.

That’s another thing to record: coping strategies. Whether they work or not, write them in your journal. Record whether they work or not they work. That will help the puzzle come together easier.

College students share their anxiety and depression experiences with the ADAA

Does your anxiety and depression make you feel isolated?  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has an anxiety disorders page with anxiety resources and videos of young people talking about their depression and anxiety.

Jasmin Terrany, LMHC speaks in the intro video for  “Anxiety and Depression Stories.” She uses body image as an example of how we, especially women, are severely affected by anxiety and depression. For example, the nagging, programmed voice in our heads telling us we need to lose five pounds never goes away even when you lose the five pounds. That negative voice has less to do with the five pounds and more to do with how we focus on the negative things about ourselves as the whole  reality and not the bigger picture.

Following the intro, college students speak about their anxiety and depression experiences. It’s amazing to see how everyone’s experiences and coping mechanisms are similar, yet different.  What’s more empowering is for people in their twenties to see their peers discuss their experiences. Often times, we are told we’re “too young” to experience anxiety and depression. As a result, we begin to feel like weirdos because young sufferers think it’s not normal for young people to have mood disorders. Yet, the reality is that anxiety and depression are just like any physical disease, because they do not discriminate between age, sex, or ethnicity.

Videos of college-aged students discussing their mood disorders opens a dialogue that we should be having as a society. When we have conversations about mental illness, we need to teach others to eliminate stigmatizing language including phrases such as, “You’re too young for that,” “Are you sick in the head?” or “Take some pills.” No one is ever too young to have anxiety or depression. We need to destroy this idea that anxiety and depression only hurts older people.

Maybe we should all start making videos of ourselves describing our own  mental illnesses. Wouldn’t that be an enlightening experience for the world?

Anxiety and Depression collage

Anxiety and Depression collage

This is a collage of different thoughts and feelings that occur inside me on a daily basis. They range from not so severe to debilitating. The panic attacks are the worse. When I have a depressive episode, I hurt physically and mentally. It’s hard to describe to someone who has never experienced depression. But let me put it this way. Imagine being so sad you feel like you are fading away and trapped in a void of never ending sadness? You feel sluggish, achey, unmotivated and cry.

Panic attacks are even scarier to me. I experience chest pain, breathing difficulty, blurriness of vision, dizziness, sweaty palms and a need to run away from a scary, invisible force.

Because people cannot see into our heads, I encourage those of you with mental illnesses to create a collage like this. Sometimes people don’t understand how you’re feeling just by speaking about it. Images remain strong in our minds because humans are visual creatures. Show your collage to your loved ones. Ask them to look at it and how they feel when reading it. Do they have a better idea of what you go through now if they didn’t before?

Introduction

As an anxiety and depression blog, What’s My Damage? will explore not only my experiences with panic attacks and depression, but also news and articles from online sources and publications I read related to the topic.I hope to share how I’ve dealt with panic attacks, anxiety and depression, what has worked and has not worked for me and what I am still learning about it. Readers are encouraged to share their experiences with me in comments or via email. I don’t want to make this all about me. I want to share what I am going through, but I also want to hear from others to share information about depression and anxiety from all people and sources So far, I have ideas for a lot of posts lined up. Some include  how to approach loved ones with depression or anxiety, ways journalists can overcome social anxiety one step at a time, how being creative can help anxiety, advances in mental healthcare, article from Adbusters on mental illness and so much more.

Fresh perspectives from readers are always welcome, since I can’t think of everything myself. Feel free to submit ideas in the comments or via email. I won’t mention your names if you don’t want me to. I’ll be discrete and refer to you as “a reader” (or something like that) if you request that I not use your name or username.

So, here it goes. I hope this blog to be a success. Baby steps.

P.S. I am not a trained therapist. My occupation is a writer, so do not mistaken me for a doctor. All information in this blog will be based on my experiences, readers experiences and information from articles and books I read.