Depression and work
Hi, I'm after some advice. I've been dealing with depression and anxiety since early high school - I am now in my mid twenties. I go through bouts of depressive phases where I'll start to feel numb and disconnected from most things - I'll avoid going to work, talking to friends, visiting family etc. I've been seeing a psychologist who is lovely to talk to and makes plans of attacks with me while I'm in these phases - the only thing is my motivation to follow through with these plans drops off the next day. I've tried medications before with mixed results - and I had a one off session with a psychiatrist who said that medications likely won't help my situation.
I got a new job in a call centre in November 2021. The job isn't stressful in the sense some call centres can be - there aren't any abusive calls, and the only stress I have from it is sticking to KPIs. For the past 3 months or so I've been taking consecutive days off because I'm currently in a depressive phase, to the point where sometimes I haven't gone into work all week. I've been open about my mental health with my team leader and they've been very understanding so far - I've tried different work arrangements but I haven't been able to stick to any of them. It's gotten to the point where I can tell they're also getting sick of me calling in sick and I don't want to lose my job. In the moments where I'm not feeling numb, I know I don't want to lose it and I know I'm screwing things up for myself by not attending work as the days go by.
I don't know how to get myself out of this - I'm more self aware than i have been in the years before, and I'll actually plan to go to work now in advance by getting up early, and eating breakfast, but then I'll just cave and call in sick. I know there are no instant solutions but I feel like the long term ones aren't feasible right now.
I'm willing to try pretty much anything at this point and hoping someone can help.
I just wanted to start off by welcoming you to the forums! There are a lot of people who are here to listen, offer perspective and ultimately to support you. Thank you for taking the time to be vulnerable and I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this right now!
It can be really hard to know how to navigate during a depressive episode and it's good that you are seeing a psychologist. It can also be incredibly difficult to remain accountable for your own wellbeing outside of these sessions, especially when you are struggling with motivation. I guess when there is frustration around not following through with plans, it's easy to get frustrated and disappointed in ourselves. It's important that you are kind to yourself and can recognise just hard and truly draining living with depression is. It might be helpful to have a think about what it is that you find most difficult/ overwhelming about starting that plan of attack. Do you think that it might be hard to start, hard to sustain or something else? What things can you do if things don't go to plan? I guess discussing these with your psychologist and maybe working on some coping strategies for when things don't go the way you want them to might be beneficial.
As for going back to work, it can be easy to get caught in a cycle of negative thinking when you are trying to get back into it after being gone for a while. It's really great to hear that you are communicating your struggles with your work and that they have been accomodating to you. Perhaps it might be good to discuss your return with your work so that you can make a plan with them and see what they can do to support you in returning in a way that you are comfortable with. Maybe they might need the reassurance that you WANT to return but are struggling. You might even find that there is a way that they can accomodate your return that you haven't thought of. I guess you will never know unless you discuss it, which can be a scary thing to do, so it could be beneficial to have a clear idea of what you want to say and even practice having this discussion with someone close to you/your psychologist.
I really wish you all the best and encourage you to take care of yourself during this time. x
Welcome to the forums! Thanks for your post.
I'm sorry to hear you have been really struggling with depression and sticking to your plan with going to work each day. When I was very depressed a few years ago, I also found it really hard to work. I understand that feeling of going through all the effort to give myself the best shot of going through with my plans, only to call off at the last minute. It's difficult, frustrating, and also a bit of a repetitive vicious cycle.
I think there is a lot to be said for being gentle and understanding with yourself when you are really struggling with depression. Life can be really tough and even the simple act of getting up, letting alone going to work, can feel like a monumental task. But equally, I think finding any way, even weird little mental tricks, to be active and achieve little goals each day, can help build towards healthy habits and make us feel better about ourselves.
You mentioned that you've got a lovely psychologist who helps you create plans - that's really fantastic, and I am so glad to hear that you are doing this kind of work. I understand you are finding it hard to follow through with them, but even getting the plan there is a good start. If you would like, you are welcome to share what some of these plans have been, and it would also be really interesting to hear if you've spoken to your psychologist about not being able to follow through.
I'd love to speak to you more about what kinds of things have worked for me, but if it's okay, I'm also curious to hear what kinds of things have or haven't worked for you already.