Do you ever feel like you don't fit in? Like you want to be anyone but yourself. Fall in to a crack never to be seen again. I live with it daily, some days it's not so bad other days I want to be anywhere but in my own skin. It happens to a lot of us.
We live in a world where money is the only option for survival. Without money, life becomes extremely difficult. So we work, day in day out. Working alone can cause anxiety and depression, but already having it and going into work can be a horrible experience. I started working at the age of eighteen. The first place I worked was a nursery, and since then I have worked in many places.
I have had anxiety attacks just thinking about work, but over the past few years it has gotten easier. Here's how I go to work with my depression and anxiety and come out alive.
Work Life, the Start
I didn't realise how bad my depression was until I started working in that nursery. I would wake up every morning at six am and make my way to work. Those first few months it was okay. I was a determined girl who wanted money in her pocket and was prepared to deal with anything... or so I thought. Fast forward three months I was coming home every evening drained. Not from the children but from the energy it took for me to be around people all day, trying to act normal. It became a daily routine for me to cry myself to sleep. I was exhausted!
Anxiety naturally comes with overthinking, and I am the queen of overthinking everything. Down to the way a person says hello to me in the morning. "Was it different today?" "Are they upset with me?" "They don't usually say good morning like that." If you have not experienced this it may sound silly to you. But it happens, and that overthinking can ruin your day.
Working means forcing yourself to socialise and make friends. Even on your bad days you have to force yourself to smile, or else god forbid! People will think you're rude and antisocial.
Those short few months that I worked in the nursery were a sweet taster as to what the work world would be like. A glance into the hell I would endure in every other work place.
Feeling Lonely in a Crowd
Working for me can be extremely lonely if I do not find someone I connect with. The one thing about being in the work place is that it can feel like you need to be friends with everyone or at least appear to be. Of course there will be people that you just don't like, and people who don't like you but in the work place remaining professional is important. So we have to build relationships with our colleagues. Which can be difficult. So I try to be polite to everyone and stick to myself, but sometimes you are forced into conversations and colleague "bonding time" such as office parties.
And this can be great if you're a person who loves to socialise, but if you're anything like me, it can be a nightmare. Just another time to observe how much of an outcast you really feel. I have worked in places with fifty plus employees and have still felt incredibly alone during those working hours. Simply because it can be hard for me to connect with people. They're those times that it just happens, you find someone that you instantly connect with forming a friendship that allows you to get through the days. But it can be ten times harder for that to happen when you're afraid of simply talking to someone in case you say something stupid!
But you can get past this, by taking a step back and observing the situation. Realising that everyone has been the newbie at some point trying to make friends and fit in. It can seem like school sometimes, but that's just the way it is.
Facing Your Fears, My Trick
There are a few things I've learnt from working in so many different places.
One, smiling. Smiling is a simple and effective way to change things for yourself. Whether you're starting a new place, or you've been there for years, smiling can completely change a person's perspective of you, it gives of a warm vibe without even using words. Think about the times a person has smiled at you, you may not even know them but you instantly like them because it shows you they're friendly.
If you're starting as the newbie in a place, there are a few things you can do to make yourself look happier and more interested such as asking questions. I found that my managers instantly took a liking to me if they saw I was genuinely trying to learn more and making an effort to ask questions.
Get comfortable with your job role, not for the sake of your boss and the business, but for yourself. I found that if I didn't know exactly what I needed to do I would have to keep on asking people, which could be irritating for me and the person I'm asking. Especially if it is a busy period. Of course at the beginning it is only natural to ask questions, but after a couple of weeks you are expected to understand your job role. Perhaps not with all jobs, as some are more difficult than others. But just in case your manager is not the friendliest, or your colleagues not the kindest, use the time when you start to understand all your job roles. Walking around with a notepad of things you need to do in case you forget is a big help, also this way less contact with people! It may sound antisocial but I think we can all agree that if you can just get on with your job, with minimal awkward interactions it makes the whole thing a lot easier.
Helping colleagues. Assisting colleagues when and where you can creates a nice atmosphere in the work place. It can encourage friendships and come in handy at a time you may need help. But mainly knowing you have helped another colleague can lift your mood.
Being punctual is also important. Again, not for the sake of your boss or the business, but for yourself. Whenever I have arrived late to work it starts the day of badly, creating a sullen atmosphere for myself. When I started working I would often be late. When you are struggling with depression, waking up in the morning can be a problem. Sometimes lacking any enthusiasm to go to work at all. But if you know you will have to go in anyway turning up late is only creating a bad day for yourself. This is something that took me awhile to learn. But once I did realise this, I would make sure I began my day on time. Meaning there was no reason for anyone to be upset with me, or me to be upset with myself.
But those are just a few things you can do. But the main thing to remember is that everyone has to do it! So you're not alone.
It takes time, but will you get use to it, and it will get better.