A few of my kids at work wanted to see some of my old notes from high school that my friends had written to me. They were all inappropriate so I didn’t share any but I came across a view pieces of paper that had writing about depression or whatever I was experiencing at the time.
Here’s one of them. I’m 14 or 15 years old.
I want to know who I am
I want to be who I want to be
I want to be me
But I don’t know what the real me is like
I want to be free
I want my pain to disappear
I want my burden lifted
I want to be clean
I want to be me
But I am nothing
I want to keep friends
I want to keep myself down
I want to keep myself clean
This poem (if you wanna call it that)
Is like a wishlist
Also a way I can bash myself
Or maybe I just feel like writing random things
Ok, screw the poem idea
I’m just getting mad at myself
It’s all my fault!
My fault I’m like this
My fault everything with everyone is messed!!
I’ve been trying to think of what I meant by “clean”. Drugs? Alcohol? Cutting? Depression? Something was “dirty” though and I didn’t like it.
I’ve never really identified as “recovered”.
I’ve had bad experiences with the word.
I have a feeling I’ve possibly, for the sake of argument, said in here or to other people that I have recovered from my mental health issues. This was not told to me by a psychiatrist. The last one I spoke to, about 4 years ago, told me I had Borderline Personality Disorder. I have decided that I am “recovered” because I am the one that truly knows myself.
I feel that recovery is being a tad skewed by mental health professionals but mostly by society. “Recovered” creates a burden to also be that way. It’s a pressure that I don’t want to be under.
How do you recover? What does recovery look like? Who decides when you’ve recovered? How long should recovery take?
All these questions and more have influenced how I’ve chosen to identify. I overall just identify as myself. It’s an identify that is comfortable for me.
I hate being asked, “how did you recover?” I DON’T KNOW! Really, I don’t. It happened to gradually, it was a large process. It almost doesn’t matter what I did because what has helped me because it possibly, and probably, won’t work for you! And that is fine! That is how it should be.
I feel, thanks to how psych meds are seen, that we completely misunderstand the journey that is supposed to come out of self-improvement. We are all searching for that quick fix and when we can’t find it we become discouraged and give up. Improving yourself is supposed to difficult, it’s supposed to be a process. If it was easy then I would doubt its long term effectiveness.
What scares me the most about saying “I am recovered” is what happens when I fail? I find myself in the midst of breakdowns yelling at myself in my head for not being the perfect recovered person I have felt the pressure to be! I become worried that since I can’t keep myself together all the time that I’m not the right person to be doing my work in mental health. I know that all of this is wrong. I know that no one can keep everything together at all times but I still can’t help but picture people seeing me at my lowest saying, “You’re not recovered! You’re still crazy.”
This is the wrong attitude to have and it sets me back in that moment. Accepting the bad and that the bad will happen is apart of being ok with myself.
So, I prefer to set my own rules. This way I set the expectations and I only need to please myself. I can be the only one to determines my happiness in my life.
Recovery should not be a one size fits all. We may have the same diagnosis but we are not the same people and we need to have full control over how we chose to improve ourselves. Only we can determine when we’ve reached that comfortable time in our life where we can say “yes, I’m ok” with a smile on your face.
I work for the City of Toronto in a children’s after school program. I create and facilitate activities, including arts and crafts, character education and games, for up to 45 children ages 6-11. I am very good at what I do and more importantly I love what I do. These kids have saved me on multiple occasions but have also pushed my buttons.
Working scares me but looking for a job scares me more.
A lot of my friends have jobs while in high school. I didn’t. I was told that if employers found out I had depression they would fire me. I then created a story in my head where I would flip out on a customer or have a depressive episode at work and be fired.
I decided to hide (so to speak).
Because of what I was being told employers felt about people with mental health issues I used it ask my excuse to not find work. There is of course truth in saying that people with mental health issues are discriminate against in the work force. They are made to hide their illness and may even be let go from their job because of it.
The Canadian unemployment rate for individuals with mental health issues, depending on the severity, is between 70%-90%! Being able to work has been identified as a large part of promoting recovery and creating a more positive life for someone with a mental health issue (CMHA).
Any number of reasons can contribute to why the unemployment rate is so high: fear of being discriminated against, unable to work required hours, lack of past work experience, employer not wanting the “burden” of a staff with a mental health issue, lack of accommodation etc.
I wouldn’t be surprised, and I’m just speculating, that if employers were more understanding of mental illness, the same way they would about other illnesses, then maybe mental illness would be the second leading cause of disability in Canada (CAMH)? If people knew that their jobs were safe while they worked on themselves then maybe they wouldn’t feel that work is not possible? If employers to meet people on their level and not the other way around then maybe the mental health unemployment rate could go down?
I found myself at 18 years old, in University, needing money and ZERO work experience aside from babysitting. This doesn’t look good! I’ve been scrambling the last 4 years together every bit of experience I can to expand my resume but I still feel the repercussions of not having certain experience. I don’t get certain jobs.
It’s a tough job market. The government says they’re creating jobs but they’re not creating jobs that I can do.
I need another job. My contract is going to run out in June and I need more money anyways because I don’t work enough hours where I am currently. I woke up terrified to hand in a resume today at Pet Valu, I became extremely self-defeating.
“They won’t hire you, you have none of what they’re looking for!”
“This is what you get for being depressed as a teen. No experience!”
Blah blah blah! I did it anyways and I stand as much chance as anyone else regardless of my mental health status (which rarely gets in the way of my work).