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Dealing with Mental Illness as a "Professional"

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by greyroses, Nov 10, 2013.

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  1. greyroses

    greyroses Well-Known Member


    I am at the end of my rope and totally lost as to where I should be going, steps I should be taking, etc. So please, for those of you working while dealing with mental health challenges, Im asking for your insight.
    I have been working a job in a foreign country for two years. Through this time I have faced some struggles but managed. Unfortunately, now I am almost always in constant upheaval. I am struggling with how I should be managing things as a "professional". Or, put another way, I am pinned down between guilt, and goals, and expectations, and the opinions of the people around me.
    Should I quit in the middle and bail, leaving my employers in a lurch and with no explanation, or do I stick it out and (again, without expectation) continue the recent trend of having to take random days off for mental health and minor or major breakdowns?
    I am just completely unsure of what people *do* in these kinds of situations. I would like to know your honest opinions, and what you think would be the greater evil. I do realize, unfortunately, that there is no "right" answer.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. sudut

    sudut Well-Known Member

    this is a hard choice. but leaving your employers with no explanation... I don't know about that. maybe they will keep worrying about you.
  3. Acy

    Acy Mama Bear - TLC, Common Sense Staff Member Safety & Support

    Hi, greyroses. Sorry to hear things are so hard for you at the moment. It can be a challenge to balance personal life and work for anyone, so it is just that much harder if we are not well - any kind of "not well."

    Do you keep in touch with friends/family "back home"? Friends in the country where you are now? It can help sometimes.

    Some employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (aka EAP), including some kind of counselling. Does your employer have an EAP? EAP counselling is usually short term, about 6-8 sessions. Spread out over a few months, these sessions could be used as a kind of external support. All the EAP systems that I know of are completely confidential, so your employer wouldn't know you were even using it.

    Are there local health and social services services that you could use? Do you have a physician where you are? What is your personal support network (friends, interest groups, religious affiliation) like there? Sometimes getting connected outside of work can help.

    Do you get holidays - a couple of weeks off in a row? Could you use that time off to regroup and figure out what you want to do? Maybe it would be enough of a break to refresh you. :dunno:

    If you did decide to leave, your employer would probably want to know why. You could give a very broad, non-specific reason such as "personal health reasons," "serious illness in the family and I need to go back home," "poor fit with the job." Each of those could cover for you, but they also leave some questions. Perhaps just boosting up your support system and using it could get you through until yor contract/posting is over and you can come home.

    Keep us posted here. Glad you reached out and maybe we can be part of the support system that keeps you going. :hug:
  4. flowers

    flowers Senior Member

    Hi greyroses. I am sorry this is happening. I think many professionals privately seek the assistance of someone who prescribes medication. They get stabalized on medications and are able to reclaim their life. Sometimes in conjuction with therapy. I notice that you have been a member here for a while. Which means this is likely not a new issue. Have you tried medications and counseling? I wish I had some sage wisdom words. I think its smart to keep posting about it here until hopefully you can work through it ( a plan ) in your own mind. Great way of trying to come to the decision of what your next step will be. Sometimes the answers come slowly. So I do hope you will keep posting and working at finding the next step. Not a lot of help coming from me, I know. :(
  5. loneland

    loneland Member

    I believe I have some idea of what you might be going through, although I cannot imagine your situation, your issues, or the resources you may have available. I have struggled with mental health issues as a professional, as well, and I know the feeling of being trapped between guilt, goals, expectations, and reputation, as you put it.

    It is difficult to give advice without knowing what you've already done to help yourself, but if you are at the point where you are feeling like you're about to come apart at the seams, it's probably time for some kind of intense intervention. Consider taking a week or two off to check into a hospital with a highly regarded psych unit, begin medication, or adjust what you're already on, perhaps take more time to attend an out-patient program, if you think that would help after in-patient. I know that sounds dramatic, but it really can be enormously helpful. Even if you feel bad about being absent from work, you need to keep reminding yourself that your mental and emotional health is the most important thing for you to prioritize and that you deserve to take care of yourself before you take care of your boss. Also, it is my opinion that simply taking time off here and there to "rest" is seldom helpful, but rather simply strings out the problem. I know that it's difficult, but unstructured time can really be problematic.

    I would also like to re-emphasize what some of the other posts have already said about reaching out to friends/family/community, any and all resources you may have available. I know it can be scary and often I think highly functional people feel like their mental illness is a secret from everyone, but it might be worth taking a chance to tell someone you trust at work a little bit about what you're going through. Just having someone else know about what's going on can make a huge difference.

    I really hope you hang in there and take care.
  6. cloud9

    cloud9 Well-Known Member

    Taking advantage of an EAP as mentioned above is always helpful. I didn't learn about my employers own EAP program until I really dug in the company website. My firm also offers extended periods of time off during our non-busy period. That may be an often? Finally, being honest with the employer explaining to them why you need time off may help. If they like you they may be willing to let you off for an extended period of time. However, as mentioned above it is important to tackle all of this with a plan in place. In the beginning of your time off, rest, and then spend it planning how you'll achieve the goals you want to achieve. Certainly helps to bounce ideas off your support network.

    Keep us posted!
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