Working and mental health issues

I am feeling frustrated today. After a period of trying to work and having to stop because of mental health issues I finally admitted defeat today after having a trial shift and feeling awful during and after it. My doctor, CPN, occupational health doctor and employment advisor all told me not to work but I felt as though i should. I got a good degree last year and I want to make use of it, I’m only 23. So I feel like a huge failure today.

Is it okay to not work because of mental health issues? A lot of people I talk to have the opinion that work would be distracting from whats going on upstairs. In my case it doesn’t seem to make much difference what i do during the day- things will go topsy turvy due to completely different issues.

Now I have to get myself well and healthy before I try to work again.

What is your opinion on working and mental health issues?

You are not a failure. Mental illness does not make you a weak person.

As for working or not, I think that depends on the type of mental problem, the job, and the person. In other words, I’d need more detail to even hazard a guess.

Thank you.

I have had anorexia for a long time and then had many very serious suicide attempts over the past year (i ended up in itu ventilated in an induced coma with kidney and liver failure each time). I drank antifreeze.

My degree was in Psychology and I want to be a clinical psychologist-which is obviously a complete no-no at the moment. I’ve been trying to work in small shops over the summer, but even that seems to not work. I wanted to be a clinical psychologist before I had problems and now I have had problems I’m not sure I want to work in the area- we will see.

Actually going through all these mental issues would make you an excellent psychologist. You would be able to have first-hand experience of what your patients are going through.

Do you know what triggers these feelings of depression and things like that? I’m guessing you have depression and anxiety? Sorry if I’m prying.

Don’t feel bad if you’re not up to working right now, the more important thing is your mental health and getting yourself healthy. Once that’s in place, the work will come. You don’t have to decide right now which career you’re going in to, time is on your side, you can try out some different things and see what fits with where you’re at. :slight_smile:

You are not prying- I wouldn’t write about it at all here if I wanted to keep it private. But this is an anonymous board for me so I don’t mind.

I don’t have depression or anxiety-thankfully. I’m actually very giggly and smiley. I was sexually abused when I was in my early teens so I now have utter fear and hatred of my body. If I could just have a head and hands that would be great! My periods (sorry this is very female orientated) are the biggest trigger. I used to keep myself at a low enough weight not to have them, and only started having them last year when i was 22. I am trying to learn to adjust to them now and can manage not to put myself in ITU but its tough.

Thank you that is very true. I think its because all of my friends who I graduated with are now well into the beginning of their careers and I feel left behind. My Dad said I would only be a failure if I was doing the wrong thing by myself. So I guess at the moment I just have to work really hard at sorting my head out so I can just get through a day without working, and then try and work once I am more consistent.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has had mental health problems and had to take time off work-how long was it before you went back to work?And how easy was it going back to work?

Are you aware you can take a contraceptive that will stop you from having your period? It’s an injection in ya bum, if I recall correctly. :wink: I guess that’s already been discussed with you already though…

Aaaah, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people, it’s a fast ticket to low self esteem. The problem is, you can’t get inside their heads so you don’t really know what’s going on with them, you only see the public face they present to the world. They could be going through a whole pile of inner turmoil and you just wouldn’t know. You see the confident exterior and assume they are fine on the inside and it’s not always the case.

Ah yes, I took different pills for ages which didn’t work and then went onto the depo injection. Unfortunately it went the other way with me and now I have had a period for a solid 2months!!! which is quite ironic really…

You are right- I shouldn’t compare myself to others, but its hard not to really!

If your periods are a trigger, why not use birth control that eliminates them? That’s not a permanant solution, but might help you for the next year or two while you regain your footing.

Personally, I can’t imagine not working, mostly because I have to work. I have bills and the money simply isn’t going to magically appear. What is it that working does to you that makes it impossible to continue?

I’m not slamming you, here. I’m just trying to understand what happens that makes work so impossible, especially since you managed to get through college. Do you get panic attacks? Is it stress? Or do you have the same symptoms whether you’re working or not?

Hopefully, even if working isn’t possible now, with treatment you’ll get to the point where you can be self-sufficient. I wish you the best of luck.


Argh, that must have been awful! You have my sympathies! I’ve finally found the right contraceptive for me now at age 35 and it’s bliss…BLISS!

And you answered my question while I was typing. You’re a mind reader! :smiley:

You do have to take things gradually, you know. Get yourself to the point where you can get through the day, then add a little bit more.


I think this is the problem that most people don’t understand. Its not what working does to me. I put a face on and Im fine if im there. However I do things to myself that means working is physically impossible- I take things I shouldn’t and don’t eat and at the moment I don’t know how to stop doing that. That makes a lot of people mad, they don’t understand why someone can’t just ‘stop’ doing things, and believe me it makes me just as mad at myself. I wish I knew how to stop. Because I’m then not consistently reliable an employer isn’t keen to keep me on. If I’m in ITU for a week I cant contact them and obviously that makes it very difficult for a company that partly relies on me. I have bills and things to pay too so have to work really too, which is why I feel like such a failure for not working.

That would be heaven!! You are very lucky! :slight_smile:

Working with people who have mental health issues can be very emotionally intense and mentally draining, so I definitely agree that it’s best to avoid that career field for now until you have made peace with your own problems.
You have to take care of yourself first before you can help anyone else, as the saying goes.
On the other hand, being left with a lot of idle time also is not always a good thing since it can leave you with lots of time to ruminate and dwell on the bad things.
Maybe it would be best to look into getting a less intense job, or maybe doing volunteer work somewhere that has nothing to do with the kind of issues you’ve been struggling with, rather than not working at all.
Good luck with all this.

Yeah, I’d agree with lavenderviolet - I found that keeping myself busy helped with my own disordered eating issues. Doesn’t have to be a paying job though.

Yes I tried to do this by working in the different shops. The type of job doesnt seem to make a difference though-like I said before, its not the job, its me thats the problem.

Most people assume that if i’m not working or volunteering (Ive done a lot of volunteering, especially in a riding school for people with disabilities because I horse ride) that I will have too much time on my hands. Strangely though I am always very busy and very rarely in during the day. I work out and run in the gym for about 4hours a day, swim, help at my mums work, see friends, have lots of appointments, walk in the hills or at the beach, do housework and washing, give people lifts…the list goes on.

I’m beginning to realise now that really I need to sort out the problems that happened in the past that make me hate myself so much now. This week I have several different therapies starting- CAT therapy, an appointment with a specialist eating disorder clinic and counselling with a specialist eating disorder therapist. Once I have delved into my own head I hope day to day living and doing normal things will become more regular, rather than spending 6 months of the year in hospital.

I managed to get myself through school and university because I kept myself at such a low weight. I used that to control everything else, and did extremely well because I was such a perfectionist. But then I had to go into hospital last year and had to put on about 4stone and this made me lash out at my body. I couldn’t stand to be bigger than what I was used to and have any kind of shape that might attract men. Having lost a lot of that weight again the self harming side of things is easing off so its a vicious cycle.

Thank you for the advice-its bedtime for me.

Hippos - That was my question - do you have this behaviour both while you’re working and when you’re not?