Did you know that workplace suicide is on the rise? According to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, there has been "an 11 percent increase in work-related suicides." Today, owing to the pandemic, mental health issues have taken a turn for the worse. In fact, the World Health Organization recently announced that "mental health, suicide prevention needs greater attention during pandemic." (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Work and Depression
Capitalism and "hustle culture" (the culture where one feels the need to be working constantly) have turned us into a strange species. Even in the middle of a pandemic, we are putting immense pressure on ourselves, in spite of depression, to hustle and be productive. While I don't think hustling was ever a good idea, I believe it is far worse in today's stressful times.
How do you cope with depression at work? After all, depression is hard enough to deal with by itself, add a stressful job to the mix and life can get very hard very soon. It is important for any individual with depression who is able to hold down a job to learn some coping mechanisms to help them deal with depression at work. Because just like a natural disaster, a depressive episode can hit you when you are least equipped to handle it. Let's take a look at three healthy coping mechanisms you can use to cope with depression at work. Each one of them has worked for me and I hope they work just as well for you too.
After a busy workday, it's essential to let your mind recover and disconnect from work. Studies have shown that a healthy work-life balance benefits mental health by decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Fatigue at work often interferes with your job when you have depression. When you are constantly exhausted, it’s hard to focus on your job, and depending on what you do, this can be dangerous. If fatigue because of depression at work is a problem for you, it’s important to take steps to manage it. In this post, I will go over habits to establish to help you manage exhaustion, as well as some quick tips for dealing with fatigue at work.
Making friends at work when you have depression is important because social support is an integral part of a healthy life. Even the most introverted among us need friends. Depression inherently affects the way we interact with others. Feelings of loneliness are a common sign of depression and the symptoms of depression often result in the desire to isolate yourself, which only further compounds the feeling of being alone. It can feel impossible to reach out when you're depressed, but if you can establish a healthy support network, you have a lifeline during moments when it feels like depression is encompassing your whole world. This is particularly beneficial at work, where you spend most of your time. This is why it’s in your best interest to try to make friends at work, even with depression.
Letting go of perfectionism can be difficult, but it's important because perfectionism is a nightmare. It makes it impossible to be satisfied with your accomplishments (or to accomplish anything at all) because it will never be good enough. I used to have a terrible problem with perfectionism. I would have these great ideas but never follow through with them because I couldn’t execute them perfectly. This perfectionist paralysis held me back from a lot of success, especially in the workplace. Now I have come to accept the philosophy, “Done is better than perfect.” You have to let go of the idea that perfection is attainable. However, that is easier said than done, especially for someone with depression.
Being self-employed presents a number of challenges. If you compound being self-employed with having a mental illness, it can be a very difficult dynamic. However, the dynamic may work better than a traditional employment situation for someone living with depression.
Many individuals that live with major depressive disorder decide to pursue a career despite their sometimes debilitating illness. If you are interested in working, you should consider several things regarding your choice in employment. In order to increase the likelihood of success, it is imperative that you choose a job that best suits you and how your depression manifests.
Like many average people that we share the world with, people living with depression have good days and bad days. However, when you have depression, your bad brain day can turn into bad brain days, weeks, months, etc. Depending on the nature of your depression and depressive episodes (frequency, severity and length), it can sometimes feel impossible to manage your life in any area, much less a job.