5 Steps to Fighting for Recovery at Work

Today I’m featuring a two-part series of blog entries that guest blogger Ashley Smith is taking over to post. She has been blogging on her own for over 10 years. Here Ashley writes about how to fight for recovery at work. Steps 1 and 2 start off the series.

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5 Steps to Fighting for Recovery at Work:

Fake it till you make it. That’s how others tried to motivate us to get the job. This mindset motivates us in the short-term, however, it doesn’t meet the demands living with mental illness. Symptoms vary, but no matter the struggle they are all severe because it effects the ability to function in the workplace.

I understand the challenges all too well. Despite living with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, which is schizophrenia and bipolar disorder combined, I aim to manage employment. Yet, working continues to present problems because the illness affects my thought process and behavior. Some of the symptoms I experienced over the years included suspiciousness, anxiety, bizarre beliefs, catatonia, seeing and hearing things that others don’t, high energy, and depression. I take medication, but pills can’t control all the complexities of a brain condition. Still, I fight for wellness and tackle symptoms with support.

What do you do when symptoms make your job difficult to manage? Here are five steps to pressing forward in your recovery: 1) Identify the early warning signs, 2) talk to your treatment team, 3) discuss accommodations with your employer, 4) rally your support system, and 5) create a new routine.

First, common early warning signs of mental health may look like poor sleeping patterns, a change in appetite, challenges with maintaining house chores, and a shift in moods that effects relationships and performance at work. Whenever I’m not sleeping and eating well, I suffer through the workday. How can someone work long hours, concentrate on tasks, and complete their job duties effectively when they don’t feel well? Generally, I keep my home presentable. However, a cluttered house can translate into a cluttered mind. Eventually, poor management of self-care, house chores, and eventually work performance. Prior to symptoms at work, you may have exhibited some of the early warning signs of imbalance. Seek professional support.

Second, discuss changes in meeting daily self-care needs, work deadlines, and other challenges with your treatment team. I’ve had to adjust the dosage of my medication. And later recognize that I wasn’t taking my medications as prescribed. Once, I took a medicine that is best taken at night with other prescriptions in the morning that effected my energy level at work. Other times changing dosages and medication didn’t resolve issues. In addition to that, I increased therapy sessions to process daily stressors. I encourage everybody to consider therapy because it is a great asset to recovery.

Steps 3, 4, and 5 coming up.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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