by David Evans
Work is often referred to as the ‘daily grind’ – something felt too literally by some – and whilst I would consider myself to have a strong word ethic and drive to succeed, I’ve always had quite a difficult relationship with work and the impact it has on my mental health.
I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, although it wasn’t until my 30s I actually acted upon how I was feeling and received a diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
Following a change in my working role ‘post-Covid’ and the new demands that came with it, overwhelming feelings of dread became my early morning wake-up call, while tremors, tears and nausea became my new commute companions and bedtimes came later and later each night in an attempt to delay the inevitable.
I was already taking medication by this point and decided to begin some more intensive sessions of CBT as a support mechanism.
One day working from home, I experienced what I can only describe as a mini panic attack and while my poor dog looked on with a mixture of sympathy and disbelief I knew I wasn’t going to be able to brush this aside this time so reluctantly picked up the phone, revealing everything to my line manager.
Signing myself off work for the remainder of the week I naturally felt an element of guilt for taking time off for my mental – as opposed to physical – wellbeing and shame for both laying bare my struggles with anxiety to my bosses and it having impacted my working life.
However having been particularly struck by a recent CBT session discussing ‘life values’ and the importance we place on them, I realised the time and effort I was designating to my working situation was completely out of line with how important my job actually was to me, particularly in comparison to other areas such as home, family and relationships.
This realisation led to me returning to work and immediately handing in my notice, knowing that job security and salary didn’t outweigh the exponential impact it was having on my mental health.
Of course this is a terrifying thought, as, linking back to these ‘life values’, we are programmed to place such an importance on career progression and everything that comes with it.
However everything needs to be in relation to what is truly important to you and not at the detriment of your health.
So here I am now at 36 years old, taking a step back and currently working in a job that isn’t necessarily my calling, but allows me the time to heal and get my mental health back to full strength and for the first time, instead of feeling fearful, feeling optimistic about what the future holds.
The most important outcome being that I feel in control of my life and myself.
My name is David Evans and, having struggled with anxiety my entire life, I want to help normalise the different experiences people face when dealing with situations that can negatively impact your mental health.
I’m by no means an expert and continue to learn different ways of coping everyday, however if something from my story is relatable to even one person then that is enough for me.
Anxiety UK also offer CBT and other forms of talking therapy, more details here
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