Do you remember Career Day when you were in elementary school? I sure do! Career Day was my favorite day of the entire school year except for the field trip to the pumpkin patch, of course.
Can you remember what career you wanted to have when you grew up? The first career for me was a ballerina. I probably chose that career because I was already taking ballet lessons at the time and loved dressing up and dancing like a pink kitty-cat. I’m unsure what other outfits I wore to school for other Career Days. Maybe one time I was an artist? Um….Or was that a Halloween costume?
My Job and the Big Bad Wolf
As I look back over my life, I realize it has been one big continuous Career Day. I have “tried on” 19 different jobs and four careers since college. Unfortunately, none of them were a ballerina or an artist. I am sure some of you reading this can relate and maybe even worked more jobs than me.
Once I would settle into the latest job flavor of the month, I would hide myself behind the career or job. Whatever job I had, I had shielded my bipolar limitations from the public view. It was like building a house of cards in order to keep my mental illness a secret. These flimsy efforts were attempting to hide job skills that were difficult for me if not impossible. For instance: frustration when I could not remember simple tasks that I had done 1000’s of times; my anxiety over talking on the phone to a complete stranger; or inability to write a lesson plan.
I knew I was in trouble when the Big Bad Wolf of worsening symptoms came by my desk or classroom. My skills and education were outmatched by the mental illness. Each day’s challenges brought symptoms which huffed and puffed and attacked my livelihood by blowing those cards down, leaving me exposed.
Placing my Hope in the Wrong Person
Each new career required a new competency. Soon my hope became my accomplishments. So, when that skill no longer worked, I sought after a new career or job. Then that career would build around me a fragile protection which I soon learned was never meant to protect me in the first place.
This may be completely bizarre for you. Maybe you have had the same job since high school or college. When I think of staying in one job for 25 – 30 years, I get overwhelmed, bored, not challenged enough, panicky, and feel like I’m at a dead end. There are many factors that go into the mix of someone with a mental illness who feels it is necessary to quit their job of one month or 10 years.
Any job can have its obstacles for the one with the mental illness. Someone with bipolar disorder could have difficulty thinking clearly, making any decision, or getting the right words out in a basic conversation. Then there is the medicine he or she is on that can have an affect on the body as in memory reduction or tremors. Can you image going to work and having just one of these challenges? A mentally ill individual could have a myriad of symptoms that cause road blocks for them in doing just an average job.
I just couldn’t make up my mind!
When I was in college, I started my freshman year as a music education major. Then, I switched to middle school education. Next, it was physics which turned into physics education. The last major I looked at was a major in parks and recreation before I finally went back to middle school education. I JUST COULD NOT MAKE UP MY MIND!
What I truly think is if I had not become bipolar in the first place, I would still be in the school system, but living my dream as an assistant principal, principal, or superintendent.
Now Relate this to Yourself
Does that sound familiar to you? Did you have an accident in the warehouse which affected your eyesight? Now, you can no longer do your job? Are you suffering from MS, cerebral palsy, a broken hip, or an appendage that is no longer there? Is your life the same as it once was? Were you in an automobile accident? Did the injuries ruin your career?
When I could no longer perform a particular job, it was very embarrassing. Often times, it felt like the job or career was slipping through my fingers like sand and I could not do anything about it.
I was humiliated when I used to feel like the Top Dog at work, but was quickly pushed to the bottom of the dog pile when my skills started to evaporate. There was a time when I had control of my classroom, control of the sale, control of the documents going out of the law office and now I get afraid of making a lesson plan, afraid of talking to strangers, or afraid of forgetting something.
You may have a friend or a gym buddy who goes through jobs like a hot knife through butter. Please don’t judge your friend who cannot keep a job and can barely land one. He or she could be battling depression to the point it is almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning to go to work. He or she could have OCD and their obsessions are keeping him or her from getting to work on time. Your friend has to make sure all the doors and windows are closed and locked as well as double check particular appliances.
We all need a friend to check in on us from time to time, whether you have a mental illness or not. People without a mental illness are susceptible to stress at work and home, too. Be sure to take good care of yourself physically, spiritually, and mentally (PSM).
Here are some ways you can grow your PSM
It is a good idea to keep a check on yourself to make sure all systems are go. Stress amongst other things can impact your work performance. Use these ideas to help decrease the stress in your life.
You may be getting stressed right now just looking at the lists below. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Choose one thing out of all three (PSM) to get started. Then you can add another category or change out an activity.
Physically – take a walk on your lunch break, take your kids to the park, go for a bike ride, walk around your neighborhood, play a sport with your teenager.
Spiritually – spend time in prayer, listen to worship music, read your Bible, read a book by a Christian author on a Christian topic, go to church, get involved at church.
Mentally – practice mindfulness, volunteer, take a nap, drink plenty of water, spend time with friends, watch a favorite movie to unwind, read a good book or magazine.
Call to Action
What was the career that you represented on Career Day when you were in elementary school? Do you remember? Maybe a firefighter? Please share with us in the comment section. I would LOVE to hear from you.
Stop by the comments section and let me know which activity you will try this week! Also share and/or like Life Conquering.