Sunday, 28 January 2018

Working as a mental

I wasn't sure how to start this, or quite where I'm going with it, but I really want to talk about how I manage at work.

Before 2016, I'd never had a full time/proper job. This was when I started working in a mental health recovery service, where my lived experience of mental ill health helped me to be really good at my job. I enjoyed what I did, grew in confidence, got recognition for my hard work and made some brilliant friends.

I learnt really quickly that the job after that was not for me. I couldn't cope in the environment and my mental health took a turn for the worse. 

It's okay though. Even though I felt shit for a while, I don't regret taking that job. I've got great support around me, wicked coping strategies and a bouncebackability that I didn't have years ago. It gave me some really interesting experiences and, importantly, more awareness of what's good for me and what's not. 

I'm really lucky now that I'm in a job that I love, in a wonderful little team of people who get it

Bastards who push the 'work is good for mental health' stuff always leave out the fact that it needs to be the right work. I love my job, it makes me happy and I'm good at it. However, I know that if I'd have been forced into work, into a job I hate and that doesn't match my particular needs, of course my mental health will suffer. 

I've always been honest about my mental health at work. It's the only way I'd have survived. It's way too exhausting to navigate it on my own, at the same time as pretending everything is brilliant everyday. I've been lucky that my employers have, so far, been understanding and supportive. I know that not everyone feels able to be open at work, or experiences acceptance if they do.

One of the most helpful things has been my Wellness Action Plan for work. I always feel a little silly sharing it with work, but it's so helpful to have it written down. Even if I had never shared it, simply writing it out was really helpful because it gave me a chance to figure it out for myself. What helps me and what drains me.

I've worked dead hard and developed really good self awareness over the past few years. Knowing myself and accepting who that is, is vital for me to stay well. 

Accepting that I find a thing difficult. Not apologising for it. Asking for what I need to survive. Being angry if someone thinks I shouldn't have it or doesn't respect my needs. 

I feel like we all need to get a little better at asking for what we need. Demanding that our needs are met. I thought I'd share my 'Work WAP' with you. Maybe me sharing some of what I need, might prompt someone else to ask for what they need.

Remember, it is illegal for an employer to not make reasonable adjustments to support you at work, if you have mental health needs.

(FYI I've cut out some stuff, that I feel aren't really necessary for me to share here)

What helps you to stay mentally healthy at work?

Making sure I take a lunch break, leaving the building (at least leaving desk/work space)
Getting fresh air and/or having a walk or stretch
Working in a quiet space and/or using headphones when doing admin
Having some time to myself/quiet time to breathe
To do lists and plans
Eating regularly and drinking lots of water
Yoga before work, walking the dog after work
Doing hobbies after work
Having a good routine (including getting ready for, and after, work)

Are there any situations at work that can trigger poor mental health for you?
Generally too much sensory input (e.g. lots of people moving around, smells, lights)
Lack of structure or clarity
Not having enough time between appointments/meetings
Not having a break

How might stress or poor mental health impact on your work?
Difficulties concentrating
Less productive
Feeling anxious or unhappy about being in work

What support could be put in place at work?
Give plenty of notice for events e.g. meetings, training etc. and if there are any changes
Give as much information as possible about them, e.g. location, time, agenda, who else will be there, what I need to bring, what’s expected of me
Schedule meetings to allow time between them to process
Help to plan tasks and structure workload
Regular supervisions 

Are there any early warning signs that we might notice when you’re starting to feel stressed or mentally unwell?
Being more tired than usual
Struggling with verbal communication more than normal
Saying ‘I don’t feel well’, unless I mention other symptoms, like cold/flu
Appearing more stressed or tearful

If we notice early warning signs that you are feeling stressed or unwell, what could managers do?
Check if I need extra support or need a chat (I often just need some space or some peace and quiet for a bit then I can feel more able to talk about it/explain later)
Point me in the direction of a quiet room/space

What steps can you take if you start to feel stressed or anxious at work?
Find a quiet space for 5 minutes or take a walk/go somewhere peaceful if on my lunch break
Talk to colleagues or line manager – tell someone I’m feeling overwhelmed
Being open and honest with everyone about what helps and what hinders at work
Listen to something nice or white noise using headphones

Friday, 26 January 2018

My plan for this blog in 2018!!!

Hello friends!

Just a quick check in to let you know my plan to pick up my blog again and try my best to post more regularly.

I've decided that a monthly post, going out on the last Sunday of the month is doable.

Sorry if I fuck it up. I'm gonna try my best.

So please expect my first proper post of the year this Sunday 26th January.

I haven't thought of a title yet, but the theme will be around how I manage/cope/thrive at work and that.

See you then!