Working when you have a mental illness is hard. You’re probably thinking “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.” You’re right, it’s obvious.
But I’m going to say it again for the people in the back who need and deserve the validation. Working when you have a mental illness is hard. Going to school (which is essentially a full time job) is hard.
Many people ask me how I was even depressed when I was still in college. I was performing regularly (both paid and unpaid), I was working a part time job, and I was getting above a 3.0 while completing two degrees in four years (an average of 20 credits a semester compared to the typical 12-15).
Raise your hand if this sounds like you.
What people rarely know is that I was getting a lot of help from my family, especially my mom. When I told her all of the classes I had missed and that I was forgetting to feed myself, she showed up to bring me food and rides to class. My dad fielded a lot of emotional phone calls from me, to the point where, by the end of college, he would answer the phone like “Hello? Is everything okay?” Many days, I was unable to get out of bed, let alone to class. But I was successfully doing all of the aforementioned things. How?
I barely remember most of college and not because I was drinking. If I distracted myself enough, I could blame my lack of energy and depression on all of my classes or work or rehearsal. I could forget.
I wasn’t well.
So now here I am, three years out of college, working full time and paying all of my bills. I’m not in credit card debt. I’m a teacher of tiny humans and an artist and I still make music. And it’s all because my family is still helping me. It’s taking me longer to do other things, like living on my own, but that’s okay. I’m grateful; many people don’t have the support system that I do.
But working full time when you have a mental illness is hard. Recovery is hard. Bad days are hard. It’s okay to say that. This isn’t easy.
I feel myself slipping into that place that I was in during college. I’m doing everything I can to not go there, but sometimes things are hard.
But we’re doing it. That’s what matters.