It’s been a big week for the ‘mental health’ scene on the Internet. Monday was World Mental Health Day, and it was great to see all of the positive energy surrounding this, all the tweets of illustrations, the story shares… simply everything was portrayed in a good light. Encouraging people to talk, find support, and not to be embarrassed about their thoughts. This is great, but I do agree that it shouldn’t only be ‘one day a year’ where this happens.
It was also OCD Awareness Week, which holds a truly special place in my heart. Unless you are a new reader of Very Berry Cosmo, I am also certain you all know how passionate I am about breaking the stigma of OCD, and educating as many people as I can about the disorder. Weeks like this are BRILLIANT because as a community we can all come together and spread the word. Little ol’ me can’t make a huge impact, but everyone TOGETHER sure as hell can.
People still don’t know what OCD is, they think all sufferers are all ‘super clean FREAKS’ and that we go round cleaning all day and everyday, swabbing everything to see the germ count, and that we ENJOY doing these behaviours, which is simply not the case.
If you enjoy cleaning, you don’t have OCD. You simply like cleaning.
If you enjoy everything in order, colour coding all your spreadsheets, you don’t have OCD. You simply like being organised.
I can tell you now, us OCD sufferers do not enjoy our compulsions. We like them because they provide us a sense of relief… for a short amount of time. But then we have to do the compulsion again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again… you get the picture., it get’s tiring. We do not ‘enjoy’ doing them, we have to do them. We will be completely anxious the entire time we act them out, the sheer terror we feel is not enjoyment at all.
I was interview by a local newspaper this week, take a look at the article here!
Anyway, let’s get into the main point of the blog post shall we? flip I love to babble don’t I. As most of you know, I completed my degree in July earlier this year. These days I am pretty much lounging around the house in my pyjamas trying my HARDEST to get myself a design graduate job. It is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.
A family member said to be me the other day…. do you think you’re having less luck on the job front because you make it publicly aware that you suffer with OCD? and I sat there for a moment and had a think.
I will be honest, it is something that has crossed my mind briefly, in the beginning I wanted to write an anonymous mental health blog, but it turns out that just didn’t work out. About a year and half ago I began to open up about my experience with nasty thoughts on this blog. The feedback I received was amazing, people said I was inspiring, refreshing, and educating people a lot about an illness that has so many misconceptions in the media.
During our conversation it was asked whether or not I would consider removing all my blog posts mentioning my battle with OCD… just until I managed to secure a job…
The answer was no.
I’m not going to remove them. I try to not let the label OCD define me, but at the end of the day it IS a part of me and I am really not ashamed about it – I have helped out SO many people coming to terms with their own minds! If I’m completely honest, if an employer DID feel this way, I really wouldn’t want to work for an organisation that had those values anyway.
In my last couple of jobs I didn’t utter a word to anyone in the offices about my mental health, and I also didn’t tell them about my blog. It made it really really hard for me, and made me feel even worse because I felt completely alone in the workplace. It was also when my mind was at an all time low.
I was going to therapy at 7am on Monday mornings, a therapy technique that was known to make you feel really drowsy. It also MADE you remember thoughts that were particularly uncomfortable, because that was the point of it, bringing out thoughts and feelings that you may have repressed. Mondays at work were hard, I was seriously tired and seriously worried, with no-one in the office to turn to. I guess that is kinda why I started writing my thoughts on Very Berry Cosmo in the first place.
From then on, I promised myself that I would be open about my mental health with my next employer, right from the application process. I haven’t been all over my application like… I HAVE OCD, I SOMETIMES HAVE REALLY NASTY THOUGHTS. I tend to not even mention it in the equal opportunities section, because personally I don’t feel that having OCD makes me disabled, or any less capable of an amazing career. I have simply linked my blog in my application, if they see it, they see it. If they don’t, they don’t. Obviously I also talk about my OCD design project in my interviews too – so they find out there… I am just being honest. I want to be employed for ME and for ALL of me.
Then it gets to the point of… SO WHAT if I have a mental illness. It doesn’t make me any less capable. Yes, I might have the odd blip every so often, but who doesn’t? I honestly, truly think that everybody in the world will have some experience of mental health problems in their life. Whether it is themselves directly, or a family member, problems with the mind are far more common than people realise. It doesn’t make you crazy.
I feel I am one of the most reliable, hard-working people within the workplace. I rarely take days off and I put my all into any project thrown my way. During my placement year I only took one day off, it turns out I was sent home from the office at around 10am because I was really suffering from the flu. But that is the point, I STILL went in, even though I felt awful.
I NEED to work. Working makes me feel better. Working means I have less time to mope about and overthink EVERYTHING. It provides a distraction for my anxieties. I hope employers realise this.
Whenever I talk about my OCD design project in interviews, I try to reassure them that I am doing pretty well. Because I am. If I was stood in the interviewees shoes I guess I would be rather freaked. Hearing a little girl talking about how horrible it is to have OCD.. so I try to calm them as much as I can and say that I genuinely am doing okay these days, but it is sadly not always the case for all sufferers.
My anti-depressant medication is AMAAAAZING and has totally changed my life. I rarely act out on my compulsions at all these days. I find I am experiencing more depressed symptoms these days, but I feel that is simply because I am sitting around all day and rarely leave the house.
On Sunday, Jordan and I and his dad and step-mum went for a lovely national trust walk around Wentworth Castle, in Barnsley. I remember feeling so content, surrounded by beautiful scenery, (the photos in this blog post show this) amazing company – and all around amazing day. I had one blip in the public toilet, but then I have to remember SO many people don’t like public toilets.
Life is getting better. I am getting better. I am very capable.
Hope you found this post interesting! I would be rather intrigued to hear your thoughts and opinions on this topic. Do you think work-places judge the equal opportunities section of job applications? … even though they say they 100% don’t! Let me know in the comments!
I just want to say, I certainly do worry that my mental health status IS having an impact on my job hunt initially, but I have had interviews at about 11 companies. From general feedback, I have interviewed well – there has just always been another candidate in the process with more appropriate skills for the role. Who knows?
All photos in this post were taken and edited by my lovely boyfriend, Jordan. He is extremely talented at photographing architecture and *things* but I am training (hehe) him to take portraiture photos, who knows – it could be his new hobby! Do give him a follow on his Instagram because his shots and compositions are brilliant, and deserve so much more love! Plus… he’s the reason my mental health has dramatically improved, so why wouldn’t you love him for that?
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