Job hopping the curse of the multipotentialite….and mental illness, maybe?

One of the things that frustrates me beyond belief is my inability to stick with stuff. I get bored! Fast! But I also have an overwhelming interest in everything and I want to find out how it works…and then move on! This is also unfortunately how I approach my work. I have been like this ever since I was a kid.

At high school I wanted to know how the people out the back of a fast food restaurant knew what burgers to make. So I got a job at Burger King. That didn’t last very long once I discovered the tills talked to screens out in the kitchen, big let down.  This was in the 90’s back when cellphones were still small bricks. So discovering that tills could talk to computers was a big deal! There was the time I wanted to find out how McCafe made their drinks so I got a job there only to leave after 3 months and get a job at Starbucks so I could compare.  Before my ‘professional life’ I was a waitress, a cleaner, a cafe worker. I once worked at a Museum checking people’s tickets for the special expos. That was definitely the most boring job I ever had. But we were allowed to read a book while waiting for customers so not all bad.

Once I graduated from Teacher’s College I wasn’t quite ready to settle down into a ‘real’ job so I decided to become a track guide. Turns out I hate walking in the rain and hills. Not ideal when you are having to walk up a mountain every other day. Then there was the stint as a singing chef (yes, don’t ask), the early childhood job, and then finally teaching. But I only ever managed to stay at one school for no more than 2 years and would move year levels each year just to keep things interesting. Then I worked in mental health (yes that is right I worked in it! Lol!), and then I was a library assistant, a relief manager at a motel, more recently a facilitator, oh and I did my post-grad, and now I work for a startup in a role that has three different roles attached.

I probably feel the most engaged in my current job because people who work in a startup have to be as mad as hell to do it. So I can relate to my peers and it is also a lot of fun. What happens though is that I achieve what I call proficient in a position and then I lose interest and start looking around me for something else to learn to do. Not ideal if you are an employer. So why the heck would anyone employ me? Well, you will just have to read why you should hire my crazy arse to find out.

I used to worry a lot about my job hopping and view it as a negative thing. Until I discovered  Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk on: Why some of us don’t have a true calling. Then I was like “I have found my people!!” Turns out there are a whole bunch of us and you don’t have to have a mental illness to be one! Although I am pretty sure that my job hopping is directly related to my mental illness. Sigh! It is the one thing in my life that I wish I had more control over. I have Googled the heck out of it and haven’t actually found a lot of information on this area. Actually, most articles relating to keeping down a job and having a mental illness are just really depressing. The future’s not looking bright for us my friends. But I am determined to buck the trend. So this is my first post where I don’t have all the answers and am asking you to give me some advice. If you have a mental illness and work. What do you do to stop yourself from job hopping?

 

Mental health in the workplace. If you think it is not your problem. Then you are mistaken.

It has been a tough week. I have had the blues bad and had a week off work. I work part-time so it is not entirely difficult to re-schedule my work. I also could see the warning signs. So I met all my deadlines the week before. Checked in with my boss and said I just needed a week to re-configure (I take this type of leave without pay). He was cool about it. Like I said my boss and his company are trying hard to meet the diverse needs of our employees.

But what I discovered today is we still have a long way to go…

After a week of ups and downs, I still haven’t come a complete 100% but that is a rarity and so planned to return to work next week nonetheless. What I wasn’t expecting was to find out a fellow employee attempted to commit suicide last week. Nobody had informed me until today. It has been a week. I was gutted!

Due to the sensitive nature of this subject and wanting to protect the privacy of this employee I won’t go into further details of their situation. But what I will say is that when a fellow employee suffers from mental illness or distress it is everybody responsibility in the workplace to be supportive. To do this a culture of care needs to be developed. A culture where we are not afraid to discuss mental health in the workplace, where it is ok to say I am not coping, and it is not seen as a weakness. Only then will we have workplaces where all employees can move from just surviving to thriving in the workplace.

Our company is just a baby we haven’t been around for a long time. We don’t have all the answers, clearly! But we are open to learning and being better employers. Can you say the same about your workplace? Can you say the same about how you behave towards colleagues in your workplace?

You don’t have to be in management to create a change. It can start with a simple, ‘are you ok?’ To a fellow work mate. If the answer is no. Then ask ‘how can I help?’ and then follow through. It can be shutting down idle gossip in the staffroom about a colleagues mental state. It can be through meeting comments that are discriminatory or stigmatizing to mental illness with a steely gaze. All of these supportive actions create ripples, and we know that ripples can make waves.

I am thankful, so thankful that my fellow colleague was not successful in their attempt. That they did reach out for help, that they are safe with family now. I will be making sure that our company does everything that we possibly can to support them emotionally and help their return back to work be as comfortable for them as possible.

The saying goes…be the change you want to see.
NOTE:

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757

These are New Zealand help numbers if you live overseas please Google your helpline number.

 

 

Why you should hire my ‘crazy’ arse!

1 in 4 people suffers from a mental illness so there is a high chance you already have staff working for you who experience some type of mental illness or distress. If you are a good employer you will know who those staff members are already (that is unless they are unaware that they suffer from a mental illness, and there a plenty of people out there like that) because you will have developed a culture of acceptance and understanding in your workplace. If you don’t then you need to sort your shit out. It is no longer acceptable to be an ignorant employer when it comes to mental health.

I can’t speak specifically for everyone who sufferers from a mental illness about all the great attributes we have and why you should hire us. That would be like saying you should hire women because they are all great bakers and make awesome morning teas. That is just not true. Although I do make an amazing date scone, and I am a woman. Just saying.

So here is why you should not be afraid to  hire me with my mental illness:

I am incredibly bright and creative. I kid you not. When everyone else is sitting around scratching their heads saying it can’t be done…I’ll be the one handing you a solution. I just view the world differently to people.

I have a high level of emotional intelligence of my own emotions, and those of others. Why? I have spent a lot of time with psychologists doing exercises. This has helped me hone my skills in this area. Plus I have always been very attuned to how people are thinking.

I come with a huge tool-box of coping skills. As I said before I have really clocked up my hours in therapy. Therapy is not a place where you just get to talk about shit and have someone reply “…and how did that make you feel?” If you want to get better, you have got to work on it. Ever heard of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy? This is the kind of stuff I am training my brain in. Which means I am more resilient. I am also able to help other staff members cope better with their issues using these same techniques.

My work/life boundaries are pretty clear. They have to be. That is how I stay well. As an employer you want an employee who has good boundaries so they don’t burn out. I have burned out before – it’s not pretty. It wastes my time and your time. I won’t be doing that. But what I will do is manage my time effectively at work not mucking about so I have to take extra work home that I should have done at work.

I am really accepting of others and tolerant. I practise what I preach. If I want people to be accepting of me than I need to be of them.

You want to hire me because I already know about my illness. This is much better than me walking around with my head stuck in the sand pretending I am ok. Remember if you hire a large amount of staff then you already have people working for you with a mental illness. That is a fact.

Yes, I sometimes get sick. But we all do, and when I am at work I get through twice the amount that others do.

Remember for your employees to feel comfortable in the workplace it needs to be an actual reflection of society.

So the next time you have a ‘me’ in your interview. Instead of freaking out and giving us the old – sorry we just don’t think you are a right fit for this company. Take the time to find out more about the person who is sitting in front of you. We would appreciate the opportunity to show you how freaking awesome we are.

Not sure what questions you should ask? Here are a few to get you started…

How do you manage your illness in the workplace?

Can you tell us about a workplace that was supportive of you and your illness? What did they do that helped you?

We know that a mental illness doesn’t define who you are. But we also know you will have developed some really great coping strategies can you tell us about them?

If I got asked anything along the lines of these questions in an interview I would be like…’Wow these guys really get it!’ I would want to come and work for you, and then do you know what you would get? An extremely loyal employee who works their butt off. You want one of those, don’t you?

By the way, I am not in the job market. I have an employer who saw how kick-arse I was in another job and head-hunted me. He was totally aware of my illness and one of my jobs is to support all staff and help our company to understand how to best support and work alongside all of our diverse employees.