Mental Health Issues in Business and Work – Declare or not?


1212mentalhealth-RWAs those of you who read my blogs regularly know I have worked while suffering with my mental health problems and left my most recent job due to these problems.   I have also been looking for a new job and I have considered starting a business as an alternative to taking on another job with an employer.

I am however concerned; concerned about the impact my mental health problems will have on my opportunities to gain work or business… Continue reading

Interview – From Chocoholic to Chocolate business…


Dan and Paula own Elements for Life a unique Chocolate lovers experience, here Dan tells us about how a love of chocolate grew into a successful business – why not pop over after reading and treat yourself to one of their yummy chocolate making kits to try it for yourself!?

Q. How did you first get involved in your career and why?

A. Paula and I had been enjoying raw chocolate for a year or so and she wanted to start making her own. Despite looking she didn’t find a kit that had everything she needed, so last October she said to me we should make a kit. I said yes without much thinking and the rest is history, as they say!

Continue reading

Everything happens for a reason!


Sometimes it seems like the whole world is out to get you, especially with the BPD instabilities and paranoid thoughts – but not forgetting the outright horrendous behaviour of people that reinforces such beliefs at times!

At times like these you can’t see how there can be  the ‘silver lining’ that those overly optimistic people whose lives never have a problem try to convince you exists…

At times like these you can not see what possible ‘reason’ other than to hurt you that the adage ‘everything happens for a reason’ could possible mean…

Then while you are down in that hollow pit of self-pity, self-loathing and ‘I must be the problem’ cycle of thoughts suddenly out of the blue amazingly something happens to make you question your very core beliefs and paranoias…

This is what has happened to me in the past few days!

As those of you who read my post earlier this week about my current crisis will know I have been going through a rough time again lately, just as I thought I was reaching the end of the grief another problem kicked off as a result of me being ‘helpful’ – sometimes people who ask for help don’t actually want help and will use the fact that you have helped in the way they asked to make you out as an interfering, controlling and generally not a nice person – when all you did was be nice! Still, I’m not going to go into that as I’ve ‘closed the door on it’ sometimes it’s best just to walk away and leave people to their own delusions! it’s just not worth the effort…

Anyway while all that was happening I got very low again, and self harmed. It was the proverbial icing on the cake of a difficult time when friends are what you turn to only to find that some people were never truly friends at all! thank goodness for the precious few that are always there to back you up and pick you up when ‘fakers’ knock you down.

I was really needing my therapy appointment at this time and was devastated when my therapist called to say we needed to rearrange because she was ill! :(

I went to my occupational health appointment, it wasn’t very helpful and I came home thinking how difficult it would be to decide my work life future…

When I got home the post had arrived… an envelope marked private and confidential stood out… I opened it and as I read the contents I burst into tears.

It’s was a letter inviting me to an interview, for a job I had applied for that I thought was the perfect job for me – Service-user network co-ordinator for personality disorders… what was amazing was that I had told them in my application that I have BPD, and to be honest while I felt this was an advantage to the role I still felt at the same time that it would count against me – these employers would know how much BPD can affect my life, I had given them the perfect reason NOT to call me for interview, whilst it was also the perfect reason TO invite me to interview!! Luckily they must have seen it in the positive way – I got the interview!?

This was one of those rare times where I could see the ‘silver lining’ and the ‘reason’ for everything happening – despite how hurt I had been at the ‘friend’ hassles and that this meant I would no longer frequent the pub or be part of the pool team; not doing these things felt like I would be cutting myself off from the outside world, but this interview (and especially if I actually get the job) mean that I need a new direction any way. The role would involve working with support groups, this would mean some evening and weekend work. I couldn’t be committed to attending a ‘team’ game on certain evenings if I might be working those evenings. So, getting out now, before I felt obliged to attend was a good thing. If I get the job I would have struggled with balancing my commitment to the role and not wanting to let the team down – now I don’t have to worry about that, as I’m not involved in the team anyway. This time things really did happen for a reason… to allow me to focus on the important things, a decent job that really utilises my skills appropriately!

Now, I just have to get through that interview and convince them I am the right person for the job! Wish me luck!
Thank you for reading!  If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments :)

Interview – The Life of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)


A PCSO on duty with two police constables. Not...

Image via Wikipedia

Finally my interviews get round to my best friend – Lindsay, 34.  Lindsay has been a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) for just over 2 years…

Q. How did you first get involved in your career and why?

A. It was something I always wanted to do but chose not to do it when I was younger because of my daughter so I waited till she was old enough to be left alone because of the shift patterns. So when she was old enough I decided to apply. I wanted to do this career because there is so much room for progression and movement, you aren’t confined to one role, there are lots of different departments you could work in and lots of training options.

Q. What did you do before you were a PCSO?

A. I worked for ANC/Fedex courier company for 12 years, my role there was a bit of everything, starting as an office junior and working up to customer services team leader and trebling my wages.

Q. What is the most challenging thing about your work?

A. Every day can be challenging as you meet lots of different people from different backgrounds, dealing with the general public face to face.

Q. Can you tell us about any interesting people you’ve met through your work?

A. Depends what you define as interesting. Colleagues and the public are all interesting in different ways, you don’t know what to expect as you meet so many people from different walks of life and until you talk to them you don’t realise how interesting they are.

Q. What do you do when you aren’t working?

A. I chill out or go to the pub and see my family and friends

Q. What is your most favourite thing about your work?

A. My kit, hehe. Even though it can be a pain in the ass carrying it around all day. And I suppose in a way, because of the kit you are recognised straight away as a person of… not sure authority is the right word but people know they can come to you. And parents tell their children that they can come to us, and they can feel safe.

Q. And the least?

A. Paperwork can be a bit of a mission at times, you have to be careful to get everything ‘right’

Q. If you hadn’t chosen this career what would you like to do?

A. If I hadn’t done this career and had my daughter I probably would have become an Air Hostess (which we both wanted to do together when we were at school, lol)

Q. What tips would you give to someone looking to get into your career?

A. It’s tough, because you are assessed as an individual and how you deal with certain situations, so it’s down to you. If you aren’t diverse you won’t get in, being a quiet, sit in the corner, never speak up kind of person you wouldn’t fit in, you need to be confident to speak to people.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share about your career choice that you haven’t already mentioned?

A. Just that it’s a good career to have, you can stay in this job for 30 years or more (depending how old you are when join), it is a true career for life.

The Fun Questions

Q. What did you have for breakfast?
A. Hehe, a packet of chicken flavour crisps

Q. Who would win a fight between pirates and ninjas?
A. Hmmm, pirates, they are more sneaky whereas ninjas get in your face

Q. If you were a tree what tree would you be?
A. Horse-chestnut tree – the one’s that produce conkers, cause of the conkers lol

Q. What is the last book you read?
A. Bitten by Kelley Armstong – I haven’t finished it yet!

Q. Which of my blog posts is your favourite and why?
A. It was one of the first blogs you wrote, back when you were writing on Myspace lol. It was about you and your family and all the things you have had to cope with over the years.

Q. What is your favourite song at the moment?
A. Katy Perry – TGIF

Thank you for reading!  If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments :)

Returning to work after a BPD crisis


This is a Guest Post I was asked to write for Life in the Realms of BPD   please pop over and have a look at the site for more articles about living with BPD :) 

After having 2 months off work due to my latest ‘crisis’ I finally made the difficult step of returning to work.  I’m on a slow ‘phased’ return starting with just 3 days a week at 3.5 hours per day.

Just even thinking about going back to work was horrific, I was terrified of not being able to cope, what people would think of me (I know many of the people I work with know why I was off, my BPD is ‘out-of’-the-bag’ so to speak) and just the whole process of ‘working’ in general.  But, I had to do it, I knew this since I first handed in my sick note.  I also knew that I had to do it sooner rather than waiting (as I had intended) until I started to get some ‘help’ for my condition – after all I still have no idea ‘if’ or ‘when’ any therapy/help for my BPD will actually materialise… The longer I left it the harder it would be to go back, and not only that but the less likely I would be to actually return.

I’ve been here before you see, although back then I didn’t know it was BPD… let me explain before I tell you more about now…

Back then…

After spending 8 years as a carer I got my first job in 2001 as a casework assistant at the Forensic Science Service.  It was one of the first jobs I had ever applied for and at the time I was offered three jobs at the same time! Choosing which to take was hard enough never having had a proper job before, and to be successful in being offered three was shocking. So many people apply for many jobs and never get anywhere, either I was very lucky or I don’t even know what it is, but I do have a very high hit-rate in getting accepted for jobs – maybe its just about what I choose to apply for? Who knows…

Anyway, I started working in the Serious Crime department, nothing too difficult; mainly administrative duties and a bit of laboratory support.  Within a matter of weeks life at home was becoming difficult; my husband (whom I cared for) was not keen on me working – my duty was to be at home as carer for himself (he had a brain tumour) and our two children (who both had medical problems).  Despite him having encouraged me to find work, now that I had a job he seemed ‘old-fashioned’ in his attitude, expecting the housework and cooking still to be done by me. So, I was working full-time; leaving the home at 0730 having made sure both children were up, fed, dressed and ready for school; home at 1830-1900 (travel time was horrible using public transport into the city-centre) then doing the evening meal, housework, and getting the kids to bed.  Not surprisingly it wasn’t long before the strain started to show in me.  I began going out drinking every weekend with my best friend, delaying my return home in the evenings by working over, stopping off at the pub…

Looking back on this now I see my own typical ‘BPD’ crisis forming – I started looking ‘elsewhere’ for physical affection as I no-longer felt ‘loved’ or ‘wanted’ at home.  I began cutting.  I was ‘acting-out’. Eventually the overdoses started and I threw my husband out, went to the GP, got referred for a mental health assessment and stopped going to work.  By the time I went for my appointment I had  been off work for 2 months, had taken my husband back and was planning to move house.  I was ‘feeling’ better and I was so ‘blunt’ with the doctor I don’t think they even believed I had been ‘ill’ – rather I had been self-harming and overdosing as a cry-for-help due to a bout of depression which had now passed… Oh, dear I was so good at convincing people I was ‘fine’ with my ‘Me against the World’ chip on my shoulder I had blown my chance to get some help…

I handed in my notice after 6 months off ‘sick’ with ‘stress and depression’.  Work tried so hard to get me to stay, offering flexible working patterns, within school-hours only, so I could fulfill my roles as housewife, carer and mother whilst still being able to work.  But, I couldn’t bear to go back. I was so scared of people looking at me, knowing about me; so scared of losing my family.  I thought I was doing what was best for them – being where I belonged.  So I left, for good…

Fast Forward…

It was another 8 years before I was ‘ready’ to look for work again. I landed a part-time Office Manager position with a local IT company immediately, but again almost straight away the problems at home began again.  This time however, despite struggling and falling into the same pattern of ‘acting out’ I refused to stop working.  But, this just meant the problems at home got worse and in the end I ran away from my own home, returning the next day only to send my husband to stay with his brother. This time I was going to be strong – stay in work and not back down at home.  Even the kids (now teenagers) had been telling their own dad daily to “stop being horrible to mom”, the fact they recognised it was his behaviour making me ill was what gave me the strength to stick with it.  I wouldn’t have him back this time, his illness was not an excuse to be horrible to me anymore.  I wouldn’t leave work this time, not even have a day off ‘sick’ – after all I was only working 8 hours a week – I could handle it!!

I managed it somehow, but my ‘crisis’ continued, exacerbated when my now ‘ex’ husband then died of his brain tumour (It was my fault, I had taken away the one thing he loved – me). I was made redundant from the Office Manager job in January 2010 a year after starting.  Further increasing my BPD crisis yet somehow a determination to stay in work remained, I took a few months playing with the idea of setting up my own business, before looking for a ‘proper’ job again. Yet, again I was offered the first job I applied for and a few others.  In October 2010 I started working (part-time again) as  Medical Laboratory Assistant at the local hospital.  By now I had my diagnosis of BPD (which you can read about here) but whilst I was not ‘better’ I was determined to work, and keep working.  My crisis was in fact getting worse, but I did not recognise the signs or realise what was happening.  I was still applying for other jobs, in the hope of getting something that would ‘help’ me get a place at Medical School – to fulfill my ambition of becoming a Doctor.  In April 2011, I moved from the lab into the X-Ray department. But by now I was reaching breaking point and this was a full-time job…

Now…

I had only been working in X-ray for 3 weeks when my ‘crisis’ turned into a complete breakdown (which you can also read about in my earlier guest blog).  After 2 months of ‘sorting’ myself out, I’m coping but still not receiving any ‘help’ despite having had a private psychiatric assessment.  In my last visit to Occupational health the doctor was suggesting I shouldn’t return to work, but I knew this would be a huge mistake. Firstly, leaving now would make it harder to get another job later; secondly, I knew I needed an ‘anchor’ – something positive to occupy me and keep me from slipping back.  There was of course the problem that while I have good days where working will be fine, but I’m still having bad days where I will struggle – Occupational health tried to use this to further encourage me to leave, under the suggestion that should I struggle and end up having more time off ‘sick’ I may end up falling foul of disciplinary procedures and end up being forced to leave. Well, I’d rather that and know I tried than give up without a fight!

Another thing was the knowledge that my ‘not’ wanting to go back to work was actually another symptom of my BPD – I was looking for another ‘career change’, do anything rather than face my fears. So, challenging myself not to let the BPD win and prove I can do this was another motivator to just ‘get on with it’ and return to work, ready or not…

So, I’m back at work. My first day went well. I felt very awkward but no-one was condescending or treated me with kid gloves. No-one said anything about my time off, they just seemed genuinely pleased for me that I had returned. Of course, as I was new to the job anyway, it’s like starting again – I hadn’t really learned my role before I went off. I have a long way to go and I’m still scared about whether I can really handle this, but I will keep on trying – what else can I do? I’m not really a ‘quitter’.  I’ll keep you updated how I get on if you’d like?

Hopefully this will help inspire others with BPD that it is possible to get back to work, even if you are still waiting for help to manage your condition like me! :)

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