This further highlights the current pace of life isn’t sustainable. People weren’t meant to live and work like this. Its too much pressure and stress, and although the human brain and body can adapt-there is a breakdown point.
I just put in an application for a job that would underpay me for my skillset in hopes of a brighter future. I am unemployed for the second time in my career in my 20s. I’m applying to a mental health outpatient center as a coordinator role, in hopes to go backwards from manager to coordinator, to be propelled forward like the arrow. You know the saying, “an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So when life is dragging you back, it means that its going to launch you into something great-so just focus and keep aiming.”
Yeah, sure. So “they” say.
I’ve decided I’ve experienced far too much in life not to share my story. My 2017 experience, I will share now. Because the nature of this place and position I am applying for allows me the space to do so. I hope. Considering this, that I myself have studied mental health and emotional well-being and devoted my career and educational focus to promoting such healthy advocacy in the workplace. Plus, I have found myself in recent years on the other side of the coin-being the actual patient. Even the impatient patient at a time.
So, it is time I come out of the dark closet to share my experience and story with my own mental health in the workplace. It speaks volumes to the work that is still at play around the stigma of mental health and emotional well-being in the workplace. If in fact, I myself, a mental health advocate, am concerned about my hire and rehire ability and am considering lying on my resumé to shorten the appearance of a “gap” to increase my likeliness of achieving a job in a field that should advocate for such basic human rights. Yes, there is still work to be done here. The mental health workplace needs addressing and supporting this cause, that ultimately has a very large effect. Lets open the door to the mental health closet- its time to ‘turn on’ the light. More on that matter later.
When reconstructing and updating my resumé. I considered changing the dates to hid that 2017 “gap” in my resumé. But, intuitively reconsidered. Truthfully, if someone in this day and age doesn’t want me as an employee for the life experience and knowledge I’ve gained “off the record,” I don’t want to be employed by a company or business that exudes such value systems-or rather lacks them entirely. I’d throw out their resumé at just as quick of a date glance as their consideration for me, after spending hours, writing and articulating my worth on a blank sheet of paper that should define and summarize me in a single 8’ x 11’ circumference. Good luck.
After reconsidering this ‘small’ lie to hide the truth. A small lie that would ultimately land me in the same cycle and role in another company, hiding from the truth of the burnout cycle. The cycle that has me and the rest of my generation locked in with golden handcuffs, cutting off the circulation to our creativity and problem-solving capabilities. And oh yeah, the handcuffs are on fire. I know counterintuitive, that burning out and the extinguishing of a flame would feel as if you still had a fire under you ass to get through the day, with a triple shot of espresso and a side of stress to go with it. Actually make it two sides for me please. Yes, I reconsidered this small lie on my application as I realized on further examination, its actually not lacking life experience and knowledge whatsoever. That said “gap” in my resume. I gained street smarts if you will that year. Look, I have the emotional and mental scars to show you across my heart, but my mind is freed from the entanglement now. It is in this time and place of my personal and professional journey. I’m going to call it a journey. A career feels irrelevant at this stage in life. That I gladly welcome the opportunity to explain why there is a “gap” in my professional career at such a young age. For those that will lend a listening ear or a short time of day to the consideration of this cover letter. Anyone else that needs to move on to their next email or send an already late budget proposal. Stop reading my resumé and call your therapist. Right now! Get on the phone with your insurance. If you have the luxury of it. And that may cover a fraction of your mental health cost. But, only after receiving a label. Yep, after a diagnosis. This diagnosis that will stigmatize you from every being hired again for another job. After you lose this one. You will lose this one, because you are taking company time to go to this therapy session. While wasting valuable and current productivity for the greater good of the business. None the less, make the call. Call your therapist. The navigation process of finding someone that you connect with and is in your budget. Bonus- if they are in your insurance network. I will say, is a bit of a bitch. Make an appointment anyway. I’ll even be your accountabilbuddy and do it for you. You’ve got work to do. We all do. Stop reading and make the appointment NOW. This call can’t wait any longer.
For those on the same page, read on.
In 2017, I experienced work overload, stress, and burnout at my first job. Fresh out of college and ready to take on the world. A little naïve, I must admit to the world of free market enterprise. I believed if I put my head down and worked myself into the ground, I could work my way to the top. To up the ante, attached to that burnout syndrome I was experiencing in my workplace at a stand-alone at the time. Add an unwelcomed sexual assault from a direct supervisor into the mix. Under all the emotional strain and mental pressure of my job’s requirements and responsibilities, I had booked an all-inclusive, one-way ticket flight to the mental psych ward (Behavioral Health Crisis Unit-to be more politically current. Yes, I meant current. Not correct) and I didn’t even know it yet. I ultimately chose to report the unwelcome sexual incident, rather than running away from it and leaving it unknown and unresolved. I didn’t realize I didn’t have the capacity or capability of seeing it through due to my state of mind. I was already running on fumes. My first intent to reporting the said incident was to help prevent this behavior from happening again to others in the workplace and have the company update their sexual harassment clause in the employee handbook.
Little did I know that single choice in reporting the incident would result in an entanglement of negotiation, saving face, attorneys involvement and a mound of medical fees that would make my head spin in and of themselves without the trauma attached. Leaving or losing a job in life is hard enough without having a broken brain that was running on empty prior. Recommended to settle in my best interest by my attorney, for the sake of my mental and emotional health hanging on by a thread. I didn’t realize standing up for myself would result in a confidentiality agreement and settlement that would barely cover the cost of my student debt, medical bills and attorney’s fees that I quickly started to drown in. All the while leading to the demise of my job and digging my own resume reemployment grave. What was I supposed to say to a future employer prospect? What HR would hire me if they knew the truth. I couldn’t tell it anyway. That would breach confidentially in my agreement. That’s a huge liability for a new company to invest in. Clauses about no retaliation for reporting sexual harassment/assault and voluntary self-identification of disability after the fact are nice thoughts, to be considered in writing and theory. But, they are both a catch-22 and affects your marketability as an individual in the workplace in practice and action. So, in this work experience I gained some knowledge and experience about the legal system as well, that I can’t tell you about. Guilty or innocent until proven otherwise. So now, you’re not even allowed to ask about my “gap,” and I could be sued for telling you about my “gap.”
That choice to report the incident, well I now realize I was making a reel of compromising choices to my health and well-being, leading up to the cherry on top of it all. The final trigger that led me cascading down a dark and deep spiral of trauma triggers and emotional upheaval, I couldn’t see coming even if I was predicting it on the stock market. But, I could have. It was just my lack of attention to it. I should have been paying attention. We all should. That was my Big Short. Like, Michael Burry looking at the small details and predicting the housing market crashing in 2008. My mental, emotional, and physical body. My home. Was crashing and burning. The signs were there about my breakdown. I should have been paying more attention to those small choices each day. The little lies and compromises, I was making and I was telling myself about my well-being day-to-day. The choices that lead me to call 911 on myself after arriving to my mothers for a simple Sunday brunch, running down the street for fear of my life-barefoot. It was just breakfast. It was just a job.
Hindsight is 20/20. I should have seen it coming.
It was as if my brain started to untangle piece by piece an “unlearning and unraveling” process of behaviors and mental and emotional patterns that were clearly no longer serving me and being manifest in the most instinctive, animalistic way. On speed. But, not actual speed. Heartbeat. My tired brain couldn’t keep up and handle any more input from my racing heart signals. I ran away from my mom, you guys. She was just making me breakfast after a month of legal emails and sleepless nights. It has taken ALL types of therapy (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Transdiagnostic), Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD, Functional Chiropractic Neurology, Neuropsychology, Art Therapy, Dance Therapy), 2 extended stays in an Impatient Facility, sleep, oh my God, sleep, sleep needs its own sentence, meditation, medication (didn’t help in my not so professional opinion), yoga, mindfulness practices, community, family, friends and partners along the way for me to truly accept that “gap” in my resume. I finally feel free. I’ve moved away from the victim consciousness of my own self-deprecating behaviors and patterns. To a survivor from sexual assault in the workplace and survivor of my own mental breakdown. I’m ready to step into freedom as a new self-proclaimed Thrivor. Beyoncé girl, get Destiny’s Child back together. We have a second part of the song to write. “I am a Thrivor.” I can now say, I truly know and appreciate the value in choosing to look at each day as a new opportunity to live and thrive in life to the fullest-all pain and joy considered. In my professional and personal life. They really need to start being considered one and the same. We are personal individuals at work. Even the stock market goes up and down like the rhythm of our naturally beating hearts. The workers that keep the rhythm at place. But, what tempo and what pace are we going to start choosing together.
I want to choose to be an advocate in others “gaps,” as I give space and voice to my own. Because not everyone has the support systems, resources, tools and skillsets that I have acquired collectively over sometime and continue to cultivate and maintain for my personal mental health and well-being each day. I want to be there for people in need of guidance and loving support through their own perfectly imperfect “unraveling” of their emotional and mental torment that has been tailored to them and their personally concocted stress cocktail. Its there. Ready or not, aware or not.
I have that to offer.
Your company. Your mission.
Our company. Our mission.
This is my life’s calling to help others turn their psychological breakdowns into breakthroughs. That will free them from the torments of their minds and emotional bodies. Spiritually awakening them to their own human potential to live a life that is authentic to their own truth at home and in the workplace. Living a life that is “wise, wild and free” as all human beings should rightfully be.
New Year’s Eve 2017, I was physically sick with a cold that felt like a breeze. Just a sneeze compared to that year’s emotional, mental, and physical roller coaster with my mental health. I went to bed before midnight around 8:00pm with the intention to put 2017 to rest. The hardest year of my life. The most mentally challenging and emotionally taxing year to date. If that doesn’t get me some tax credit in resilience-I don’t know what would. Oh wait, there isn’t a mental health maintenance tax credit. Yet.
Fast forward to 2019. Its New Year’s Day (technically) and I am awakened to check the clock at quarter past midnight. I was working for a company that I valued and supported in their initiatives and mission. More than my own. So much so, that I was beginning to fall back into old patterns of burnout and overworking. I guess, old habits do die hard. Especially, in a company culture where bragging rights are given to the person with the most hours at the end of the week. New Years, this year I had collapsed from exhaustion on the couch around 8:00pm after working a 14-hour day. It was at this “late” time, after the New Year had already been rung in by the rest of the Mountain Standard timers 15 minutes prior. I put on a hat and my signature dark lip and rushed out the door to dance the night away and welcome this new found beginning into my world. Declaring to myself, “I am on my own time.”
To whom it may concern, if you see that “gap” on my resumé as an early onset issue to my mental health that will need extra ‘accommodation’ as a potential threat to your bottom line budget and your humanly impossible timelines for your business.
Please reconsider me.
Please consider my mental health.
Please consider your own.
I myself, have some further consideration for you as my potential future employer.
Are you going to choose to test your limits and take them to breaking point and mental bankruptcy as I did? It’s much easier to manage and maintain, than to fix and repair a problem in life and business. Right?
Are you currently practicing life in this way?
Let’s continue this conversation. This time, rather than privately in your office. I think this should be our new open-door policy. Let’s shine some light therapy in the mental health workplace closet.
Or better yet, please allow me an opportunity to recommend you a therapist, I’ve got a great network and some competent contacts. We can start building this more manageable and sustainable pipeline dream together in the workplace.
We’ve got work to do together.
We are all in this together.
Thank you for your time and consideration to review my job application.
The Girl without an Agenda
Schieck, Rochelle. “Qoya.” Qoya, www.qoya.love/#connect.