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Dealing With Mental Health Illnesses While Working

Handling your mental state while working can be quite the task. A battle is what it is for some of us. You can either permit it to regulate you or do your best to function through it. Most of the time, I work through it. Working through it makes you more vigorous than the day before- at least that’s what I tell myself.

Since I work in the customer service industry, I try my best to keep my mental illnesses far away from my workplace. For starters, I have bills to pay, so I can’t risk losing my job; plus, I learned at a young age to not allow personal or mental matters to influence your work performance. Unfortunately, for me, about a year or so ago, my job was the cause of the resurfacing of my mental health issues. Although I was encountering issues within my employer (mainly my boss)- I did not let it affect the way I treated my shoppers. However, it did eventually have an impact on my work performance. I stopped caring about the quotas I was required to meet along with everything else, but I still showed exceptional customer service because that is just the type of individual I am. My natural bubbly spirits help me construct incredible rapport with strangers, and that alone is a beautiful experience.

Being that I’m an outstanding customer service guru, I don’t feel as though guests or customers deserve rudeness due to personal or work-related matters when it comes to one’s mental health. There has been plenty of times where I’ve experienced or witnessed employees being flat out disrespectful or rude to customers. A lot of times, it may appear those associates are dealing with personal matters or are already irritated by previous customers. In reality, some of them could be dealing with something much deeper than that. Either way, you look at it, in my opinion, it is terrible for business. I’ve noticed a lot of people settle for horrible service, and I just can not relate, nor will I ever tolerate it. I’m not sure if it is solely what they are used to, or maybe they don’t want to be “confrontational,” but whatever it is, people need to learn that is far from acceptable, and they deserve better service when spending their hard-earned money. Regardless if you visit a McDonald’s, Dollar Tree, Walmart, Tesla dealership, or Louis Vuitton store- outstanding customer service should be expected and a given.

I speak on this because I’m always receiving great Google reviews on my services. I will be honest and say, it touches me more when my guests or customers tell me face-to-face. These past two weeks, I have received the most heartwarming feedback from a few of them. They have made me feel good about doing my job even when I felt like I wasn’t giving it my very best. What they don’t know is the depressive state I’ve been in this past month. To them, I’m this happy-go-lucky sales associate who loves her job. Sadly, I have been sick to my stomach most days, taking moments in the back room at work to cry, crying during my commutes in silence, crying myself to sleep most nights, ignoring phone calls and texts, etc. They couldn’t tell because I put them first, and that is how I feel everyone should be when it comes to their work, especially when in the customer service industry. I’m an expert when it comes to hiding my emotions in specific settings. I cope with my troubles alone because my strength won’t allow me to show these emotions in front of my customers or coworkers. I have a task to accomplish each day, so motivating myself to stay in a festive mood for my customers’ outstanding in-store experience is vital.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting an older couple, and their feedback was so touching it brought tears to my eyes. Of course, there’s more to the conversation that wasn’t work-related, but I’ll discuss that in a future post. Those customers gave me a sense of hope when it comes to my job and life. Maybe I’m not doing as bad as I seem to think I am. Perhaps I have been a little too hard on self when it comes to work or my current life. I know for sure it was proof I know how to set my troubles aside to take care of so many unique people each day. One should never allow their mental health to affect their work ethics, and should always aim to give it their all. Yes, it may be challenging to deal with, but faking it until you make it helps as well. Take it one breath or day at a time, and it will get easier to manage and cope with. When guests enter an establishment, they should always be greeted with a warm welcome, positive energy, and a big smile. We have to remember, they are not the cause for our problems, and they have no idea what we’re going through (vice versus). That one store visit could make a significant difference beginning with your greetings.

Even on the days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I still manage to keep a smile on my face. Luckily for me, I take my mental health exceptionally seriously because my depression is chronic and randomly occurs when I’m least expecting it or if something triggers it. Sometimes I have no idea why I’m depressed, but it just takes over, and when it does, I’ll either fight it in peace, or I’ll take a break from work. I’m able to “take a break” from work under the protection of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and I highly encourage others dealing with mental health illnesses to look into it for themselves. I am allotted a few days per month to take care of my mind as needed. My work schedule is also reduced every day should I need to leave work early due to my mental health. This accommodation was processed via my health care provider to protect my position and to protect from discrimination (as I’ve experienced in the past). Although it is rare for me to leave early due to my mental health, I’m very thankful for the protection because I’ve been documented for leaving work due to an anxiety attack before. It sucks, but hey, I’m legally covered by law now, and I will never feel bad for putting my mental health before my employer.

If you are interested in these accommodations, I suggest you reach out to your health care provider and your Human Resources department. Some of you don’t need to suffer any longer and could use the break because it truly affects your work ethics and could cost you a lot of missed money. Best of luck to you all!

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