Brown Bagging It (part 4) – Keeping the Job – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

In Part 1, 2, 3 – I spoke about Mental Illness in the Workplace, Seeking Employment, the Job Hunt, The Interview, Looking for a Job, now part 4.


I was sort of in a quandary and very nervous; do I seek further employment or take some time off.  It was November of 2005, and pdoc and my husband were in cahoots, both advising me to wait until after Christmas.  But, I resisted and applied for some positions.

There was a hiring blitz at two financial institutions and I e-mailed my resume.  One never called, the other phoned the next day and an interview set up the following afternoon.  I wondered what was happening here, and surmised that having the last position’s experience counted for something on the resume – perhaps all of that turmoil was possibly worth it.

The interview went smooth, the manager pleasant, no tests and they advised me “we will let you know by next week”.  I thought “I’ve heard that before”, but by the next afternoon – I HAD THE JOB.  Wow, I was to start in two weeks – but….there was a two week training session to be completed first.  My heart sank.  Here we go again.

The training session was taxing, but this time around, I wasn’t filled with as much panic.  As usual though, adapting to their computer system was again complicated for me to grasp.  Also, learning their policies and procedures also presented somewhat of a challenge, and at the end of the two week session, a quiz was necessary.  I froze at the very mention of a ‘quiz’, failed the first time out, re-wrote and passed.

The monthly reviews I dread so much though; always expecting the negative, and ultimately surprised by the positive.  I feel sometimes like a little kid waiting for a pat on the head saying “good girl, you did a good job”.  Self-confidence and self-esteem have returned to some degree, but I’m still working on it.  I am meeting company stats and competing with the younger folk there – I’m in the running every month.  Depression leaves a scar, but I have learned that a scar can fade.

I do not share my past with co-workers, due to the fact of **stigma.  I recognize I would be treated in a different way, as the general public does not comprehend mental illness.  In secret, I wish my co-workers/management to be acquainted with my triumph.  Existing under a veil of blackness for so many years, then at last standing upright and functioning in the ‘working world’, I feel,  is something of a phenomenon.  I do experience a sensation of gratefulness for this company, as they took a risk hiring me with a resume packed with holes.  They apparently saw the potential I forgot I possessed.

So there are steps: having the strength in preparing to look for a job; the job hunt; the interview; landing the job and most of all keeping the job.  Every step is a difficult step.  


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I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

4 thoughts on “Brown Bagging It (part 4) – Keeping the Job – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches”

  1. Deb,
    Good idea about saying you were self-employed. It’s too bad we have to use such tricks. But like you said, the stigma is still huge. We have had huge outcries this year as my community was trying to open new mental health facilities. Noone wants us around. Personally, I lost almost all my friends when I was diagnosed with depression. I spent a lot of time in hospital , especially at first, and I guess they just couldn’t deal. Others definitely treat me differently – as though I’m not quite as intelligent as I used to be. So now I only disclose if I’m extremely comfortable with a person. Even at places where I volunteer, I prefer not to say anything. It’s just not worth it. Maybe someday we won’t have to worry about all this. You’re right about the loneliness. I sometimes find it difficult to find a reason why I don’t want to do something when it’s really because I don’t have the energy or there will be too many people there or something like that. My family is only just starting to understand after all these years. I don’t think my mother ever will.
    But on the plus side, I met my best friend on the psych ward and she always has my back. She’s the one person I can be completely myself with. It’s great to have someone like that in my life.
    Thanks for sharing your life with us.


    1. Gee Diane, are you sure we haven’t met! I lost all of my friends during the bad depression years, they seemed to disappear one by one. I only had new people to talk to that I met in hospital. At least those people understood what I was truly going through. I also met my very close friend at a meeting that my psychiatrist held bi-weekly. She handed me a piece of paper at the end of one of the meeting to maybe meet for coffee, we met and became fast friends. We also have such delicious conversations. And I treasure her as a friend; it’s nice to say that again. She has been through it all the same as me, and both of us still have our bad days here and there, but know we are only a phone call away.



  2. Thank you for sharing your job search. I have MDD and am treatment resistant. It has been 9 years for me and no answer in sight at the moment. However, I am taking part in a research study on a new treatment for treatment resistant depression. I think often of what might happen if the day ever comes that I can return to work. How do I explain the huge gap since I was employed? Do I want to go back to the job that contributed to my illness? etc, etc. You know the drill.
    Reading that you were successful in returning to the workforce is very encouraging for me. I hope you are still well and working.


    1. Thanks so much for the comment. Sorry for your medical condition and kudos to you for attempting to search for work,
      I was unemployed for 11 years total and 2 of those years were spent trying to get back on my feet. The job I am in now I have been for 5 years (time flys). Sometimes I can’t believe I did it. I did have a 6 month period off with a setback of depression, but had to dust myself off again and face my job. One of the biggest things to tackle has been the stigma part of this whole illness. Only one friend in my whole department (90 people), knows I have to deal with depression. I am unable to share this with anyone as it would be detrimental. Word would quickly fly through the office and I don’t need people talking behind my back. But it’s lonely sometimes – why can’t you share. If you had cancer/heart condition, you could easily share your diagnosis, feelings, etc.

      As for the gap, I sort of fibbed and said I was self-employed.

      Good luck with everything and keep in touch. Deb


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