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Why I Left My First Job Before It Began

A job is something I've always wanted but couldn't have for a very long time, it's not because I didn't have the qualifications or the skills, it's not because I was lazy or couldn't be bothered; It was because of my heath, my mental health. 

For the past few years I've suffered from mental illness, I was diagnosed 3 years ago but have been battling with the same feelings since I was an early teenager and I'm nearly 21 now. Feeling this way made my education and my social life extremely difficult and it still has a huge impact on how I live now.

For the past year or so I have been living on benefits as I have been deemed not fit to work by a medical professional and I decided to take the time to focus on getting better. I attended my psychiatrist appointments and tried several different medications but they all came with too many side effects or didn't lift my spirits. 

Everybody tells me "only you can make yourself better, you need to be positive" or "it's all in your head" but it's not as simple as that, is it? I have surrounded myself with the things I enjoy and the people I love; I've practiced self care and socialising, going out and keeping myself busy but at the end of the day the thoughts are back and I'm feeling hopeless again.

Being 20 years old and not having a job became depressing in itself and I thought putting myself out there would make it all better so I came to the decision of getting my first job. I applied to be a temporary Christmas sales advisor for Lush Cosmetics in Birmingham and I was over joyed to get an interview. 

The interview had around 50 of us in the store, separated in to groups. There was barely any room to move and we were all talking over each other. To be honest didn't think it went well at all. I got home and I almost cried because I was just too stressed from the event, there were so many people and I had to stop myself from having a panic attack. I was emailed the next day saying I had been successful in my interview and would need to pass a trial shift to be offered a place, then all the bad feelings from the night before went away. Things were looking up.

Next came the trial shift, I was extremely nervous and excited all at the same time. There was another girl doing the trial shift with me; she was lovely. We were shown around and told what was expected of us and then we set out onto the shop floor in our aprons. It was fun for the first 45 minutes and then things took a sharp turn. I could feel my mind burning out, I was mentally exhausted after talking to so many people, trying to smile, trying not to have a melt down. I could feel the rush of panic on it's way but I shook myself out of it and carried on. 

After the 1hr and a half trial shift I was given a lot of helpful feedback and I took it on board. The store manager told me I got the position and my face lit up. I finally accomplished something, I did it. I was invited to an induction day on the following Tuesday.

On my way out Tee greeted me with a huge cuddle and a well done, asking me how it went and what I did but she realised I just needed to get out of there, I needed to go. She wanted us to stay in town and do some shopping but I was just too tired and we went home. 

I had so many mixed feelings rushing through my mind, I was over the moon that I got accepted for a placement at my favourite shop, it was a dream come true but at the same time I just wanted to curl in a ball and cry. My anxiety was through the roof but I just kept reminding myself that I had done it, I got the placement and everything will be okay but I couldn't help but feel like I wasn't ready for this, my mind couldn't handle it.

It was Monday night and I couldn't sleep. The induction was waiting for me in the morning but I wasn't ready for it; I mean I was actually ready for it, I had my clothes ready and my uniform, my lunch ready to go, travel money, alarms set and a schedule but I weren't ready. I could barely sleep because I had too many thoughts, too many doubts filling my mind and I didn't know how to process them. 

By the morning I was so exhausted that I was wide awake, do you know when you're just so tired that you suddenly become wide awake or is it just me? Anyway, I got up ready and left for the day. The sickness was lurking in my throat and my stomach was churning, I could tell the day wouldn't go very well. 

My induction was 10 hours long and I enjoyed it as much as I hated it at the same time. The people were lovely don't get me wrong and I enjoyed the learning side but I couldn't handle being around so many people for so long, the minute we were allowed to go I was straight out the door, charging home, holding back the tears. 

My first shift wasn't until the following week and every day seemed to go by faster and faster, getting closer to the day. I did so much research and braced myself for my upcoming shift and the dread just kept coming. Funnily enough I managed to really hurt my foot the weekend before and couldn't go in for my shift but in a way I am thankful that my accident happened because I don't think I could of braved all those faces, not again. 

My depression and anxiety had been ignored for long enough, I tried to get on with my life without letting it hold me back. I had been putting on a fake smile and scraping my feet along the floor pretending I was living a normal life but the truth is I weren't. I was just ignoring what needed to be taken care of and because of this all the progress I made in the past few months came crumbling apart. I'm back to square one.

The day after my supposed shift I got an appointment to see the doctor about my foot, after being given some antibiotics it should be fine, fingers crossed. I was already at the doctors anyway so I decided to talk to them about my mental health and how I've been feeling, she seemed quite worried for me, prescribed a new anti depressant drug and handed me a fit note; I had been deemed not to fit to work.

I called in to the store and explained the situation and the person I spoke to didn't seem to understand or support my decision and that left me feeling quite sad in it's self; having to open up about what's been going on and then dismissed in the bluntest of ways? I thought they'd at least understand...

I sent them a copy of the fit note and thank you & farewell email confirming why I was leaving them, it didn't make me feel any better or any worse for that matter. I didn't have to leave I could of threw the note away and carried on but I sat and thought hard about what's been going on over the past couple of weeks. As much as I wanted to work there and wanted to enjoy it, I just couldn't, my mind was too clouded and I needed to put my health first.

Even though I sent them a sincere email explaining why I was leaving them so soon I got no reply and to be honest it had really upset me. For a company that is supposed to care so much about animals and the people they work with they pretended that I didn't exist to them because I had nothing left to offer. I was no use to them anymore and they dismissed me in the rudest of ways.

There's a big difference between want and need but I don't think many people see it the way I do; A want is a desire, something you want for your own, something you want to accomplishment but need, needing is something you have to do to get you by, something you need to keep you going, sometimes a hard decision you have to make that goes against all the things you want.

Now I'm back to square one. I have no job, I'm still claiming benefits, living in my parent's house with nothing but a damned mind and a dream which seem's like i'll never live. I want to be my own person, in my own space with my own earned money and a healthy mind but that seems too much to ask for.

If you've been living with a mental illness, how does it affect your work life?


  1. Omg this post makes me so sad!! I feel so bad that you proper tried your hardest through everything to try and work there and then when you finally thought about yourself and did something to help you, they didn't support you through it or reply to your emails like thats just so rude of them!!!

    I too have major anxiety and recently its been getting worse its so annoying, i work in a pub in Liverpool and one shift i felt like i was going to have a panic attack i just had to take deep breaths i didn't know what was happening. It was the worst shift ever but luckily i was going back to uni the next day so don't have to face that again till christmas.

  2. Oh I'm sorry. I know how awful this feels, to not be able to work. I was diagnosed as mentally ill when I was in my first job out of uni. I actually spent 10 months of the year I was there off work, deemed not fit to work. And they made me redundant. Ostensibly because I hadn't done enough work on the course I was completing with them. But really because I was too ill to work there. It was a good thing really. I couldn't have gone back anyway. And for the next 2 years I received benefits and didn't work. I had a few interviews lined up - but I never could even get myself to the interviews. Let alone get offered a job. Then one day, out of the blue, I was offered a position in a very small software company. The boss is a friend, and the atmosphere is so relaxed. I started off working 3 half days a week from home. I now work 3 full days, 2 of them in the office with my colleagues. What I'm saying is, it might not feel like it now but everything will fall into place and you will find a job that you can handle. I promise. And you should be bloody proud of yourself for getting as far as you did - you did better than I ever could! x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

  3. You should be proud of what you achieved regardless. That was a huge step and in time, you'll be ready again at some point. It's usually about finding the right manager I've noticed. When you have the right manager, you feel like you can do everything. My MH usually sabotages me months into a job. I've not been able to hold one down for about a year. Although maybe I'm just not ready either. Just listen to yourself, you know what you can and can't do at the moment.

    Lisa | www.fairlyrosy.com

  4. Reading your story has made me realise more and more that it's okay to put our mental health first. I still feel tonnes of guilt but it's important. Thank you x