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When Your Mental Illness Takes a Swing at Your Work Performance–Fight Back!

Does your mental illness ever interfere with your ability to work? Does it ever take away your chance to be your best, do your best, and work at your best?

Mine, too.

My anxiety tried to rob me of something today. It tried to rob me of a class and, more importantly, time paid for services rendered. For whatever reason, my anxiety was screaming when I logged in for my class. I had a student from Saudi Arabia who spoke very softly and the topic was less than enjoyable to speak about, so instead of working through the anxiety, I bit anxiety’s bait and pulled the plug on my class.

I was ashamed about this moment and would still feel ashamed about it if that were the end of the story, but it’s not.

About 10 minutes later, after a quick rant to my mother about how messed up I am when it comes to consistently working and being able to do a job when it seems insurmountable and daunting—I went back in the class and finished. I even stayed after because I wanted to give my student his time that I was owed to him and, ultimately, by doing right by him, I did right by myself.

It felt good and even if he gives me a 1 (on a scale of 1 to 5) it will be the best feeling in the world. It’s like earning an F that you know you earned instead of an A that was handed to you.

I’ve been handed a lot of A’s in my life, both literally and figuratively, and regardless of the grade, this lesson taught me something that I won’t soon forget.

If you’re like me, you’re a perfectionist and performer in your work and it robs you. It robs you of your joy, your work ethic, and your sanity.

I’m realizing that the work doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be done and there is nobody better to do it than me (or you!)

I hate that my job lets students rate our performance. I don’t hate it because I don’t think students should have their say but having the ability to check these scores only cripples me further with anxiety because I have no control over these numbers only my performance.

Anxiety makes me a control freak, but today I took control of my anxiety and swung back.

I moved beyond my selfish need for approval and into the realm of doing right by another human being. It doesn’t mean I always will, but I will always try my best and do my best to meet this goal. Knowing me, I probably will fuck up from time to time, but I’ll never give up. I’ll always climb back in the ring (or the classroom in this case) and try again and again.

I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with discomfort but I am comfortable with the fact that I am capable of enduring the pain that only a tough lesson can teach.

Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” I showed up today and will keep showing up—day by day and class by class.

I hope you will, too.

Do you ever sabotage yourself in work, relationships, or life in general?

Do you ever let your mental illness drive you to a destination that you do not want to go?

If so, you’re not alone, I do too.

Remember, you might fuck up but it doesn’t mean you have to give up on yourself—ever! Trust me, enough people will do that for you.

Be your own best friend when it comes to your shortcomings because, honestly, nobody else will and the world will always be ready (and willing) to criticize and chastise you in your worst moments.

If you’ve been knocked out of the ring by your mental illness, get up, dust yourself off, and climb back in. Experience is the most brutal of teachers but if you’re willing to take the hits, you’ll reach a potential you never realized you possess. The best part about setbacks from our conditions is that we can learn with each stumble and each fall (if we’re willing), and every time we get back up—we’re stronger and more experienced.

For me, fighting back means finishing what I started. What does it mean to you?

It may mean calling your doctor or counselor, adjusting your medicine, changing your schedule, taking a mental health day, talking with your boss about accommodations, challenging yourself to move beyond your comfort zone, etc.

The way you fight back is personal and up to you to determine, but it helps to be honest–so start with being honest with yourself and what you can handle at work.

Trust me, I need to be reminded of this, too.

You’ve got this, dear reader. You’re more than your mistakes.

You’re a fighter so keep fighting!


When Your Mental Illness Takes a Swing at Your Work Performance–Fight Back!


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APA Reference
, . (2017). When Your Mental Illness Takes a Swing at Your Work Performance–Fight Back!. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Sep 2017
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