When You Have Not Worked In Years Due To Depression And Anxiety

My last 3 therapy sessions have been really hard - productive, but hard. There seems to be a lot more to talk about and to dig into than I initially thought. I recently posted my 2 year therapy update and even though I'm still struggling mental health wise, I've been a lot happier which is why, I think, I've been underestimating my sessions in the past months. Work is something I talk about a lot, with my therapist. The fact that I really want to work and that I haven't worked in nearly 4 years. That I haven't really done anything apart from blogging actually. Not to say blogging is easy but I sometimes wish I would have done more. Taken some classes maybe, short courses, study for a driver's license .. Even a simple hobby or some volunteering would have been fine but I've been too scared to show my face in any of those places. The anxiety that comes with trying new things is enormous. Being afraid of something new runs in my family. We are creatures of habit and even though that is okay - I feel like in our case it is debilitating.

Making progress with my mental health is great but it comes with bucket loads of tears and panic attacks. I don't think my family ever knew how to make things enjoyable, how to be positive about change or how to be excited about how the world was evolving. So, together with my therapist, we - or I mean 'I' - have been trying to break the cycle.

I've had jobs since I was 15 years old. I used to babysit, worked in a child clothing and maternity shop and then went on to being a live-in nanny and au pair in Italy. When I came back to Belgium I started university college for the second time and 6 months later I was a wreck. I thought all the struggles I previously had had in school would have gone away simply because I was so much older - and because I had 'changed' - but they hadn't. Nothing had changed. The past was not in the past. When it comes to mental health issues, caused by trauma during childhood, they are very much in the present. Traumatising experiences that you suffered as a child don't just 'go away' with age, unfortunately. They are very real and as much as it sucks to not be working right now, I'm glad I'm dealing with them as I am in my twenties. My parents are almost 60, and to see them struggling the way they do, I honestly wouldn't want that for myself. I wouldn't want to raise my kids the way they did, to be afraid of everything and everyone.

When Youre Not Working Because Of Depression And Anxiety

I've had a couple of aha moments lately, one of them being that I actually do try a lot of new things but get really anxious afterwards - I even have meltdowns sometimes, it's kind of exhausting. I wonder how that would work if I would have a job, I think I'd probably cry every night and be too tired to do anything. I also don't do well when people aren't very nice to me so I imagine an employer or colleague not so nicely giving me feedback and then me going crying in the toilet soon afterwards. Dramatic I know, but I've heard quite some horror stories from many people my age and any kind of work environment at this time, for me, just doesn't seem like the right choice. Believe me, it does get boring sometimes at home and being unemployed has made me feel like a useless piece of shit more times than I can count but as my therapist has told me repeatedly, I am working on myself. It sounds a little ridiculous, if you ask me, so I've been telling myself instead that I should see this time off as an investment. I am investing my time in getting better, now, so I can do good and be good later.

Don't get me wrong, I am afraid - of being stuck in my comfort zone, of having to cover years of unemployment on my resume, of being judged for having a hard time, for being 'sensitive'. Dealing with depression and anxiety can be very isolating and make the world a very scary place but - truth be told - I think I'm well on my way and that's the only thing that matters. I don't want to be home forever, I have goals and being financially independent is one of them!