If you have a mental illness you know one of the cardinal rules is to talk about your illness with people, to address the issues before they blow up. My mental illness in the last six months has made me push away all those close to me. I have excuses in my head as to why different folks don’t want to hear about my problems. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you whether or not they are valid for any of the people, but my brain thinks they are, and so I don’t really talk about them.
I’ve recently realized how unhappy my career makes me too. I am a dog groomer. I love animals and when I am not overbooked or when the dogs actually behave for me or when I have creative freedom I love it. Unfortunately, I need to make money, so that means overbooking and the truth is I can’t afford to turn away the bad dogs, and most of the clients refuse to brush their dogs at home or are insanely picky so I am limited creativity-wise. I am burnt out. I don’t hate grooming, but my set of circumstances has exhausted me. I am in a facebook group for groomers and many do between 10-20 dogs a day, some do even more. My max is 6 or 7, some days even less. My ideal amount is 3. (and if y0u do the math, at 50% commission, thats only $120 a day BEFORE taxes, the take home is significantly less when I max out. If I do only three, its $60 a day before taxes). I used to compare myself to these other groomers. Why am I not faster? Better? Why do I get exhausted so quickly? I have to remind myself that many of these groomers have bathers assisting them and many don’t suffer with the exhaustion that comes from MDD.
The husband is working to become a police officer, which would more than double our income right now. I might look into starting an etsy store (I can do polymer clay) and going part time at that point.
I wonder how many of my fellow mentally ill folks suffer with work stuff like that? I wonder how many employers would work with you if you suffer from issues that require time off? I love my employers, they are fantastic, but they are not understanding. I will elaborate. In March, I came down with the norovirus. I tried calling out (you know, puking and diarrhea aren’t conducive to a productive work day, plus being contagious) but was told that because my day was fully booked I needed to come in and groom at least three dogs, they would call the other four and tell them to reschedule. I went in and found out that no calls were made. Well, I should say one was made and because it went to voice mail, they gave up. I barely got through two dogs before they realized how bad off I was (I repeatedly had to walk away from dogs to go vomit or have diarrhea) and sent me home. I went to Patient First, got IV fluids and antibiotics and a sick note for one more day. I suffered for another week, still very sick before I went to the hospital on my day off. An entire of week of this with no sign of getting better was not good. Turns out I had colitis and pancreatitis as a result of the norovirus and they were admitting me. When I contacted my boss, all she could say was “Are you coming in tomorrow?” Seriously? Am I getting discharged from the hospital with enough time to come in to work? I didn’t know and frankly was livid that she would even ask that of me.
I ended up being in the hospital for three days. My boss was more concerned with me coming in than how I was doing. “I won’t be discharged until Thursday” “Okay, well, I will schedule you dogs on Friday and I need you to be there” I noticed an ad appear on craigslist for a groomer position while I was in the hospital from her.
It took another 10 days to get back to normal since my antibiotic made me have crippling nausea.
It ocured to me that if I wasn’t getting any sympathy or assistance with a hospitalization for physical conditions, asking for a mental health day or so or asking for fewer dogs because of exhaustion, etc wasn’t ever going to happen. I understand, its a small business, I am the primary groomer, I play an important role. However, my health comes first. Period.
There have been days since then where I want to call out, where I have been suicidal, coming up with a plan and everything. However, I recognize that I would never be able to. That does deeply sadden me.
I have gone to my husband voicing my concerns about my profession and have gotten dismissed. I don’t blame him, he doesn’t understand it, doesn’t see it the way I do. But because of all this, I have clammed up. I have been using the self-depricating humor, joking off all of this. Any time my brain tries to think of the things that cause my depression and anxiety to worsen, I shove it to the side instead of addressing it. One day,I know it will shove back.
I know. I know this is the exact wrong way to handle it. But right now, its the only way I can handle it.