I have been living with my illness for 22 years, so I have had a fair amount of experience dealing with the symptoms of psychosis. In my time I have had many different coping strategies that I have used to deal with the loud and intrusive nature of my illness, many of the problems that I have had to overcome and still must deal with. I can overcome with these simple coping strategies. I can rely on these coping strategies that I had from before I was working, like using headphones to drown out my voices or using breathing techniques to lower my stress level and heartbeat and get myself back to a place where I can concentrate on my environment and workplace properly. When I first got my diagnosis, I worked in a kitchen, in a petrol station and as a carpark attendant, I was unable to hold down any of these jobs when and was put in hospital for my own safety and on benefits as a way to get money coming in. There was then an 18-year gap in my employment after first becoming ill and getting the job that I currently have.
In order to start work I had to get myself ready for work. I got into a work routine before I started my job, doing things like getting up and ready for work by 9am every day for a few weeks to be prepared for the start of my job. I had to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t be in control of my days, good or bad and I would have to work for a set amount of time, this forced me to come up with some new ways of coping. Having something to look forward to when I get home helps, so no matter how hard my day has been I can still look forward to getting home and eating something nice or doing something fun, this has helped me to get though hard days and find ways to let go of the stress of the day.
Having a morning routine that I can do without thinking about too much also helped.
Having an understanding and supportive boss is one of the main things that I found to be helpful, adapting to my condition like letting me use headphones or put music on, and helping me find ways to work. Finding and working on a very strong sense of self compassion has also helped me a lot. I have found that the more I fight with my illness, the anxiety or the pain, or the feelings of fear that come with psychosis, the more of an effect it has on me. Accepting my condition and being kind to myself instead of mean has helped.
I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to work and I am proud of myself for overcoming the barriers that psychosis has put on me.
Some days are easier than others, but I have a good support network of friends and family outside of work that I can use to help unwind after a hard day. I also use art and journaling to vent my illness out onto paper, this has helped me get past hard days and leave them in the past. I meditate in order to help calm me down and find inner peace which has helped with my psychosis symptoms. Meditation was very hard at first and there are still days that I find it hard to do, however when I do, I feel a lot better for doing it.
I know people with psychosis are told they do not have to work or are unable to work, but I don’t think that that is necessarily true. I met a few different people with psychosis that work, and I feel like there examples have made me feel able to work. When the doctors said to me that I would never hold down a job which happened on one of my first appointments, I was shocked and hurt but I accepted it, and lived my life in a way that helped me cope. After attending some groups with people who suffer like I do and still worked, I realised that I would be able to work, and I started applying myself to that idea. Then it became a case of finding the right place with the right people and doing the right job, something I was fortunately able to do. Working with psychosis can be hard but it is something that I found to be worthwhile and rewarding.