When a Job becomes both your Source of Security and Stress

The dictionary definition of a job is a paid position for regular appointment. That said, it sounds pretty impersonal doesn’t it. We would probably expect to see ourselves working till the ripe old age of 62, the average retirement age in Singapore. That’s a long time to be working and we often do not have a choice to not do so.

Having graduated in 2012 as a young university graduate, being employed gave me financial freedom and helped me shaped my identity. An identity that I would eventually latch onto so tightly, my whole purpose of living was to work.

As a Young University Graduate

As a young child

I suffered from low self-esteem and a lack of personal freedom. Working gave me that impression of freedom and I was able to compensate the years I lost as a child. If I only knew, however life has a way of turning you back around and showing the truths about what really matters.

Let me take you, 6 years down the road where I would find myself not only without employment but a complete loss of identity which eventually led to years of anxiety, depression and eventually my mental health recovery. I won’t pretend that I don’t still struggle with my challenges, but I have been given the opportunity to look at life from a different perspective and I would love to share this experience to build mental resilience with others.

Depression and anxiety often doesn’t have a start and end date. It also doesn’t pick and choose who gets it and who does. It creeps up slowly and you are usually the last person to notice it has fully taken over until someone asks “Hey, are you doing alright? You don’t seem yourself” The reason why we don’t notice is because mental health isn’t something we often bring up over dinner with our friends and family.  We are often taught showing even a bit of weakness would put us at the bottom and we may be viewed as “unsuccessful”. There have been so many negative connotations attached to mental health that we have pushed aside the truth. The simple truth is that stress is a natural part of life, we have no reason to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Stress is a Wonderful Thing

Stress is a wonderful thing

Yes you heard right! A wonderful natural alarm bell. It signals to your brain that something bad is happening to your body and it needs attention. However, do take note that there is such a thing as too much stress. It is fairly common among folks of multiple generations to embrace stress as a measure of how “tough” we are. The more I tolerate stress, the “tougher” I am, and that was my motto as a perfectionist for years. After therapy, I came to learn that I embraced the idea that I was not worth anything because I had become weak, anxious and depressed made me lesser of a human being. I wasn’t up to par, unless I was “doing” something useful, and it preoccupied my life making it extremely unhealthy. I cannot express how devastating it can be when a child is made to feel that way.

If you ever read the list of things old folks regret most in their life, one of which is not spending more time enjoying life. Mental health challenges are a big sign telling us that our body wasn’t made to live life this way, we are not defined by work, status or money.

It isn’t shameful to struggle. Struggling is a sign that we are living and cherish this life enough to find purpose and meaning. When you have the time, really ask yourself what makes your life fulfilling?  You never know one day you might be helping someone else who is going through the same situation.

I acknowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to take a break or even have the time to make such considerations. Therefore, it is essential to start educating the people around us about the importance of resilience. In order to be resilient, we need enough resources to keep ourselves going. We cannot run on empty.

Authored by: Valerie S

We thank our blog contributors and applaud their strength in finding the words to share their lived experience, not only as part of the personal recovery journey but to inspire and bring hope to others who might be facing mental health challenges.

Photo credits: Pixabay

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