Stories on Depression: 15 Things I Wish I Told Myself When I Was Unemployed and Depressed
Losing your job can be a traumatic experience.
Companies like to dress it up and spin job loss as a happy parting of the ways, but losing your job is someone telling you that for some reason you’re not needed anymore, and you have to leave.
Losing your job can send your confidence and mental health into a tailspin. For a lot of people, what you do for a living can be linked to your sense of identity and self-esteem, and with no job to anchor yourself to, you end up at risk of symptoms of depression.
Someone living with depression is a black mark that makes it harder for you to find work, but that there are things people currently not in employment have to be mindful of.
On three occasions I’ve been one of the millions of unemployed young people in the country. I’ve twice been unemployed for longer than six months.
Here’s some of the most helpful bits of advice I wish I could have gone back and told myself when I was unemployed. I hope some of it can be of use to people going through a low time.
You Are Not Worthless!
You are not your job. You are not defined by what you do for a paycheque. You are not worthless because you do not have a job.
Always remember that the question “What do you do?” is just small talk. Not a way for people to figure out your value and assign your value. Not a badge you can stick on people. Not a system of ranking how important some people are compared to others.
It is just small talk.
Job or not, you matter. You always do. You always will. To
Money Doesn’t Rot
When you’re unemployed and have no money coming in, any time you DO get money, you to feel an urge to spend it on something. Anything. The power becomes paralysing. You think if you don’t spend money, someone will suck it away and you end up back at square one with not much to show for it.
Stop it. Money does not rot. It will not go sour if you leave it in your bank account. A
When I was unemployed I had a real problem with buying drinks. When I had money, I wanted to get rounds to show other people I was back on the up. A surprise accumulator win got wasted on a bunch of Guinness bottles as I was scared friends wouldn’t like me if I came out without pitching in.
Get out of the habit of flashing what little cash you have to prove something. If you’re the type of person who gets worried your friends will bin you off because you can’t get a round in, or can’t afford that pricey night out, TELL THEM BEFOREHAND that money is tight. If they’re you’re proper friends, they’ll probably let you off the hook. They may even pitch in to help.
Try to Wake Up before 9 am Each Day
With no energy to get up early each day, it can be easy to get into a night owl schedule with no job. You watch TV/play computer games/tug it until about 2 am, and, left to your devices, wake up at around 1 pm the next day.
Try to slowly work your way out of that. When I was out of work I tried making it a goal to get out of bed by 9 am. Not showered, not cooking myself a wonderful breakfast. Just out of bed. While lie-ins are great, allowing your body clock to slide too far can land you working one day behind everyone. If you’re emailing CVs out at 4 pm instead of 11 am, everything gets knocked back, so try your best to keep something resembling a worker’s schedule.
That Said, Try to Get Out of the House a Couple of Times a Week
A very wise man once said the two tips for creativity were to read constantly and to travel as much as possible on foot.
My advice? Do both a couple of times a week. Walking about the places can be a really calming way to root yourself in the world and get your senses going again. Listen to things, look around. Get lost a few times. Take a camera out and take a few photos if you fancy.
Write Stuff Down
When you’re unemployed, days tend to blur – with not much on with my days other than “see if you can pee that brown mark off your toilet”, my Wednesdays became just as interchangeable with my Fridays. It meant my short term memory went AWOL as I didn’t have strong events to anchor things
This is why you write things down, so you can remember stuff.
Be it on your phone, on a computer, or going old fashioned and getting a pen and paper, write stuff down to help you organise.
Pen and paper worked best for me. Working on my handwriting helped calm me when things got particularly bad, and the relationship between your hand and paper can really help
Take this Time Out to Learn Something
If you have a smartphone, then you own a computer more advanced than the ones they used to put a man on the moon. Use it. A smartphone connected to the web allows you access to the largest sum of human knowledge the world has ever seen. Take advantage of it.
Get on YouTube and take a look at some tutorial videos. You can choose to learn how to make money
Or learn how to code. Seriously, learn to code. For free. Andela is actually looking to teach you for free here. We all live on the internet now. Learn how the building blocks work (It looks good on your CV too).
You don’t have to do it everyday. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is fiddly, and every now and again you will pack it in for a few days (or weeks, or months), but the point is you are trying something to improve yourself. And that’s one of the best things a person can do.
Spend Time with People who Support You
There’s a really great moment in Doctor Who where the Eleventh Doctor is asked why he allowed his friends to see him at his lowest moment. Up until that point the Doctor was meant to be some sort of incredible, impervious, intelligent superhero, capable of taking on any task.
The Doctor says he let his friends see him at rock bottom because his friends were always there for him. “However dark it got, I’d turn around and there they’d be.”
He adds: “Remember the best, my friends have been the best of me.”
You are never alone in this. It can be hard and sometimes scary to admit to your friends that you are sad, but you can do it. All you can do is be your true self and put yourself out there. You’ll often be surprised by how many people around you will respond in kind.
It Gets Better
Seriously. It does.
It may take some weeks, it may
It’s hard, you may sometimes stumble, and you may sometimes take a break, and that is ok too. As long as you keep trying you will get there. I promise you that.
Every Friday, we share and talk about depression among unemployed young people! Share your story with us via firstname.lastname@example.org