Working has always been something I’ve been driven to do. I’ve always wanted to earn my own money, so I can keep myself afloat on my own. I hate the idea of taking disability, or welfare, when I believe I am fully capable of working a full time job. However, in recent years, I have come to realize that it is entirely possible that my mental health may not be able to handle full time work. Alternatively, I may just be unable to handle full time work (or work at all) where I have to deal with the general public all day everyday.
In this post, I am going to talk about some experiences I’ve had in the past regarding working in the retail industry, and the affects it has had on my mental health as a result. There may be some triggering content in here, so readers discretion is advised.
In March of 2020, I got my first full time job. Now this job was a simple receiving clerk gig at a local retail chain. No big deal. Come in at 5:30 AM, unload the trucks, work until 2:30 PM, 5 days a week. Nothing too crazy, right? Well, that’s where you are in fact incorrect. Within 3 weeks, I made my first fatal mistake, which was telling my boss that I knew how to cashier. Within 3 weeks I was thrown on the register, and there were no more opportunities for me to go back to working the floor. Now for awhile, I actually did really well with the register. I enjoyed working it, meeting new people, and had a fun time with it. Unfortunately, it would not last…
In August of 2020, I entered into a relationship. This was my first relationship. I was 23 at the time, and I was REALLY falling for her. We seemed to be a great match, and I was looking forward to spending lots of time with her. Unfortunately, it did not play out this way, and our relationship ended in early October of 2020. This had a significant impact on my mental health. I believe this was the point at which I was not the same. Then, in January of 2021, my doctor started tapering me off of risperdal, and slowly upping my sertraline to 200mg. This did not do me well at all. I started feeling way more on edge from this, and less and less like myself. I would get agitated, my boss would call me to the office a lot more because I was pissing off customers. In May of 2021, I had a falling out with my Sister that resulted in me going to the ER after trying to break my ribs. This was the First of FIVE visits to the Emergency Department for mental healthcare in 2021.
Well, it all finally came to a head in June of 2021. I exploded. I went home for the night, blew up on my mom over money, and drove myself to my job, exploded on them, and was taken by police to the ER for a second time and then admitted to the psych ward. I stayed in for 2 days, which was NOT a good enough time frame. This was just the beginning. I quit this job, and got on board with Costco when my mental health was NOT in an optimum place, which penultimately led to me getting fired from Costco at the end of the summer. While working at Costco, I had a third visit to the Emergency Department, because I had rushed my healing, and was not doing well at my job, as my mental health was not perfect. When I was let go from Costco, I got a job that lasted for about a week, working in the IT department of a healthcare group. Unfortunately, they let me go after a week, and that lead me back to the ER for a fourth time in 2021, for mental healthcare.
In October of 2021, I got a job with my local grocery store in my hometown. I loved it initially. They were paying me fairly, and the management was super professional. Unfortunately, over time, things started to get worse. I was volunteering myself to overtime too much, and was being way too flexible without setting boundaries for myself. This culminated in an outbreak in December, that led me in the Emergency Room for mental healthcare for a FIFTH time. This was the closest I came to death yet, as I was almost shot by a police officer who was adamant that he could “end it right here, and right now for me, if I really want that” and to “not test him because I will shoot you.” It was the hospital staff who had to calm the police officer and myself down to prevent a “never moment” from happening.
Throughout most of the start of 2022, things were starting to get better, but then they started to get worse in late April. Management at work started being rude and condescending to me. They believed that my time at the hospital changed me for the worse. One manager was very against the idea of me taking drugs to help my condition, and was frequently toxic in the workplace. Dealing with the public was also not very fun anymore, and I started to realize that this line of work is not for me. In early May of this year, I wound up going to the ED again for mental healthcare, on top of a physical health issue. It cost me a lot of money, but I realized something important. I HAD to get out of my job. And not only did I have to get out of this job, but I HAD to get out of customer service/retail/hospitality as a whole.
I very quickly started working up an opportunity to give my 2 weeks, and finally had one after talking to my mom. My intentions were to tell my boss that my mental health just couldn’t take it anymore. Angry customers, people being hired only to quit 3 days later, and me wanting to get a move on with my life. Unfortunately, my boss knew that I knew things, and he wound up getting me to fess up to things I didn’t wanna fess up to, which resulted in me going to the ER once AGAIN, because I felt like I had betrayed my friends in the process.
I went to the ER, and I told them how much I wanted to go back to the psych ward because I rushed my healing. Unfortunately, they did not believe I needed to go back to the psych ward, and additionally, the psych ward rejected me. So I was discharged. I have since terminated my employment sooner than I was hoping to, and I have not returned to the store since dropping off my uniforms and picking up my final paycheck.
Mental healthcare is very important. It is not a hoax, or a scam or a fake science. It is a part of our overall health, and is something that we should all be taking very seriously. I will NOT be returning to work in the retail/service/hospitality industry for my own mental sanity and health. I will be looking for a solid “blue collar” job, one where I can have weekends off to be with my family and friends.