Full-time employees spend upwards of 40 hours a week in the office – that’s almost a quarter of a year that we spend with our colleagues and managers. In terms of waking hours, an 8.5 hour work day accounts for 53% of them. Unfortunately we can’t choose our workmates (unless, I suppose, you’re a hiring manager and then you can pick whoever you wish).
When I became unwell I was working in a busy customer services team. I had worked there for almost 5 years at that point and considered myself a valued employee. It wasn’t a big company, so I felt like I had a voice and reputation that the bosses were aware of. From the point of my initial breakdown, everything changed. I couldn’t relate to my colleagues and they found my erratic moods hard to deal with. To me, however, it was all fine. What I’m saying is I was probably one of the nightmare colleagues we all love to bitch about.
Glossing over a few months, I found myself recovering but facing a depression over the loss of the vitality I’d felt when manic and psychotic. I started to notice a change of attitude towards me in the office and began to feel like I was being overlooked for opportunities within the business. The environment had become entirely toxic to my health and well-being, and I left the company with no job to go on to.
I felt awful; like I’d failed to achieve my potential with the company. In the space of a few months I’d gone from being a star employee to being a total zero. It was upsetting and difficult to come to terms with. A key factor at that point was the fact I put a lot of stock in my value as a worker. It was a main source of my identity and I’d lost it all over the illness I faced.
Moving on now to the present, and I am working in a much better environment. I get along with my colleagues and enjoy spending time with them. Sure, there’s some big personalities in here. There’s a few who are very opinionated and vocal, and there’s some who are wallflowers. And that’s fine – diversity is the spice of life right?
What I’ve learned is that I can’t change the people around me into ideal models of what I like in a personality. I have become a lot better at moderating my interactions with my colleagues since I’ve learned to let go of the things that bother me. It’s making my working life a lot easier, a lot more tolerable. Some days I wish I could get the talkers to stop talking, the bitchers to stop bitching and the blunt ones to be a little more tactful. But that’s not my job. My job is to get on with my work; not to change the people around me; that’s all I worry about now. That, and being the best version of me that I can be.