Work is work. Everyone has some hesitation about waking up before seven in the morning on a Monday. After all, Mondays are essentially the embodiment of an overcooked steak. However, depression can make going to even the most enthralling job painful. 

While going to work can be struggle for anyone, it often feels like an overwhelming obstacle for those of us with depression, or any other mental illness.

After living with depression since I was only six years old and only being formally diagnosed a few years ago, I’m pretty much a professional depressed person (now if only I could get paid for it); however, I understand that everyone experiences depression differently.

Though every individual’s depression and symptoms differ, one thing that we can all relate to is that depression often affects how we interact with others and how we live our lives. Even if we don’t let our depression define us, it definitely changes how we do things, even tasks that might seem simple to others, like working.

Although my depression might make it more difficult to go to work or classes on certain days, my depression doesn't make me weak. However, going to your job can require more mental preparation when you have depression.

Unless your job description entails petting puppies and kittens all day, some days it can be physically impossible to get out of bed and go to work. Even then, the promise of cuddling furry animals from nine to five can still be draining. And no, I don’t mean mentally or emotionally draining to get ready and go to work.

Although depression is a mental illness, it can impact us in other ways—manifesting into physical symptoms that make us feel sick or achy. Otherwise, depression can also make us feel like we just cannot do something, as if our bodies spontaneously forgot how to work correctly.

Depression is an incredibly common mental illness, which makes it hard for most healthy individuals to relate to some of the issues that have become so normal to depression-sufferers.

After all, nothing makes anyone more uncomfortable than talking about mental health. I mean, nobody likes talking about their mental health, especially when they don’t know how the other person will react (and unless you’re able to read minds, then you'll never know how the other person will act).  

However, if the mental health stigma somehow vanished in one night, there are several things that I wish I could tell my employer about my depression.

1. I submit projects that I’m not proud of

coffee, chocolate, milk
Jocelyn Hsu

Every professional adult has been taught to only submit their best work in order to uphold the integrity of their company. However, sometimes it isn’t easy for someone with depression to submit their best work all of the time, especially since we can feel like we’re wading through water even on our “best” days just to survive the day.

From time to time, everyone has finished a work assignment that didn’t live up to their usual standard. However, most working individuals are able to recognize that deadlines get in the way of consistency. Therefore, they're able to brush it off, because they'll "be able to do better next time" or "plan ahead next time."

Often, my depression envelopes me with the feeling that I’m letting my coworkers down, because I submitted a “bad report.” Instead of recognizing that I can improve in the future, I get fixated on the fact that my depression keeps telling me, "I already failed."

At times, my thoughts and doubts overwhelm me. It can make working on any project frustrating, especially since I know that I’m not completing my usual standard of work. What’s worse is that my depression nags at me, telling me that I’m lazy and that I’m unqualified to even work here.

After a while, I realize that I might just be overreacting. Even if I did submit something that isn’t up to my personal standards, that doesn’t make me any less than, nor does it make my employers hate me.

2. I don’t love working here all the time

coffee, pizza, tea, beer
Chelsea Jackson

While I love my job, what I do for this company and most of the work that I produce, sometimes I just don’t love it. Sometimes, I don't even like it.

Everyone can get into their ruts at work, but this is different. I’m not momentarily unmotivated. For the moment, I have no desire to do anything, which includes the things that I love to do (like work).

Unfortunately, a "moment" with depression is variable. It could last an afternoon, a day, a week or even months. And months of being unmotivated doesn't exactly scream "model staff member."

It isn't that I hate doing the things that usually excited me, I just feel empty. No, I don’t feel hopeless. And no, I don’t feel like hurting myself. I just feel a bit numb, which makes me apathetic to everything and everyone around me, regardless of how passionate I typically am about them.

It’s almost like my depression gives me an entirely different personality on any given day, which is why I might not seem as "bubbly" on my down days, or as eager to share during meetings.

3. I’m sorry that I apologize too much

tea, coffee, pizza, beer
Chelsea Jackson

I know, I’m being hypocritical right now, seeing as I'm apologizing for apologizing too much. No, I'm not Canadian; I just worry.

Whether you’re handing me back a misprint that I need to amend or a mock-up that needs to be redone, I’ve apologized for it. Regardless if I was the one to make the mistake in the first placed, I've told you that I was sorry.

My depression makes me overcome with guilt, especially about things that aren't even associated with me. Maybe the trusty depression guilt is karma's way of getting back at my 4-year-old self, who rarely thanked bank tellers for all those free suckers and stickers. Who knows? 

Though many people would think that "sorry" is a natural response to making a mistake, it isn't natural or healthy to feel the need to apologize for practically everything (even things that aren't an issue).

4. I wish our office had a therapist

wine, coffee, tea
Mun Ling Koh

I know that realistically this isn’t possible, especially for non-profits, start-ups and smaller organizations. I get it, I really do. I just wish that it was possible to have a therapist or emotional support counselor on staff. Heck, an emotional support tortoise would do.

Therapy is an exceptional resource for anyone, even those who don’t have any mental health issues. Work is stressful and everyone has to cope with it to some extent. While it might be more difficult for those of us with depression to balance work and our life outside of work, therapy isn’t exclusively beneficial to us.

Plus, having a therapist in the work place would help break the stigma against mental illnesses.

5. Sometimes, I fake being sick

cake, coffee, tea
Kate Steiner

It isn’t because I’m taking advantage of you or the company’s sick days. It’s just easier to say that I have the flu, rather than explain that I’m in an incredibly low place today. In fact, it took all of my energy just to dial your number to tell you that I need to take a sick day—again.

No words can describe how shitty calling-in, because of my mental state, makes me feel—it just creates an infinite cycle, because then I feel worse about not being well. 

Either I could go to work and feel remorseful after I unintentionally snap at someone (because of my depressive state), or I could stay home and feel guilty— and dwell on that guilt all. damn. day—just because I took a sick day, because I needed a day for my mental health.

However, I shouldn't even feel bad about taking time off of work to help my mental health, because it will ultimately help me perform more efficiently at work (when I return).

Regardless of my needs, I still feel guilty, because it makes me feel like I’m a less-than-apt employee. As if I don’t even deserve to work for you, or work in general.

I know how ridiculous this seems, especially to anyone who has been fortunate enough not to have struggled with depression (or any mental health issues for that matter). But on the days that it’s practically painful just to turn off your alarm clock, it’s hard to tune out the overwhelming negative thoughts that make you feel guilty about anything and everything.

Nevertheless, it would make those awkward phone calls when I call my boss effortless, if I was just able to say, "Hey, my depression is really bad today. I need a mental health day."