#wearenot9to5 is a series of mental health experiences from people in the F&B industry to fight the stigma & shame. Mental health affects us all.
I haven’t always been this way. Well I probably have but I suppose I was much better at dealing with it. Hiding it.
My mental illness has manifested in different ways throughout my life, with many different diagnoses. However the way I’ve managed it has almost always been the same. I’m a self-medicator and a self-harmer. My self-medicating has typically been in the form of drug & alcohol abuse from the age of about 14 and I self-harm much the same way along with a healthy dose of promiscuity. Sounds like a real fun time, doesn’t it?
When I entered the hospitality industry at the very impressionable and vulnerable age of 19, my depression, anxiety, anger and desperation were at their height. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. I was thrown into a world where being intoxicated wasn’t only accepted but encouraged! I was afforded the luxury of an all-access buffet of sex, booze and drugs and I ate there, every fucking night. If you had a hangover or you had been up all night partying, you sucked it up and went to work. Because that’s-just-the-way-it-is. But what if the result of all this drinking and drugging and sexing was more than shame and a hangover? What if it was crippling anxiety, paranoia, the inability to get out of bed and the thought that maybe things would be better if you just weren’t here anymore…
By now we all know how this toxic culture is perpetuated and many of us have been subject to having to hide our true ailments because of shame, suspicion and the feeling that not only our jobs will be at risk, but the person that we have so carefully curated, will be exposed for who they really are. It’s really fucking shitty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a shift, lied to co-workers and bosses alike about some tragedy that has befallen me because I was too ashamed to admit what was really going on, ad nauseam.
Here I sit at the ripe old age of 37. Finally properly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and goddamn she’s a doozy. As recent as a couple months ago, I went through a pretty serious depressive, hypo-manic episode where I was disassociating multiple times a day. The difference between this one and the countless other times it’s happened in my life? I WAS FUCKING HONEST ABOUT IT. And you know what? All the people that love me understood. My support system banded together to help me get through it with as little damage as possible. When I made the decision to cut excessive alcohol consumption and drugs out of my life for good (save for a few tequila shots post-bartender boxing), my friends and family supported me. I wish that 19 year old girl had known this. I wish that she had had a better support system. I wish that she had been able to say “I can’t come to work today because I am depressed and can barely take care of the basic necessities to stay alive”. We are getting there.
So how does this end? Honestly? It doesn’t. I’m never going to “get better” but my day-to-day life can be better. I have to continuously do the work. In all its forms. I can never let my guard down and will likely have to be medicated and in therapy for a very long time, if not the rest of my life. That’s the reality of mental illness. Your mental illness does not define you. It is akin to a character trait. Much like an awesome sense of humour and a compassionate soul; both of which I am lucky to have in abundance. As cliché as it sounds, and lord I have heard it over and over again and even rolled my eyes at it, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Reach out. If you are reading this and you have a friend, family member or co-worker that you suspect or you know lives with mental illness, check in with them. I cannot express how important community is in fighting this shit. We are moving in the right direction and at least for me, there’s a glimmer of hope that the kid is going to be alright. Xoxo
If you are curious about BPD and the work I have been doing to manage it, please reach out. If you would like to do some fun sober things, reach out. If you want to talk about dogs, please fucking reach out for sure! @meaghanrochellemurray, Meaghan.r.murray@gmail. I can’t promise that I’ll have any answers for you but I promise I will be honest.