Welcome to my first post in my new storytime series. My time in retail has been an extremely long, challenging, but fulfilling journey. It first began in 2013 when my anxiety and depression was at its peak after I left college. I hope my story can spread hope and positivity that we all need right now.
My First Job
Not including work experience, my first proper job was absolute hell, to put it lightly. At the time, my standards were shallow, and I went for what I believed to be the easiest job to get into. My anxiety and depression were at an all-time high at this point, so why I decided to apply for retail jobs, I still don’t know. I definitely wasn’t thinking straight at the time and was just desperate to be no longer unemployed.
Anyway, due to my mental health issues, I was treated really poorly in my first job. My biggest turning point was when an actual management member started picking on me and everything that I did. She was watching my every move, which was unsettling, to say the least. Many of the other staff members noticed, so I knew that it wasn’t just in my head. This person did not understand that some days may be better than others for me. They could not see that I was pushing myself just by being there.
One morning, I was too terrified to even enter the shop because of her. That was the day I decided that I had to get out of there. It wasn’t worth the time, effort, and meager pay if I would get treated like shit.
My one regret was not taking legal action when I did leave. If you are mistreated at work due to any mental health issue or disability, this is classed as discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 gives us a legal right to challenge any discrimination that we may face.
Do not let anyone mistreat you at work. It’s somewhere which we need to go frequently, and therefore we need to feel safe and content at the very least. If you are experiencing anything similar to what I did, I highly recommend talking to someone. Get yourself a support bubble, and know that you are not alone in any of this. Unfortunately, mental health discrimination within the workplace is not uncommon.
Getting Over My Fears
My next job was in a small independent shop. It was a much nicer and calmer environment to work in, which was very beneficial for my anxiety and depression at the time. I was still healing after my last experience. It was here where I started really trying to get over my fears and started to push my anxiety around customers away. I was told to interact with and help them out more, which is exactly what I did.
I started small and set myself a target of how many customers that I should approach an hour. At first, it was only 2, but at the time, this was a huge milestone. I couldn’t have felt more proud when I said, “are you alright there?” to a stranger for the first time. The extra push and encouragement from the team there were incredibly helpful too. I can’t thank them enough.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
It was around this time that I started my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions. According to the NHS, CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems and fears by changing how you think and behave.
The sessions really helped me to change my train of thoughts whilst working in the retail environment. My main problem was believing that approaching customers would come across as annoying, which stopped me from doing it as much as I should have. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helped me realise that these are only intrusive thoughts that could easily be battled with using alternative, more positive thoughts.
Where I Am Now
Boy, have I had one hell of a journey. A very surprising and fulfilling one too! I am still plodding along in the retail sector but am now a very different and confident person from where I started back in 2013, so much that I was promoted to my current job last year! They believed in my potential and knew that I would be the best and most willing candidate for the job. Considering my difficult past with anxiety and depression, and thinking that I could never go further made the moment that I was asked to step up feel like a dream. I thought I would wake up the next day, and it wouldn’t have even happened.
Becoming a Supervisor
Yes, I am now a Supervisor. Sounds incredible, right? Someone with generalised anxiety and depression as a supervisor in a shop. How? Well, it’s all thanks to the help that I have received from my colleagues and management over the years. They saw my potential deep down and gave me the small push and support that I needed. Incredibly thankful is certainly an understatement! Just feeling valued and appreciated was enough.
Retail was and still isn’t a lifelong dream. I never expected to get this far. However, achieving this has really helped my mental health and my confidence in myself and my abilities. I still get some support from my anti-anxiety and depression medication, but my mental health is still better than it’s ever been. Although bad days do still come around now and then, this journey has made those days so much more infrequent.
Wrapping It Up
My retail time may be coming to an end soon due to the current climate in the world. That is why I wanted to write about and share my experiences with you all.
I hope that my story inspires you and helps you to realise that anything is possible. Whether you have a mental illness or not, you are capable of doing big, great, and even “terrifying” things. You have to surround yourself with amazing people and work hard to push away your fears.
Remember, you can do it!
Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to leave a comment and/or share as it really helps me out.