This week, my blog should really be subtitled ‘the challenges of working in a toxic environment’. Sadly, most days I speak with people who feel stuck in a job within a toxic environment. The overall effects that this can have on their mental health can be profound. Not only do they begin to question their own ability to do their job successfully, they also tend to find that they take some of that doubt home with them and it can begin to impact on their relationships and their friendships.
For some people, it may even be the point that begins to tip their mental wellness into anxiety, stress and depression resulting in a difficulty sleeping, communicating clearly, and to just function as a normal human being.
Like many people, I have had experiences of working in an environment that was so toxic, it made me question everything about me. I would go home most nights and literally burst into tears. My partner become so concerned as I became increasingly withdrawn. My lack of sleep meant that I was unable to think clearly and, as a result, I found myself living in a constant state of fear. The person who was causing this toxicity was probably unaware of their contribution, or at least was incapable of recognising it and had no desire to change. Sadly, the person I directly reported to at that time was equally frightened and, as a result, never spoke up to stop it.
In one instance during a meeting held in the offices, this person yelled at me in such an aggressive manner that you could feel the vibe of the entire office - who I might add were capable of hearing the entire conversation - shift. I had to fight back tears in the moment to remain composed but I could not hear anything that was said to me after that point from the level of rage and anger that was contained within my own head. You might read this and ask why I didn’t do anything? This is what feeling ‘stuck’ in this environment does to you. It has the ability to render you hopeless.
Fortunately for me, proper managerial support finally came along and my ability to regain my confidence was found once again. I tend to wonder what might’ve been had that not happened?
The simple rule is this; if you find you’re getting up most mornings and completely dreading going into the office, then maybe it is time to consider what next. This can be hard when you’re feeling ‘stuck’ and so there are some things that you can do to help create that shift that might provide you some hope moving forward.
Update your CV
Take a moment to update your CV and, if you’re a creative, your folio. Consider what it is that you are doing successfully and ensure that you talk about your achievements. Consider what soft skills you have that you’ve learned from working in such an environment. If you don’t know what I mean, consider that you would have a higher level of resilience than most if you’re able to get up most days and face that kind of environment.
Reach out to recruiters
Let them know that you’re looking and see if you can gain some feedback from them on what kinds of jobs you might be suitable for. You might be surprised at just how employable you truly are and that might help to remove that thought of not being good enough to go anywhere else.
Talk to people
Don’t bottle up things inside. Talk to your family and friends. If you’re finding that it is becoming really hard, go to your GP and let them know. They may be able to help offer you a mental health plan as well as document your discussion incase it becomes a bullying case.
Lastly, you might want to consider contributing towards the new Mental Health Survey that the amazing team at TANK are doing for a second year. At the same time, you can download last years report to see what insights you might find on mental health within the creative community. You can find that survey here.