I worked for pro mental health, which meant that we had an in-house psychologist who checked our mental health status twice a year. She would dish out a psychological evaluation in the form of questionnaires or interviews. They mainly were done to assess our satisfaction rate in terms of the benefits, workflow, etc.
During my first year as a junior marketing executive, I got top marks in all my psych exams. After all, I was happy with my new position. I was finally getting paid the amount that was appropriate for my work experience. You could say that my morale was so high that I could eat stress for breakfast and lunch and go home with a genuine smile on my face.
When the second year came, my happiness in satisfaction levels was much higher compared to the previous year. One of the senior marketing executives decided to have an early retirement, so there was an open position that promised better pay. Getting that post had been my goal in the last few months, so when I applied for it, and the bosses practically said it was meant for me, I was over the moon. Although my stress level went up a little, as the psychologist noted, there was nothing to worry about since it was still at the normal range.
What I failed to realize before I took on the new position was that it came with a lot of stress. Instead of needing to fend for me most of the time, I needed to handle at least five employees as a senior marketing executive. I thought that being one of the bosses meant that they would do most of the legwork, but I was wrong. Since it was a marketing job, I had to be as involved in a project as my employees were. But while they were only doing one project at a time, I was expected to oversee all of them at once, which was mentally and physically taxing.
When I sat down with the psychologist for the first psych evaluation on my third year in the company, my stress level was over my head. The psychologist did not need to use her training to notice that; it was easy to tell based on how much makeup I caked on my face to hide the fact that I had massive and darker eye bags than usual.
The psychologist asked me how I was and how I felt, but I wasn’t going to answer anything other than fine. I did not want to sound ungrateful about my job because I was happy I had it. Because of it, I managed to move out of my crappy apartment and into a nice three-bedroom house within three years. I even paid off the rest of my parents’ home mortgage last Christmas, which made them very happy. Hence, the answer would always be, “I am fine.”
However, I forgot that the psychologist could see through me. She told me that I might have more things on my plate than I could handle. Though I insisted that I just needed a little sleep, she scribbled a telephone number and address on a piece of paper and instructed me to go there after work.
“What is this?” I asked, confused.
“That’s the address and number of the counselor that I always work with. If anyone can help you deal with your stressors, she can – trust me.”
I wanted to argue some more, but the next employee arrived, and I had to return to my office.
That afternoon, one of the new employees must up a project that we had been working on for two months. He thought rearranging the files for that alphabetical order without asking me was a good idea, but the process for that project was so tricky that we already arranged the files in a specific way. Putting everything back in the original order would set us back by at least two weeks.
Out of anger and frustration, I sacked the new guy immediately. I thought I would feel better after that, but I didn’t. When I felt like my head was about to explode due to worries running nonstop in there, I saw the slip of paper that the psychologist gave me. Out of options, I gave the counselor a call and agreed to meet her at 7:00 PM.
“Do you know why you are here?”
That’s the first question that came out of the counselor’s mouth as soon as I was comfortable in my chair in front of her desk. I went straight there from work since I was too stressed even to have dinner.
“Is it because of my stress?”
“Yes, that’s correct. Stress is your friend in the beginning as it pushes you to be alert. But when it goes overboard, you tend to fall apart right before everyone’s eyes, and you may not even be aware of it,” the counselor explained.
I gained enlightenment from that first consultation. Even though I did not have a mental disorder, I realized that counseling could benefit everyone, especially those with high stress levels like me. It served as a precautionary measure, considering I could have experienced a nervous breakdown if my stress overloads prolonged.
I could not thank my psychologist enough for prescribing counseling to me.