Many people who suffer from depression are unable to work. Some people have to quit their jobs. Some people get let go because they’ve become inefficient workers.
If you find yourself in that group – you’re a depression sufferer that can’t work right now because you’re too sick – don’t feel bad or wrong or guilty about it. You currently have a mental illness that affects your ability to think clearly and your energy levels, which affect how you operate on the job.
The toughest part about depression affecting your ability to work is that you may lose your ability to generate income or generate sufficient income to meet your survival and medical needs.
At DZ, we’ve developed a map to help guide you in the actions you need to take if you’re struggling with depression and unsure about how to manage your career and finances while your sick. Here is the map (you can download a PDF copy below):
The Stress-Free Personal Blueprint
When you’re trying to recover from depression you need to reduce your stress levels, which means figuring out a way to manage your money so you don’t have to be worried about it when your sick and not working. You also NEED to take a minimum of one month to one year time off to focus solely on your health and getting better. Recovery from depression is a full time job. It’s important you find a way to take the time you and your body needs to get healthy again so you can work.
Step 1: Book time off if you’re working
Don’t feel guilty about taking time off. If your depressed you need to be relieved of all stressors including work so you can focus on relaxing and recovery and getting your health back. It’s suggested that depression sufferers take a one month to one year recovery time, which depends on how severe your depression has gotten.
If you’re working right now your first step is to have a conversation with your employer to negotiate time off. You may be able to take vacation time. You may be able to take a leave of absence (most employers are legally required to allow employees to take 12 weeks of for major health issues). You may be able to continue a bit of work (not ideal) but negotiate a work from home or lighter workload with time off.
If you’re not working you already have time but you still need to look at how to manage your finances and mood. The fact that you don’t have a job and perhaps a bad financial picture may be causing parts of your depression. Some people need to consider what they’d like to do for work and how to get back to a good financial state as part of their recovery plan.
Step 2: Plan your recovery time budget
Based on your new negotiations with work you’ll be able to figure out how much income you’ll be earning during your recovery time off. This is important for coming up with your time off budget.
Your first step in creating a budget during your time off is to evaluate your base survival expenses. You’ll need to add up all the things you need like: A place to live, food, medical expenses, and a car (in some cases). When you add up the monthly amounts for all these items you’ll arrive at the monthly amount of money you need at a bare minimum to live while you’re not working.
After you calculate your monthly expenses you’ll need to review all sources of income. Will you be getting money from your employer during your time off? Do you have money in savings you can rely on? Do you have family members that can help support your costs during this time? Are there government supports you can tap into? And although not ideal – can you borrow some money to help support you during this time so you can get better? These are all questions to consider.
The big question to uncover: Do you have enough money coming in to manage your expenses during your time off?
Step 3: Put your budget into action
If you answered “Yes” to the question above than the only thing to do is manage your budget. You may be able to have someone do this for you. You may want to set up automatic payments so you really don’t have to focus on paying bills while your sick. You don’t need any financial stress right now.
As part of your budget plan you may need to research and apply for government bursaries. For some people, mental illness is a disability that the government may support. If you begin applying for government resources it’s important to remember that these take time to process. It can take months to a year to get coverage and see checks coming in.
If you don’t have enough money to manage your expenses so you can take time off from work and recover you’ll want to look for other options. You can ask your employer if you can work from home or cut your hours so you work less. You may need to ask family members to help support you. You may even want to consider a new career. There are easy ways to make money these days from home selling products or services online. This may be something for you to consider now and in future.
When you recover from depression and start to feel ready to work again before you get into action assess your job. Many people with depression have to make major lifestyle changes. Some have to change occupations and leaves ones that are too stressful and don’t serve them.
Watch this brief video for a explanation of the Stress-Free Personal Blueprint led by depression expert Kay Walker. If you need additional support you may also want to consider Kay’s online course that teaches you how to build online businesses so you can learn how to make money from home in ways that inspire you.