'I was working at a firm but I was really unhappy there. The hours were silly, and although I was putting in a lot of effort, I was being repeatedly told that I was under-performing. My superiors made it very clear that they didn’t think much of me and the more they criticised me the more anxious I became. It was a toxic environment and it really impacted on my mental health.
I had an appraisal that went very badly. I got upset and said ‘I’ve tried everything.’ I said: ‘The only thing I haven’t tried is seeing my GP for medication.’ Looking back that was a very naive comment. As soon as I said I was going to see a doctor they dropped me. They wanted to get rid of me before I was diagnosed with having medical illness because they would then have had responsibilities to me. The very next day I was asked to leave. They gave me 3 months’ paid leave and washed their hands of me. I was devastated.
I called CABA and told them about what had happened. I said I was thinking maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a chartered accountant after all. CABA supported me in 2 ways. They arranged for career coaching so I could work out my next move, but they also arranged counselling as I needed help processing everything that had happened.
The career coaching was as much about confidence as anything. I needed an honest assessment, to work out whether my future was as a chartered accountant or not. It soon became clear that although I wasn’t a good fit with the company, I actually have some very accomplished skills and abilities. Together we built my confidence and I decided to stay in the industry and use my training and experience.
In terms of counselling, I just needed someone impartial to talk through what had happened. My therapist made me see how susceptible I am to other people’s feelings – I was absorbing everyone else’s stress and it was affecting my ability to do my best work. We worked on this until I developed techniques to step aside from other people’s feelings. I now use these techniques all the time.
It was great that CABA could fund the counselling and the career coaching, I certainly needed both and trying to pay for them myself when I wasn’t earning would have really added to my anxiety. The structure of regular appointments helped me to stay on-task and build momentum. It wasn’t long before I was back in work, in a very interesting interim position, that has helped me gain additional skills and build my confidence.'