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.
How CABA can help
CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please contact us.