When It’s Time To
Move On From Your Job
I quit my job.
What I didn’t love was how the job made me feel.
I’ll be honest – it wasn’t necessarily that employer, or any employer. It was the nature of the field, and the nature of the business. Real estate had concrete deadlines, which I enjoyed, but what I didn’t enjoy was the pressure. Much like many jobs and careers, there was a list as long as I was tall that had to be done within a certain amount of time. True to the times we live in, the problem was that the support staffing got smaller, and the list got longer.
I found myself being angry at the end of the day because I didn’t accomplish as much as I thought I should have. Then I would get anxious about the next day, and often I would stay late to play catch up. I would be anxious all morning on my way into work, thinking about what needed to be done, and it was common to wake up in the middle of the night with the thought that something had been forgotten.
The anxiety followed me into my job, and caused moments of panic. I suffered through times where I had to leave my desk and just get some air. There was never enough air, it seemed, though no one else seemed to notice the lack of oxygen.
Lack of oxygen also caused me… wait no, the anxiety also caused me to be emotional. Small words would just tip the tower and then I would break into tears. Too many times I sat at my desk or in the washroom trying not to sob uncontrollably. Five minutes later, I couldn’t tell you what was so horrible that I felt like I was losing control, but I knew in the moment it felt like the world was closing in.
I would resort to sugar. Sugar always lifted my spirits, right? I ate my concerns and tried to concentrate on my work. It would help for a bit, but like any sugar rush, it would also come crashing down.
This roller coaster of anxiety, lack of sleep, sugar thrills, and emotions would leave me drained, as I still felt like I was behind. Now, keep in mind I had more than a decade of experience, and knew exactly what I was doing, and I was very good at my job. I’d been told by others the same, so it wasn’t a self-created performance review. I just never felt like I got enough done.
Finally, I would get home from work, exhausted from the emotions, and climb into my bed, the couch or anywhere else I could hide from the world. I needed sleep, time off, vacation. I tried that. Vacation was wonderful! We made it out to Cuba and enjoyed a week in the sun.
The return was hard. I managed to contract the flu, which kept me home for another four days.
I returned to work, and it was like I had purposely left my coworkers in the lurch, if you asked them. It was horrible. It was a month before the holidays, and I worked weekends to play catch up. There’s nothing like sucking the relaxation out of you by working weekends and all week!
An opportunity came up to change scenery, but the work loads were the same. I worked with a great boss who reminded me to do what I could, but others were still pressuring me to get more done. The anxiety tripled, as this time it felt as though I was working alone, and had the whole system to carry.
Some would say anxiety is a narcissistic quality, and perhaps it is. However, it doesn’t stop the anxiety from eating you alive.
I realized I was also suffering from depression. I lost my spunk, and everyone around me noticed I was not laughing or smiling anymore. I would think about reasons why I couldn’t go to work – I was in an accident, or the car broke down, or the dog ran away, or the refrigerator stopped working… anything to dream about having a break. But I knew the work would be there, waiting for me to return.
I needed help. After a day of running to the restroom six times in 4 hours to hold back tears of depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem, I knew I needed help.
My doctor agreed with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with chronic depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I’d never fallen this hard. It was like my medication had stopped working, and life was awful.
The doctor gave me two options: immediately take time off work, or be admitted for observation to the hospital.
I took the time off work.
I had three months of doctor visits, specialist visits, and was sent to a cardiologist to assess the chest pain I had at work. The doctors wanted to ensure that the pain was stress-related, not a heart condition. I had stress tests, bloodwork and more appointments than time off, it seemed. I saw a counsellor, a psychiatrist, a new family doctor, and a few others I have probably forgotten.
Also, I took time for self-care. I had my nails done, I spent time in the sun, and I visited with family.
I was starting to feel like a person again. Someone with hopes and dreams and goals and ideas. Someone with positivity, and could laugh. Someone worth being around.
It was then that I made a decision. I would not return to my beloved job in real estate. It was too much pressure, and I’ll be damned if I am going to give myself a heart attack before the age of forty. It’s worth betting that the job has done enough damage to me already.
I quit my job.
Thankfully, I’d been working as a virtual assistant for some time, and was able to keep working at that partially, and I had some side hustles going on, so I decided to find work that was less demanding, more flexible and would offer me the opportunity to build my client base for freelancing.
I am sharing this very personal story for a few reasons:
- You need self-care.
I would not take the time for myself that I needed. I didn’t take all my vacation time, and I didn’t feel comfortable using it because I felt it would put me behind. Wrong answer, folks! Take the time to relax, get cared for by someone else, and revel in all the goodness in your life. There’s always goodness in your life. Like Chris Hogan *** says, if you’re grateful, you can’t be hateful.
- You need a support system.
Someone has your back. If it’s a friend, sibling, spouse or family member, someone cares. Reach out. Tell them you need something. Let them care about you. You are never alone.
- You need to listen to yourself.
If something feels off, pay attention. Panic attacks, depression, chest pains, weight gain, weight loss, migraines, headaches, etc., can all be signs of a bigger issue. Pay attention and take note.
- Sometimes the higher paying job isn’t worth the stress.
I will admit, that job paid better than some. I gave up the salary for less, but I also gave up the stress. I am working now for less money, more time flexibility, more time to do the things I love, and at the end of the shift, I know my job is done until the next day. No more stressing out about not finishing things – I did the best I could that day, and tomorrow is another day. I will need to work harder on some of the things I love doing, and I might need to let go of a few wants vs. needs in order to afford this new lifestyle, but I am okay with it. I sleep at night, and don’t have chest pain during the day. It’s a better fit for me at this time.
- You need to find something you love to do, so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your week.
I love blogging and writing, and I love what I do for my freelancing clients. (PS I have more time for clients who need virtual assistant services, let me know if you need help!) I control the time I spend on my freelancing business, and adjust my work schedule accordingly. At the end of the week, I see blogs with beautiful designs, edited posts, and all kinds of other things I had a hand in during the week. I feel good about the work I am doing.
- Knowing you need help getting through something does not make you weak. It makes you strong for recognizing it and getting through it.
Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t feel like a failure for not achieving MY ideal at my job… and for feeling like I failed when I needed time off. I got over it, because I had to. It’s okay to feel your emotions, but be realistic. If I had stayed in that position, it would have continued to suck the life out of me, and I could not be my most authentic self. I could not be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother to pets, or anything else. I would not be able to be me. You need to be you, and sometimes taking a step back is what’s required to see the big picture.
I hope my experience and these 6 points resonate with you if you are feeling overwhelmed at your job. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to leave your job, but if you acknowledge where you are and how you are feeling, you might be able to make accommodations long before you get to the point where I was.
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