Why I Don't Feel Bad About Quitting My Job for My Mental Health
I quit my job and I am not certain what the future holds.
Now, I know what you’re thinking … what?! And believe me, I had that same panic because your girl needs to pay the rent. There were a few factors that went into this decision of telling my boss I was leaving. Despite the variety of feelings I have had and the back and forth with this drastic change to come, there was one thing that made me quickly decide this once and for all: my mental health.
For those who know me, it should come to no surprise I live with mental illness. I’ve lived with debilitating anxiety since the age of 3 and clinical depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD) which wasn’t diagnosed until my early adulthood. I’m so open about it. So incredibly transparent in fact, that I even write about it on my blog for the Mighty.
My parents have been on a long journey and battle with me, and I would not be where I am today without my support system: them, my closest friends, family and Michael. They’ve all come to understand, learn and manage my illness alongside me and it’s great. Going through life with me is not easy, believe me when I say when I am having a bad day … it’s a bad day. However, I hide this all at work, or at least I try my very best to, and I usually succeed. I try to never let my illness affect my job or be noticeable to co-workers; it’s just not in the cards. Don’t get me wrong, I have had panic attacks while sitting at my desk, to the point of almost vomiting (and one time I actually did vomit … on my desk, but we won’t talk about that), but not a single soul has known or seen it happen.
But what happens when your panic is caused by your work environment?
This is the exact comment my boss said to me within my first few months at the company. That remark coupled with more conversation where I was referred to as being “unprofessional” and “too comfortable” made me even more uncomfortable even stepping foot into the building. I had never seen myself in these ways before. Was I wrong about myself, or was he right?
These conflicting thoughts messed with me. That, in conjunction with the environment, was just not the right fit for me. After this realization, I knew I needed to leave. So, I started the process of growing my confidence back and paving the way to bigger and better things for my future.
Getting this job brought me into a small (and I mean small … four people, on a good day) office, with more creative work than what I had been doing previously (freezing fat). I loved starting what felt like the right path for me and I actually felt like I was contributing; it was a rewarding feeling.
Slowly but surely, I felt less productive and less motivated. To make matters even worse, the office got smaller as one co-worker had a baby, one left the company and my boss regularly working from home. Not to mention, being left alone every afternoon as everyone leaves the office by 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. This dull and uneventful atmosphere took its toll on me. I never felt so alone or isolated at work.
I am a bubbly spirit, someone who often craves a sociable environment and gets high off of brainstorming fun and creative ideas as a team. I love banging out work I see a vision in and working on projects I’m passionate about. Due to the lack of all of this at my job, my mental health declined.
I am greatly affected by my surroundings; my anxiety grabs at me. Public transportation and I do not mix, large crowds make me nervous and I have to feel like things are in the right place. I need to always feel like I am in my comfort zone.
I started acted out, bringing my stress from work home with me at the end of the day, sometimes because I would go all day without talking to a single soul. It’s like I wouldn’t know how to function in society again. I started going to therapy more than I usually did because I was anxious. I would feel physically sick on Sunday nights knowing the dread of having to walk into that small and lonely office the next day; that dread lasting all the way until Friday when I knew I had the next two days off.
“What’s the point of getting dressed up or doing my hair?” That’s something I would think to myself constantly as I rolled out of bed later and later each morning. I stopped caring about how I looked, what I wore and putting in the effort. Because who would see me? I sit in a corner. All of this also affecting my mood, bringing it down lower and lower. Due to it all, I stopped putting in the effort at work. Feeling this way day in and day out was debilitating.
I needed more. I needed interaction. I needed growth. I needed a purpose. And I was not getting that.
Growth is not handed to you on a silver platter with the “Rocky” song playing in the background. Growth is hard work, early mornings, working from home after getting off. Growth is working well with others, thinking outside of the box. I embody all of that and it has shown. However, over the last few months, it has deflated like a balloon.
I thought about the decision to leave for a while. I had been looking at jobs for months and even getting perspective leads. I asked for advice. A lot of advice, from Mike, my parents, friends, family and even strangers. When going to the dentist is more exciting than being at work, you know you have a problem (and let’s be real, the dentist makes me anxious because what doesn’t at this stage in my life?!).
When the decision to leave finally clicked for me, it was actually an easy one to make in the end. This place was just not right for me and that’s OK.
After telling my boss my decision, I felt so much weight lifted off of me, I felt free.
So, what made me finally decide to leave?
I knew what I wanted, and I knew I was not going to settle until I got it. I believe work is more than just a paycheck. Maybe that’s the millennial in me, but I crave a challenge. I like being pushed to think outside of the box. I am a self-starter and do not like being micromanaged, but also love working as a team. I think it’s important to love your job, feel passion for it and to feel motivated to go to work every day for more than just the money.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not to devalue the company I worked for or my boss. The last has year taught me a lot and I learned a great deal from the job and from him. About the industry, we work in, how to work with a variety of individuals from different heritages in a different time zone. I liked a lot of the people I worked closely with and I really grew so much from this experience. I learned more about marketing and my trade, thus bettering my skills for the future.
The most important thing I learned? To be more comfortable with myself.
I learned not to settle.
I learned how to stick up for myself and believe in my work, even when others don’t.
I learned I could do things I once thought to be impossible (like excel algorithms).
I learned to go with my gut, something I hadn’t really put much faith in before.
I learned change is good and sometimes a necessary thing for growth.
To save you from harassing your loved ones or asking random strangers for advice as I did, if you find yourself in a similar predicament, here’s my advice to you: make the change. If you feel like you need it, don’t see that change as a bad thing. You’re only benefiting yourself because of it.
Your mental health is more important than a paycheck. It’s more important than what you think others will perceive you to be or not be. It’s so much more important than your friends, family and strangers. You are important to yourself and you matter above all.
So, take that break! Whether it be a sick day, vacation, self-care day, leave of absence or quitting for a better opportunity. You know yourself better than anyone and healing yourself is more important than a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. And while some may disagree … because in today’s world you literally cannot live without an income, I promise you new and much more exciting things are on the horizon. And those things are a lot easier to see when you’re not thinking about ending your life every day because of how depressed you’ve become. I’ve been there … holding back tears, not being able to get out of bed, not wanting to eat and full of confusion and hurt.
But take away the clouded judgment you hold over yourself, the feelings of worthlessness and not being good enough. Once those clouds pass, you’ll see the sun again, as I did, by changing my outlook and making the change I needed to succeed.
Unsplash image by Filip Mroz