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I'm Not a 'Failure' for Leaving Jobs That Hurt My Mental Health

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Throughout my life I have endured fears, insecurities and self doubt. As a child I would run away from school, bail on trips that had been planned for months and constantly ask for reassurance over the most ridiculous things. I would ask my parents if they thought I’d eat my lunch the following day, whether I needed the loo and if they would sit and watch me until I fell asleep just to make sure nothing bad happened to me. Looking back, I like to think I had a wonderful childhood because that’s what your brain does – it picks out the best bits of something or makes the bad bits seem less so as a way to cope. I had everything I could want as a child – stability, a loving home, lots of attention, treats, holidays, so many fun times and a brilliant big sister to look up to and admire. There was no possible reason for my fears and yet I had them… every day.

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As I’ve grown up and adapted to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I have begun to understood my childhood more and the warning signs that were always there but that nobody understood at the time. I look back and have so many regrets for the constant worry and disappointment I must surely have put my family through. The thing I have also begun to adapt to is the fact that my fears still exist, but I just hide them a lot more.

Adults who are afraid of things, especially things that might not even happen, are not accepted by the majority of people. It’s “not normal,” or so people who have never experienced it would like to think. The phrase I hear most often is “try not to worry about it.” Yeah, right… that’s like a red flag to a bull. You simply can’t tell someone who has lived with irrational fears for their entire life to “try” not to worry. What on earth do you think I’ve been doing for the past 33 years? There’s no way in hell I would choose to live like this if I didn’t have to, but I don’t have a choice and therefore, I have to deal with the hand I’ve been dealt and foster coping strategies.

In my more recent years, I’ve been in and out of jobs, mostly for the same reasons. My coping strategies can only take me so far, and maybe it’s the industry I work in, or maybe it’s because jobs are hard to find and keep these days. When you get up every day, put the fear (whichever one it might happen to be that day) as far back in your mind as you possibly can and go into a job you’ve earned the right to be at, and yet suddenly realize you’re working alongside people who have no concept of how to use tact and would most definitely stand on you if you fell so they could reach the next rung of the ladder — it is then you know that either your industry is not right or the whole world has gone to pot. It’s really hard to tell as I’ve had some awful experiences in my personal life too. However, what I do know is it isn’t weak to walk away from something or someone that exacerbates your fears. Maybe you had control of your fears for a moment, an hour, a day and someone has come along and ruined that for you. It isn’t losing face to walk away, even if most other people would have stayed. There are levels to this, of course, and I’m not suggesting you throw in the towel simply because someone was a little off-color with you or wouldn’t lend you their stapler. I’m talking about high-octane stuff — the kind of stuff you realize you’ve been taking for months and yet hadn’t noticed until you had a particularly bad day mentally and you realized maybe this wasn’t helping the situation in your poor, exhausted head.

There is that saying that you should be kind because you don’t know what some people are going through. It’s so true and yet so difficult to find people who will genuinely use this approach in life and especially in the work place.

My family are constantly encouraging me to “just stick it out,” “what about the money?” “it’s awful, but that’s life,” “be strong,” etc. I know they don’t want to see me financially bereft because they know that also exacerbates my mental state. They also know the routine of a job is great for me, as I like control and to not have too much time to fill, as this enables my fears to begin to take over. However, the way I see it, life is not about money and it sure as hell isn’t about taking abuse, back stabbing or any other form of disloyalty in any capacity.

All I do know is I’ve just walked away from yet another toxic work situation and am taking some time out to do the things I love, see the people I love and nurture the brave, good side of me that has been slightly battered and bruised over recent months.

Whatever your situation, if it doesn’t make you happy or it does, in fact, make you sad or exacerbate any mental health issues you may have, then you may need to walk away. Bravery has many different forms, but I see bravery every single day when I interact with like-minded people and hear about their stories and how they walked away to survive.

I’ve been suicidal in jobs before, cried in the loos loads and spent nights on end tossing and turning in bed trying to figure out what is so “wrong” with me that this cycle keeps repeating itself, and people, yet again, seem intent on trying to destroy me. I’m having a lucid and good day today so I can actually say with genuine feeling that there’s nothing wrong with me and everything wrong with them. Whether it is because they’re jealous, threatened, just unpleasant people or completely unaware of how they are making someone feel, there is absolutely no loss of dignity from bidding them adieu!

I feel glad I’ve walked away over and over again. OK, so I’m not the richest girl in the world as a consequence, but I have pride, a good heart and a much deeper understanding of myself and my needs than many other people. When it comes down to it, you need to self-love and nurture to survive. Being in tune with your mind makes you an inimitable force and can help you to keep going, even when some people really want to see you fail.

Be brave, in whichever way you can. It’s one of the strongest things you can be and something nobody can take away from you.

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Thinkstock photo by golubovy.

Originally published: March 25, 2017
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