How Working at a “Fast-Paced” Job Affected my Mental Health and so Much More

Ladies, Gents… I’ll be honest with ya right now. I’m not the best person to ask to hold down a job. I find it very difficult to adapt to the workplace environment. Also, it’s hard to maintain the same amount of excitement about doing the same thing over and over again, day after day, until I basically die. It depresses me and I honestly can’t think of a single thing I could do everyday, for the rest of my life, that I would constantly enjoy (besides being a mother, obviously). Like it just makes it seem like I’m working to die. Maybe that’s a messed up way of looking at it, but hey, that’s my brain for ya.

I’m sure if I had money and done this and that, there would be something that I would be able to do for the rest of my life, BUT that’s not how it is. I’m here now and I’m in this exact place for a reason.

When I left my job back in December and really put myself first (for the first time in a while), I checked in to a nearby psychiatric hospital and remained inpatient for ten days. And I gotta say, this was by far, the best experience I have ever had at a psychiatric facility. I got a lot out of it and I’m really working to be the best person I can be (with the help of some amazing people that I know). Disconnecting for that week and a half from the outside world – it was nothing short of amazing. Honestly, that was the best place for me. Looking back I wouldn’t even have wanted to be on a cruise or a snowboard trip. I would do it over again in a heartbeat.

What also really helped me to get to a mentally healthy place, was no longer having the stressors of my work. I didn’t have to drive through hours and hours of traffic (seriously) to get my son to school, my daughter to daycare and myself to work. That alone is enough to make a sane person lose their mind. Kuddos to the people out there that are able to do that crazy commute, but it is definitely not for me. There is a whole other level of crazy drivers out there now.

Traffic and hooligans aside though, it is soooo nice to not have to work for someone everyday. The only person I have to report to is myself. I don’t have the stress about “losing” my job or not doing something just right (because what parent is perfect?). I honestly worry about things 90% less, now that I’m a SAHM. There is much less pressure. And I don’t feel like I need to prove myself to anyone. Also, there’s no drama. 😉

But not everyone is able stay at home with their children (or pets or whatever their reasoning may be). Whether it be financial, emotional, physical or any other reasoning as to why you or your partner aren’t able to stay at home, you will obviously find yourself working.

To me, the stress involved with finding a job is enough to cause a breakdown. The job hunt was almost more stressful than the actual job. Theres constant rejection and “ghosting” (you never get a call back after applying/an interview). You’re literally given zero idea of how the interview went, until you get a call (or not). It’s just a pool of anxiety and unpredictability.

But since I’m now staying at home, I find the stressors with motherhood and a professional job are completely different. Sure, there’s stressors to both jobs, but one allows me to deal with the stress more naturally, while the other I feel myself censoring how I react and solve the problem at hand. I’m still learning things from my children everyday, and to me that’s more meaningful than learning the ins and outs of social security (which is what I was most recently doing). With my children, learning comes freely. With a job, it seems more forced.

I recently went to my daughter’s old daycare provider to say hi and whatnot. She stated how every morning and afternoon when I would pick my daughter up, I would be so worried or stressed about my job. I honestly didn’t realize how much it was affecting me. The stress from my job affected my – relationships, mood, emotions, sleep patterns, eating habits, patience, and decreased my all around well-being.

I was bringing the work home with me. I’d be distracted while trying to listen to my kids and husband. I’d be asleep by 8pm every night because I was exhausted. But I fought through it. I chose to ignore the signs of the constant stress. Did I help to create my own stress? I’m sure at some points I did. But the job only made things worse and I could only hold it together for so long.

While I feel as though I was good at my job (and people around me would say the same), it didn’t feel fulfilling. It didn’t feel right. You know how people will tell you not to settle in a spouse? They will make your ears bleed from reciting it so much. Anyway, it’s like that but replace the spouse with a job. Don’t settle with a job.

Trust me, I get it. Wayyy easier said than done. And while that may be true, accept the challenge. Yeah, sometimes you may have to take a job here or there to get you by, but remind yourself of the bigger goals you have set for yourself. Maybe don’t risk everything to get the job you feel would best suit you, but at least try. It’s worth it to take chances on things that will improve your life.

I still struggle with knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life as an occupation. I talk to people who have held jobs down for literally decades and I haven’t even held down a job longer than a year and a half. I normally don’t have a problem finding a job when I need one, it’s just a matter of whether or not I’ll continue to enjoy it. I always seem to fall out of love with jobs – quickly.

This last job I had though, was a little different than most jobs I had before. And when I say that I mean it in a good way. It was pretty professional and there was basically zero drama. I was also NEVER bored. But at times I felt like my workload was much too overwhelming. It was a VERY fast-paced job and I rarely ever took a lunch (even when we had luncheons). My boss(es) were very helpful though when it came to their employees needing assistance and had an open door policy that everyone seemed to effectively use. My bosses were generous, attentive, caring and direct. I mean honestly, I was lucky to get that job and I am thankful I had the opportunity.

But none of all those awesome attributions to the job were able to combat my looming anxiety and depression. I constantly over thought things. I wondered if one of my clients would complain about me (I had almost a 300 person caseload). I sought reassurance from my immediate boss often because I began to doubt myself and lack confidence. I was taking things personally, that were supposedly not to be taken that way. And every minute of everyday I worried about my appearance and if the people I worked with liked me. With so many other thoughts like these, I ultimately questioned if they would even miss me if I was gone. And you know what, they don’t. BUT, I’m okay with that. Because I don’t need the approval of everyone. Even at a job.

Every single day I stayed at that job, my mental health deteriorated. It was chipped away at slowly but effectively. And at the end of six months, I broke down and was completely useless. The last day I was there, my horrible mental health state was clearly exhibited through various behaviors. Some of my coworkers noticed, others maybe… but they didn’t seem to care. Either way, I would go through it all again to be able to be a SAHM for my kids.

Looking back now, I ignored the signs of my deteriorating mental state because I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted to prove myself to my co-workers, family, and friends. But I learned that while I am definitely a motivated and hard worker, I don’t need a professional job to prove my worth to anyone.

My dad always tells me that a job is not to be put above my mental health. With one income from my husband and three other people in our home to take care of, it’s not always that simple. I consider myself lucky that our family is able to make it work with limited resources. But my dad does have a point… take care of yourself first. The rest will fall into place. It may take a few years… but it will happen. Be patient. And keep your standards held high.

-CJ

Photo credit: Here
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