I Quit My Job To Save My Mental Health
I want to write this while emotions are still raw. That's the point of these things right? To give the most genuine and authentic experience? So let's get into it...
I QUIT MY JOB THIS WEEK
I didn't tell everyone what I thought about them while giving them the finger. I didn't send a company wide email telling everyone to fuck off. I didn't just leave without telling anyone. However, I did make it known that I was very, very unhappy and had been for quite a while.
With all that being said, let's get into it
Your job is a relationship.
I spent plenty of my personal time trying to improve this relationship. Time away from the things that I love, from the people I love, from the hobbies that I love. Jasmine Sullivan has a line in her hit song "Lions, Tigers & Bears" that goes "just cause I love you and you love me, that doesn't mean that we're meant to be". You may not love the job that you are in but you make excuses for it. These excuses sound like "well, I don't like this job, but the salary pays the bills...or...":this job has great benefits, so I can't leave". These are all excuses we make to stay in a relationship with our employer even though we are miserable.
How many of your PERSONAL hours have you spent on your spouse (your employer) just to feel like your opinion/hard work was disregarded? You do this because you love your career. Working off the clock, missing special events, spending more time with your coworkers than your own friends and family. Trying to come up with new ideas to bring the spark back into your relationship with your career. It all sounds too familiar to some of us.
Did you invest your time/money for this?
I went to college for years. At some point in time you want to feel like all of your hard work will pay off. Instead, you see people who don't have the same credentials you do get ahead. "It's office politics" is what your manager will tell you. Or "you have to dress for the job you want, not the job you have". Then you look at how the person who has the job you want dresses and you think "I already dress better than that". These are all things that we deal with in the workplace that DE-motivate us, DE-moralize us, and feel DE-valued. As long as we allow it, employers will keep doing it. We are at their mercy.
I'm a Purple Heart veteran, I have an MBA, I sit on three non-profit boards, I am a professional speaker, I just wrote a freaking book! I've always had a feeling that I could contribute more to my employer, but when I tried to contribute more to the relationship my attempts were met with "No...we are just going to continue to keep doing things the way we've been doing them". It is so demoralizing to feel like you can contribute more to something, but your contributions are acknowledged, or wanted. Just come in...sit down...and shutup. We already have a nice little role cut out for you within the organization and we don't need you stepping out of that role.
I'm Accomplishing So Much In My Personal Life
This was a speech that I gave on March 10. This was the first speech that I gave in front of people in over a year. COVID- 19 has completely devastated the professional speaking industry. When I gave this speech I was on top of the world. The next day, I had to go back to my 9-5. Can you imagine what it feels like to do the ONE thing that you love one day just to go back to a job where you don't feel appreciated the next?
MY TOASTMASTERS CLUB...I just advanced in our international speakers contest. I got a lot of positive feedback from my club. At the time of me writing this blog post, I am moving on to the division contest and I feel like I am on top of the world.
I just published my book! (Which you should purchase by the way)
Writing and publishing this book has been the highlight of my life. I am an author! I don't want to be biased, but this story is unlike any military story you've ever read. I put so much energy, money, and time into writing this book. The day I published it, I had to go right back to work. I couldn't even enjoy the day I published it because I had to work. Back to the place where I don't feel appreciated, supported, or acknowledged. It destroyed me inside. Every day after work I'd drown my sorrows in a bottle of Canadian whiskey.
If you have to drink to cope with something...that isn't good. I've heard about many professional athletes who want to separate from an organization. In the NFL they have the option to holdout if they don't agree with the decisions the team is making. Wouldn't it be great if we had that option in corporate America? To express to your employer that you are unhappy and your mental health is in shambles. And that you won't be returning to work until you feel supported enough to strive in your role?
I've taking short term leave to take care of my mental health. I didn't apply for other jobs, I didn't go on any interviews, I didn't do anything but relax. However, when my return to work date started to get closer I became more and more anxious.
I've talked to many professionals that are in the same boat that I was in. Long hours, not enough pay, and more depressed than ever. Employees that sit in their car and cry before going in, employees that can only make it through the day if they pour whiskey in their coffee, employees that get berated daily in high volume call centers for $10/hr because they couldn't afford college. Employees that are punished and are held hostage on intense phone conversations and reduced to tears on the phone because "the customer is always right".
My friends that have advanced degrees in corporate America are more miserable than ever. The work gets getting piled on, and the job description keeps changing. Managers have a manage a team of 15+ people while also still performing their manager duty. There are no excuses if you can't get it done, it means that you aren't a good manager. The title looks good on LinkedIn, the pay is great, but the responsibilities that are added on every day make these things less than rewarding.
Now, back to me...
I'm a disabled veteran. Everyone loves us, everyone wants to hire us, but nobody understands us. It was recently raining in Atlanta. When it rains I am absolutely miserable. I was shot in both legs while in Iraq and when it rains they hurt really bad. With the pain that I deal with it was very hard to perform the duties of my job. I blew through my sick time for the year in the first two months of the year. The winter is a horrible time for me: my legs hurt, and it is a constant reminder that I am disabled.
There were days that were so painful that I'd take time throughout the day to scream into a pillow while working from home. When you are the low man on the totem pole who can you complain to? You aren't an asset, you are easily replaceable, and you need to return back to work. The relationship wasn't healthy. It felt like I needed them, and they made it very very obvious they didn't need me. What do you do when you are unhappy in a relationship? You leave...
And that's what I did. I told my mental health therapist about my decision. That for 8 hours a day I was unhappy and I didn't know how much longer I could take it. I told him I didn't need to worry about benefits, or losing my salary. There is no amount of money that is worth my mental health. There is no amount of Sertraline that could help with the amount of depression I deal with for 8 hours a day. The anxiety of logging in for work and not feeling like a part of the team was horrible. Worst of all it started to bleed into my personal life. I was rude to my girlfriend, and I was performing well on my nonprofit boards.
So I decided to leave...
I ended a three year relationship. It felt like the elephant finally got off my chest. I could breathe again! I can focus on the things that I love, I work on my next speech for my Toastmasters international speech contest, I can market my book, I can get back to being David again. I must say, I do have the "empty" that you have when you leave a relationship. Almost as if something is missing from my life. However, I must admit it feels great to take control of my life again.
There are millions of people in the country that are currently going through what I went through. If you are one of those people let me tell you there is no amount of money, no title, no promotion worth your mental health. It may look good to post these things on LinkedIn, or have people look up to you, but if you aren't happy what's the point? It's like being in an abusive relationship and putting on makeup to cover a black eye when in public. If you are hurting or feel like you are in an abusive relationship please don't be afraid to leave.
I did it, you can too...