Why I Quit My Job for My Mental Health
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever that answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”– Steve Jobs
You quit your job?! Why? What happened? What will you do now? Do you have another job lined up? Those are just some of the many questions I encountered when I unexpectedly quit my job. Most people didn’t know that the true reason behind this rash decision was due to my ongoing battle with major depression. I was losing to this disorder and had to make a change fast. I quit my job to save myself.
It was definitely a risky move and not one that I necessarily recommend. I didn’t have any savings built up or any sort of plan for the future. But for me, I had to take that risk. Otherwise, I may have just ended up in the hospital or worse, ended my own life.
It’s scary for me to write those words, but it was that close to becoming a reality. I know that it gets to that point for a lot of people and it breaks my heart to think that it could’ve ended the same for me.
So what was so wrong with my job? It wasn’t the job itself necessarily. I could do it just fine most days, but pretending like nothing was wrong day in and day out was getting to me. I was truly sick and things were only getting worse. The struggle was starting to show on the outside.
It became clear that I was no longer able to juggle the demands of my position and take care of my deteriorated mental state at the same time. There was no energy or drive within me anymore. And I was unable to focus on anything.
It wasn’t fair to my colleagues or my employer. And most of all, it wasn’t fair to me. What I was going through was far greater than I. It was imperative that I take a step back and heal. I finally realized my depression deserved to be treated just like any other illness.
Resigning was an extremely tough decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. Even after I made my choice and followed through with it, I continued to beat myself up over it. I couldn’t necessarily afford to quit my job. And I also didn’t have any plans to get another one right away. I couldn’t fathom the thought of searching for another job and putting myself out there. I simply didn’t have it in me.
Also, this wasn’t the first time I was quitting a job because of my mental health. In fact, this would be the fourth job that I left in the last five years. At this point in my life, I felt like a failure.
What gave me the nudge to quit? Ultimately, I knew deep down that if I wanted to survive this, I had to put myself first. Staying in my role wasn’t helping anyone and I knew the job itself wasn’t going to change anytime soon. I was aware of the fact that if I really wanted to be around for the long haul, I had to make a change now before it got any worse.
When I found myself being interrogated for an explanation, I usually resorted to saying something generic to avoid any awkwardness. I would give responses like, “The job just wasn’t for me” or “I want to try something new.”
While there may have been some truth to these statements at the time, only my husband and I knew the real reason behind my resignation. Privately, I was battling an invisible disease and carrying around an immense amount of pain. I needed space and time to heal in order to become me again.
It leaves me heartbroken that I felt like I had to bend the truth. That I felt like it would be frowned upon if I said what was really going on. Those who suffer from depression (or any other mental illness) know that mental health is still very much a taboo subject. I recognized that and avoided it like the plague.
For me, it was fear of being ridiculed and misunderstood by others. I have experienced that behavior from others in the past when attempting to be vulnerable. It can be extremely confusing to be faced with shame from others instead of understanding and compassion.
What I know for sure is that in the end, it isn’t going to matter what everyone else thought of you. Rather, you’re going to reflect on the choices you made and what you did with your life. So do what is best for you.
There’s a saying that I see floating around on social media that I like to reflect on from time to time, “You’re killing yourself for a job that would replace you in a week if you dropped dead. Take care of yourself.” And I couldn’t agree more.
If you find yourself in the same dilemma that I was in, know that it’s perfectly okay to quit your job for your mental health – if that’s what you need. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, it doesn’t mean you are weak, or that you’re lazy. It just means that you’re taking time away to take care of yourself.
Would you question it as much if it was cancer or some other life-threatening illness? Of course not! Take care of your mind just as you take care of your body.
Have you ever found yourself in this predicament? If so, how did it go for you? Do you find yourself facing this right now? Feel free to share.