How Quitting My Job Saved My Mental Health

I quit my job for my mental health and it’s the best choice I ever made. It was scary and it was uncertain, but it was everything I needed.

So often these days we overlook our own health – both mental and physical – in favor of earning our employer another dollar. But it’s time that we take a stand and show that we are worth more. Our mental health is worth more. There are articles upon articles about “The Great Resignation.” What do you think: could we make it great enough to actually make a difference?

Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

Despite the evolution of mental health care in the past decade or so, there is definitely still a stigma surrounding it overall. No matter what most bosses say, calling out “sick” because of a bad brain day is absolutely frowned upon. I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that. 

Heck, these days supervisors are expecting us to come to work while infected with a highly contagious COVID variant – they definitely don’t think our anxiety qualifies us for a day off. But anyone who has suffered from mental illness at any time in their life knows otherwise. Our brains power our entire bodies, so why don’t we allow ourselves and others a chance to take a break?

The hustle culture corporations have cultivated makes us feel like we have to workworkwork essentially every day. And for what? It all just ends up with us being overworked and miserable. That’s exactly where I was when I made the choice to leave my job.

How My Job Negatively Impacted My Mental Health

I want to start off by saying that I loved my job. Or, I used to anyway. Before the toxicity of an unforgiving workplace and the constant pressure to hustle took away any semblance of enjoyment that I once had. 

I was at my previous job for almost 5 years. And for a lot of that time, it was great. Or at least, I thought it was. Perhaps I was just drinking the kool-aid too much to see? We were consistently given days off for “fun days” – scavenger hunts and theme parks and arcades – plus we were compensated with bonuses and gifts throughout the year. And the ~food~ they would serve us! It was amazing. I was so grateful. And then slowly, they started taking things away. 

Our days got longer, our breaks got shorter, and our compensation got smaller. We were told to be loyal, but no loyalty was shown to us in return. At one point, the overworking and forced burnout got so bad for me I had to take medical leave for my mental health. I woke up one day and knew I couldn’t do it anymore.

I took an entire month off, at the advice of my psychiatrist, and utilized short-term disability to supplement my income. Anyone who has had to do something similar knows this process is a nightmare. I was required to check in with my company’s HR every single week. During a mental breakdown. I was constantly reminded my job was still mine but could be taken away at any moment. It was not an ideal environment for recovering.

And when I returned, nothing was better. I was expected to keep on like nothing had ever happened. But it had. And everyone knew. I had a target on my back for being the “crazy” one and was barely regarded with any respect. 

Workplace conditions declined, COVID hit, and that’s when I knew I had enough. Being forced to interact with customers during a global pandemic really hits different – especially when your company has already shown it can be done virtually. 

I made the decision to find a new job in March and immediately started putting in applications and going for interviews. I finally found something new and left the toxic job in June.

I do want to make it clear that I don’t blame my coworkers or direct supervisors for what I went through. They are victims just as much as I was, even if they don’t yet see it that way. I wish them all the best and hope their health, both mental and physical, remains strong.

Toxic workplace

Making Time For My Mental Health

So I left my toxic job and started a new work-from-home position. Despite a wonderful culture and delightful coworkers, it quickly became apparent to me that it wasn’t the job for me. It was a tough decision, but thanks to a hefty savings account (that I had been building the past 4+ years at my last job) and a desperation for freedom, I was able to make the choice to quit. 

There I was, jobless. Living off my savings. And honestly? It was the best decision I could have made for myself. After years of trying to live up to others expectations, I was able to take time for myself. I was able to really dig deep and find out who I am and what I truly want.

Video Games 

Video games were such an important part of my recovery. To some, this might sound ridiculous, but to me it was lifesaving. I was able to escape reality bit by bit and truly enjoy myself again. I was able to rekindle the love for video games that my stress had taken away.

I dedicated more of my time to creating content and making friends through my favorite games. My own mental fortitude improved as well as my social life. I may not be a famous streamer, but I love what I do and I am so happy for what I have done.

Self Care 

While video games were important to my recovery, they certainly were not the only piece. Self care was absolutely the most pivotal piece of my journey. Beyond taking time for myself and learning how to meditate in a way that works for me, I began consistently seeing a psychiatrist again. 

Without her help, none of this would have been possible. I am grateful for her guidance. She has taught me to recognize the status of my mental health and given me tools and techniques to help manage it.

I know quality therapy is not available to everyone, but I highly recommend trying to find someone that you can talk to. Even if you aren’t going through a tough time now, just talking to a therapist can make your life improve overall. I have a few resources available that might be able to help you find someone.

Mental health

Conclusion

It’s been 6 months since I left my job. And they have been some of the best 6 months of my life. I was able to see friends again, work on my passions, and truly grow as a person without the crushing weight of a toxic work environment always looming over me. I have since started a new position and already feel much happier and more comfortable in my role.

It’s not possible for everyone to leave their job like I did – I know that. But if you have the option to quit a toxic job (or even take a work sponsored sabbatical) I highly recommend it. We were not meant to work this hard this often. Our bodies and minds simply aren’t built for it. So take time off. Prioritize your mental health when you can. And choose yourself. Because you matter.

If you just want to vent about a bad job or would like more help on how to make the jump, please leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.

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