I worked so hard at my job, I fell sick. It wasn't worth it

Yes, it’s a competitive world, but at times, you need to take a step back and breathe.

 |  6-minute read |   01-08-2017
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Quitting a job can be one of the most taxing decisions one has to take, especially when you don’t quite know what you actually want to do.

Something similar happened to me last month. I had just joined my workplace three months ago and I was extremely happy. However, my body was not.

The reason I quit my job is because I was exhausted – mentally and physically. At an age when my friends are starting new jobs and are extremely excited about work, here I am – jobless, clueless and yet not hopeless.

Ever since I’ve quit, I’ve been asked a million questions – mostly by people who don't have much relevance in my life - about what my plans are, for life. I don’t have a clear answer, and I am not ashamed of admitting that. The reason I feel so tired and saturated today is because of the amount of harshness that I have subjected my body to.

No, I don’t smoke. Yes, I do drink, but only occasionally. What I mean by “harshness” is the amount of planning I have done in and about life. I think a lot, and then I often think a lot about the over-thinking I do. There are days when I feel that I’m doing great in my life, and there are days when I can’t stop wallowing in self-pity.

Quitting my job was my decision because I decided that it’s time I give myself and my body some rest – give it time to heal and grow while I figured out my life. And after quitting, I laughed and cried and cried some more. Well, I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have a plan.

What was I supposed to do? Ask around? Sleep all day? Binge-watch on Netflix? Cry? Question your life, and your inability to deal with stress?

Yes, I did the last two a lot for the first week.

work-stress_080117062712.jpgPhoto: Business Today

While for everyone else, I was finally free, I knew what was going on in my head. It was like the battle has just begun. I didn’t have to fight with the outside world, but the inner demons. And bloody hell, they were powerful. I spent nights having anxiety attacks, crying, breathless.

I’d feel incompetent, and my self-esteem was in tatters. “Everyone else can deal with the stress. You’re weak and you can’t succeed.” – that’s what my mind would tell me.

In the mornings, I would be completely fine, or at least I forced myself to be – clicking pictures, talking to people, being on social media. Does that negate what I was going through? No.

We live our lives for others – for validation, for success, for fame and for stability.

Yes, it’s a competitive world, but at times, you need to take a step back and breathe. We think that we have so much to prove to others, and at any cost! We think that we need to be the best, and be that right now.

Our mind is a trap. It’s a crazy place up there. So many thoughts, ideas, insecurities and conflicts. How can you deal with them and win over them until you’re well rested?

I realised how powerful your body’s backlash can be. We millennials romanticise struggle, long hours, working weekends and no-offs. I’m what happens when you do that for too long.

I have worked continuously in the three years of college, and I am extremely proud of that. I studied well in college, and did continuous internships during all the vacations. However, what I am not proud of is how I treated my body in that phase. The impact? I could barely sustain two weeks of notice period.

My breakdowns started. I cried over the smallest of issues, often at my workplace. I could barely look at my laptop screen for more than 15 minutes. I had a perennial headache for two months, and I could not even remember the last time I slept properly.

That is what mental and physical saturation does to you. I had landed my dream job, and my body gave up in two-and-a-half months.

Anxiety is real, and it happens at times when you least expect it to.

For me, I don’t even know when it started and how it got so intense till it reached a point of no return. I barely spoke to people around me. I barely ate. I skipped lunch, and barely had dinner.

My weight dropped and I’d be cranky all the time. I didn’t know if anyone else noticed, but my work productivity went down.

I used to often proudly call myself a “workaholic”, and now it was time for rehab.

The day my major breakdown happened, I came home and I cried my heart out to my parents, telling them every small thing I had felt over a period of two months.

I didn’t know why I had kept it bottled up, but now the floodgates had opened. That was the first day I cried, and thereafter, I cried myself to sleep almost every day.

The world tells us to stick to the place, and figure out your life.

“Find something better, and then quit” is what almost everyone advises you. I tried doing that and the backlash was worse.

Why do we stick around? For societal conformity?

To be able to survive in the industry and not be termed “unprofessional” or “nomadic”?

Once your body decides that it can’t take anymore, it wrecks a havoc!

I have cried, and cried and cried for hours at a stretch, often sobbing silently at my desk and often in the washroom. The worst part was that I did not even know why I was crying. I never had an answer to “what’s wrong?”

That led to many people thinking that I was an immature kid. Back at home, I’d just lie in my bed, and not feel like waking up. No, I didn’t feel like dying. I have a lot to live for – a lot of big dreams, and the willpower to go achieve them too. But my body had given up. I did not have the energy to get up and go to work. Every step I took tired me out more.

And that’s how I quit.

I chose my body and my health over work pressure. I might not be able to go back to the same company, maybe not work with the same colleagues, or maybe not work in the same industry (thinking about the worst) but I have made my peace with that. It’s okay if I can’t.

I’ll figure out a Plan B, start from scratch and just figure something out someday. But that someday is not today. Today, tomorrow and for the next few days and weeks to come – I’ll be carefree and aimless.

I’ll give myself and my mind and body time to heal. I’ve been too hard on them, and they deserve some love. It’s high time I give it to them.

You should do that too. Don’t be me.

Live. Laugh. Love!

Also read: 12 simple ways to cut cholesterol

Writer

Sulagna Chatterjee Sulagna Chatterjee @beingchatterjee

Sulagna Chatterjee is a 21 year old aspiring filmmaker. She is also the founder of a content website called The India Diaries. In her free time, she writes short stories, films and tweets a lot of lyrics.

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