Six years ago, I had the darkest summer of my life. It’s one thing to be sad because it’s Sunday and you have to go back to the office on Monday. And it’s another thing to show up to your job, crying in the parking lot wishing you could just disappear and die. I am forever thankful that I survived the summer of 2010. When you are diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD, you’d be surprised how lonely it can truly be.
Sometimes people were afraid to talk to me and sometimes people just hoped I would just go back to being “normal” again. I lost a good number of friends that year especially the ones who told me that I should be happy that I got an “extended vacation” or tell me to just take a “chill pill.” Going to see a psychiatrist while you are taking anti-depressants is not my ideal vacation. Using the term “chill pill” isn’t funny when you are filling out your prescription of Lexapro either. And, yes from my personal experience there is still a stigma about mental illness especially if people judge you on your outer accomplishments.
Our self-doubt grows from our thoughts. Just one scenario can trigger this spiral of negativity. For me, it could be losing my apartment keys or forgetting my cell phone in a restaurant. Or if I had a really crappy day, I just become super sensitive to everything around me. A couple months ago, I overheard these waitresses at a restaurant making fun of the way I speak Spanish. I yelled at them in English telling them,”If you are going to make fun of the way I talk, maybe you shouldn’t insult me while I am eating in front of you. It is rude.” What I do in response to these thoughts is what is key.
One evening, I was having an anxiety attack and tried to reach out to a friend of mine. She basically said, “Get over yourself. You have a cushy job. You travel and you plan parties.” If this “friend” only really knew the anxiety and the deep emotional grief that was building up for years. The vacation days I never took. The feeling of powerlessness I had when I tried to ameliorate my workload or ask for help from my colleagues. The broken tooth I got because I kept grinding my teeth at night. The mornings where I would lie in bed and not want to get up and face another day of abuse and bullying in the workplace. The self-doubt just begins to pile up especially when nobody has time for your problems.
I can be an overly ambitious person and have the tendency to be a people pleaser. This isn’t a good combination for me. It triggers anxiety and panic for me. You end up putting yourself last and pretending everything is fine. You are considered the nice person people can take advantage of. When I set high expectations for myself, my brain can produce a playground of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. I don’t focus on the process anymore. When I am so obsessed about the end-product, the triggers begin to set in and I can have a full out dark day.
I am thankful that my life didn’t end that summer. I am thankful for the time I was given to get healthy and grateful for the friends who truly accepted me and listened. It takes some bravery to admit that that there was something wrong with my obsession with success and achievement. I am responsible for my own happiness in life. I am the only one who can take control of my thoughts, my behaviors, and my health. In the end, I have learned that I can be so many things: I can be ambitious and have peace in my heart and truly discover joy in my life.
I have seen so many horrifying things in the workplace. This is the reason why I left cubicle town. My career as an event planner no longer served me. It no longer gave me the joy and the lifestyle that I needed. I hope that through the creation of my company ARTYOGAPLAY my personal story can help encourage maybe one other person out there to get help and to work through those dark days and truly discover peace. With hope, patience, and love, anyone can get through those dark days.
Really interesting journey you described there. I identify with leaving an unfulfilling job/career that everyone told me I should be happy with. “good company, good benefits…etc.” You know that whole deal. Who really cares when everyone around is miserable which in turn negatively affects you. Amazing that we both were able to leave those jobs and redirect our journies to something we find fulfilling. I hope to connect with you soon!