This is a different post than I usually write on this blog. It is about my journey through the last few years in a toxic corporate job, my battle with depression and my belief that amazing things are coming.
Have you ever been scuba diving? If so then you know that when you are submerged deep in the water you don’t really realize it. You know you’re swimming and you might be aware you are underwater, but you can’t really tell if you’re 5 feet under or 50 feet deep.
I feel like this has been my life for the past few years. I knew I was under water, and I would have told you I was just a little under, but what I hadn’t realized is that I was in deep. Way, way under.
I didn’t really know I wasn’t breathing at all. I was holding my breath to see if I could survive another day, thinking that everyone in corporate America ‘worked’ like that. I believed that it was acceptable to live in a toxic environment because it was a career and work is never all that fun. I was just living for Friday at 4pm and slipping down past whatever progress had been made over the weekend on Sunday at 9pm, dreading the next morning. People around me were worried. I was getting physically sicker by the month. But, I kept telling myself that this was life in the fast lane. This was what was required to get the paycheck and have the title.
But I was cracking. Or maybe I cracked. I was losing myself and those who loved me.
Until earlier this summer, when I left my ‘big, corporate job’ and we went away for 16 days. I cried almost every day we were gone. I was broken and sad and wondering how I let myself be sad and broken for so long. Wondering who I was now that I didn’t have the corporate title.
We downsized our home in order to live the dream we had been dreaming. I took a job with a smaller, more personal company and we started living our weekends, instead of just trying to make them last longer.
That was almost 6 months ago. To be honest, at first I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I thought maybe this new job was just like that last one. Or maybe the benefits would have been worth staying for. When I realized that wasn’t the case I started to wonder if I was broken. Maybe I didn’t know how to be a good employee or manager. I questioned myself, my decisions and my wants.
But something else started to happen too, slowly. I started to not dread Mondays. I got control of my anxiety with some help from my physician and from a counselor. I started to look again for the things I really enjoyed and I made plans to incorporate more of those things into my life.
And, I got brave. Braver then I think I have ever been before and more brave then I thought I could be. I went to my new employer (only 5 months in) and I told them what I wanted. It was completely different then the job I had been hired for. But I pitched it. I told them exactly how I wanted my work life to look.
And they said yes!
Not just yes, but a resounding yes. I was initially afraid to even ask, but once I did something great started to happen. I started bobbing above the water I hadn’t even realized I was under. Just a couple bobs at first but as the days went by I spent more and more time breathing in the sunshine that floating on top the water gave me access to. Day after day I felt myself coming up and out of the darkness. I felt myself smiling. Really smiling and laughing and enjoying everything.
Its been a journey. Not always an easy or fun one, especially for those closest to me. They saw me losing myself and could do very little to help. I knew I was breaking me, but I didn’t have the courage to change it.
I’m not going to tell you I’m totally fine quite yet. Years of living in harsh environments takes time to heal from. I talk to my counselor a few times a month and on occasion I find myself worried if this will last, but I wake up most mornings and I am amazed at the sunrise. I stop each evening on my walk into our condo and watch as the moon rises in the sky and the sun casts brilliant orange shadows over the western mountains. I breathe. Deeply. I praise because I’m thankful and I incorporate gratitude into my daily routine. I am deeply grateful for those who stood by me. Who loved me. Whose life this experience altered too.
I’m glad to know you can have a career and be happy. I’m happy to know that Sundays can be days that are filled with fun things and I can go to bed without dread.
I share my story in hopes that maybe someone else will read this and know they too can be happy. I hope that person doesn’t stay in a place that makes them less. I hope that you will never be in a place that makes you stop breathing.
Look for the sun. Never let the darkness hold you under. And if you find yourself in that place, reach for the surface with everything that is left in you. Because the sun is shining. There is warm air waiting for you to breathe deeply into your soul. Be braver then you ever thought you could be. Because, you are worth the effort.