I Took A Break From Work To Focus On My Mental Health
Recently, I left my job.
It should be noted that I absolutely LOVED my job. Those Sunday night blues? I didn’t get them. On Monday mornings, I bounced out of bed, ready to tackle emails and phone messages. Working with kids is my calling - they continually teach me life lessons and they never fail to fascinate me with their knowledge about the world (and what’s “cool” and “trendy").
But for the past couple of weeks, my enjoyment wasn’t there. It was a struggle to get to work, both physically and emotionally. My energy levels were lacking, and my motivation to accomplish my long list of daily tasks discouraged me rather than inspired me. You see, I struggle with an eating disorder. I had been trying to keep myself out of intensive treatment but I knew something had to change the moment I lost my passion for life - work life included.
The dialogue around mental health has been changing, and I am grateful that we are taking steps to make mental health a little less stigmatized. I don’t feel ashamed that I struggle with an eating disorder - I feel frustrated and sad that I am still stuck in this cycle, but I don’t feel judged.
However, when I knew I needed to leave my job to enter intensive treatment in order to regularize my eating habits, get my physical health in check, and work through some psychological issues, I felt a little… embarrassed. More than that, I felt guilty. “If I had been sick with some kind of physical issue”, I thought to myself, "maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad about having to take time off”. But because my “problems” are mostly in my head, I was a little more hesitant to speak to my boss about leaving.
At the end of the day, I know I made the best decision for myself. Like the old adage says, “health comes first”. And, you can’t provide for others if you are not well. The nature of my work required me to provide for others - students, teachers, parents - which I was struggling to do due to the decline in my mental and physical health. It’s hard to prioritize ourselves. We can be so giving towards others, yet we often dismiss, or ignore, or deflect so that we put others’ needs before our own.
Like I said - I am doing what I need to get my health back on track. Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice something I really loved (my job) in doing so. My advice to you is to try, hard as it might be, to prioritize yourself and your health, in all forms. It’s not easy, especially when sacrifices need to be made. But the only way you can work to the best of your abilities, or care for your family, or be there for your friends, is if you are taking care of YOU. It won’t be easy, but it really is necessary. It’s a realization I am learning to make as I start this journey towards health and recovery.