It took over a year and a lot of help from some close friends to realise that my job was making me unhappy.
I tried so hard to deny myself this fact that I completely failed to see how it was affecting my life outside of work. It wasn’t until mid this year that my friends where able to help me see that I was unwell and needed to make a change.
Noticing signs in declining mental health
It seems rather clear looking over the last year to see the signs and connect moments that made me spiral, but at the time I shrugged them all off under the assumption of being normal.
My out-of-work self was changing and being slowly affected by my unhappiness at work. I tried to explain everything thinking
its just work, that’s how work is. Speaking with others showed me that work shouldn’t be like that.
Denial and inexperience
Being my first full time job I didn’t really know what work was. I had assumptions about work life, and since I hadn’t heard anyone say otherwise, I took me experiences as normal. So when, after two great years, things started going bad, I thought it was just how things were in the industry.
At its worst I felt helpless and overwhelmed. One thought kept going around in my head: You have bills to pay, bills dont care if you’re happy. The pressure of timelines, a mortgage to pay, uncertainy of being unemployed and job hunting froze me in my job. It seemed like such a stupid idea that I could look for another job when nothing was wrong. I even felt selfish for wanting to leave, completely ignoring how much this job was affecting me.
No so much apathy, I still cared about my work and had a great sense of pride in it, I just didn’t want to do it or anything really. I didn’t want to get up in the morning and would stay in bed for as long as possible. Weekends and Sunday nights were the worst, I didn’t see the point in getting up as it only meant another work day was drawing closer.
Lack of sleep
I could hardly sleep. I never felt tired when going to bed but was completely wrecked at 9:00 the next morning, no matter how long I slept.
A strange one was not feeling anything. I wasn’t feeling sad or unfulfilled after work, I just felt nothing. Empty was the default emotion, there weren’t really highs or lows.
I also cant recall many events of the past year, nothing stands out as major events. The days and months really blurred and the yeah just happened.
No longer doing things you enjoy
This one took me ages to notice. Things I once took joy in doing lost all appeal. Active learning and development on the web completely stopped (see the massive void in my commits from March-July). I no longer read articles about the web or listened to podcasts during commute.
Stress and Tension
A fair amount of tension had built up in the workplace. It got to the point where I had been called into manager’s office to discuss my behaivour. This should have been a massive red flag but I failed to see it affecting me.
I became very wound-up at work, stressing over minor details and trying to get everything perfect, fearing any errors in my work would derail an entire project. It got to the point where I couldn’t do basic tasks at home such as preparing dinner. I would panic over a task such as cutting vegetables because: how does the recipe want it cut? how big are the pieces? how many pieces? what if i do it wrong. I became so stressed I could hardly function anymore. It felt like I was back in the office and I hated it.
A highlight I recall was driving home one day after a long week of content authoring for a client. The subject matter was mental health (don’t worry the irony isn’t lost on me) and I was exposed to all sorts of stories of depression and anxiety. I was about 15 minutes from home when a generic acoustic song played on the radio. The song was about a man dying and realising he is leaving his partner behind and out of no where I burst into tears and had to pull over.
With the support of my friends and partner I was able to see that I wasn’t in a good mental condition and needed to take steps to improve my health.
I was able to find another job where I am in a much healthier environment and surrounded with like-minded people.
The hardest parts were acknowledging I was miserable at work and it was effecting more and more of me. Coming home after the first day of my new job my partner noted how different my mood was. It still bothers me that it got so out of control and I wish I had seen the signs earlier.
You may think its hard, but you can talk to others about what you are going through. There is support out there and you might find the person you speak to is going through the same thing.
Hopefully reading this and other stories can encourage you to share your experiences or even speak to others about theirs.