If you read part one last week and you’re back thank-you. I know I shared some very personal information last week (which may have made you a tad uncomfortable), but I honestly felt that it was something I should do (and it ended up being a very cathartic experience). This week I promise to be more light-hearted – the skeletons in my closet don’t like constant exposure.
Dreaming of escaping, working over time, challenging the norm, and dealing with my guilt were not the only things keeping me from quitting my job and pursing my dreams. My health and my bank account were also in the way.
The Realities of Job Stress
I have to admit when I was working full time I didn’t realize how much my job stress effected my life. I related stress with frustration or pressure, and I’d write it off as a normal aspect of work. Work + Stress = Normal. Right?
Wait, I’m wrong?
Knowing you feel stressed at work is easy, but knowing the negative effects of stress on your body is a totally different thing – and something I didn’t become fully aware of until my last year of work in 2010.
The last four months of 2009 and the first six months of 2010 was probably the most stressful ten months of my life. In that time I dealt with the sudden illness of my Grandmother (which was the most emotionally draining experience of my life), followed by her death two months later. At work, I dealt with a boss who failed to empathise and continued to add pressure. It was like being weighed down by a seven-tonne anvil.
After years of experiencing insomnia, fatigue, irritability, mild depression, restlessness, and nightmares (all are effects of stress), I finally reached my breaking point. Instead of my stress being emotional, mental, behavioural and physical.
It Wasn’t A Spider Bite, It Was Stress
“OMG my leg hurts. And why is it leaking?!?!”
I woke up one more, felt pain in my leg, looked down and noticed an open sore; which was leaking! It was odd. I poked it, as one does. The wound felt hard-ish in the centre. My first thought was that a spider must have bitten me while I slept. Jerk. Despite the pain, I went to work. And then about 3 hours later I called my boss and told her I needed to leave and go to the hospital.
It hurt. Like a lot. My leg felt as though every single nerve had been rubbed raw and exposed to the elements. The motion of my pant leg brushing lightly against my leg hurt. Walking hurt. AIR hurt!
Yes. Air. HURT!
The cute doctors in Urgent Care thought it was a staph infection, gave me medication, and bandages to cover my weeping wounds. I went home, called work to say I’d be off for a couple days, and then spent three days in bed, trying to get my mind off the pain I was feeling.
Eventually, my leg healed, I returned to work and continued with my usual forms of stress. Life was… normal?
Then a few months later I woke up, walked into my bathroom, and noticed that my cheek was leaking. Another hard-ish open wound, but this time it was ON MY FACE!
MY FACE, people!!
Urgent care. Cute doctors. Medication. Bandages. Time off work. Eventually, it healed.
The physical manifestation of my stress brought on a series of medical experiences that I don’t want to repeat. Painful weeping wounds, being tested for diabetes (something my Grandmother had), blood work being processed monthly, headaches… It was like Armageddon for my body.
Calling it Quits, Six Months Early
Before my stress became physical I had told my boss I was going to quit and travel around the world. It was a liberating conversation in which I assured her I would stay for the Christmas season and then leave for my big adventure.
But then my body started to fall apart, I had serious conversations with a doctor who told me my job was basically killing me.
Telling my boss I was quitting 6 months early was way harder than the conversation we had about my quitting after Christmas. I was giving her a month’s notice, but I knew that was still leaving her in a lurch and I was racked with guilt. But, this time, I didn’t let my guilt run my life. I took ahold of the reins, embraced the guilt, and prepared for my absolute last day of work.
Was I financially prepared to quit six months early? Nope! Did I lounge around my last week and pretend to be a hard worker? No… as it happens my Aunt passed away my last week of work, and I didn’t bother showing up for my last shift.
As I mentioned earlier, the 10 months prior to quitting my job were some of the most draining and stressful months of my entire life. At the time I was completely exhausted, but now…
Quitting my job to pursue my dream of travelling long term was like closing a heavy iron door on a hoard of zombies. I was finally making a stand and controlling my life.
Checking Off My Task List
- Quit job
after Christmasin July – check!
- Save money to travel long term – Uh… I can totally travel long term on a couple thousand dollars, right?