Life Lately #1

by - Tuesday, May 16, 2017



So. It's been a bit quiet around these parts hasn't it? I could launch into a big apology or make excuses but I've long come to accept that this blog is mostly for me, a way to explore thoughts and capture memories and that sometimes I'm too busy living it to have to explain it to strangers on the internet. Until now, obviously.

I quit my job about three months ago. I loved that job, lived it and breathed it, but it didn't love me - it exploited the weaknesses in my mental health and pushed me to a place where I actively dreaded each weekday I had to sit at my laptop and battle to meet ever-increasing expectations. Without wanting to sound dramatic, I ending up having something of a nervous breakdown, and I lost all the essence of the parts of myself that I was proud of - boiled down to a weak, unmotivated shell who worried, second-guessed and panicked my way through each day, minute-by-minute, to the point that I could barely make a decision as to what to have for tea let alone where I wanted my future to go. I had nothing left to give to myself, my partner, my family or friends and probably cried more than I had in my 23 years prior. And so I called halt. Forever a perfectionist, it was the hardest thing i've ever had to do, to admit that I didn't want to try harder, but I did it. And I've since realised that for the instant spike in my happiness, it was something I should have spoke up about a lot sooner.

So what is new? Everything and nothing. I still spend my days mostly working from home, but the work I do has totally changed. I thought long and hard about what I was going to do in my life-post job, and realised that there was only really one answer - to return to my original passions. It was always my goal to return to academia and so I've applied for my masters degree, part time, in the hope of pursuing my eventual PhD and possible career in lecturing. I'm still waiting for the official acceptance, but I feel hopeful - the practice of writing and researching the application gave me a buoyancy I haven't felt in years and I'm pretty sure I'll really love being a student again.

Aside from that, I'm doing a ton of writing. Some paid, some not. But mostly paid, which I'm hugely grateful for as somebody who has been out of this game for a long time. My new freelance commitments give me a structure I can handle - I'm still working for myself and am in control but I get out of the house and do things I love - talking to interesting people, trying new experiences, sharing advice and knowledge and hopefully, some good humour. I've also stepped back into vintage and music events - working in a local clothing shop, running the door at gigs and making new friends at each is enough to keep me out of the bubble of home-working isolation that I don't think is truly good for anybody longterm.

When I quit my job, I told myself I'd take a bit of a break, but two weeks in and I was already just as busy as I was before. It's just who I am. But now, it's all about balance - I now have the flexibility to take a weekend off, to hang out with my friends, to flit about between different projects. The freelance, self-employed lifestyle is one that suits me - I can go 0 to 100% when my brain is being kind to me, and have the breathing space to accept when I just need a day to refresh.

When you've been sad for so long, it's amazing how alien it feels to be good again. My job wasn't the whole reason I felt depressed and anxious - those are feelings I've experienced my whole life and imagine I always will, but it was a role that definitely exacerbated the symptoms and made it near-on impossible to find level ground. I'm still taking my pills, have been to stress management classes and am on a waiting list for one-on-one counselling - nothing has been solved overnight but I have found the strength to work on it. It's a process, and it's not all one upward curve - some days feel like a total regression whereas others feel like I haven't a care in the world. But the one big thing that's changed is possibility - I no longer feel like my life is being run for me. I'm looking forward to things again - holidays away with my girls, spontaneous visits to see my mum, even little things like putting outfits together for work or planning out my week's calendar. With every sunny weekend in London, afternoon interviewing my favourite band, or birthday drinks with my favourite people, the fog of the past 8 months or so is slowly lifting.

Hopefully this will mean more. More blog posts, more adventures, more creative endeavours and projects and thoughts. I want to pass my driving test and start my masters and maybe think about creating a little zine. But it's okay those things don't come to fruition immediately. I'm a stickler for being too hard on myself but if recent events have taught me anything, it's that it's okay not to be everything to everyone. I've already surprised myself with how much I've managed to pick back up both personally and professionally and heck, I'm allowed to accept that I think I'm doing well.  Best of all, I regret nothing - every decision I ever made was the right one at the time and I stand by them all. I was missing for a little while but I wasn't lost - now feels like the right time to bring the colour back. So watch this space, or don't - I've found a happy medium where I'm cool either way, and that's a wonderful feeling to have.

Further Reading: This fab article by Daisy Buchanan is a little old now but came to me at EXACTLY the right time and full convinced me that I wasn't alone -

http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/news/real-life/i-quit-my-dream-job-for-my-mental-health-20150542495

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