I quit my job, then got depressed.

Nearly 3 years ago, I quit my job.

Rewinding a little… After dropping out of university – twice – I was still none the wiser as to what I wanted to do with my life.

Sales was one of the things I could do without a degree (after the financial crisis of 2007-08, graduates had a hard time getting a job, let alone non-graduates), where there was still an opportunity to make what I considered ‘good money’. Whatever that means.

I was also attracted to recruitment as I figured I liked helping people, and helping recruit people into jobs would feel good, right? Hmm, little did I realise at the time, but most people weren’t in financial services to ‘feel better’. And moving a person from one job to another, doing the same thing but for more money, didn’t have the intended feel-good factor I was hoping for.

Anyhow, from day one I’d known that recruitment wasn’t “it”. There were highs and lows, long hours and commute, and I found myself sometimes leaving home at 6.30 in the morning, and then not getting back until 8 or 9, or even later, in the evening. And earning what I could’ve done working 9-5 in retail. In recruitment, starting out, you have to earn your stripes.

For a while, the competition sustained me, and I was lucky to join a second recruitment firm that was a smaller outfit, and the people were a bit more human.

In my last year there, I broke into the “top-5” in sales performers. I earned just under £70,000, before the taxman got his nice piece. That year, I also got shared ‘Employee of the Year’ with another colleague.

One moment still sticks, at my last Christmas party. Everyone else was drinking, being merry, having a good time. Earlier that evening, I’d been announced as joint Employee-of-the-Year and received a prize, applause, etc. And yet, I was sat at that Christmas party thinking, why am I not happier than this?

Shortly after getting back from a family trip in February, I was certain that my time was up. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Having not completed a Bachelor’s at university (and coming from a ‘good school’ and Indian blood where more had been expected from this baaaad boi), there was some unfinished business there. In my early 20s, I’d gotten into devouring self-help, body language and psychology books. I managed to get myself into a year-long Masters course in Psychology. It felt right, even though I didn’t know what I’d do afterwards.

I handed in my notice the day I got confirmation of my place on the course. My resignation came as no surprise; I had been a shadow of my motivated, energised self the previous year. In an open-plan office, spending that many hours with your colleagues, people know when something’s up. They wished my well and, after just two days, I was gone. (Short notice periods in recruitment – one week at my place – if you’re not making money, why keep you? Also, I’d arranged a lunch with a colleague each day to pass the time / say goodbye, and I think they didn’t want me telling them I hating recruitment and was going off to ‘find myself’ or some sh*t).

Alongside my Masters, I tried to set up “my own thing”. After devouring books around “lifestyle design” and “do what you love” and “build the life you want”, and also doing a ‘career-changers’ course with a small group of other confused, unfulfilled millennials – I decided that I wanted to try my own venture. Becoming a life coach, joining a startup, and being an entrepreneur seemed like the go-to options for unfulfilled folk, and I most fancied the latter.

Boy, was it stressful. Especially doing it all on your own. After a few months, as Christmas approached (I’m convinced I’m affected by the ‘winter blues’), it became increasingly apparent that this was of living wasn’t going to work out.

The day-to-day reality of running a business, this business, wasn’t for me. I was stressed out and worrying all the time. It really wasn’t nice.

My Masters course had lectures only a couple of days a month. And the business was a solo venture. Through isolation, stress, and an increasing sense of panic that I was back at square one and still had no idea what I was going to do with my life, my mental health deteriorated.

I felt like a failure. I felt that friends, family and the world had send me quit my job, and made a big mistake. What’s worse is that I didn’t realise or acknowledge this, and talk about any of this with anyone.

Worried about my changing mood, my mum somehow convinced me to see a psychiatrist who had come recommended. I went for her peace of mind and – somewhat to my surprise – I filled out a couple of forms and was told that I had ‘a degree of depression and anxiety’.

Whatever that meant. I wasn’t convinced. I was pretty damn low, but I remember at the time not believing I was depressed and anxious, as I ‘didn’t feel suicidal or anything like that’. I perceived that I was insulting those who really were depressed and anxious, that I was making myself out to be ‘worse’ than what I was really feeling. Good ol’ inner critic of mine. He can be a harsh b*stard at the best of times.

I am so fortunate to have seen the psychiatrist when I did. I was getting lower, and more isolated, and had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth completely. I didn’t want to text/Whatsapp anyone, let alone see anyone. I remember going to the gym, often a safe space for me to go to workout and lift my mood. I remember one particular time where I just could not focus on exercising at all. I was so low and unmotivated. I was also paranoid that others around me could detect my low mood, and I was nervously looking about the place – even more so than usual.

Through a combination of medication, group-therapy and 1-to-1 therapy, thankfully I’m in a better place as I type this today (though I did have a relapse around September/October last year, taking a turn for the second year running – again, the change in weather and daylight seems to affect my mood).

After the Masters year, and my business thing fizzling out, I ended up taking a year out. I’m now looking to start working again – after almost 3 years of not working for anyone.

Yikes.

As well as the usual anxiety that comes with a change, the subject of ‘work’ is one that has caused me distress and discomfort for what seems like all of my adult life.

As I’m looking to do something different with my life, I am looking at junior-level roles – and even internships – to learn the ropes. I feel like Chandler from Friends when he made his own career change,

I have this fear of “am I good enough?” and “Why would they pick me for this role?”. F*ck you, critical voice!

It feels like I’m well-and-truly winging it (hello, imposter syndrome 👋🏽) and, whilst all these thoughts aren’t uncommon, I have to be careful to keeps some perspective and not let my thoughts run away with me.

As my day is still my own, it’s very easy to get caught up in these sort of thoughts, round and round in my head, slowly chipping away at my self-confidence and self-belief.

I’ve had interviews, and even an offer, so I’m making progress. I’m doing my best to treat wherever I end up as an opportunity and a learning experience, where I can only gain.

I try to remind myself that many of my concerns are unfairly being amplified and irrational.

Whilst I have faith that the path I’m on is the right one, never did I think that quitting my recruitment job would eventually lead to my depression and anxiety diagnosis.

But thank God it did. 🙏🏽

✏ Written: Friday, 23rd February 2018 @ 11.44pm

the abg | articles | awkward newsletter 💌

What about you?
Have you ever quit a job you didn’t like? Have you dealt with any of these feelings of WTF when it comes to the whole ‘work’ think? I’d love to hear about what you’ve experienced 💙

35 thoughts on “I quit my job, then got depressed.

  1. I think leaving a full-time job can be one of the hardest decisions you can ever make. I know I was changing my mind for months about quitting my job because I was worried about not having an income, disappointing people and feeling like I’d failed, and the first month after leaving my job was really hard because I was feeling so many different emotions but it made me realise how unhappy I was over the last six months. Since leaving my job and trying to achieve my dream job as a writer, I feel like myself again. Yes I have moments where I’m like ‘arghh what am I doing??!!’ *hides under a pillow* but I know that’s normal and my family have been so supportive.

    Leaving your job was a really brave thing to do and you just have to remember that you did it for a good reason, to give yourself the chance to do what you really want to do in life. I know it’s easy to be critical of yourself but from what I’ve read in this blog post you’ve ACHIEVED a lot in your time out of work 🙂 good luck with the job interviews!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, I really appreciate your words 🙂 Yes, I’m trying to zoom out and tell myself that those “aargh” moments are normal! I now appreciate how unsettling leaving a job is for so many reasons. I’ll be following your journey too 👊🏽✨

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love everything about your post – not in the least because it’s so similar to my experience.

    I quit my recruitment job in November… I had joined for similar reasons to yours and by the time I realised it wasn’t for me (getting people into crappy jobs for a fee is not a good feeling and the champagne or razorblades lifestyle is not for me) I was waiting on a work visa to stay in Australia (I couldn’t tolerate the English winters – seasonal depression is a real thing!) so I had to stick around for a while longer. I hated every minute of it and my life seemed to be nothing but depression and work. I knew what was bringing me down and I stuck with it out of some sort of feeling that it was ‘making me stronger’. I was so ready to leave when I did. I left on the same day – the notice period thing may just be my favourite part of recruitment.

    I’ve always searched for meaning and purpose so not having any is a big change. I have a lot of WTF moments. I’ve had a couple of extreme lows but luckily I have experienced periods of depression before so I know what to expect, how to deal with it, that my psychologist is only a text away, etc.

    Generally, since November I have just been… happy. I am temping in reception and admin atm (which gives me heaps of time to work on my blog and pick up some freelance copywriting work), the hours are short (anything seems short compared to 8 – 6), the work is easy and the overwhelming sense of hating my life that I had everyday in recruitment is starting to pull back (yup, it’s taken months – some of the anxiety and anger is still there).

    When I do feel a WTF moment coming on I try and remember that our paths are all different – there may be 24 year olds out who know what they want to do with their lives but that doesn’t mean I’m late or never going to figure it out. What we may not realise is that it all fits together in some way we’re incapable of seeing right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this. Looks like we have a few things in common! I know… the whole wine & dine lifestyle really wasn’t for me. I’m so pleased that you did what was right for you and are now feeling better. Are you someone who gets bored easily? For me, I think things start to feel dull and monotonous really easily.

      You’re moving forward and on the right path, wherever you are. I feel we put so much pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out.

      PS. I’d love to hear how the freelance copywriting is going 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wrote the longest comment which disappeared when I hit send. Probably wordpress’ way of telling me not to write comments as long as the original post!

    I worked in recruitment too – for all the same reasons as you. I hated it for the same reasons too. I left in November and have been generally happy despite a few extreme lows. Previous experiences with depression mean that I know what to do when it’s happening again and how to tell when it is (also – I don’t think it’s your inner critic telling you you don’t have depression, I believe it’s depression’s camouflage to keep from being found out).

    The hardest parts have been dealing with not having a work ‘purpose’ or something to work towards at the moment after a lifetime of seeking that out. It’s a nice change but sometimes scary and I need to remind myself it’s what I wanted and to just enjoy it while it lasts. The worst part is meeting people much younger than myself who are in jobs/ on career paths that they love. I just need to remember that that isn’t a bad reflection on me – people just get places at different times. I’m pretty sure there’s something in the pipeline which will require me to have been through everything I have, at just the time I did, I just can’t see it yet. I think it will be the same for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love long comments – and received your last one ☺️ “(also – I don’t think it’s your inner critic telling you you don’t have depression, I believe it’s depression’s camouflage to keep from being found out)” – wow, that’s an interesting way of looking at it. I like that.

      Ah, there’s always people who are younger and seem to be loving life. I have a feeling I’m particularly sensitive/needing to do something I feel happy in. In my experience, there are other people who seem to be “happy enough” in the environment that they’re in. The work piece of the puzzle has kinda taken over for a long time. I’m really hoping other parts of my life start falling in place, too. ✨

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I realised that the comment hadn’t disappeared, it was being moderated. Oops.

        I’m sure they will fall into place while you’re looking at something else – I think that’s how it usually works.

        Like

  4. The hardest thing with not working is how to stay motivated and feel as if you matter. There is a multitude of research that shows how important work is to humans, and the hardest thing now that we don’t have to hunt and dig and spend our whole days trying to feed ourselves, is to find something meaningful that also pays the bills and feeds us. Good luck with your search. Have you watched any Simon Senek? Try You Tube Start With Why if you haven’t. It might help, if nothing else he’s a hella intelligent guy with a few original ideas about where we’re at as a society. (And he’s gorgeous, but pretend I didn’t say that).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Cougar 🙂 Ah very true – work is so important for our wellbeing, for different reasons. I’m going through the arduous application/interview process… and tryna keep myself busy in the meantime 😉 I have, indeed, watched his TED Talk – I have his book, too (same title), though haven’t read it yet!

      Like

  5. There is an expression that goes “people don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses”. I feel like in many cases, it’s the truth. While some jobs themselves definitely aren’t suited for some people, in my experience, it’s more the people you work with, not the job you do, that really makes it or breaks it. And sadly, one bad boss can hurt everything.

    My job, for the most part, isn’t much to complain about. However, if I told you about two separate days, you might not think I’m talking about the same place. I had two hectic nights, back-to-back, yet one drove me to a near emotional breakdown while the other wasn’t any more tiring than usual. The difference? The manager of the night.

    As sad as it is, we must be cautious about expressing our desire to help others. It’s a noble trait that’s too easily abused by the workforce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Kaye. I think you’re right – it was the people around me, in my small company, that helped keep me in a non-ideal job for as long as I was there. Us sensitive, hard-working types can be abused, for sure, if we’re not careful. #peoplepleaser

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  6. It’s wild how similar our stories are. “Why am I not happier,” quitting a job, enrolling in a Master’s program while not knowing what to do with it, a loved one convincing us to seek treatment. I’m glad you’re in a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Arsenio. And wow – similar indeed. It wasn’t long before much of your story resonated too, I’m just not a dad (yet!). PS. Awesome name you got there.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Personally, I’ve never quit my full-time job, but I’ve definitely had moments where I question what I am doing with my life. I’m so proud of you for sharing your story. It takes such a great deal of strength and I’m sure a lot of people look up to you for it. I’m glad you saw a psychiatrist, taken medication, and gone to group therapy sessions. I’m sure you will find an incredible job you love soon since you already have interviews and received an offer. Wishing you the best of luck always! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thanks so much Sarish. I’m aware of your own journey with this sort of stuff too, so it’s meaningful coming from you – and I’m equally pleased that you’re feeling better. I’m learning to be kinder to myself, do my own thing (vs worry about others’ expectations) – and I have faith 🙂 Thank you & have an awesome weekend

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Glad to hear that you are better now. This is the first post I have read from you and have to say you can keep the interest of the reader. I also dropped out of Uni. twice, didn’t afford to go back to it and now am learning the ropes through internships and hope to find a real job one day. Also, points for you for speaking out about your mental health. I think you might find the hashtag #EndTheStigma on social media fascinating, if you haven’t read on it already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eeva, thanks for commenting – and for your kind words. Internships are great – hopefully exposing you to different things so you can learn (about yourself as well as tangible stuff), and hopefully get more of a feel for what you enjoy and want. Thank you – and yeah, it’s encouraging to see more and more talking about mental health, through hashtags and otherwise. Happy Sunday to you.

      Like

  9. I stupidly did Law and got pigeon-holed and type cast in technical and boring roles where I felt like I was dead. The only role that I felt invincible in is marketing and sales. Sometimes these things are a blessing in disguise, take care of your health though, you are lucky that you have people you can go to and care enough to tell you to go to the doctors, so make use of the support system. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well…I have worked in Radiology for about 11 years now and I hate every single second of it. I wrote a very sarcastic book about what it is like working in radiology (the complete stress of it all) from long hours, lack of breaks, never having a lunch, getting screamed at by patients all of the time, taking pager call…so forget about a life and sleep. Anyways, I am now at that point where I am trying to figure out what to do with my life. I know I do NOT want to continue working in radiology but the bills and mortgage isnt going to pay itself! I have responsibilities and I am not sure what my passions are other than writing. I have two books out and my dream is to be the next Stephen King…but then again….what are the odds of being a successful writer like him…so reality hit me in the face…I am not sure what my next move will be…..but I am working on making a move soon….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing something personal like this. I was fortunate to have been able to “survive” being so experimental, and not settling. From my perspective – when I was working the long hours I was – talking to people all day long, commuting, etc, I was just so frazzled all the time. I was constantly “on” and distracted from really being able to think and reflect. If at all possible, I would really recommend taking a little time out – even if just a couple of weeks or couple of months – to just unwind and “be” for a while. My writing also *really helps* me process my thoughts/feelings and bring out realisations. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there certainly isn’t “one magic answer”. I wish you the best of luck. PS. Congrats on the two books out, that’s a huge achievement! 🙌🏽✨

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m going through this right now. I just quit my job and it’s the scariest thing I have ever done. I’ve always been a workaholic but lately my interests have shifted. I don’t know where to go from here. With a job, my future is written for me, but now the next pages in my life are empty and that scares/ excites me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there – first of all, congrats for taking the courageous leap. How long has it been? My advice for what it’s worth… *don’t* jump back straight into something. It’d be really helpful to unwind, and travel/take up some things that you just like doing. Journalling also *really* helps me to process thoughts/feelings and make realisations. There isn’t “a magic answer” as to what to do, but I reckon your intuition knows what’s right/isn’t. Just keep moving, and be kind to yourself ❤ I wish you the best of luck.

      Like

  12. I recently quit my office job of 14 years to go independent. Hence the name “the office dropout”. Like someone mentioned above, I basically quit my boss. I was miserable and they did not want me to grow. About 2 years ago I started to feel a shift happen in my life, and I was becomng more and more unhappy each day I was at the office. It came down to WHAT WILL MAKE ME HAPPY? I wrote out my goals, started paying off debts, gave my car way, saved enough money to get me through the summer and finally quit. It’s only been a couple of months, but it really is the most liberating choice I have made for myself. My skin is clearer, I’ve lost weight, the knots in my shoulders are gone. And I was hired as an independent contractor with another company doing the same exactl work, but from home. Truly a blessing. Thank you for sharing your story! -Lilly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lilly, thanks for reading and for sharing *your* story. I am so pleased for you! Those visible/felt changes you’ve described speak volumes. Have fun rolling with this new chapters of yours, it sounds like it’ll be a blast x

      Liked by 1 person

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