My Dream Job
In July of 2008, I landed my dream job. I was making more money than I had ever made, more prestigious than I had ever had, and the job played on so many of my strengths. I love to help other women figure out what they want to be and do with their lives, and this job gave me some opportunity to do so. I was so EXCITED and threw myself wholeheartedly into my work.
I was responsible for 800 company representatives and more than $1 million in sales a year. My job was to recruit, train, mentor, support, encourage and motivate my team.
I also had to answer to corporate for all the things that they wanted accomplished. Many parts of my job I loved. I loved my team, I loved helping them see they could be and do more than they ever thought they could.
But, I was burning the candle at both ends and in the middle.
In the past year, I become increasingly depressed, stressed, overwhelmed and I worked ALL the time.
Probably 80 hours a week. Work life balance didn’t exist.
My company required a lot, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt I could never do enough, I was always looking for the next strategy, the next incentive or marketing idea that would help me bring my numbers in line with company projections. I literally thought about work ALL the time.
Danger, Will Robinson! (those who are MY age know what that means!)
My mind was taking it’s toll on me, and last November I saw my doctor. I basically fell apart in his office.
Crying, blubbering, red-eyed, desperate for relief.
He started me on a medication for Adult ADD and also prescribed something for anxiety. It seemed to provide some relief, however, I still had trouble relaxing, and ended up in the ER the week of Thanksgiving. I was having chest pains, and didn’t really think it was a hear attack, but wanted to be sure. They kept me overnight for tests, and turns out it was muscles spasms in my chest (I already have them in my shoulder).
My husband and children did what they could to help me, but I didn’t let on just how bad I REALLY felt inside. I had to keep going. I was a strong woman. I was the motivator, the coordinator, I was a major control freak and I HAD to have my life under control. Doing so was eating me up inside, but to everyone else, especially my team, my co-workers and my boss, I looked like I had it all together.
Going into 2010, the economy took its toll on my numbers. Sales and staff were down, and I didn’t have the strength to fight it. I tried to keep things going, still strategizing and brainstorming, but definitely losing steam. By late spring I was in trouble, but again, I had to keep up the front. I needed help, but had no idea how I could even ask for it.
Many times I thought that, if I just knew where to go, I would check myself into a hospital. I had no thoughts of suicide, but I didn’t know how I could keep going.
Hiding Behind My Mask
A little background- Growing up, I never felt I was as good as everyone else. We were “the poor family”. I wasn’t “as good” as everyone else. As an adult, I wanted to BE important, so that I would feel like I WAS finally as good as everyone else. I know, crazy, mixed up thinking (working on this)! Being this successful corporate woman fed that need, and made me feel I had arrived. I was as good as everyone else. So I couldn’t dare let anyone know that I was falling apart inside!
So, during this whole time, I was hiding. I was pretending that I had it all together. Women envied my life. I had the perfect husband (almost!) and great kids (they are!) We had not lost our jobs and had not been affected directly by the recession. I had always enjoyed being the one with the answers, the Go-To person. “Just ask Bernice, she’ll know!” I would put on my smiley face,along with all my makeup and jewelry, and make my appearances, all the while dying inside and counting the minutes until I could be alone and let go of the pretense, to remove my mask.
I also felt that I had no other choice to keep this job, I mean, jobs are difficult to come by right now. I admit, I was being paid well, plus I had a company car and a corporate gas card. Funny thing is, looking back, I was probably averaging less than $10 an hour, considering how much I worked.
But I saw no way out.
I joked about finding a 9-5 no stress, paper shuffling position for 20K a year, but I never made it that far.
Help Others Come Out of Hiding
I will continue my story in the next post as I want to touch on this a bit more. I don’t believe I am the only woman out there who feels or has felt this way.
I have heard from a woman who lost it in the grocery store, sat down in the cheese aisle, bawling, because her life was overwhelming.
Another women who was a middle school teacher had to be driven home by her principal after her final major panic attack at school.
I know there are more, more we will never know about as they will eventually pull themselves out of this pit, or learn to hide it so well we never know.
Change your life
My hope is to reach women, and men, BEFORE they get to this point. To learn to take care of themselves. To know the warning signs of impending breakdown. To ASK for HELP before there is no other choice. We MUST take care of ourselves in the midst of taking care of everyone and everything else. If we do not, they will have to take care of us. And that is what happened to me.
I would love to hear from my readers! Tell me your story! If it is too personal please feel free to email me instead at imperfectlybalanced @ gmail.com (be sure to remove the spaces!)
So that you don’t miss any updates, see the upper left-hand corner to subscribe to RSS feed and sign up for our weekly email newsletter! Also, if you feel that others could benefit from my writing, please share by clicking the appropriate buttons below.