My Story Part 1-My quest for a balanced life

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.

You can can read My Story Part 2- Dream Job on Overload!

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!)

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30 comments to My Story Part 1-My quest for a balanced life

  • Wow! So much going on! I must say that I have been down a similar road…several years ago…its all about realizing what’s really important and realizing that God is in control and no matter what we do…we are NOT in control. Thank you for having the courage to share your story…I am looking forward to hearing how things turn out. May God bless you and keep you on your journey. Welcome to the blogging world!

    Blessings!

    Mary Joy

    P.S. Be careful…the perfectionist blogging bug is out there too! Just be yourself! :D
    Mary Joy @Seeds of Encouragement Sewn with Grace recently posted..The Final Weeding- Psalm 1- 5My Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hi Mary Joy!
    I appreciate your encouraging words, and yes I have to watch out the for the perfectionist blogging bug as well! I have spent a great bit of time working to get the blog up and going, but I have tried hard to listen to what I preach and keep some balance. As a matter of fact, headed to a friend’s lake house for the weekend for some peace and quiet, no internet!
    Thanks for coming by!
    Bernice

  • I think that’s part of why I fight depression,there’s just SO much to handle every single day and no matter how much I ask and beg for help I don’t get it. I feel very…used.

    bernicewood Reply:

    Sheri,
    I am sorry you are struggling! We do have so much we have to handle everyday, and of course it depends on your season in life. I am not sure who you are unable to get help from, if it is kids, put your foot down. If it is your husband, you have to make sure he understands how despaerately you need help. And you need to define what that “help” would be. Men are great but sometimes they are also clueless. They may want to help but don’t know how. If you need him to get the kids ready for bed and tuck them in, then say so. If you need him to do the dishes, then say so. If you just need him to listen, tell him. Men are not mind readers, we HAVE to make our needs known.
    I may be way off base here, but I hope that maybe something I said will help!
    Will be praying for you!

    Bernice

  • Tiffany

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    bernicewood Reply:

    This is a test reply!

  • Congratulations on the new digs! And I have to say that I don’t think there’s a woman in America who hasn’t wanted to sit on the floor of the cheese section and bawl.
    Grace recently posted..Heels over HeadMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hi Grace! So glad you came to visit! Glad you like the place, been working like crazy on it, tweaking here and there!
    I would bawl in the cheese section because I would be so confused by all the choices. “WHERE IS JUST PLAIN CHEDDAR? UGH!!!” Oh and have you shopped for baby diapers lately? Good grief! :-)
    Bernice

  • Thank you so much for being so candid. It can’t be easy to share this stuff with the world this way. I think an awful lot of people would be able to identify with what you describe there. Men and women both.

    You have to look after yourself, first and foremost, to take care of anybody else.

    All the best, and I look forward to reading more from you!
    Paul recently posted..Is Ireland Best For BanksMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Thank you so much for coming by Paul! I originally had been writing my personal blog more for women, but I found many men could relate as well. When I was designing LTBL I tried not to make it look to feminine so as not to scare the guys away! I hear from more and more men who deal with some of the same issues although maybe not in the same way.
    Hope to hear from you again!
    Bernice

  • Congrats on the new blog!

    I am looking forward to reading more.

    bernicewood Reply:

    Thank you for dropping by!
    Bernice

  • Hi Bernice, I’ve left a comment in your About page.
    The background story is useful to understand where you’re coming from. I went through some of the things you described when I was working. The change I made was completely different from yours. But I think the result is the same. So I decided to share that in my blog.

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hi there! Thanks for coming over from A-List Bootcamp! I will check out your blog too!
    Bernice

  • Thanks for your kind words Bernice. I have put my foot down, I have begged, ordered, asked, demanded,cried, screamed…and yet I am still in this pit and still totally alone. (sigh…obviously it’s a bad bad day)
    Sheri recently posted..Need your helpMy Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Oh Sheri, I hope your day turned out better! And I am so sorry you are having a difficult time. I am going to email you directly!
    Blessings!
    Bernice

  • It is amazing that you can write so calmly about this experience, but I suspect it must have been very emotional for you to do so.

    I too have been there, trying to take everything upon myself and not asking for help.

    Thank you for participating in last week’s Wednesday Window @ Frugality Is Free. I would like to invite you to this week’s The Wednesday Window . It is the place to feature your favorite blog post of the past week or so, for more details check out Frugality Is Free.
    JRFrugalMom recently posted..The Wednesday Window – Promote Your Best Blog Post – 11-23My Profile

    bernicewood Reply:

    Yes, it is difficult to write about my experience, but hiding contributed to the problem. I want to bring stress and anxiety and depression out in the open so there is not such a stigma for us to ask for the much needed help.
    Thank you for coming by! Oh, and I went by and linked up!
    Bernice

  • Bernice, your story had me riveted in my seat. I couldn’t stop reading! Thank you for your courage to share your struggles transparently, you seem to have a great desire to help others struggling with similar things come out of hiding. I love that you touched on the walls and masks people wear. On some level, I know what you mean. And like you said, sometimes the way we think blocks us from asking for help. Sometimes I personally think few people understand what I’m REALLY going through. Does that make sense?

  • Sally Thompson

    This is a very inspirational blog! Just live your life to the fullest.. Thanks for a great blog..
    Sally Thompson recently posted..goodyear couponsMy Profile

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