After five years of working for my former employer, I finally quit my job. It’s been a while now, and the changes to my mental and emotional health have been remarkable. I wanted to quit my job for years, but didn’t out of crippling fear. Quitting would mean I’d no longer have health benefits, my paycheck, be able to pay rent, car note, cell phone etc. Leaving jobs in the past did not hold the same amount of fear for me as this one did. For some reason I felt as though I would not be okay if I did. The anxiety kept me up at night, distracted me from my daily activities and stressed me to the brink. Fear set up shop, took over, and kept me down…for a while.

We put a lot of stock in our jobs. They mean everything to us and we will sacrifice family time, sick days, vacation hours, and our physical health just to get the job done. How many times have you headed into work sick, missed a familial moment, hospital visit, gone in limping from an injury, or not taken a vacation in years, because of your job?

On top of our mental and emotional health, there’s another important aspect of our lives we will also put on the back burner for our nine-to-five: our dreams. Don’t ever feel as though working a nine-to-five job is a negative because it is not. We have bills that must get paid, kids that need to be fed, and dreams we have to build, which require the money from said nine-to-five to become our reality. When that nine-to-five becomes a mental and emotional crippler, then we have a major problem. And for me it became a serious issue. So severe that I found myself breaking down into tears during the entire hour long drive to work and home almost daily. Something had to change, but yet, I still hadn’t found the strength to leave. 

I tried to find different solutions to my problem. I listened to motivational speakers, began meditating, talking to my best friend about my mental health, working out more, and reciting positive affirmations. These lifestyle changes actually worked for me, just not in the ways I expected; I became stronger, decided to invest in my mental and emotional well being with a fervor I never had before, and wrote like my life depended on it the last three years of my life.

My Mom’s passing also pushed me. I distinctly remember having to call her job, inform them she was gone, and ask for her things. When the boxes arrived I shuddered. All of the hard work she did, the hours she spent there instead of at home, the mental stress, emotional toll, and physical pain that manifested because of all of that, was all thrown into a few cardboard boxes and shipped to our home. I didn’t want that for myself. I hated my job, the insane racism, micro aggressions, constant attacks, and ignorance I dealt with daily took a toll on me mentally. I had over 200 hours of sick time. I never took a vacation. I also was forced to work another job because I didn’t make enough to sustain myself at my full time job. I fell asleep at the wheel driving home from work twice. That job was killing me. It had to go.

When my Dad fell ill last summer and I had been spending the night helping him out, I thought about my Mom, my dreams, my mental health, and my pain, so I finally built up enough strength to quit my job. Not only did I quit my long time job, but I also moved out of my apartment and back home. It’s been an adjustment but I’m doing so much better mentally and emotionally. I work two part time jobs, have state offered medical benefits, and have been pitching my shows and auditioning more than ever. In fact, I landed a commercial gig that took care of my bills for about six months the same week I quit my job. It was a sign from God, my Mom, and the universe that I had made the right choice.

Quitting your job may not be an option for you right now, but taking care of your mental and emotional health must be a priority. Take those vacation days. Use your sick hours. Stop working when you clock out. Spend more time with family and friends. See a therapist. Meditate, listen to motivational speakers, and work towards your goals and dreams. In the end, our health is all we have, because one day we will all leave this earth and our shit will be put into boxes.

What changes can you make in your life to improve your mental health & reach your dreams? Leave a comment below!

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