You can take all the sick days you want. It won’t matter if you don’t have peace of mind. That’s what I learned during this COVID-19 crisis.
I am a person who is driven and likes to succeed. No matter what new role I fall into, I usually end up in a leadership position at some point. I take on challenges, and most of the time I conquer them.
This was not one of those times, but I still made it.
What Was My Job?
I was a claims adjuster for a major auto insurance carrier. It’s a tough job, one that isn’t for everybody. However, true to my personality, I was determined. I thought determination would be enough.
Basically, imagine running a marathon every day while people shoot projectiles at you. That’s how my work day usually went. I’d leave with a mountain of claims only to return with even more.
It became increasingly discouraging, but I was told it was just the nature of the job. So, I stuck with it. I wasn’t going to give up. That was never the plan.
When I Knew It Was More Than Stress
When I began to wake up and have panic attacks, I began to reconsider the role. Pretty soon, I was only getting up to 4 hours of sleep at night. I was drinking heavily. And the claims only seemed to get more complex and more demanding.
I take antidepressants, but they seemed to have no effect in regulating my mood. I would get nauseated just after taking them. In the middle of obtaining a recorded statement, I had to excuse myself to vomit in the restroom.
I knew then that it wasn’t just stress. It was the job itself.
When I Knew It Was Time to Leave
To this day, I still can’t completely explain what came over me. I got up, got dressed, and sat down at my workstation in my living room like always. We had been working from home for about a month at this point.
I turned on my laptop, said good morning to my co-workers via Skype, and I paused.
Then, I started typing out my resignation letter and packing up my workstation. Before I knew it, I’d turned everything into our branch office and was without a job. I felt the most free I’d felt in a long time.
And I was terrified.
There Can Be Courage in Walking Away
I didn’t know what to think when I returned home jobless during the COVID-19 crisis. Then, I began to panic again. What had I done? How would I take care of myself? What would become of me?
But then I had to remind myself that I was driven, ambitious, and determined. Most companies had paused hiring, but there were still plenty that hadn’t. I applied for jobs vigorously until landed something a month later.
I was able to spend the interim catching up on sleep, focusing on self-care, and planning my next move. It was the most restful time of my entire life.
I write all this to say I don’t condone just quitting your job without a plan like I did. But I also understand those who do so in order to protect their mental health. Society expects us to be overworked, underpaid, and in perfect health at all times.
I don’t regret walking away from what I thought was an amazing opportunity. Panic attacks are no longer part of my morning routine, and I plan to keep it that way. I don’t feel shame for quitting a job during the COVID-19 crisis.
And I don’t regret choosing myself.