“You’re lucky that you still have a job.” It’s a sentiment I have heard uttered from well-meaning friends and family over the last month more times than I can count.
Despite feeling grateful that I do in fact still have a source of income unlike many of my fellow Australians, I feel anything but lucky. I’m not only wracked with guilt for not wanting my job, I feel more trapped than ever.
Prior to COVID-19 reaching our shores, I was flirting with the idea of leaving my job for the sake of my mental and physical health. Over the last few months, I had taken on two roles within my office, clashed with co-workers over the pettiest of issues and bitten off more than I could chew, all in effort to keep up the facade of the “how does she do it” woman.
As a mother of a four-year-old and someone who suffers from debilitating endometriosis, I was battling fatigue, anxiety and working-mum-guilt coupled with an overwhelming feeling of discontent in my work. Exerting all of my energy at work was commonplace and I would fall into a heap on the couch as I walked through the door each night.
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My tank was running on empty and my job was the gas-guzzling SUV ploughing through my life with little regard for the impact on my mental and physical health. Knowing I had the support of my loving husband and my daughter was waiting with open arms for a cuddle every day made the long days somewhat bearable, until they weren’t.
A few months ago, work became busy, like run off my feet, lying awake at night busy. I was overcompensating, I felt that I had something to prove as someone with a chronic health condition and a young mother. I wanted to prove to the world, and to myself, that I could run a household, be a great mum and climb the corporate ladder, all whilst championing my mental and physical health.
I was teetering on the edge and I knew it; every day I would wake up and wonder, was this the day I went all Daenerys Targaryen, flying in on my dragon scorching all of those in my path. OK, a bit dramatic but I need to make light of an icky situation.
When the day came that I unravelled, I wasn’t the strong woman I had envisioned. I was a scared little girl and I cried — ugly slobber cried — and as I hyperventilated, I realised I was having a panic attack. I felt small, I felt let down and I was disappointed in myself for neglecting these feelings for so long.