The letter ‘A’ symbolises a good many things in my life; the good being a grade that I’ve always looked forward to receiving in my examinations to the bad which I’m going to talk about today.
I’ve never been a grade A student, though, my grades have always been enough to get me through my school years, my college years, and ultimately, my time at university.
I came out from the earth, a rough diamond in the world of various polished gemstones. I spent a lot of time looking for the right job. I spent a lot of time struggling to make things work. I spent a lot of time trying to fit in to what society deems as ‘acceptable’. Eventually, however, I ended up spending a lot of time fixing myself.
Anxiety wasn’t something new to me. I’ve been diagnosed with severe anxiety in early 2018. I was given medication and told to increase my physical activity in order to reduce the amount of stress I faced at work. It paid off. I recovered. I thought I was well.
The harsh reality and a huge wake-up call came in January 2019.
The last job I had taken was as a Content Writer in a boutique agency. It wasn’t a choice I was blessed with. It was a necessity as I had lost my job in mid-2018 and I wasn’t about to turn down an opportunity. After all, who knows? I could make it work. Like all the false hopes I had for the other jobs I had taken in the past.
I worked myself to the bone. I clocked in hours after work to tie up loose ends. I brought work back over the weekend to reach my deadlines. I used my brain so much during the work week that I ended up falling asleep at dinner times while waiting for food to be served. I crashed on the couch on most nights. I ate sloppily. My health eventually took a hit and that’s when things began to go downhill.
That’s when it hit me. Out of the blue. That prickling sensation on my head and face. My chest tightening up, breathing was difficult. I trembled. My face was pale. I could hardly talk nor keep myself upright. I was still at the office, trying not to fall over and out of my chair. My teammates were starting to worry and I had only enough energy to ask one of them to bring me to the nearby medical centre.
My husband took me home that day. It was a nightmare. My heart raced and my blood pressure broke through the ceiling. That day I realised that not everyone was fit to work in an agency. Had I been stronger (mentally, physically, emotionally), I might have made it work. In the end, I knew that something had to change. I could still plow through and struggle on. I could still continue, ignore the warning signs, turn myself into a zombie. Like everyone else.
But I preferred not to. Life was precious. So is my health. While some people can do it, I don’t think I appreciate killing myself over a job that doesn’t prioritise a sort of work-life balance. If I’m going to be working constantly and continuously, day in and day out, after office hours and on my weekends, then I’ll have no rest and will eventually burn out. The anxiety attack that day was indeed a wake-up call. Something had to change. So I did.