I’m pleased to say it’s been exactly one year since I quit my full-time job without another job for mental health reasons. I wanted to post an update regarding what’s been happening in my life since then, and discuss in-depth what happened in the months that followed immediately after quitting my job.
Quitting My Toxic Job: One Year Later
How I Ended Up In A Toxic Workplace
I left a job at a company I loved. I had been with this company for almost five years, and I was for the most part quite happy with the company. It was my first job and I got promoted into a full-time role shortly after graduating from college. That company had gone through a restructure and I was unhappy with that, and I was also looking for a job with a shorter commute. I also felt that I was outgrowing it, and needed to experience more than just one company.
At the new job, I was hired externally for a role that people typically (but not always) got promoted into. My supervisors were nice people, for the most part, but there was always a disconnect because I legitimately did not know as much as a company veteran. They didn’t seem to understand why I needed as much help as I did with company-specific things, and seemed irritated when I would ask for help with small things. The team I was supervising was absolutely amazing, and are most of why I lasted as long as I did.
I quit this particular job after working there for about seven months, on October 12, 2018.
Why I Quit
That job made me absolutely miserable. I felt like no one believed in me and that I was a failure as an employee because I had so many questions. I went into work almost every day terrified and nervous that someone would make a snide comment to me or get annoyed that I was asking for help. I was not sleeping properly, not eating properly, and generally not taking care of myself at all.
I spent a lot of my days at work in a state of panic. I cried at work almost every single day. It felt like upper management was always adding things to our workload to ease their own workload, and when myself and the other department supervisors couldn’t keep up we would be reprimanded. I felt like no matter what I did, it would always be wrong and would never meet their expectations.
The company culture was also not my favorite. There were a lot of good things about the company that I was excited about when I started, but a lot of them weren’t totally true. Morale was low and a lot of people were overworked, underpaid, and frustrated.
Towards the end of my time there, I had a breakdown at work and attempted to transfer to a different department and my superiors were (mostly) accommodating of that, but I needed to be phased out of my original department, which was taking way too long for my liking.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually my vacation time.
My partner and I were planning a vacation, and I had put in the time off for the dates over a month in advance, and it had just been sitting there in a queue, neither being approved nor denied. I had never had any trouble receiving any other scheduling accommodations prior to this. The person who was responsible for approving/denying time off requests over my department was able to take vacations of his own, but couldn’t be bothered to approve mine. A few other people I spoke with had this issue with this same department manager as well.
I waited until the last possible minute to give them the chance to approve it, but they never did. So I put in my two weeks so that my last day would be the Friday before I left. Sure, I could’ve talked to them. And had I been in a healthier job environment, I absolutely would have. But I had already made the travel plans and booked my hotel, and I was not interested in fighting. Plus, I had gone on vacation three months prior and it was difficult to fully enjoy it because I knew I had to come back to that job.
Once I had quit, I actually was out of town for about two weeks– one week on my planned vacation, another week helping my parents move out of state. It was nice to be able to get away from my city for a while and just leave it all behind. It was super liberating to not have to worry about returning to my job or running into my coworkers. At the time, I felt that they would all be gossiping about me.
I also started taking anxiety medication for the first time in my life. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but always avoided medication because I am a person who doesn’t like to take medicine in general, even for stuff like headaches. But my therapist and I felt that I truly needed it because of that job. My mental health was rapidly deteriorating and my ability to function had become severely impaired.
Because I had never been on any type of SSRI before, and my family has no known history of success or failure with any anti-depressants, my psychiatrist put me on Prozac and it did wonders for me personally.
After I quit my job, my confidence was at an all time low. I felt that I had nothing to offer as an employee, and I was convinced I would never find another job again. I was terrified of showing employers my resume, because I felt that a seven-month stunt at a job made me look bad, especially without current employment. The thought of looking at job postings made my anxiety spike.
I also felt guilty for not being able to handle the job. I was upset with myself for having to leave and was frustrated that I couldn’t handle it, when it seemed like all my coworkers could. I thought if I were more mentally strong or less emotional that I could have been successful there. But ultimately, the reality was that the environment was toxic, unhealthy, and draining.
While I was unemployed, I loved being able to wake up and not have to worry about going to work and failing every day. Being home without any obligations felt safe, and I felt that I truly needed to not have a job for a while so I could recover. I have always been an emotional person, but I was the most emotionally unstable I had ever been in my life.
I mostly focused on building my confidence back up and attending to my physical health. My diet was extremely poor while I was working at that job, and to top it off my eating habits were erratic at best. I’m surprised I didn’t actually gain much weight because of how poorly I was eating. I was able to actually cook for myself for each meal and get on a solid routine (that didn’t involve daily Dunkin runs). I also experienced a lot of general anxiety during that time until the medication fully kicked in.
I ended up being unemployed for around 4 months. I would have likely stayed unemployed longer if I hadn’t felt that I needed the money. I was still too nervous and anxious to apply for jobs, so my boyfriend got me a part-time job at his place of employment in February 2019. All I had to do was interview.
I liked working there overall, and it was wonderful as a confidence booster. I think it’s where I needed to be for that short amount of time. Ultimately though, it was not what I wanted long-term.
The Job Hunt
In late June 2019, I started applying for full-time employment again. My confidence had shot up thanks to being back in the workforce, and I was relieved I at least had something to put on my resume for current employment.
As far as job searches go, it went well. I got three interviews in a short amount of time; unfortunately, no offers. But it made me feel a lot better that companies were interested in me and were responding positively to my resume, so I kept going.
I postponed my job search to travel and celebrate my birthday, so in August I only applied to a handful of places; I never heard anything back from most of them. I was also waiting to hear back about a second interview with a company, so I wasn’t looking too hard for most of August.
Then, in early September my old boss from my original company contacted me to see if I would be interested in returning. The person who had taken my job was leaving, and my former boss knew I was only working part-time at that time. He offered me my exact salary requirement.
He said verbatim, “if you want it, it’s yours.” I didn’t even have to interview for it. I started working there in September of 2019.
One Year Later
As I said, today is the one-year-anniversary of leaving my toxic job without another job lined up.
I am now back at my old job with the salary requirement I wanted and working the hours I prefer. I won’t lie– I felt a little strange about returning to my old company, and there’s absolutely a little part of me that wishes I could have found employment at a new place. But going back to my old company felt like the right thing to do, and in a way it felt like I was going home. My job-related confidence is better than it’s ever been and my workplace anxiety is relatively low. I know at least for right now, I’m where I need to be.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far, and I hope it answered any of your questions about my experience quitting a toxic job.
For any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me!
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