Landing My Dream Job Made My Depression Worse
Last year, I quit my soul-sucking corporate job to pursue my true passion: writing. It impacted my depression in unexpected ways; in fact, it made my depression worse.
After nine years as an engineer—eight of which I spent wishing I were home writing instead—I understood the role my job played in my mental health. The lack of meaningful work and appreciation had taken a toll on my self-esteem. The sexism, harassment, and office politics had put me under constant stress.
When I finally decided to leave that world behind and become a full-time freelance writer, I thought the change would help with my chronic depression. But after a few weeks, I found myself neck-deep in the familiar mire of a depressive episode. I couldn’t sleep, I was constantly stressed out, and my self-esteem was at its lowest point in years.
How could leaving a toxic work environment for my dream job have negatively impacted my mental health?
Why Has My Dream Job Made My Depression Worse?
Job-Related Stress Can Trigger Depression
Stress is a common trigger for depression; it can come with any change—even a positive one.
In my case, much of it was financial. Although I loved the work I was doing, it wasn’t as lucrative as my old job, and the income wasn’t as steady. I still had enough to make ends meet, but there was more uncertainty. Instead of trusting that I could continue finding new work, I exhausted myself, wondering where my next writing gig would come from and how much it would pay. These thoughts sent my stress levels, and my depression, through the roof.
Low Self-Esteem Fuels Depression
Even worse than the financial stress was the way my new job impacted my self-esteem. I never realized it until now, but my self-esteem was—whether I liked it or not—tied to my paycheck.
Because our culture often uses money as a measure of success, giving up a high-paying (albeit miserable) job made me feel like a quitter in the eyes of others. I worried that my friends and family would judge me, that I was no longer “good enough.”
In my experience with depression, this is often the crux: not feeling good enough.
I Won’t Let My Worsened Depression Ruin My Dream Job
Being a writer might have come with some unforeseen challenges and made my depression worse, but I still love it. The last thing I want is for depression to force me to quit my dream job and return to a job I hate. I'm using the tools I've learned over the last decade or so to help me overcome this latest depressive episode.
I’ve been exercising daily and spending more time outside to boost my mood. I’ve been rebuilding my self-esteem by focusing on the positives in my new career and celebrating every accomplishment I make, no matter how small. I keep reminding myself that job satisfaction is more important than the number of zeros on my paycheck. These steps have helped my mental health gradually return to normal—or as normal as it can be for someone with chronic depression.
If you have any mental illness, I’m sure you’ve noticed how it’s tied to certain aspects of your job. Some of these aspects are obvious; others are less expected. It’s worth paying attention to how our jobs impact our mental health. Once we understand that, we can build sustainable careers and healthy, happy lives.
Craft, R. (2023, February 8). Landing My Dream Job Made My Depression Worse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2023/2/landing-my-dream-job-made-my-depression-worse