Did you know we have a whole day dedicated to the avid workaholics of our world?
Upon receiving this knowledge from my editor it was at first really unclear as to whether this ‘Workaholics day,’ was in celebration or commiseration of the fact that more and more of us are working longer hours, taking far fewer holidays, and generally feeling, what with the ease of access to work emails, like we are ‘always at work.’
Of course, if you are working in a job you love, where you’re respected and valued by your colleagues and managers or perhaps working hard on a solo business idea then this workaholics day may definitely be a cause for celebration. However my experience of being a ‘workaholic‘ was at the time a slow, miserable slump into a drudgerous existence that almost destroyed my positive, sunny spirit and my physical and mental health.
It all started like a dream. I’d been working for a digital agency for a few years and leapt at the chance to join a very well respected firm. I was excited at managing the campaigns of some of the biggest brands in luxury fashion and retail. I couldn’t wait to start and was raring to go.
I noticed something strange during my first week that initially, I shrugged off with ease. Everyone in the office was supposed to start work at 9 and finish at 6 but coming in at my usual time of just after 8 every day to a packed office and leaving every day at 6.30 with people still hard at it, it did seem like everyone was working quite a lot of overtime… but hey, I thought, I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work either!
As Summer turned to Autumn and the nights started getting darker, I found myself arriving and leaving the office in the dark. The daylight eluded me. I was working more hours in the office every day. Working at weekends from my home became a frequent habit. I felt I needed to ‘get a head start on the week ahead.’ I was not alone.
There’s a difference between a challenge and impossible tasks
Christmas came and I worked every day full tilt-up until 3pm on Christmas eve. I was overjoyed to have two days when I knew, for sure, that I wasn’t going to be expected to do anything other than spend a restful few days with my friends and family. However by the 27th of December, I was busy worrying about the week to come and preparing for upcoming meetings. At the end of January, I took two weeks’ annual leave. It was bliss! But, I was forced back into the office almost immediately, feeling like I’d never left at all. That was around two weeks before my first panic attack.
In the months that followed, I was still going in very early and leaving very late as usual. However, this time I added something else to my routine. Pre and post work crying sessions in the nearest Starbucks became frequent. Here I’d call my worried friends, anxious about work, petrified that I simply wouldn’t get everything done. I was saddened that I’d seemed to have lost touch with my happy, former life.
The panic attacks continued and at their worst, I awoke one night having had a nightmare, sobbing, with a bloody nose. Maybe if I had known about medication such as etizolam uk beforehand, I may not have had the panic attacks or they may not have been as bad. But at least I know for next time if this ever happens again. At the time, it was quite scary, but knowing that there are solutions out there for people like me, it does make it a lot less stressful to deal with. I know that some people find it a lot harder and might have to seek some other form of treatment. A lot of the times they might get something like anxiety treatment and this is enough to help them keep on living with their lives.
Despite this, I still dried my tears every day and put on a brave and positive work face for when I reached my desk. One of the saddest things was, that when I actually reached out to confide in a manager. All I was told was that “this was just what was expected of me.”
It took a while to realize that this ‘workaholic‘ culture that I’d grown so accustomed to and that was destroying my physical and mental well-being, was in fact something I did have the power to change. Although I’d been at my job for less than a year, I started looking for new opportunities. An agency quickly snapped me up who was famed for the great culture and fair treatment of its workers. Since starting I’ve quite honestly never been happier. After my first month, the realization that I can take a break away from my desk at lunch was still extraordinary to me. As I write, I’m enjoying a lazy breakfast in a coffee shop near my house. This was literally unheard of in my previous job.
Working hard should not have to be so… hard.
Working for companies, teams, and managers to push our souls and hearts to the very limit. That has become the norm in some working environments (think: Devil wears Prada!). However, I passionately believe that this should not be the case – working hard should not have to be so… hard. Remember, we get up and go to work every day to earn the money and the headspace in order to enjoy the rest of our lives.
I was actually speaking to a friend of mine about this a couple of days ago. Her employer has put a fantastic PTO (paid time off) policy in place to ensure that all employees are given a chance to take a break from the workplace on their own terms. Ultimately, if you are unsure about the PTO policy in your workplace, it is well worth asking your manager for clarification.
I hope that by reading this, that anyone, even just one person, is empowered to take a stand and to choose a happier, healthier and more fulfilling working future. And I’ll keep my new job, my full life full of friends, laughter, and adventure and keep on writing articles from the comfort of the coffee shop, too.