Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Work, Life, Stress

Being a working mom certainly is tough, I give credit to all the moms who do it. I think perhaps though I wasn't cut out to be a working mom. I didn't really realize it until recently though. I'd been fighting so hard to get somewhere in my life, career-wise, but I've been feeling stressed and burned-out for months now. At first I thought it was just the job. I only worked 20 hours a week, and felt I didn't really have the right to complain, especially since my husband works 50 hours a week, and plenty of other people work full-time while raising their families. But just the 20 hours I was putting in drained me mentally, physically, and emotionally. When I got home from my short shifts I wouldn't want to do a thing. The kids were responsible for their own dinners most of the time. I made sure to purchase easy meals for them; canned soup, chicken nuggets, fish sticks. Anything they could easily microwave for themselves. Dishes sat around for days, laundry fell behind. Any other sort of cleaning just didn't get done. I was completely exhausted.

I also felt like I was having a mental break down. Every tiny thing was stressing me out. Christmas really sent me over the edge. Between the day to day stress of the kids, the house, and the lack of money for bills, I was also freaking out about how to manage Christmas with a short supply of funds. School was finishing up at the time too and my last class was really a major pain in the rear. Add to that I was being transferred to a new branch which caused loads of anxiety.

Things did start to get a little better after Christmas. The new branch gave me more days off during the week, and I think this was helping a bit.. but then I was suddenly transferred back to my original branch which was short staffed, so this added new stress.

My "mental breakdown" hit a breaking point last week when I had my first ever anxiety attack. I wasn't even aware I had anxiety problems.. but this attack lasted for about 24 hours straight. It was brought on by a combination of stress at work, a severe desire to quit, but a major fear of quitting as well as dread of continuing to work. It's hard to explain just how it felt.. but it wasn't a totally new sensation. I've been dreading going to work for as long as I can remember. It wasn't so much the job itself that made me dread working. I cannot pinpoint a single thing about the job itself that I didn't like so much to make me dread it. There were good days and bad days as with any job. I just dreaded the idea of working all together. This dread basically consumed me to the point where I couldn't even enjoy time off because I would dread the next time I'd have to work. The only sense of relief I ever felt was coming off a shift before a day off, knowing I had over 24 hours before needing to return. My husband also recently informed me I've been on edge for too long, making everyone in the house a bit scared of approaching me.

Due to my anxiety attack, I've been taken out of work for a few weeks. I haven't officially quit the job yet, but my husband wants me to, and the more I think about it, I think it's probably for the best.

I've been feeling so much better since I've been out of work. I'm calmer, more at ease, and I feel a sense of liberation.. freedom! For the past week I've been a much better mom, wife, and housekeeper.. and deep down those are the things that are more important to me than building a career.

As for the finances, well, we'll just have to make do. As my husband pointed out, my job wasn't helping in that department much anyway. After paying our daycare bill I wasn't left with much afterwards, but I was spending more on gas and food. Buying cheap meals for the kids instead of making meals from scratch raised our grocery bill. Not to mention how frequently I would buy food and drinks while at work. I got hooked on coffee shop drinks which for awhile I was having at least one a day.

I'm not sure if these feelings are a result of my current lifestyle, or if they're just me. As everyone points out, I do have a lot on my plate just being a mom to 5 young kids, the oldest being only 15 still. Perhaps my feelings are a result of burn-out. I went quickly from being a stay at home mom to being a college student who also worked while continuing to try to do the typical jobs of a stay at home mom. I thought being done with school would take some of the burden off.. but it didn't seem to. I think I may have fared better if I only had to deal with school and not work. Perhaps it was just the job itself.. although being a bank teller sounds like an easy, cushy job, it really isn't. There's a lot of stress involved.. and of course it's different everywhere you go as each manager has different rules and expectations.

Honestly for me I think it was a combination of it all. Right now I can't even bare to think of trying to find another job.. even one that would be easier than what I previously had. I think I need to take care of myself and my family and focus on nothing else for awhile.

Next year my youngest son will be in full-day school. I think perhaps at that time I might be able to find something else, but I will find something I enjoy and not put pressure on myself to do anything too demanding.

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