My Job Title Does Not Define Me!
Last updated: August 2023
Have you ever imagined how different life would be if you didn’t go to work each day?
I used to daydream about staying home and all the joy it would bring me. I would be able to sleep in and be my own boss. Nobody would tell me what to do and when to do it! The freedom of being able to wear what I want and no more high heel shoes! No rush hour traffic and all the anxiety it brings with it. I envisioned working until I was old enough to retire; however, this was not the case.
Realizing I would have to stop working
Once my type 1 narcolepsy became worse, it started to affect my ability to stay on task and to stay awake. Driving for meetings became a safety hazard for both me and other people on the road. My quality of work dropped tremendously, and attendance became an issue. I eventually realized that I was going to have to stop working. It was too difficult and unsafe in an unprotected environment.
My self-esteem took a huge hit
It took 23 months to get my disability approved. I could not work during this time, and it was a big financial hit for my family. I spent my days worried about bills and how I would be able to contribute to our needs in the future. I was not enjoying sleeping in or staying home all day. I felt like there was more that I was supposed to be doing. My home was in order, but it was becoming more difficult to keep it that way. This caused me to feel guilt and my self-esteem took a huge hit. It wasn’t supposed to feel like this!
The mental health impacts of unemployment
For the first few years of being unemployed, I struggled with depression. I was pushed off the ladder I had been climbing in the corporate world and felt it was all for nothing. I had no daily structure besides homemaking and raising my kids. In my line of work, I was used to making important decisions on a regular basis; now, my important decisions were what to cook for dinner and what to watch on television. I had my children in the house, and they kept me busy with parenting, but I couldn’t forgive myself for not working. My kids would go to school, and I would sit there with all my house duties completed, wondering if this was all my life was going to be.
I stopped feeling respected
Working outside of the home made me feel appreciated and valued. I was out there supporting my family and doing what all of us are expected to do. Society accepted me, and I felt proud when I talked about my job.
When I stopped working, I stopped feeling respected. I would feel embarrassed when someone would ask me what I did for a living. When you are 40 years old and say you do not work anymore, people give you a blank stare. I felt the need to explain my medical condition, and it made me feel even worse.
I have learned to accept and forgive myself
It took many years for me to find value and worth in my daily activities. I try to find something to do each day that makes me happy. This can be something as small as painting a rock or completing a task I have been putting off.
It still bothers me from time to time, and I have learned to accept and forgive myself for my limitations. I do not define myself by the job title I hold anymore, and I was right: I do not miss those high heels!
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