I spent most of my life following all the rules.
I’ve owned a business. I went to college. I earned a graduate degree. I got married. I had a baby. I supported my family financially. I planned, and I worked hard. I became an expert in my field. I presented my research at major scientific conferences. I instructed others. I testified in court as an expert witness in the area of DNA, I solved many cold cases and felt great about it.
Then life happened.
I could say S#&% happened. I got divorced. I moved. I made a significant career move that was extremely stressful. I moved again. I met the man that would become the love of my life and my best friend. I moved yet again. We got married. We had some challenging times – because blending a family can be hard and soul-crushing.
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I was diagnosed with PTSD after 16 years of working in Forensics and dealing with Crime Scene, Cold Cases, Fatal Crashes, Officer Involved Shootings, and Child Pornography.
I was stressed, not sleeping, gaining weight, drinking way too much wine, working out way too hard while I was under all this stress. It finally left me broken, and I had to make some tough choices.
At this time I wanted to die. I had so much massive anxiety that would not go away. It was a chest-crushing feeling that was inescapable. If I didn’t have my daughter, I fear I may have taken my life. I felt trapped and desperate. I loved my job. I had gone to school and spent almost 17 years in the field. It felt like I should stick it out and get my pension. I felt like I was giving up. I felt like I wasn’t strong enough.
I drank every single night. I wished I could disappear.
I quit everything!
I quit measuring everything I ate, I quit eating paleo, I quit the gym, I quit drinking every night, I quit weighing myself, I stopped measuring myself by the labels and values that I was previously attached to and in the end I chose to leave a career that I loved because it was no longer serving me.
My job was no longer feeding my soul.
This job that I had worked so hard for was corroding my soul and damaging my mental and physical health. I was suffering. My family was suffering. So, I thought long and hard about what leaving this job would mean for me. I decided for myself that life is too short to spend that much time just grinning and bearing a job that wasn’t adding anything positive to my life anymore.
Many people had opinions about whether I should stay with my position that had a guaranteed pension. Some people supported my leaving and even highly recommended it. Some people questioned my sanity.
I started to imagine what life would be like if I were to invest all that time into what I have always been passionate about – cooking. I began to imagine what life would feel like if I pursued that passion fearlessly, not for money or gain, but strictly for the sole purpose of sharing my love with others. What could my life look like if I was able to invest all of my time and love into those things in my life that are most important to me, like my daughter, and my husband, and friends? What if I could spend every day cooking, taking pictures, and writing?
Everything in life takes hard work and commitment.
I looked around and saw so many successful food bloggers. Why could I not be one of them? I can cook…I mean, I can really cook. I can take pictures…sure there’s a little bit of difference in photographing dead people and beautiful food pictures. But, I can learn.
With effort and work, I will eventually get the photos that I want on a consistent basis. Writing about food and life – I can do that! Again, it’s going to take practice to get really good at it. It’s taken me 16 years to build a career. It will take time to make this into a job. But that’s okay. In the meantime, it’s more critical for my well being that I spend my time investing in things that make me healthier and happier.
I highly recommend finding your joy!
Life is too short to spend it in a place that isn’t making you happy. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest and that means taking risks sometimes. For me it meant giving up the safety in my pension and giving up a salary that I knew would support me. It meant walking away from a career that I had spent the better part of my life investing in.
It took me choosing to trust the people in my life and believe that they would be there for me and have my back and ride this wave with me. It took me believing in myself and my dream and knowing that hard work is always required but that if I put in the hard work, I will eventually build this dream!
Thank you for reading and for following along. Your love and support is everything!
If you know someone struggling with depression or severe anxiety – get help. There is help. I found my way back from the darkest place I know.
Call 1-800-273-8255Available 24 hours everyday
PTSD Survivors Network5