A Pounding Heart

When work starts to impact your health, you have headaches, appetite changes, your back aches, and now your family is worried about you. You just keep going until you reach a breaking point. You feel defeated, but you’re determined to stay in the battle. You can’t lose this one. You keep battering away at yourself, no matter what signals your body is telling you, you pay no attention. I worked like this for years, I gained a lot of weight, and my self esteem didn’t exist. But I was so resolute in my magical thinking, my pride wouldn’t let me admit the obvious. This work environment was killing me.

Each night when I went to bed, I could hear my heart pounding in my chest. I hoped it would just go away, but it got worse and worse. At work, I noticed it even more. I became short of breath, and my heart kept up its hammering.

When I finally went to my doctor, after seeing the ECG results, I was sent to a cardiologist who promptly put me on a 24 hour monitor. As a result, I was put on heart medication.

I didn’t learn my lesson, though. I went back to work full force, never stopping for lunch or taking a break all day. There was no time for exercise, and as far as diet, whatever was in front of me, I ate.

What did I learn? It took another 10 years for me to wake up, in fact, it wasn’t until my Dad died that I realized my life was out of control. I took a leave of absence, which eventuated in a Voluntary Layoff (VLO). Yes, my pride still smarts from that experience, but now, I’m getting more rest, and letting myself enjoy life a bit more.

My advice to all who are stuck in a tough job or a totally toxic environment, take a long self inventory. If you ask yourself if you are happy and the answer isn’t YES, it’s time to think of your health and well being before something worse than a rapid heart beat happens.

Mary T. O'Sullivan

Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, Member, International Coaching Federation, Society of Human Resource Management. Candidate, Master’s Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas. Member Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society. Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University. Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM. Mary O’Sullivan has over 30 years experience in the aerospace and defense industry. In each of her roles, she acted as a change agent, moving teams and individuals from status quo to new ways of thinking, through offering solutions focused on changing behaviors and fostering growth. In additional, Mary holds a permanent teaching certificate in the State of New York for secondary education, and taught high school English for 10 years in the Syracuse, NY area.