My colleagues would most likely call my two-weeks break a vacation, I’d much rather call it a mental health break to sort out my head and the buzz of activity that was swirling within it, leaving me feeling so unhappy. Am I fixed? No, I wouldn’t say that, but I know that I no longer feel as wired and frustrated like the weeks leading up to the break. Presently, I feel as though I’m on the path to mending having taken this timely getaway to sort my emotions out. It’s still quite strange that I was unable to focus on and complete any painting, which is what I thought I would do the whole time away. I must really be passing through something!
One thing is for sure, I should never have accepted to work at the bank. Sure, I have an okay salary and a healthy work culture but I spend every single waking day asking myself what I was doing here and if I was going to be one of those old miserable people who lived their whole life like a question never answered.
To my friends, I was living the life. I had a great job with good pay and definitely expecting another promotion in a couple of months. Truth is, I hate that my life has become a routine. I wake up, come to work, supervise a team of young dynamic minds in the Marketing department of a new generation Bank, go home and repeat all year round. Working at the marketing department, albeit in one of the leading banks in Nigeria held little appeal to me at this point. I just want to get lost in a canvas and watch the romance between the brush and the paints; then watch it become a colourful smear of dreams. That was my dream! That dream now materialized only when I am tucked in, under the duvet and fast asleep, when I am painting in the land of dreams. How ironic….
The other day, whilst lost in thought as usual, I caught the last part of an instagram live session on a very popular influencer’s page, where they were discussing “The workplace and your mental health”. As far as I know, I am the one they discussed the whole time. My Job dissatisfaction was beginning to affect my emotional health. I quickly copied down the organisation's Instagram account and the email address shared for later use. Glancing over at the kitchen counter now, I can see the paper carefully tucked in where I kept it. Everyday when I return from work, I find my eyes straying to this piece of kitchen tissue that holds the important information. A question keeps playing in my head, ‘ Do I really want to talk to a therapist’? She would probably see me as a silly spoilt brat who was just being dramatic. But then again, she talked about it on the Instagram live program , so how am i being silly and dramatic here?!
But jokes apart, I really want to go in pursuit of my happiness, I simply want to paint!. I no longer want to engage in mindless chatter with my junior colleagues about not meeting our deposit targets, which by the way is in the tune of billions of Naira, and I most certainly do not want to be present at the humiliating Monday morning meetings, and at the receiving end of emotionally abusive tongue lashing from my branch manager over this same issue. I glanced over again at the kitchen paper and a faint breeze from the nearby standing fan raised the edges. I took that as a sign, I whipped out my phone and quickly pressed the gmail icon. I tapped the compose message and stared as the cursor blinked once, twice, thrice; I carefully entered the email address and titled the email, “ Please, help me, I have it all but I am miserable”, followed by a less dramatic accompanying message, detailing my concerns about my job and how it was beginning to take its toll on my mind state and hurriedly hit the send button. Then, I allowed a small smile to pass my lips, that was one sure way to get the attention of anyone at the other end of that email address. I spared a quick look at the wall clock, it was 12 noon.
I tried to focus on other ways of enjoying my weekend and failed miserably. I kept waiting for the ping that would signify a new email. When it came in at 20 minutes past noon. I approached my phone cautiously and was surprised to see a mail from empathyspace.ng. I clicked and was both pleased that the mental health Organisation had gotten back to me so quickly. The sender wanted to know when I would want to fix a session with Dr. Kafayah who was the Lead Therapist for the Organisation.
All this is in the past now, It’s been four months and I have gone for a number of sessions, and I can now say that I am in a progressive place in my life. Therapy gave me the push I needed to be more intentional about pursuing my painting passion. It was nice and comforting to have a stranger believe so much in my dreams and support me emotionally, as I navigated the initial highly anxiety-evoking period of taking it up painting again. An upside to it all, is the fact that I have made some good savings working at the bank and this will go a long way in paying some bills, should I decide to go into painting full time. I moved into a two bedroom apartment on the other side of town and have converted the second bedroom to a studio. Like i said, I haven't quit my job yet but the conviction that I would is stronger as the days go by. I am accepting projects from clients; mostly referrals from friends, family and colleagues who need art pieces for their personal and work spaces. I look forward to my weekends now, I spend it in my new reality, where I am racing towards my dreams.