It was 2004 and I was having another negative interaction with my boss. I was working for my third failing biotech company in a row, in the failing economy, and I was surrounded by unhappy, negative, unhealthy people.
I needed a raise. I deserved a raise. I was more than a year overdue for a raise. I was underpaid for my position and experience. Again, it was a flat, unapologetic “No.”
His reasoning – this time – for not helping me get paid what I was actually worth? I was “very sick” and the medical insurance the company was giving me actually amounted to a big “raise” because of the doctor and prescription bills I was now accumulating.
He said I really couldn’t afford to rock the boat because I was dependant on the company for the insurance due to my illness.
This was where I first saw the pure evil of the system I had let myself get suckered into. I was sick, exhausted from stress and company politics and living paycheck to paycheck to pay a mortgage. I was also severely depressed and had just been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
The job and the company was making me sick. And then they’re telling me I need them because I’m sick?!?!?!
I was so exhausted I was numb.
I went back and collapsed at my desk and thought: “I’m going to die in this building, at this desk, if I don’t do something.”
There were other warnings too…
Another now-defunct biotech company I worked for was, ironically, right next door to the World Gym that I spent my happiest and most productive training years at. I used to go outside for a breath of fresh air around 10am – stressed and exhausted already – and look over at the gym. Four years ago I’d have been pulling into the gym parking lot around 10am – rested, happy, healthy and ready to kill another workout.
Now I was looking out at that gym and those memories from an exhausted body, from a dysfunctional and abusive corporate hell.
I’d have to go inside before I got too depressed about where I was now. I was in a miserable job. I had a psychotic girlfriend and a dysfunctional relationship. I had a big mortgage on a big, new house that was already falling apart. I was feeling the beginnings of the digestive illness I would later get slammed by.
And I had zero motivation or energy to pursue my passion for physical training.
Negative Feelings are Warnings…
Stress, depression, unhappiness, anxiety. These are all feelings that evolved to warn us of danger. They tell us to get away and get away fast. They make us uncomfortable for a reason.
But the current idea is that we need to “manage” these feelings. We manage them by medicating them away or just “sucking it up” because “that’s life.” Sometimes we go to a therapist who “listens to and validates” us.
But feelings like stress, depression, unhappiness and anxiety are deep, primal reactions and they serve a purpose. So does getting a stomach ache when you eat 20 Milky Way bars. It tells you to avoid doing that again.
Our bodies and emotional systems are highly intelligent and evolved. They know better than our thinking mind does. They aren’t conditioned by pop culture propaganda like our thinking mind.
But the overwhelming message from modern culture is that TV and magazines and doctors and pills and corporations are smart and our bodies and feelings and emotions are dumb.
Take the insanity below. The Contributing Editor of New York Magazine wrote a flagship article about how great Xanax is. Then she goes on TV to talk about it.
The message: Our bodies are wrong. Working a high-stress job and living a high-stress life is right. Medicate away the natural reaction of your body and emotions to an artificial modern environment. (I rant long and hard about the article and Xanax here.)
I’m going to propose a different option. Get out and get out now.
If you’re stressed and exhausted you need a new set of options and a new path. If you’re sick, what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been living is obviously not working. If you’re not sick (yet), you’re blessed because our world and modern lifestyles are out of control. What the mainstream considers food, medical care and appropriate exercise is becoming more and more dysfunctional by the day.
Change. Grow, Evolve.
In 2004, I was sick BECAUSE of the stress of my career and the negative and toxic environments I was working in. Just like I’m healthy in 2012 because I learned how to eat and train and live to nurture my body instead of beat it down.
But I “needed” those jobs for the insurance. So I could keep running to doctors and hospitals and having tests and getting prescriptions. The couple of times I ended up in the hospitol the doctors would actually ask me when I needed to be back to work – the goal was to get me well enough to get back to my desk on the job’s schedule and the insurance company’s schedule.
My body’s schedule was never consulted.
Essentially, I was being set up to stay sick. Returning to the environment and lifestyle that made me sick in the first place as soon as my symptoms were temporarily medicated down was only going to keep me sick. I’m not sure this is an actual conspiracy – but I’m not sure it isn’t either.
What’s funny – or tragic – is that, when I finished college in 2000, all I wanted to do is train and write about training online. The world – and my consciousness – wasn’t in a place where that was entirely possible back then. In 2012 I’m doing exactly what I wanted to be doing when I got out of college.
Sometimes it makes me sad or angry that I wasted all those years being miserable and sick when I could have started writing and training again right out of college in 2000. Maybe I needed that time and those experiences to strengthen my resolve to live the way I want to live now. That’s what I tell myself.
Your life, your health and your happiness are too precious to throw away doing things that make you miserable and being around people who make you stressed and sick.
All the Xanax in the world won’t make you feel better if you’re ignoring your soul’s calling and living in stress. Do whatever it takes to get out.
Working against your body, your emotions, your deeper, better judgement and your Soul’s Calling is a dead end.
In 2004, I was looking for a raise. It took me a few more years to stop looking for raises and start looking for the Exit.
BTW, You can read my full story here: “My Personal Journey to Paleo.”