How I Got My Life Back on Track After I Burned Out at My Dream Job

8 min read
Evidence based
Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa
By Monisha Vasa, MD Updated on 2024 Jan 23

“And one more thing, I would like this meeting to count as my two-week notice,” – I muttered as I was finishing my weekly presentation.

At 35 years old, I’d had more than enough.

I just quit the job I’d been dreaming of since I was a freshman at college.

The one I spent years pursuing and then finally getting despite all the odds.

I’d always wanted to be this big shot broker for really expensive properties, and after I got it, it didn’t make me happy anymore.

On the outside, I had everything – a great salary and benefits, hardworking and educated coworkers, respect, and a lot of say in the things going on around me.

People respected me and came to me for my knowledge and opinions.

Yet my career in this particular job had just come to an abrupt end.

Well, I say abrupt – that’s what it seemed like to everyone in that meeting and those who were going to talk about it during their coffee breaks.

For me, it was a long time coming.

As much as I loved the work, it never seemed to end.

I would come in every morning before anyone else did, I’d do a little stretch at my desk, and the rest of the world would disappear until the late hours of the evening.

Calls, documentation, meetings, more calls, more tasks to do and check. No matter what I did, I somehow could never end up with an empty inbox – there was always one more message to respond to, one more file to send out.

And believe me when I say this: I loved it. 

For a couple of years, I simply lived for it. It was so satisfying accomplishing task after task, closing deal after deal.

I felt like a machine – in a good way. Nothing could stop me, and no one could beat me.

My only regret was that I physically needed sleep – otherwise, I would have stayed in the office 24/7.

And while I was busy being obsessed with the work I was doing, the world around me started slowly deteriorating without me knowing.

My friends, disappointed with the lack of involvement from my side, stopped inviting me places.

The plants in my apartment all withered away.

My health wasn’t in great shape either – I was neglecting my diet, and I had no exercise routine besides the walk to the office kitchen to grab yet another cereal bar.

A pretty close family member died quite unexpectedly – and I didn’t even attend the funeral, choosing to attend a “vital” work trip instead.

Soon enough, because work was the only thing I focused on, it became the only thing that really existed in my life.

I had nothing else – work was my hobby, my support system, and a way of giving my life purpose.

Yet I never seemed to be enough.

Every job well done was met with a request to replicate the success.

Every groundbreaking innovation I created was met with a request to scale or teach.

The nights I stayed awake to finish my work were met with even tighter deadlines.

Nothing I sacrificed was ever enough to warrant a thank you or a moment of appreciation.

Even though I was trying harder and doing better than almost everyone else doing the same job as me – which was a lot of people – I never seemed to be good enough for that promotion that always seemed to be within arm’s reach.

There hadn’t been a Saturday night in years where I wouldn’t have to interrupt whoever I was speaking to so I could answer an “urgent” work-related email. And I never even got acknowledged for being available at any time, anywhere.

Over the last few months at my job, I started feeling off – then worse.

First, I started having a bit of anxiety before starting work each morning.

I could barely get out of bed, and when I did, all I wanted was to crawl back in.

Soon enough, the feeling wasn’t going away anymore.

I felt worse thinking about my workload, and I dreaded talking to my manager.

I would avoid looking at my inbox at all costs because it caused me so much discomfort just thinking about how many people needed something from me. And then I’d feel guilty for not getting the work done on time.

My performance started plummeting.

I couldn’t keep up with my deadlines – sometimes, I’d spend tens of minutes just staring at my screen, doing nothing but blaming myself for not spending that time working.

I felt helpless. I knew the work wasn’t going to get done by anyone else, and I still needed to be accountable for what I was doing, but the thought of having a new task every time I finished an old one was sickening.

Most days, I would start my morning thinking about whether today was going to be the day that I got fired.

Every time a one-on-one would pop up in my calendar, I thought it would be the one where we would discuss my exit from the company.

It was affecting every aspect of my life.

I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating.

I avoided talking to anyone in my circle because I felt like I could only talk about what a failure I was at my job. And I didn’t want to talk about that.

So I took the only step that made sense to me.

I left the job. I had no plan.

I didn’t have another job lined up.

I didn’t even know what I would do moving forward – I had already left the only job I ever dreamed of!

For days, months even, after I quit, I just spent my days doing… nothing?

I called that recovery, but I felt like I was doing too little even though I’d escaped from the job. That I wasn’t accomplishing what I was meant to.

So that feeling of dread and anxiety, though not as strong as previously, had followed me out.

I started trying things I hoped would help me. I went to see a psychiatrist, and I tried meditating independently. I have to say, I watched a whole lot of Youtube to see how other people dealt with their burnout. And even though it would feel better at that moment, nothing seemed to have a lasting impact.

I slowly started talking to my friends again to fill my empty days, and I had an interesting conversation with one of my college friends.

She told me about how she was starting to feel burned out at her job over a year ago, but she caught herself at just the right time to form a number of healthy habits to keep her on track.

That helped her avoid the same fate as mine.

She used this app, Sensa, where she received a plan that helped her manage her stress and anxiety.

The app allowed her to objectively evaluate her mental state and gave her tasks to help her feel better – both in the short and long term.

I couldn’t hide it. I was impressed.

I realized that if I’d only had a tool like that, I could have probably avoided my mental breakdown and would still have my job!

So I decided, as a way to get myself back on track, to try out the app too.

I downloaded Sensa, and I was immediately welcomed positively, with so many things I could do to make myself feel better.

I got personalized daily tasks that helped me calm my mind down.

I could follow interactive lessons to help manage my thoughts and anxieties about the future of my career.

It really helped me be present and aware of my mood every day.

I’d never been big on journaling, but Sensa made it really easy for me to journal things that happened in my life and affected my mood.

I started seeing patterns. Talking to people, getting out of the house, and getting a little bit of exercise resulted in a significant mood boost.

After weeks and then months of using the app, I started feeling a lot calmer about the prospect of returning to work and putting in my best.

While using the app, I was thinking a lot about how I could draw new boundaries to avoid burning out again the next time around, and reprogramming my brain to expect different outcomes at work really helped me.

Eventually, after a lot of work and soul-searching, I landed a new job. But it was different this time.

I’m currently in a similar position in a different company.

I’m still doing what I’ve always wanted to do, but I’m working with Sensa to keep it going long-term this time.

I’m still learning, but I’m doing so much better at not overworking myself and having boundaries as to when and where I’m available.

I haven’t taken a work-related call outside of work since I started!

And surprisingly, everyone around me seems happier about it. Especially me.

At this point, I’m not promising anyone the world or anything I couldn’t possibly do on my own.

But I’m happier.

And I’ve got years’ worth of journal entries on Sensa to prove it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs to take a step back from the rat race.

If you can relate to my struggle, and if you could see yourself in my shoes when I ranted about my former work – Sensa may be the best fit for you.

Trying out this app has been incredibly life-affirming for me, and I’ve grown so much more than I ever thought possible.

Psychiatrist and Sensa consultant dr. Monisha Vasa

Dr. Monisha Vasa is a board-certified psychiatrist and wellness consultant with a thriving private practice in Newport Beach, California. She’s actively engaged in supporting physician mental health at UC Irvine and City of Hope National Cancer Center.