Let me give you something that was given to me…
It’s those days just after Christmas (or any holiday and weekend really). You’ve been safe and well with loved ones, but a different world awaits you back at work.
If you are putting your armour on for a job that tries to stop awful things happening in the world, this one's for you.
Particularly if your body or mind is starting to question whether you can keep doing this.
This is the first year in a long time that I'm not going back to work to help people who are suffering to the extreme - either directly or through policy and systems change.
I'm no longer doing what was essentially humanitarian relief in South London, speaking to people who haven't eaten in days and are freezing in their homes.
I'm not advising any businesses that are trying to stop people from dying in their suppliers’ factories.
I'm not calling an ambulance for anyone whose having a breakdown and threatening to kill their neighbours.
I'm not assessing my safety as I go into someone's home on my own, wondering if my personal alarm is working properly today.
I'm not looking at my colleague's photos of a crack den, deciding on the best way to get it cleaned and how to support a resident whose been the victim of cuckooing. Again.
I'm not trying to find something ethical to eat at lunch, having just read loads of graphic reports on the suffering experienced by people growing and making our food.
I'm not dealing with another child abuse case.
I'm not doing this anymore.
Ever since university this is how I've defined myself - I'm "one of those people" that gets their sh*t together and goes in, eyes and heart wide open, because I believe "I can help."
I think I did. People say I did.
But it also made me unhappy and ill - the ideal and idea of what I was doing wasn't enough over time and circumstance. Inspiration wasn’t enough. The reality of this work eventually sets in.
I was never really able to see it. I'm grateful to the colleagues, friends, family and partners who held up a mirror and showed me the impact for myself and for them. I'm grateful to those who helped me find a way out.
There are many reasons why I've decided to set up a coaching practice for women - some to do with very strong positive dreams and visions I've had in meditation, particularly after my Buddhist Ordination. I do genuinely feel called to do something else now.
I also needed to find something that would work with my new nomadic lifestyle.
But I also just didn't want to be sad anymore. Not as much as I was. It was my time to tap out and try something new.
Part of me feels relieved, another part of me feels guilt, another feels like she's been hit by a truck as she comes to terms with what she's seen and heard over a decade.
And then another feels guilt about that, as I've always tried to stay focused on the task at hand - the weight of suffering of others being much worse than what I feel about it.
It was other people who gave me the permission I needed to leave my job, permission I couldn't give myself.
It's ok to want to be happy, they told me.
It's ok to leave if you need to, they said.
You can still do a whole lot of good doing something else - probably even more than now as you’ll be in conditions that better support your wellbeing long-term.
So if some part of you needs permission to be well, needs permission to leave work that is making you unhappy, no matter how hard you try to resource yourself and broaden your perspective, here it is.