The HR Juggler

Day 15: Failure, Courage and Happy Endings

Posted on: December 15, 2011

The people that I love interacting with most on social media are those that are honest, brave, open, generous and supportive. Today’s post is by Katie, who many of you will know better as @HRHopeful and she has all of the above qualities and plenty more. Her 2011 has been full of horrors, but luckily some great highlights too.

I love Katie’s writing and am hoping that she may go back to her own blog in the New Year too ;).


When I sat down to write this post for Alison I did so thinking it would be easy. I am a keen reflector and I usually get my best ideas and personal growth through reflection. However, it was hard for me to reflect on a year where career wise I have probably cried more than ever before, where I have felt completely lost in my own skin sometimes and where I have experienced a complete loss of control which led me to seek medical help.

I am a fiercely independent person and although I have a great support network my ‘go to’ support mechanism is to deal with it by myself. This (or so I thought) was working for me up to probably July where I started to realise how not in control I was.

To give a bit of context, I was working in a role that unfortunately was not a great fit for me both career wise, culturally and at times ethically. I loved the people I was supporting but kept butting heads with the management team and my personal line managers (4 within the space of a year!!) I doubted my ability to do my job, doubted my ability to make good decisions and doubted my place within the Human Resources field.

On reflection I was probably depressed for the majority of 2011 and didn’t even realise it. The poor decisions I made, which at the time I attributed to my failure or someone else’s, were more likely a product of me being so drawn into the problems I was facing I couldn’t see any positive solutions.

We then come to September where I had my ‘breakthrough’ moment. I had returned to my workplace after a wonderful week away in Amsterdam and was met with a tirade of questions about projects I had been working on prior to my departure. This led me to ring my husband for the umpteenth time in tears and he said the words I needed someone to say to me for a very long time “Get out of there, walk away! We will work this out, don’t worry; I will look after you.” And so I did just that…..I handed in my notice, packed my things and walked away. And with the love and support of my family, friends, GP and Twitter connections I have never looked back. (Also, I cannot forget to mention the awesome power of playing Wilson Phillips “Hold on For One More Day” on a daily basis!!!)

The story has a happy ending as 6 weeks after walking away from the cause of my depression I was feeling 100% more positive, vibrant, energised and focused on getting my spark back. I had also secured an amazing role with a company on my Top 10 Companies to Work For list. Since I started there in mid-October my whole life has changed. It has made me realise how important happiness is, and how damaging it can be when you live without it in your daily life.

My message from 2011 is not one of failure (as I thought it to be when I started writing) but one of courage, and knowing it’s ok to admit you cannot cope sometimes. Whether it is work, a relationship, a bad habit or something trivial…..take the time to give yourself a Mental Health MOT and act on matters which cause you discomfort, pain or self doubt. There will be someone out there I’m sure who will be there to look after you and work it out.

I wish you and yours a safe and mentally healthy Christmas and 2012.


For Katie, who is brave enough to share her story and for everyone else who has loved hearing it…

14 Responses to "Day 15: Failure, Courage and Happy Endings"

Dear Katie,

You are very brave and wise to have made such a tough decision. Work is the cause of much happiness and, much less spoken about, much grief and depression. Being appreciated for what we do, using our capabilities and so on affects our self image positively or otherwise. I had a chat with Professor Susan Greenfield at the CIPD conference a few years ago and depression is set to become a major 21st century disease, largely unacknowledged.

Good wishes with 2012.

p.s. What a perfect choice of music, which can really help.


Well done Katie for such an honest and inspiring message. It’s a big step to admit something has to change and even bigger to have the courage to do it.
I’m now going to have Wilson Phillips in my head for the rest of the day!
Wishing you a VERY HAPPY 2012!

Sometimes the fear of the unknown stops us from taking that first step. Ive been there too. In fact, on balance, I spent far too long in situations that were unhealthy for me, usually through fear of the unknown if i walked away. In my case it took someone to give me a shove before I really became comfortable with the fact that I could take control and make something better than the lot i was having to face into.

Which is ironic given that ive spent most of my life dishing out two pearls of wisdom to others:

1. Things rarely work out as bad as you fear they will

2. If you do nothing, then you know for sure nothing will change. If you do something, then you know something, no matter how small will change. And change brings with it opportunities.

Plumbers and taps eh?! Well done Katie. You are proof that taking control of the situation leads to better results. Thanks for sharing – its not easy to bare your soul!

I can’t begin to tell you how much your post has touched me.
After a really difficult year, I have recently been diagnosed with depression and signed off work for a month in all (half way through that). I know that the main cause of this is work – not work load but the feeling that I am having to compromise my integrity and my personal values on a daily basis. I feel as if my spirit has been broken.
I have, however, been touched by the support that I have received, both online and offline. Very few of my Twitterati know the reason that I’m off work, but the couple that do have been in regular and positive contact.
Unfortunately due to the role that I do, there are precious few career opportunities available to me at the moment, but it has made me realise that I need to have some very difficult conversations with those people that I work with in order to make some changes to my working environment. With the help that I am getting, I will have these conversations, and I will make the changes that I need to make.
Reading your post has highlighted to me the light at the end of the tunnel, and whilst I should never have let this situation come to this, I will learn from it and become stronger.
Alison, this is why this series of posts is so magical. Even from the darkest days there are messages of hope, of lessons learned, and of new beginnings.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas, spent with those you love and who love you.

Katie, I too can relate to your tough year this year and really appreciated reading your honest post. I’m so glad to hear that you’re out of that awful situation and that your husband was so supportive throughout. Here’s to a happier 2012!

Hi Katie,

Having been there myself in a similar work situation I know exactly what you were feeling and most importantly, how you had the courage to walk away and find HAPPINESS! You and I are both very lucky women with lovely hubbies and happier lives!

It’s been a pleasure knowing you as a Twitter Pal and so here’s wishing you a great 2012! xx

A beautiful post Katie. I resonate with all you say and have previously struggled with the numbness of such a space or what I called the shoreless ocean. Likewise, I kept it covered away (being the sort of individual who can ‘deal with anything’). One of the quotes which really resonated at the time was ‘depression is the sign of someone who has been too strong for too long’, that allowed me to breathe again and find my swimming legs! 🙂 I echo Alison’s words … what a woman you are Katie. Here’s to breaking a few more of the taboos and for us all to help each other (I am certain we are here experiencing so much of this life to offer help and hope to others)

Natasha x

Well done for recognising the toxic situation you were in, Katie, and having the courage to walk away from it. Pleased to hear that things have improved and that you are ending 2011 on such a positive note.

By coincidence I wrote about the learning from failure yesterday

Wow!!! What amazing comments; what I love most is that people feel able to talk about these types of situations. Thank you for your kind words, and your continued support. Big big thanks to Alison for facilitating this amazing series, and once again empowering me to be myself

Great post, and well done you for being brave and making the difficult choices at the right time (congrats also to husband for proving that there are great men out there). Hope you enjoy a fantastic Christmas.

A brave and heartfelt post, totally deserving of all the wonderful comments. If there is a more supportive HR community than #connectinghr, then I’m certainly yet to find it.

To host a series of fantastic posts like this is an honour and a privilege…thank you!

Not much to add other than to thank you for sharing your brave journey from a very dark and lonely place into a much brighter now and future. I hope your courage to speak out will help others who are also struggling – mental health is too often ignored. It is clear from some of the comments above that, by speaking out, you have given strength and help to others.

Dear Katie,

Thank you so much for sharing, and for being brave enough to walk away. So often in these situations people stay, out of fear of leaving a job, where will they find the next one, how will they explain it on their CV? etc, etc.

It also shows that mental health isn’t something to have a stigma about- being treated badly WILL effect anyone’s mental health- it is NOT something that is deficient within the individual, but rather a result of the circumstance they find themselves in.

I had similar experiences early in my career- including being in tears when my manager gave me a massively unrealistic deadline the day before she went away for a week to Paris on holiday. I was so stressed out, I didn’t know what to do, so I went to the next person who was my “boss” in her absence, I sat in tears in his office. He understood, and the deadline was changed. However, when she returned she saw it as my having “told on her” to her boss… thankfully I was only on a 6 month contract, which she chose not to renew and I was able to move on and work for a great company- SAP, I worked in recruitment there and last year on twitter someone contacted me out of the blue to ask had I worked for SAP. I had interviewed him for his job- he was still there happily, 7 and a half years later! Knowing that showed me I’d done a good job, selecting the right person to join the team.

Anyhow, sorry for rambling, but my point being, it’s hard sometimes to realise it’s NOT us that is the problem- but rather those in more senior positions, who frankly, should know better.

Well done for being brave!!


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