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How My Poor Mental Health Led Me To Make The Best Career Change In My 30 Year Life

This post was originally published in 2018 but has since been updated and republished.

It all started with poor mental health, a blog, and free-time.

In the cold winter months of February 2018, jobless and struggling with my mental health, I launched a blog with little to no plan for its future. Fast forward to today, after a journey down the Pinterest rabbit hole, and online entrepreneurship has consumed me (for the better)!

From Aspiring Blogger To An Actual Business Owner

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, Caffeine and Conquer started as a small blog on Blogger, Google’s free blogging platform. It was creatively named “Sarah Fournier” (that’s me) and was a project to occupy my time until I landed a job.

However, like many things in life, my plan didn’t pan out that way.

How Anxiety, Panic, Depression and Emergency Surgery Left Me Unemployed

2018 was a weird time in my life. I had been struggling with the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety and, on top of that, was diagnosed with a huge ovarian cyst.

I was haunted by debilitating mental health symptoms

The ongoing depression and anxiety I experienced since 2013 was under control until the beginning of 2017. It was my last year of college, I was looking forward to graduating and entering the workforce as a museum employee.

You know, be a regular adult in the real world!

I completed an internship at a museum between January-April 2017 and was offered a contract summer position afterward. Things were actually looking up!

However, once summer ended, so did the contract position.

Queue the post-grad struggles

After graduating from college and finishing my summer position, I ended up working for a little bit at a bookstore and then at a call center. I still needed to earn an income until I gained employment in my field of study.

Luckily, I had an interview lined up for an internship at an art museum in my city! Yay…? Nope.

When I Found Out I Needed Emergency Surgery

In October 2017, I discovered a had a cyst or tumor in my abdomen. After this point, my mental health went downhill. I couldn’t handle the daily stresses of life anymore and I shut down.

I healed from the surgery for two months and tried to return to work but my anxiety symptoms were going from mild to severe. My symptoms started to happen everywhere I went rather than in some situations!

Anytime I went out or had to speak to someone, I had extreme dizziness and shortness of breath. 

I couldn’t just ignore it anymore and continue with my responsibilities, it became too much to handle EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I visited my doctor, asked to be put back on an SSRI, I quit my job and went on social assistance.

Photograph of a pug wrapped in a blanket looking miserable.

The Problem With Mental Health: How Can You Fix Something If You Don’t Know What’s Wrong?

Mental health issues are very difficult to understand, especially if you’ve never experienced it yourself. You can ask me why standing in a line up in a store made me dizzy and short of breath, and my answer will be “I have no idea“.

I didn’t have any fear or anxious thoughts about being in a lineup. It just happened out of the blue, EVERY SINGLE TIME.

The fact that medication helps me so much makes me suspect it’s a chemical imbalance that I need medication to treat. Because of this, I’ll likely be on it for the rest of my life.

However, I also believe unhappiness, discontent and other similar emotions can manifest themselves as physical symptoms in some people (especially panic attacks).

I suspect this was me and that I’m very sensitive to stress, which gets expressed as symptoms.

When Is It Okay To Listen To Your Intuition and Body Signals?

I like to believe, if something is right I will know it. So, I decided not to return to work to give my body a break and focus entirely on growing my blog.

The Universe Was Sending Me Signs As Mental Health Symptoms

After about a month of writing online, I felt like I was on to something good.

I went down the Pinterest rabbit hole. If you’re a blogger then you know what I’m talking about. The amount of resources accessible to us on Pinterest, by other bloggers, is amazing!

What started as a personal blog to keep me busy, turned into:

“I can do this for a living?… Oh my god, I have to do this!”

I was enjoying writing so much that the idea of turning this into a career just made sense. I’ve always been a creative person and stumbled on a way to leverage these creative talents and stay at home in my PJs as well.

I was also not waking up every morning anymore feeling unmotivated and miserable about showing up to a job I wasn’t even interested in.

I didn’t announce this to my family right away but I knew I wasn’t planning on returning to work. You would probably do the same if the alternative was working in a miserable minimum wage job with severe anxiety symptoms. It just isn’t worth losing my sanity over.

In March 2018, I made the decision to give this blogging thing a try, and when I put my mind to something I do it.

A photograph of me peaking over a book, "Educated" by Tara Westover.

Where I Am Today (1.5 Years Later)

Since making the decision to ditch traditional employment and live on my own terms I have kept up with this blog and launched my Pinterest Management business.

My income has grown 800% over the last year and I’m still growing.

Why Does This Work For Me? (And Might Work For You Too)

Traditional employment is good because it’s secure and offers benefits, however, it’s not going to fit everyone.

Because of my mental health, I actually find working for myself a lot better than working for someone else.

  • I can choose my own hours
  • I decide how much money I want to make (no cap)
  • I can work from the comfort of my own home
  • It’s an introvert dream
  • I’m not wasting time and money on a long commute each day
  • I can change up my environment to boost productivity
  • I feel in control of my future and career
  • I don’t have to convince people to hire me, I created my own job
  • I’m 100% invested in my projects

I’m much happier than I was in early 2018 and I credit that to the risks I’ve taken and listened to my body.

I Would Love To Connect

Leaving your 9-5 cubicle job to grow your own business takes gumption! Dealing with mental health issues just makes us stronger. I’m interested in connecting with women like you.

Leave a comment on this post and let me know your story!



  1. Annie says

    I’m in a similar boat. I dropped out of school in May because of my MH but now I need to find a job and there’s nothing I’ve found yet that I’ve found fulfilling besides making YouTube videos and blog posts. I haven’t been motivated to do anything until going to SitC yesterday and I’m like “I want to do these both as a career so I can be creative and help people”. But I’m in between giving up and finding “a real job” and just going for it

    • sarah.fournier says

      Hi Annie! I’m so glad we connected over this post. I went on over to your blog and love it! I think there is something about being creative and helping people that is so rewarding. Following you on social media. Lets keep in touch!

  2. Lori Fournier says

    You shouldn’t keep things from your parents. Parents are here to support and help their kids. But I still love you anyway. lol

  3. Ruth says

    I’m so glad I’ve read this! I mean, I already thought you were a rockstar, but it turns out our stories are quite similar. Although, I haven’t had a cyst, and I’m really sorry you went through that.

    I turned to blogging when I became unemployed after leaving my job because of mental illness, and it makes me smile to know there’s someone out there who’s in the same situation. (Well, minus the mental illness part, I’m obviously not happy about that for either of us!)

    As you’ve said, it’s not the conventional route, and there’s a reason for that. I sometimes wonder if I’ve lost my mind, but reading this made me feel better, to know I’m not the only one pursuing it as an alternative to returning to any other type of job.

    Can’t wait to watch your grow and achieve success!

    • sarah.fournier says

      Thanks so much for commenting!

      That’s why I was so drawn to your blog, I can relate to your posts 100%. I also know what you’re going through. When I chose to take the path I’m currently taking I was so concerned about disappointing my parents and family, but learning that other people like you are doing the same thing just shows we’re making the right choices for us.

  4. Monique Labelle-Wheeler says

    Hi Sarah! Just happened on your blog and saw that I was on it as labelle_eco_life! Thanks so much for the exposure. I’ve been saying forever that I want to start a real blog so I’ll follow your steps to use wordpress. Hope I can manage the tech part of it! ?

  5. christina says

    Hello! and thank you for writing such an honest, great post. I just happened upon it today while I have been contemplating leaving my job as an x-ray tech for 9 years so that I can write about herbs, herbal remedies, self-reliance, emergency preparedness, and healthy recipes etc. I just felt like you spoke to me through this post in a way. I went from full time last year down to PT so I would have more “time” to work on my blog but over the past few months I am not as far as I would like to be. This past year has been hard for me dealing with emotional things that have come up from my past, past things I dwell on and regret, always working to strengthen my 11 year marriage to my forever love and rock. I just feel ebs and flow of creativeness then so stagnant at times I don’t feel like I am good enough to be doing this……much anxiety and stress being in a job where I am unhappy, and know that god put me on this earth for so much more. I feel at my best when i’m home able to be with my animals and writing or being creative in any other aspect not just punching in a time clock and then punching out just not feeling very fulfilled. I very much enjoy the care I give my patients and have learned soooo much that I will be forever grateful for god also had me do this in order to give me more insite on many things I want to write about and help people with. I hope to one day be very proud of where I am and what I have accomplished for myself not always for someone else. sorry for the long winded message. Thinking about possibly taking a leap of faith and quitting my job to fully dedicate my time to my blog and creating herbal products to possibly sell on there as well. I would be able to have the money to support us for roughly 8 months or so like I was working but im really not….then if it does not work or I feel I have gone no where then its back to finding another job at that time……but why should I not take this chance its been something I have contemplated for soooo long now because I feel like I need to give something my all if I am going to succeed at it and I am not doing that right now. I appreciate your insite and look forward to reading more of your posts. Thank you

    • Sarah Fournier says

      Hi Christina! As I was reading your comment and current struggles I felt like I was reading about myself. I understand your struggle being a secure job but it’s not fulfilling, or even it’s triggering anxiety or depression. Leaving that security is a tough decision to make. It’s awesome that you’ve been able to work part-time so you can focus on your blog though.

      I’m going to be honest with you, in my personal experience, making money solely on a blog is extremely hard. My blog does not even generate part-time income yet but the commissions have been slowly increasing with time. What I’ve learned is if you really want to make an impact online while earning a living you need to offer something in the form of services or a product. I saw you want to sell your own herbal products so that might be something to explore. You’re very lucky to have the 8-month cushion to explore this. When I quit my job I decided to live on social assistance until I can sustain a livable income on my own.

      I wish you the best of luck and hope you keep in touch! There may be ways we can partner together to help boost your business 🙂

  6. KIM BLAUFUSS; Youtube @bestacupuncturellc says

    Sarah, thanks so much for your blog. I found you on Reddit and this post was great and inspirational. I had no idea what would break “the camels back” for me, but I found it. I had been caregiver for my mother and sister for 3-4 years. i didn’t know how stressful caregiving was going to be. It actually got me to write and publish my book on my experience sharing all those things you don’t think about before you start caregiving. My sister passed, a month later, my mother passed, a month later, my 18 year old show horse that I bred and raised (even bottle feeding him the first few weeks as the mother didn’t have milk) had to be put down. I was just exhausted after that experience, and I’m still really having a hard time. Like so many of the people commenting out here, I just love the blogging and doing my Youtube videos. I can literally sit for days composing and creating my content. I appreciate your feedback on how you are making money with this. I had wondered how in the world that happens. And I really like that you are open to talking with others who are just starting out. Thanks Sarah!

    • Sarah Fournier says

      Hi Kim! Thank you for sharing your story. Like you said, unfortunately many of us online have struggled with something and are using writing, blogging, content creation as a creative outlet. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  7. Claire Moir says

    ive always wanted to make my blog my career. ive never made any money from it and i just dont know how to translate what i love into making money.
    I’ve got horrendous mental health problems which are making my work life really difficult and i would love to give it up to do something i’m truly passionate about in my own time but its making it happen. but well done you for getting through such a difficult time and making a success of your passion.
    if you have any advice for me i welcome it.

    • Sarah Fournier says

      Hi Claire. I really appreciate you sharing your story. When I decided to focus on earning an income online I did it in an unconventional way. Most people will work towards it in addition to working a full-time or part-time job, but I was unemployed due to my mental health and living off social assistance…so I literally had 24/7 to focus on what I’m trying to achieve here.

      I would love to chat with you and give you some insights about your blog and goals online. Give me a shout via email with any questions/concerns you’re struggling with and I’ll get back to you –

  8. Stacie Peters says

    hello again sarah,
    this post was so on time for me. so i for the first time believe i can do this and that i will do this and im not looking back. fear and failure are no longer an excuse for why im not doing what i was meant to do and why im not living the life i love. i cant wait to introduce myself to the world and to become inspiration and motivation to others while empowering women with mental illness and helping them to live there life again. All the while looking fashionable and fabulous , enjoying the luxury of being your own boss and indulging in the best cannibas strands on the market today. thanks sarah for helping me believe in myself again and the guts to launch my blog.
    stacie l peters

    • Sarah Fournier says

      You can definitely do this Stacie! I’m excited for you! Reach out if you ever want to talk things blogging and online entrepreneurship!

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