Category Archives: Depression

A Real Career to Support My Family

The new job is great. My boss respects me. My compensation structure makes sense (lower base than last job, but substantial room for bonus and stock appreciation.) The team works together well and everyone plays their part. Why, then, am I still so concerned about the future?

It’s not this job. It’s still this career. Being in a larger company is helping… but I’m still extremely stressed everyday, feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I need to hang on for four years in this job, to build that stability profile, to capture the value of the stock, to really add value to my company’s business. My objective is to be a wonderful employee. I don’t plan to ever ask for a raise, or anything more than what I have now. I just want to survive and be known as an asset to the business.

Even if I can survive those four years, what’s next? This role is special because my boss knows me from a prior company and that’s why he values my contributions and position. My actual communications skills are not vastly improving…. I’m not learning skills that are applicable to other workplaces… which is fine for now, but I don’t see where this is heading. Do I need to? I’m now 34, in a mid-level role, and to others probably look quite successful. But this type of job is not sustainable – not for the next 30 years until I retire.

So, as I embark on this pregnancy and having-kid journey, I also am trying to figure out how to set the foundation for a longer-term career change. I’m committed to this role for the next four years, and if I play my cards right this should give me time to build out my next life. The only question is – what is it?

Still unemployed… Still not sure WTF to do with my life.

The further away from my last day of work I get, the easier it is to romanticize the role in it’s high-paid, occasional feeling of mass victory glory. But then I remember just how miserable the job – the career – made me, and I’m desperate not to go back to it, despite the lure of a substantial amount of recruiters knocking on my doorstep, basically asking me to let history repeat itself yet again.

As I take this pause in my career to dissect what I like and dislike about my prior roles, I know that I find it very difficult to put 100% daily into a job where the majority of my waking hours are dedicated to trying to get people to buy software for their businesses that helps those businesses run more efficiently. I enjoy this in spurts — I do believe in efficiency and find it rewarding to help people stuck in old ways break free of traditional processes and technologies and move to better ways of doing things, especially if these better ways impact lots of people. It’s just at the end of the day (or even about 2 minutes after I wake up) I feel this heaviness of dread — knowing that there is so much more to be done to make the world better than improving business processes. Continue reading

Next Steps in This Unemployed Life + Starting on Zoloft

SSRIs are supposed to take many weeks to work, but I swear this very small dose is having more than a placebo effect on me. It’s helpful at the moment, given I was seriously depressed and now it’s like that spot of my brain is muted. It’s like it’s still there but I can’t access it… I’m not exactly happy either, but the deep sadness where I sit and cry all the tears out of my head also is gone. I guess I feel a bit numb emotionally. I don’t know if that’s a good thing long term, but short term a vacation from my emotions helps me focus on more rationally evaluating all the variables of my situation and hopefully makings some decisions that will positively impact the rest of my life.

I’ve found that obtaining interviews for specific types of roles is relatively easy, while getting considered for the roles I actually want is impossible. Funny enough the “easy” interviews are more senior roles. I don’t end up getting them, but I do get calls quickly as my experience seems relevant. I’m disappointed that all of the jobs I’m remotely qualified for are within the same 3 block radius in the city, which is that lovely 1.5-2 hr one-way commute from my home. I think that’s a bad idea – but I’m not sure long-term what else to do. Hubby and I discussed moving, but we really like our apartment, we like that it’s $2350/month with a washer+dryer and big living room and large bedroom and that it’s within walking distance from every major supermarket one would ever want to shop at. If we move to the city, to get anything remotely comparable it would be $3500, at least. We could move CLOSER to the city but that might put us further from public transportation, making the commute time about the same even though we’re closer..

I know that obtaining a job close to home is not the solution to all of my work problems. I HAD a job that was 20 minutes from my house and that didn’t go over well. I was still depressed, wasn’t confident in my responsibilities there, and would show up late because I dreaded going into the office. And, I’ve had good weeks in jobs that are far from my house, because I’m excited about the work and feel like I can do the job justice. So, location isn’t everything.

Still, given that I really want to focus the next year on having my first child — and the reality that I have to go to lots of doctor’s appointments for infertility treatment – I need to think about logistics. Right now my infertility clinic is actually IN the city — I’m planning to switch to one closer to my apartment (on their waiting list for early 2017) — I know I’m horrible at being consistent about anything but if I want kids (and I do want kids) I HAVE to focus on the infertility treatments, eating healthy, exercising, losing weight — this takes a lot of time and energy (and money), so thinking about having a 3-4 hour commute 5 days a week AND doing that AND knowing myself is something that doesn’t add up.

Are there jobs by my apartment? Well, there are large companies that aren’t far away. But they never call when I submit apps to them. They know better. They are looking for people who were really good at school – who are able to focus and study and work hard and who are ok doing the same thing over and over again even if the result of that work will never see the light of day. I do like small companies because I know the work I’m doing will be used and it will have an impact – and I like that no two days are the same. But I’d like to be able to work at a larger company — somehow. It would be good for my and my family’s future. And the commute situation. And small companies have PLENTY of cons/issues too.

I’m even struggling with my small freelance project at the moment. It’s a messaging exercise for a very young company. It’s not that it’s hard for me — I just find that either I’m in a state of mind where the creative juices are flowing and I can do work really fast (usually, unfortunately, at 3am) or I just can’t do work. It’s not like I’m writing the next great American novel, I still need to channel a certain kind of creativity that comes and goes to do the work. When I find it, I can be VERY productive. My clients seem happy with the work thus far – but I have to turn around the next rev of the assignment today and I’m currently blanking. I’m writing this blog hoping to quite my mind and get the writing juices flowing. Hoping it will help.

But this issue is a microcosm of what happens in a full-time job. At least with this project I am able to spend a huge chunk of time sitting at a cafe, writing a blog post to clear my mind, feeling the warm breezes and sun on my back. In a full-time job, you don’t have hours upon hours to take mental breaks… nor are you able to do your work at 3am and wake up at 9-10am.

All of this leads me to the very serious question of – why the fuck do I want to have kids? It may be biological, or that i’ve been conditioned to think kids are the most important thing in life. I don’t know. I know that if I don’t have kids, I’ll regret it. I also know all signs point to me being the type of person who should NOT have children. Kids aren’t a job you can quit or get fired from. If I can’t handle maintaining a job, eating healthy and exercising without any other responsibilities, how on earth can I add to that being a mother?

On the other hand, I’ve saved $500,000, and I am in a pretty good place in terms of being mentally grown up. In the world, lots of women become mothers when they are in significant debt — or when they’re still basically kids themselves. There’s nothing wrong with any of that either (if it works for them and it’s what they want), but there are some good things I have going for me on this journey to parenthood. And I have a husband who will be a great father and who loves children and who will gladly take over the childcare when I need a break, especially when the kids are young.

I don’t see us being able to stay in this area and have a family… maybe for a few years, but not long term. Right now, even if I manage to get pregnant by early 2017, I won’t have a child until end of 2017, a year from now. Then – while it’s not ideal – we can definitely stay in our 1 bedroom apartment for 1-2 years with one child. So – that’s at least 2-3 years when we can stay where we are. Maybe that’s 2-3 years of staying where we are and commuting 3 hours a day while having young kids — not sure how that works, but people do it. So maybe I have to do it. Maybe the missing ingredient has been SSRIs. Maybe this medication will do wonders and I’ll be able to wake up on time and calm down and get my work done and have a child and be a good mom. Hey, it’s wishful thinking, but perhaps it’s possible?

I do know I’m exhausted right now. I haven’t really adjusted back to the time zone after my trip and I’m not doing the best job of going to sleep at night or waking up in the morning. I can’t imagine being at an office right now! I am fine doing work, but I’m a hot mess.

Speaking of… I’m headed home to take a quick nap and hopefully find some energy to get this project done in the afternoon. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that if I had a full time job.

Rough Night, Writing to Keep the Tears Away

Why I put myself in these situations, I’ll never know. I thought a trip abroad with a good week and a few days on my own post travel with my husband and sister would be just what I needed… to relax a bit… stop thinking about work… stop thinking about how much of a failure I am and just be present in the moment.

Instead, this trip just reminds me how much of a failure I am. I haven’t died yet, so there’s that, but I feel so incredibly alone here. I know I have just 5 more days before I return home and they’ll go by and the trip will be over, but I want to figure out how to enjoy this. It’s proved challenging indeed. I struggled with my travel plans today… making it to an island on time in the morning but then not being able to ride the electric bike safely so instead taking a bus to an overpriced art exhibit that I didn’t know how to appreciate properly and getting over-heated on a long walk to my hostel that I stupidly booked without a clear plan for how to get to it (it WAS walkable, but not so much with my backpack in 90 degree heat) — I did it, but was feeling lightheaded the last 10 minutes of the walk and thought I might pass out and no one would find me.

I made it to the hostel… then went for a walk around the area which is quite remote and there was nothing to do. I saw a fairly nice view, then had a panic attack because there was an earthquake in the Philippines and I worried it would trigger a tsunami (spoiler alert: it didn’t.) I walked back to the hostel a different route and saw some more of the island but couldn’t enjoy it because I was worried I was getting myself lost. I wasn’t. I got back to the hostel… back to my room with six beds for five other woman/girls that’s completely empty right now (which I don’t mind that much) and into my bed where earlier I saw a centipede crawling next to me that may be venomous.

But the trip itself isn’t really that bad… it’s nice to see new places… to experience new things… and so far nothing major has gone wrong except my credit card being stolen and having to put a stop on some very strange expenses. What’s worse is knowing that no matter how long I put getting back to the real world, it’s still there, waiting for me, laughing at me, ready to slam into me like a wall of bricks. My job prospects are not looking that great… I’m rather unemployable right now and I don’t know where to start. I have no references from former employers, I have no experience outside of experience in what I’m not actually good at, and I’m  getting myself all sorts of depressed reading job ad after job ad that I know I can’t even get an interview for — the jobs I have gotten offers for in the past were all off somehow… they were clearly roles that no one else half way decent wanted… the roles themselves were impossible to succeed in, which is why I’m the perfect person to take them and try really hard to do amazing things which works for a while until I burn out and can’t maintain the level of work and then fail. Because I don’t know how to manage or delegate or organize or do anything that is required of anyone in a job. Even if I can get it together and do these things, who will say I can in a reference call?

I probably shouldn’t think about the job thing until October… with the exception of applying for some “stretch” jobs and hope that they’ll call me knowing they won’t. I can take three months to not worry about this… before worrying about it a lot. It’s hard to not think about it, though, knowing that I’m screwed. I mean, I can live off savings for a while (esp if I stop spending at my current “travel and splurge as if I’m getting a job in October” rate) but… this can’t last forever. I feel so ridiculously depressed and hopeless… I wonder why I even bother trying at this point.

What If I’m Not Good at Anything?

I’m not sure if it talents talent or natural ability to project manage and get shit done, but that seems to be one trait that can’t be learned (if you’re horrible at it) and the most important in any job. The few people who can get away with not being the most organized and being poor at communication are the rare idiot savants, those who are respected for their creative contributions despite other clear shortcomings.

We aren’t born to work, outside of hunting and gathering and building shelter so we don’t die, so all of these career tests and what you should be when you grow up aren’t telling the total truth — that we’re trying to identify some value-added contribution that we can do consistently well enough from post graduation through retirement. “Consistently well enough” isn’t an easy undertaking for anyone for 45 years. Continue reading

Every Business is the Same.

Unless you work for a non profit, you know the routine — business has one motive – to make a profit (eventually.) Business is a mathematical equation which pits the variables of humans against an improbable outcome measured by quarterly earnings and loss. What goes up must come down, despite the general theory of relativity not being related to business, it’s still quite relevant.

It doesn’t matter what product or service you sell, how much it cures a rare disease or makes the sky rain tar,  if you’re in business, you must decrease costs and sell, sell, sell, and compete against others who are your mortal enemies due to deciding to work for a company names X instead of Y, and you have to be so sure why you’re better and why you are the best (despite your products/services known shortcomings) and you all must drink so much of the kool-aid you get a stomach ache and end up in the hospital for gulping down too damn much of the saccharine, chemically-endowed beverage. Drink up. Continue reading

Day 3: Unfunemployment

Day 3. Told husband. He’s sad, but not surprised. He knows I’ve been struggling for a while (i.e. all my life.) The reality of the situation is sinking in. The “transition” period my boss mentioned is now clearly going to be two weeks at most, likely less. At least I have a few days to wrap up projects and try to leave on a positive note, vs the ‘ol being walked to my desk and out the door.

I regret how I handled being notified of my firing as I was not prepared in the moment and thus my reaction was shock more than anything. It was in some ways a release of accepting that I was in far over my head, or that my anxieties rapidly dug me into a hole too deep to every dig myself out of.

Looking back, I am trying to embrace this as a learning opportunity to determine where to go from here, and how to make sure I don’t fall flat on my face when I get there. In terms of my career, in 2010 I started doing some freelance work for a company that sold software to other businesses. Seven years later, I’ve worked for 4 businesses like this, and in each role have learned a bit more. I’ve never learned how to effectively build and lead teams, but I’ve learned a lot about my specific area of business, and what works and what doesn’t.

There’s still the very real issue of my poor interpersonal communications (and just overall people skills.) Had people in the organization liked me more personally, they might be more willing to forgive a few less-than-stellar moments. But I have no social skills and I don’t think this is going to change significantly enough to impact the outcome of my career.

As I meditated on life in a park yesterday in between doing probably too much work for the day I was told to not do any work, I thought about the people who I worked with over the last year and then immediately thought about my childhood — as a kid, I didn’t fit in with the kids who were highly political, smart, yet extremely competitive. I work with a clique which I clearly am not capable of being part of — a sorority of people who say they’re nice and accepting but really who want only other people like them on their team.

That’s not just this company – that’s most companies, especially small companies where people really do become this odd sort of family. I’m that odd duck cousin that no one really wants to invite to the holiday party but they do anyway to keep up appearances, and then everyone talks about me behind my back the second I walk out the door “isn’t she odd.”

I haven’t actually worked for a company where I felt like I fit in, with the exception of one which at times I felt connected with the team because they were a bit more quirky and open to weirdos like myself. The issues I have with interpersonal communication were still quite present, but the feel of the whole company was more open and accepting, so less of my energy was spent on failing to fit in.

I still have few ideas re: what’s next. I spoke with the head of a small agency who does some work for me and told her I’ll be leaving the company, and she offered to provide some consulting work to me if I was interested – which really meant a lot to me because I work with her often and she knows my talents and lack there of, and she didn’t have to offer. I might take her up on that and will at least explore the option of freelancing for a while.

I wanted to experience management and I have, and it’s not for everyone. Or, it may be for me at some point in the future, but in the mean time I want to really focus on being good at what I’m good at, and with that improve my communication skills versus trying to do this AND trying to figure out how to manage. It’s just too much at once. I’ve got plenty of time to be a manager in my career if I want to be, maybe in 20 years after my “kids” have grown up and moved out. So I’ll be 55 and then can be a manager. Or maybe it will happen sooner — or maybe it will never happen again. Freelancing can be quite lucrative as well… so that might be the right path.

No more shoving this square peg into perfectly round holes.

Day 2: Unfunemployment

I’m doing work, because that’s all I know how to do. I put together a transition plan for my boss that’s likely to get massively rejected, keeping me gainfully employed though mid June. I actually do have enough high-value work to stay employed until then, the question is whether she is willing to provide this long of a transition period. I’m getting the feeling that’s highly unlikely. I’m actually getting the feeling that she may say it’s best to conclude the relationship immediately. We’re oil and vinegar and she’s not in the mood to let me float.

I feel bad about not telling my husband yet, but he’s already worried about his job security and was just accepted into a teaching graduate program and I just don’t want to share the bad news when it isn’t necessary. He also is completing some work for the company and I don’t want him to feel awkward about finishing projects. As long as I get budget approved, then we can have a clean transition. He already knows I was planning to start looking for new roles in summer, so it’s not exactly a surprise.

I also, fortunately, have enough savings to get through a rough time without anyone knowing the better… though eventually I’ll have to tell him since we either have to go on COBRA or free market insurance (or I need a new job before this happens which is unlikely since I’m not in active interviews at this point.)

Continue reading

Rationalizing Depression and Hopelessness

There are plenty of days when life feels so incredibly overwhelming in its abstract and concrete abilities to suffocate the soul. Life is shit and beautiful all in the same blob of time, this conveyor belt with tall walls surrounding that we’re trapped on from birth until we part.

My life has become my job, and I’m not even any good at it. Regardless of what or what wasn’t told to my new boss during her interview process, she’s very quickly seeing that I can’t keep up – at least not at the level I’d need to be at for my title and compensation. She swooped in and minimized my role either hoping I’d quit or be productive enough to be worth keeping on, at least for now, and I’m trying but it’s all a big cluster.

Continue reading

Smile, Though Your Heart is Breaking: My Memoir

The older I get, the more visits with the parental unit become concrete episodes of psychological disorder ripe for analysis, versus emotional jabs to the heart. An obese, hot-tempered and narcissistic father dying from not one but two-types of cancer yet beating the odds thus far despite terminal illness, and a mother who has no ability to process emotion and who lives solely for capturing life in posed photographs where everyone looks happy, never mind how they actually feel.

When I hear of yet another occurrence of my father jabbing my mother with his cane or throwing her phone against the room, shattering its screen, or him calling her any number of degrading terms, I can’t help but blame the victim, or see them both as victims, as she has no ability to empathize with others, only to nag and focus solely on the illusion of happiness in moments captured on camera with no context to the disorder and discomfort underneath.

If I were to write a memoir, perhaps its title would be – Smile, though your heart is breaking. I had rationalized throughout my life that every family takes photos, that smiling and looking pretty in pictures was a normal part of life – which is it, if not to the extent of addiction to photographs without having the ability to live in the moment. The measure of the success of any life event or family outing could be measured in two ways — did my father not have an outburst, and did my mother capture photographs of everyone smiling at the camera with our eyes open and teeth showing just the right amount.

Yesterday, I had to stop my father from flinging across the room the $700 point-and-shoot camera I had purchased as a gift to my mother for the wedding. At dinner with my grandmother, sister and parents, my mother asked the waitress to take a photo on her phone, which inevitably didn’t come out that great because it was dark and the phone doesn’t take good pictures, so she asked the waitress to take another photo on the camera instead. This prompted my father to threaten to toss the camera across the room in a way where you knew he was serious. His mother luckily talked him down and the photo was taken by the waitress, albeit with my father purposely with the back of his head to camera.

Earlier in the day, a friend from childhood came over to visit. She was in town as the same time as I was by coincidence, but she actually had planned to see my parents at the time when she didn’t know I would be there. She came over and talked to us for a bit – time wise it was not ideal as we had to leave for dinner with my grandmother. We had to say goodbye and get going to be on time, but of course, my mother needed to take pictures of us smiling for the camera. My father nearly struck her with his cane, but company was present so he somewhat behaved himself. He took a swing as to threaten, but did not get near her.

I hear that this year when they were at their winter condo in Florida, with no one watching the moment, he struck her on the side. She knows that’s not ok, but at this point it’s just her life.

Mom complains about going to the hospital with my father for his surgeries, and shares that she is not looking forward to “taking care” of him if (when) his cancer gets worse. It breaks my heart that she can’t empathize or sympathize with her husband of all these years, of another human being who is dying of cancer and who has his best years behind him. But then I remember all the things my father has done to her, and I can’t blame her for her reaction – though it would be the same if he were a loving, kind man, she’d still only care about herself. She’d still complain about how the events are harming her life, not showing any modicum of care for another human life.

Smile, though your heart is aching. Smile, even though it’s breaking. — I see my family infrequently, and when I do, I always remember why I moved so far away. I wish I could have a close relationship with them, but that just isn’t in the cards…

I knew, getting out of the car, that my jeans had shifted too low and my shirt to high, and my stomach, plump with the roundness of a long winter’s depression and its related binge eating, was protruding in a non-flattering fashion. My father, of course, had to comment. “I am going to say it,” he said, and I knew what was coming. He paused, for a moment, clearly about to say I look fat but instead shifting the language to say “you should change before we go to grandma’s, she won’t appreciate how you are dressed.” I took a deep breath and said “I just need to pull my shirt down,” and left it at that. Years ago the comment would have been more direct towards my weight gain, but I think at this point since I have a husband he doesn’t bother me with that, only the inappropriateness of my clothing choices, despite having just traveled to visit them.

I know it could be worse – much, much worse. I’ve heard stories of friends who have parents who have done horrible things, or who just weren’t there at all. Parents who were divorced, who got remarried, who dated abusive men or women and alcoholics and drug addicts. Plenty of people are born into much worse situations – perhaps into loving families, but in areas of the world riddled with war. Few, in th history of time, come from healthy, stable families. Some do. And those who come from stable households often struggle with life when it gets rough unable to handle any imperfections. Perhaps in a way being hardened early is a blessing as life only gets more emotionally challenging over time, with the loss of loved ones built into not one the status quo, but the inevitable.

I’m trying to break free of all of this to find myself – before I have my own family. I have a wonderful husband who is everything to me. As I said to a friend the other day — one can be grateful and still miserable. Today, that’s me. Grateful, but broken. Appreciative, but empty. In awe all that I have, but have long forgotten what happiness feels like, my mental definition of the emotion locked in as a moment where I tilt my chin lightly downward, pull my shoulders back, open my mouth slightly with lips tilted upwards at the smile, and wait for the flash to capture the shell of a person who appears to be having a wonderful time.