Tag Archives: depression

I Was Put on a PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) and I’m Going to Beat It.

I thought the job situation was improving. Sure, I struggled a bit to meet a few deadlines, but I was getting on top of all of my projects. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’ve been let go from jobs numerous times, so my current pickle is not exactly surprising. Nonetheless, it’s pouring salt on a long-time festering wound that I’ve been trying to heel, and I’m equal parts upset about it and wanting to fix my problems and be a survivor at my company, at least for the next year.

Looking back on the last year–the year that was officially reviewed–it is easy to forget how in January of 2019 I had just come back from maternity leave and was still pumping 3x a day at work. I pushed out some of my maternity leave to take later in my son’s first year, so I actually was out 6 weeks in 2019 beyond my typical PTO. Nonetheless, none of this was mentioned in the review, in writing or otherwise. Instead, I got handed a “coaching plan” which is a nicely phrased version of a PIP which is a nicely phrased version of you’re going to be fired soon and we’re just covering our behinds.

Many of my friends have advised me that this is writing on the wall and there is no use to trying to address the issues in this plan… it’s far too late at this point to recover. I should be focused on finding a new job. Maybe they’re right. I could regret doubling down on my current role and trying to fix the issues noted in my PIP. So many are subjective, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever successfully “pass” it. But there are some changes organizationally happening on my team that might help (or hurt) and my gut tells me to give it my all, wait it out, and see what happens. I’ve accepted I’ll never get a promotion in my company, but I don’t need a promotion. I need to survive and collect the RSUs that are rightfully mine if I’m able to stay. It’s that simple. Just. Don’t. Get. Fired.

My boss SEEMS to want to help me, but I’ve learned long ago to trust no one. I mean, I trust that she’s going to do what is best for the company and her career. If I’m not what’s best for the company or her career, I’m out. The big question is–am I already out in her mind, or can I come back from the dead like one great big corporate zombie that everyone loves?

The whole thing makes me feel ill. It’s hard to sleep and concentrate, so that makes it extra challenging to recover from my issues in the office. I’ve reviewed my PIP multiple times and have come to the conclusion that the issue isn’t my missing deadlines or failing to collaborate effectively with others–it’s that I can’t actually do my job. It’s not the type of job one gets training in–you’re either good at it, or you’re not. And I’m, well, I’m good enough to get by in it if its not my primary responsibility, but it’s pretty clear I’m struggling with the fundamental requirements of the role.

BUT. But. I’m also thriving with parts of the role–I don’t want to toot my own horn (because it’s rusty and busted anyway) but I can’t think of anyone else who would be successful in this role. It’s not because any of my individual tasks/projects are so difficult that no one could do them… it’s that my job is so allllll over the place that it would be hard to find one person who can do all of these projects even remotely effectively. I wear many hats, which seems to work in my favor, until it doesn’t. The hats go flying and no one cares enough to catch them.

I’m in such an emotional roller coaster right now I’m trying my darnedest to hold it together. I need to. For my family. For our future. For my self worth. And because I really want to know–am I failing at this role because I’m not good at it OR is there something else going on. Can I be successful at it? I have some pretty specific marching orders. Even if “success” in these areas is as subjective as whether that dress is blue or gold, I can at least focus on trying to do what the plan says. I can meet deadlines by better project managing and getting people involved in these projects my earlier on. I’ve learned that I need to see myself as a project manager versus creative. I am not the expert here. I am the consolidator of expertise. This kind of goes against the next bullet in the PIP which is have a strong viewpoint about my work and believe in it–but I can do that without it being my viewpoint. Turning in quality work will be challenging because I always make stupid mistakes (I miss the details, thank you ADHD, and sometimes miss stupid things like when I used the word tantamount and meant paramount and the VP caught it and did I mention I’m an idiot?) Other than that, I just need to pay attention in meetings. Ok, I can do that.

Everything above seems simple. If I just show up at work early, leave late, make sure that I’m project managing vs creating then, well, maybe people will stop hating me so much? I don’t know if it’s possible as whenever I turn something in everyone has SO MUCH FEEDBACK on it and wants to change what I’ve written. I don’t disagree with their feedback, I just wonder why I can’t think of these things myself so I can deliver something they would actually like. That’s my real goal and I don’t think I can achieve that… which is why I know I’m long for this career in general. But if I can hold my breath and hang on for dear life for the next 2 years, it will be an incredibly bumpy ride, but also incredibly worth it. I hope I can.

Happiness.

Today, I went for a long-ish walk with my son. It took forever to get out of the apartment but we finally headed out around 10:30 and I walked to coffee, then a local dog park, then a children’s clothing store, and got back home around 1pm.

As I was walking home, despite having a headache due to my new diet, I was amazed by how happy I felt. I mean, happy as in, content. As in — half way between my two weeks off from work (office shutdown over the holidays), I actually feel relaxed and able to enjoy life. Fuck, it feels good.

It got me thinking–I really am tired of this Bay Area life (more on that in my next post re: housing costs and current status on that adventure.) But what the hell is the point? I do LOVE the Bay Area in terms of its climate, closeness to so many awesome places, various downtowns and things to do, etc etc, but at the end of the day, I just want to be able to have time to go for a long walk with my son when the sun is still out, or to spend time with him indoors if it’s too cold to do that.  Or a drive somewhere. Just have, you know, time.

Time to spend with my family. Time to exercise. Time to eat healthy. Time to BE healthy. Time to make new friends and nurture existing ones.

I’ll certainly miss our friends here but the reality is we see our friends so infrequently we could live on the moon and pay for a roundtrip back and forth to see our friends as much as we see them now and it would still be cheaper. Ok, not the moon, but like, Indiana. Or Pennsylvania. Or Guam.

Committing to a mortgage here, even if we move far as fuck away from my office to find something “affordable” (ie $5k a month) and turn me into a lifelong supercomputer so I can afford to pay that mortgage for 30 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that won’t make me happy at all. I want to sit in a house with a fire and a backyard and just be with my family. I haven’t really had time to spend with them. I’m exhausted when I get home from work, and just want to sleep on the weekends too.

I still want to make it two more years here, getting as much of my stock as possible. It won’t hurt to have more money in the bank if we do move elsewhere. I just don’t know how to convince my husband that we should do this (or heck, to convince myself we should do this.) There has to be a better way to live life.

I Just Locked In $2M of Term Life Insurance for $2600 per year

I guess I should be grateful that one agency decided to offer me a “standard” policy. Consider this your daily PSA kids–get term life insurance when you are young, healthy, and can qualify.

While healthcare has government regulations in place to assure you aren’t getting completely screwed over, life insurance has none of this. What this means that life insurance agencies can make you pay more for being “risky” or flat-out deny you, and they won’t even tell you WHY you were denied.

While I’m in the overweight (not obese) category, which makes me higher risk to start, that should not prevent me from getting approved for term life insurance. What prevents me from getting approved, shockingly, is my history of depression.  Apparently having a history of depression means that I’m uninsurable.

One agency offered me a quote at “standard” rates… and given I now understand how uninsurable I am, I’m taking them up on a 30 year $2M policy just to be safe for $2600 a year. I might be over insuring at this point, but I can always drop the policy down in the future if I no longer need that much coverage. I look at my son and think, god, what would happen if I get hit by a bus and my family is left without my income. I can’t leave them like that.

I do have a $300k policy through work, but that’s pocket change for what is really needed, and the likelihood of my working for the same company for the next 30 years (or one that offers similar benefits) is very slim to very none. So that’s a “bonus” should I get hit by a bus tomorrow, but we need a real policy to provide coverage in case I kick the bucket a little early.

$2600 a year seems like a lot (heck, it is a lot, especially since we’re now looking into getting my husband who is 37 with medication-treated chronic high blood pressure his own policy, plus a disability policy since as a self-employed person he does not qualify for government coverage should he get insured or sick and not be able to work. I’m expecting our total insurance coverage to cost us around $8k a year, which is shit, but it is what it is.  Better safe than sorry, I guess.

It’s just so frustrating with life insurance that they can charge me whatever they want and not explain why I’m getting charged this. I wish I was approved by more than one company so I’d have options to compare, but my broker reached out to many companies and only one provided a quote (well apparently another table rated me and he said the quote was so high he didn’t bother sharing it with me.) I should be happy to have a “standard” quote. I hope this agency didn’t somehow miss something in my medical history that will disqualify me later, but they all saw the same information and bloodwork results…

It sounds like after two years of paying premiums it’s harder for them to refuse to pay out if you get hit by a bus… which means if I die in the next two years by getting hit by a bus, they’ll probably accuse me of walking into said bus (even if I’m standing on the sidewalk minding my own business and the bus hits me.) That really sucks, because for the next two years I’m paying for coverage but I’m not really covered at all. After that, I’ll be covered, I just have to come up with the $2600 a year to pay for insurance.

So I’m semi kicking myself for not applying for insurance before I got pregnant, but I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made… a 30 year policy would have lasted 2 years less at that point, and I still had depression on my medical record, just not PPD yet (and my short disability leave due to it.) I’m unclear if the reason these companies denied me was my PPD, or if it was my record of “major depression” or my not taking medication or what. It’s crazy they don’t have to explain why they won’t give you a policy, they can just deny you and that’s that.

And, am I really that much more likely to die in the next 30 years because I’m depressed and going to therapy? You’d think the many people out there who are depressed but not willing to admit it and who are NOT going to therapy are more likely to end up dead than someone who is being treated.

If they actuarially think I’m such a high risk that they won’t insure me at all–that it isn’t even worth taking some ridiculously high premiums to insure me–then should I be concerned? I mean, am I going to die in the next 30 years because I’m depressed? I’d prefer not to.

 

The Things that Matter: American Workaholism and Being a Mom

It’s 5am and I am exhausted but can’t get back to sleep after my son woke up screaming for milk a few hours ago. He didn’t actually drink that much. My breasts are still engorged and I’m too tired/lazy to pump. I’m supposed to “wake up” for work in an hour, to make myself presentable for an 8am meeting. I’m not doing the best job of being presentable given I’m so exhausted and no amount of coffee will help.

But my exhaustion isn’t just due to being woken up in the middle of the night. It’s the hopeless exhaustion of now being in the midst of the roller coaster of life, with time both going too fast and too slow, and memories of long gone childhood reminding me that life wasn’t always like this–always so formulaic in its requirements for supporting basic sustainability of existence.

My fear to pay more in rent a month isn’t helping. My fear of running out of money, or, more so, of getting to the point where I have a nervous breakdown and do not go into work one day because I can no longer stand the majority of my waking hours being dedicated to trying to get people to buy a product that–very successfully–helps companies reduce their workforce (though that’s not its primary purpose, but like most tech for business these days, it’s one of its benefits.) Oh, it’s a great product and it’s exciting to be part of a company that’s growing and a team that is not in it to change the world despite also building products that reduce headcount (the idealism of startups was nice for a while, but it also feels good to be part of a team that doesn’t entirely live and breathe work 24/7.) But, at the end of the day, always the very long yet never long enough day, I sit in traffic on the freeway for 45 minutes with all the other commuters headed home and talk to my 6 month old son on the phone who is crying and anxious for mom (well, for mom’s chest anyway) and who doesn’t care that I’m sitting in traffic or that I have to go to work to make enough money to try to save so maybe one day we can buy a house and go on vacations and such.

The reality is that my situation is so much better than 99% of the world, maybe even 99.9% of the world, and I’m still, well, not happy. I don’t know if I have the capacity for sustained happiness, given it’s me we’re talking about, but I’d like to not constantly live in fear. I acknowledge that buying a house with monthly mortgage payments will heighten my anxiety immensely. If we can make it work to buy a property with my MIL and FIL, and keep our monthly payments closer to what we’re paying now (or at least what we’d pay in rent for a decent 3br/2ba apartment), then maybe that’s ok. But then there’s all the other issues that come up with home ownership. It’s terrifying.

But then I’m also sitting here, 35 going on 40, realizing that there is no “when” at this point in life. I’m past the stage of saving and waiting. It’s now or never. I have a kid. I have a job that is as stable as my work will probably ever be. I have a husband who may return to school to make even less than he does now, but at least he’ll get benefits in case I should lose said job. Why not just take the leap? Have some stability for once? I’d like to give that to my kid. He won’t remember his first year of life, but I’d prefer not to jump around from rental to rental throughout his life. I know it’s not the end of the world, but I grew up in one home from 0-17 and although moving once or twice in that timeframe is ok, moving every year or every other year is best to be avoided. I want to meet my neighbors, I want to feel like we’ve “made it” by having our own backyard, however small it is. Our own kitchen and bathroom and walls and tiny storage area so my bike doesn’t have to live in our living room.

I’m tired. I’m tired and unhealthy and I know my body is upset for it. I feel myself aging too fast. I’m not finding time to work out and my diet has gone to complete shit. There’s so much I want to improve, but for now, I’m barely getting by.

I do not want to lose my job.

I’m already feeling incredibly guilty for taking a small amount of additional time on disability for PPD, and am ashamed to face my colleagues when I return to work, especially knowing that I will be taking additional (legally-protected) leave in the next year to spend time with my kid. I hate, hate, have being THAT woman and would not blame my employer for figuring out the fastest way to show me the door.

I’m hoping that won’t happen. I don’t pray, but I’m praying that won’t happen. I just can see how they’re understanding how they can operate perfectly well without me, and they would rather replace me with someone else–or any mistake I make will be a quick reason to show me the door. I feel bad for becoming a mother and worse for not adjusting well to motherhood.

When I return to work, I really need to bring my A-game, from day one, through day a billion. I always try to do this, of course, but now I have to fight hard and strong to keep this job. I don’t deserve it, I am not good at it, and I have to try hard to do whatever it takes to be a good employee. I don’t know how to do this, because I’m socially awkward, unintelligent, and a complete fraud. But I’ll try. I’ll try and I’ll stop telling my husband I’m going to get fired because it makes him upset and he says I need to stop telling myself this because I self sabotage.

How can I keep this job? Like, really keep it. For at least three more years. Twelve more quarters. Thirty-six more months… 1095 more days…of amazing, irreplaceable-quality work.  Non stop. Full energy. Listening to my coworkers and doing whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals. Helping my boss who already looks great look even better. Being a team player. Never asking for anything other than the opportunity to do what’s right for the team and company. Maybe, maybe I can keep this job those 1095 days.

It’s a whole new ballgame now, being a mom. I’m terrified. I feel very alone in this journey and need to figure out how to just make it work, on my own. I wish I was smarter… higher IQ… or at least better at faking it. I’m so scared right now. It’s like I’m hanging onto a cliff with one hand with hurricane force winds swirling around me and gravity times a thousand puling me down. I’m holding on for dear life. I want to somehow minimize my interaction with others… I’ve been far to personally invested in my work projects. I get too emotional. I care too much. That’s the problem. I need to care less and do more.

There has to be a way.

Another Rough Week – Thinking About the Future

Day 9029230952 where I have at least one mental breakdown in a bathroom stall at work. One project I thought was nearly finished (and got approved by a very senior person) and then theohead of my department looked at it and requested a pretty significant change that requires a ton of extra work and budget and may not even be possible.

It didn’t help that I have been sick for the last few days and the head of my department keeps telling me to take care of myself and work from home, and then a few moments before a senior lead in HR, who apparently heard I was sick, told me I should go home — and, I didn’t want to say “but if I am working from home then I know I’ll have less of a case to make to take time off after I have a baby because our unlimited vacation policy is confusing and I just feel like I have to be at work and show my face in order to have any chance of ever seeing my kid once my leave is up” and I just, well, I was a mess today, breaking into sobs about once an hour, and trying to make it look like the red eyes were only due to my cold and nothing more. Continue reading Another Rough Week – Thinking About the Future

My Messed Up Maternity Leave Plan That Makes No Sense

The good news, is I get some paid maternity leave. That’s more than most women in this country can bank on. I’m extremely fortunate that my company has to follow the laws of the land (in this case, California) to provide 4 weeks of “before due date” and 6 weeks of “after delivery” protected leave with some pay (via state disability, and the case of my company, a few weeks fully paid.)

Now, the good news is that I get ANOTHER 6 weeks of semi-paid leave after the first 6 weeks of disability. The bad news is, I’m not allowed to take it until I hit my one year mark on the job — which means I’ll have anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months (1, if I give birth on my due date) in between leave #1 and leave #2. I thought maybe they’d allow me to take a week or two unpaid, so I could be home 8 weeks with newborn, but no dice. Basically, they are strict about these policies. Since we have an “unlimited time off” policy I’m, ironically, not allowed to take any time off (vacation OR unpaid) after I get back from my 6 weeks. That seems kind of f’d, esp the whole not being allowed to take UNPAID time, but that’s the law – and my company is not going to go out of their way to provide anything beyond the law, esp to someone who is so new. I can’t blame them, but it still sucks. Continue reading My Messed Up Maternity Leave Plan That Makes No Sense

A Happy Post, For a Change: Hello Second Trimester

I sat on the floor early this morning and did something I haven’t done — felt something I haven’t felt — for a long time. I sat and cried. The crying part isn’t the usual part. It’s that those tears streaming down my face were happy tears.

I triple checked out of disbelief — was I also thinking of the best way to remove myself rom this universe? Did I have negative, self-defeating thoughts causing the tears that I somehow wasn’t detecting? No, I was crying because – baby. Because tomorrow, depending on who you ask, I’m either entering the last week of my first trimester or the first week of my second trimester (I’ll be 13 weeks pregnant.) And, my prenatal defect ultrasound was yesterday and everything went great — baby is healthy, so far as they can tell in the things they tested for, and spending its time upside down sleeping until you wake it up and then, in true related-to-me fashion, bouncing all over the place the second you wake it up. Continue reading A Happy Post, For a Change: Hello Second Trimester

Nothing Lasts Forever

My last boss (the one who fired me) — who joined the company after I was there for about a year and a few months — has apparently left after an even shorter tenure than the one I managed to maintain prior to getting the axe. I have no idea why she left — I can only guess, and I have plenty of guesses–but why she left doesn’t matter. The fact that she left less than a year after firing me means that clearly I wasn’t the problem. Or the only problem.

Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m trying very hard to view my job as just a job. I mean, it is. My job is to help my company make more money. And, if I do this, even indirectly, I likely can keep my job. We’re not curing cancer. So I try–incredibly, ridiculously hard–to care, but not care like that. Continue reading Nothing Lasts Forever

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