Tag Archives: depression

The Ups and Downs of Life En Route to 38.

It is strange living life with so much instability mentally.  When I was young I would tell myself that as misfit as I am, at least I knew I could be true to myself. That authenticity was so core to my identity that I never questioned if I was I was feeling or thinking was “real.” Or if it was something that would change over time. The very essence of who I am and what I care about, the impulses and objectives and all that… wasn’t that… who I am? 

Instead, over the years I’ve learned I’m a bit more complicated than that. I once cherished art and aesthetics. Now I think investment into such is meaningless, though appreciate any happiness or positive feeling that comes along with it. One example. But also my undiagnosed bipolar is not fun to accept. Not to embrace. But to rein in. To close out mistakes, despite that ink blotch dried into the fabric of life and not budging with any advanced cleaning technique. So there it is. But I don’t have to look at it. Though I do. To remember not to make any more stains. It’s important. Imperative, really.

Focusing on money is also tiring, but necessary. Eventually, I’ll be past that, I guess. When I have “enough.” Five million. So it seems. Then, I can move on from it. Have it, but not obsess over it. Though then I need a new obsession. Then my kids will be grown, probably. Unless I can get there before they hit puberty. That would be ideal. Taking my teenagers on world trips without worrying about my future. Knowing I can pay for my mother’s care in old age. All the things. I flew my sister out to visit because she doesn’t have any money and I like spending time with her (even though she constantly complains about it) and she’s the only family I have. Well, that’s $400 for a flight plus food while she’s here, and activities to keep her busy and not complaining that she would have rather used the days off to do something else. But she seemed happy to see her nephews.

Ink blotches messing with me though. So many I can ignore but had to go make a stain front and center. Why. Why let mania be so self destructive? All things considered, stain isn’t that bad, I guess. Just, embarrassing. So many other stains I just push aside. Never talk to people again, you know? A few words spilled make little difference if one can move on from the situation and try to learn from it. Except. Well, fuck. I was in such a bad place. Maybe it’s ok. I’m sick to my stomach and don’t remember the things I said. Just the gist of it. All the money in the world can’t fix that. Maybe it can fix me from any more stains in the future. Any more shouldn’t have said that or thought that. I’m sorry. Can I say that? Did I say that? Does it matter? Well. I am. And appreciative. For not saying any more. For words disappearing. For being so adult about everything. Damn mature. I’m learning. I’m old now. So I guess I need to learn. But it is chemical. I think. I don’t know.  I went crazy then. I held it together, mostly. It all could have been a lot worse. But still kicking myself. Feel like I ruined one of the best things I had. Even though I didn’t. Did I. Unclear. Just because of words. Words words words. So long ago now. What happens to time. Time happens to it.

There is an emptiness, though. Unrelatedly. It’s this hole etched in me. This longing for connection. In mania, it seems possibly to fill, like this electric current running through me. In depression, it’s just there, infinitely hollow. I just want someone to see me. That can’t be bought. I made a few people laugh this week so that felt good. My typical humor. Inappropriate. Unexpected. Sarcastic. I like that. For a moment there’s a connection. With anyone who gets it. I’d pay for a companion like that. That would be safe. Just pay someone to go to dinner or drinks or whatever and we would look into each other’s eyes and talk about things and there would be serious and not-so-serious moments and we would just be there, connecting. “We” isn’t actually any one person and it’s not a romantic thing it’s like friendship but up a notch I guess if that’s a thing, I don’t think it’s allowed to be a thing, but I’m hungry for that kind of connection, whatever it is, I don’t know what to call it. I feel lonely otherwise. Though that’s my own fault.

I’m not drinking much anymore anyway. The worst of me is drunk me. So I’ve stopped that. I drink, but slowly and deliberately and with awareness. A glass of wine or two. If I am feeling off mentally for the day I just won’t drink. Not one sip. It’s not worth it. I’m holding myself accountable for myself. I’m holding myself together. Barely. But if I can convince everyone else I’ve got it all superglued tight I guess that’s the best victory I can ask for.

So I did a probably very stupid thing and asked for my performance review to be changed.

I don’t know why I do things that will cause more harm than good, but at this point I know I’m mere days or maybe months away from getting fired and if I can’t remind those in charge about my positive contributions to the organization I really ought to have more than just one foot out the door at the moment.

I fee like absolute shit. Because even though my role has changed, I face the same challenges that had me failing in the last one. Only this time I interact with slightly less people so maybe that’s the point. Keep me in a bubble where I can do what I do best and try to limit any opportunity for growth or engaging with others in the org. It just feels like I’m being pushed out slowly. Maybe that’s the natural method in big companies. I’m used to small ones. They can’t take away my comp outside of firing me, and they can’t fire me without risking legal issues at the moment given I’m fresh off maternity leave, so they just send me ALL the signals and wait… either I take the hint or I wait until a major fuck up or next performance review season (whichever comes first) then I’m out.

I know I ought to just stay quiet and try to be invisible. That’s the smart thing to do. What I did has no real positive outcome, other than letting the big boss know about what I’ve done that’s actually good, since I’m guessing all he saw was that I got a low score and that I’m causing problems on the team and that I probably should be fired ASAP. So my message was more — hey, I agree I’m not a leader, I agree I suck at communication, I agree I’m pretty shitty in a lot of ways, but also here’s a quick list of all the good stuff I’ve done nonetheless. I don’t know. It was probably remarkably dumb like everything dumb I do so maybe not so remarkable for me. Just, typical. I’m sure my former boss is pissed and annoyed, and her side of the story would be she’s not changing the score and she’s going to fire me as soon HR will let her. I’m hoping that’s not until the end of the year if I just get shit done on time and try to communicate to the best of my ability which is never good enough.

Yea this was a dumb move. Maybe. It’s my second bad review in a row so it’s not like I have anything to stand on. She’s probably wishing she fired me last year. I get it. She probably should have. I’m grateful that she didn’t.

I don’t really feel so motivated by this review, though. More hopeless. What do I do to improve? I don’t know. A lobotomy? Perhaps. My general strategy is to stay silent but I seem to be horrible at that. The lobotomy sounds like a good idea. Perhaps complete excising of the brain. What a useless pile of mush.

I don’t yet regret sending this email, but I do regret what led up to getting the bad review. I regret that I’m incapable of consistency even though I’m capable of occasional spurts of fucking awesome work. Which doesn’t matter. People want reliability not sometimes exceptionally awesome. So. Here we go again. Down the drain spinning spinning spinning.

Did I just accelerate this flush? I guess I’ll find out soon.

What a horrible performance review…

Not that I was surprised by a word of it… given my demotion was already announced… but seeing that I scored “below expectations” hurt. I wish my work was ALL below expectations because then it would feel better deserved… like, if they though all of my work was a solid 2 of 5, how could I feel bad about getting that score? I’d feel bad that I suck at my job, but not saddened by the score itself.

What made the review hurt so much is the callouts of the good work I did in the year. Yes, the same year I worked from home in a pandemic while pregnant with a 2 year old screaming because we couldn’t have my father-in-law come over for childcare and we couldn’t risk putting my son in daycare since both my husband and I would probably die if we got COVID. Yes, that year.

Had I been a perfect employee before this year then I guess I’d have some sort of case — but let’s get real. I was on a PIP last year that I managed to work my way out of, but then things went downhill fast. And my boss reminded me that I’m not a leader and will never be a leader. While she’s not my direct boss now (I’m layered into her at this point) she is clearly not interested in interacting with me and will do so only when absolutely necessary for a project. I don’t blame her for it. I’m a frustrating person to work with. I know she really wants to fire me, but my guess is that between having just come back from leave that HR convinced her to give me a few more months and a role with less responsibility (sort of) so it would be easier to let me go next year should I get another horrible review.

It doesn’t really matter at this point — I know I can’t stay. They don’t want me to stay. My compensation is fine, it’s more that they know what they’re doing in providing raises and stock refreshes $0 of anything is all I need to know. And they are doing me a huge favor keeping me employed this year (as long as I do my work) so I can transition out without getting fired, as long as I don’t wait too long to do so. Though I really don’t have any references I can put down for a new job… which means… I can’t get a new job. Like, ever? Maybe someone will just be impressed by my background and not want to talk to my former bosses? I’m pretty screwed. I can’t leave. I can’t stay.

All I can do is try to do good work this year. I don’t know how I get a new job. I honestly don’t think I can.

My new boss and I have a weird relationship. He’s really great at functioning in this corporate environment. I’m learning from him how to do that better. But I’ll never be him. I don’t fit here. I don’t know where I fit or what I should do next. My new role supposedly has me focused on some of the things I do best but it’s pretty clear my management skills and communication skills are not going to cut it. Every meeting I’m in and running I just feel like an idiot. I’m trying really hard to not talk much and help make sure everyone else gets to talk, but then I am not running the meeting effectively by moving things along and ensuring that we aren’t wasting the whole meeting listening to a few people share their ideas.

I’m just frustrated. Because I don’t know how to be better. I’m trying and maybe they’ll see slight improvements and that’s enough to get me to the end of the year and another 2 on my next performance review… 3 if I make absolutely no mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I already have. I need a fresh start. New job. People I’ve never worked with before. And then I need to figure out how to fake another personality. Which is never sustainable. But I need to throw out my typical joking self and just come across as serious and as a dependable worker. Somehow. I don’t want to leave this role and move to my next one until I’m ready for that.

It’s pretty bad now, though. I am fighting tears in every one-on-one. I asked my boss for feedback on my meeting today and told him I know I’m not good at meetings but I’m trying to get better. Thank god I’m working remote because I can kind of hide the tears. I don’t really want another job because I don’t want anyone else to take a chance on me and then be disappointed. At least now they know what they’re getting and they can kick me out at any moment. In a way that makes me feel better, because if I still have a job at least I know they feel my work is worth what I’m being paid based on that “below expectations” performer that I am with occasional good work. I mean, I’m not aiming for that. I’m TRYING to do good work. But I’m not a good employee. And that’s on me. But I’ve been demoted to a role requiring leadership again when I’m a horrible leader and will never be a leader, though I guess my boss now is the buffer between me and the leadership team, which means I’m not quite a leader, or – I don’t know. I’m an overpaid project manager? Anyway, 7 more months and then I guess I need to figure out what’s next.

All I know is I’m really fucking sad. I’m trying to stop caring and just do the work and do everything my boss is asking me to do. I’m hoping that’s enough. I’ll take another 2. But at this rate next year I’ll get a 1.

I’m Not Sure I Can Last 7 Months Here

On one hand, my situation is quite good. I can work from home for now. I have a handful of high-visibility projects, but the amount of time I spent on them is limited since I manage outside consultants who do the work and then I manage review cycles and such, but I’m not actually doing a lot of hands-on work anymore. I theoretically have time to eat healthy and exercise, but I can’t motivate myself to do much of anything because I’m constantly stressed about all the things that aren’t moving forward fast enough, that are running into walls, that I see are going to crash and burn and I can’t do anything about it.

I came back from maternity leave and was thrown a project that I did not have enough time to complete. It should have been started before I got back, but that’s not how my team rolls. So I got back and had to quickly navigate a bunch of issues before I could even get started on the work. Just a week of getting my head on straight and I was already far behind. Now I’m up against the wire, lacking budget, and I don’t see how to get from where we are now to where we need to be. This is the first time I felt like there is a low probability this project will be done on time. And because it’s for a time-sensitive thing, I can’t NOT get it done on time.

I’m incredibly depressed right now. I’m still struggling with some weird health issues. My headache has largely subsided but my heart feels like it’s struggling to beat. While it certainly sounds like anxiety, I don’t it’s all that. My chest is spasming and has a motor sensation that comes and goes. I’m being run through a bunch of tests at the doctor but who has time for all the tests and I’m not sure my doctors really believe me. Last night I felt so weak and heavy, and my face started to tingle and it was just not good. But I don’t have time to focus on my health, I have to make work work.

I go back and forth between considering leaving this job. I’d want to find a new job before I leave, if possible. I do have time to be doing virtual interviews. But any new job will be stressful even if it’s a good job. I don’t think I’m in the best space right now to start something new. At least my company knows me and for better or worse they’re keeping me for now. I just want to get to the end of the year and then I can seriously start considering leaving. It’s a huge amount of money on the line. It would be absolutely ridiculous to leave.

But I’m feeling more and more like, beyond this company, I can’t sustain being the breadwinner here with our $7k a month mortgage and needing more money to fix this old house. I dream of moving somewhere else, where we can afford a nice house with a nice private yard in a good neighborhood with good schools, where I don’t have to be so stressed all the time. I mean, even a lower-paid job could be stressful so who knows. But I don’t think I can do this for 29 more years. I’m really just struggling with my health. And that’s with me working from home and not having a whole lot of work to do. But the stress is bad for my heart that seems to be having issues. The EKG found something possibly irregular so we’re doing another test to find out more. Of course I have a 4 month old and I’m not sleeping enough. But even when I get a pretty good night of sleep, I still feel like shit.

If the headaches and heart palpitations and heavy numb tingling feeling and throat swelling sensation are ALL caused by stress then that’s reason enough to leave this job. Isn’t it. Or do I just hold my breath still and wait. It’s just 7 months. That’s nothing. But at this point I don’t know if I’ll be alive at the end of it. And that’s wouldn’t be a death by choice.

I Need a Career Change.

There are a handful of things I like about my career:

  1. It pays well.
  2. It pays well.
  3. It pays well.
  4. Oh, and sometimes I get to learn new things and talk to people who are interesting who are not in my field.

I really need a career change. I have no idea if other careers would be better, but I’m done with his soul sucking, mind numbing, logic-lacking field. I am overwhelmingly sad about failing to have any sort of direction in my life, ever. What if? What if? What if?

The question now is — is is too late? People say it’s never too late. Well, surely it isn’t, if money isn’t any issue. And if you have the type of brain that absorbs information vs gets distracted every second. Like mine.

I’m trying to learn math now. It’s very hard for me. I’m taking the classes on Brilliant.org. I don’t know where it will lead me, but it seems any job where logic is respected requires advanced math knowledge. I don’t see getting a formal education in anything making sense. That requires references. Hah. Asking people to recommend me. No. Not going to happen. But I have a dream to take the GRE and get a perfect score in math. I just want to be good at math. I don’t know if I can be. I find it fascinating. Compound interest is sexy, you know? So. Maybe there’s something to that. Or not.

I have no patience. So I’m not a good employee. I’m a visionary sort of, but a lazy one. Maybe I could figure out math which would lead to something else analytics related. If my mind could calm down for one damn second long enough to grasp concepts and build on them (ok that would take longer than one damn second but you know.)

SHUT UP BRAIN.

I am tired. I am really depressed. I’m over everything. I don’t want to go back to work. I dread it. I am excited to hold my breath and try to earn the remainder of my stock. But I need a plan. A direction. Something. I like to solve problems. That I know. Am I good at solving problems? Well, no. But I enjoy it when I do. So. Now what?

Deep Down I’m Happy, I Just Want More Than This Provincial Life

Belle’s plight to seek out something more than an average life always spoke to me since the first day I saw Beauty and the Beast at the movies in second or third grade. It’s easy to get caught up in my mood swings, especially the ones that swing be down into depression, but everything in my life is pretty darn good. Even if I lose my job (again), things are ok. I’ve managed, in the last 10 years (and getting fired 3 times) to go from $50,000 in net worth to $1.5M in net worth. I’ve had two healthy kids. I bought a house in a very HCOL area and convinced a bank I’m worthy of a $1.2M mortgage. I convinced a man to spend the rest of his life with me in wedded bliss.  I haven’t jumped off a bridge or overdosed on any number of pill combinations despite that occasionally seeming like a practical solution to the impractical problem that is me and all the things I do or don’t do on a daily basis.

Things are pretty damn good, aren’t they?

It’s ok that things are hard. What isn’t ok is that I’m the type of person who will only be satisfied if I’m doing something meaningful in life–beyond raising two happy, healthy kids and buying a house and having a husband. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but I’m on my way to figuring it out. It’s tough because I don’t deserve to be successful or unique or to do anything great–but then again, who the hell does? Maybe someone born clearly brilliant, with a ridiculously high IQ. But there are plenty of other people doing great things who weren’t born any different than I was. They may have had parents who taught them it’s ok to take risks and fail, who instilled in them a growth mindset, or somehow learned to go against everything they’ve been taught to take risks and believe in themselves–but other than that–how different are we really?

I spent a good chunk of last night, in between breastfeeding and half sleeping, watching YouTube videos about Adult ADHD. If you know me (or heck, if you read my blog likely) it’s pretty clear that if Adult ADHD exists, I have it. Out of leftover FSA money one year I did a neuropsychological screening and was told I do not have ADHD, but do have severe deficiency in short-term memory, anxiety, and depression. However, had I gone to an ADHD expert for said screening (I did not) I would have undoubtedly been told I do have it. The test used by the neuropsychologist to determine if I have ADHD, the click test, is far from considered an acceptable method of diagnosis by the scientific community, and yet for the last few years I’ve been walking around convinced I don’t have ADHD due to this test and my neuropsychological profile. Yet even the finding that my short-term memory is severely impaired is a symptom of ADHD. Alas.

I also feel like I ought to do something creative in life as people with ADHD tend to do better when working in creative settings and that’s what I went to school to study and that’s what I always though I’d do, but then didn’t, because I was too scared to take such a risk when I knew nothing beyond wanting to not be deemed a failure by my parents, especially my dad. Failure was asking for help–any help–once I graduated college. I was lucky to have my very expensive (too expensive in hindsight) college paid for by my parents, and they never fought me on my degree in the arts despite having no clarity into what a career in the specific field I majored in would look like, or how little of a propensity I had for its technical requirements. But once my final graduation photo was snapped, I was on my own. I had no college loans, but I still had to pay the rent. And then I figured out that having money was better than not having money, and having a lot of money was better than having a little bit of money, so that even with my non-frugal habits I could still manage to survive without asking anyone for help.

Since my creative dreams weren’t fleshed out anyway, they were tossed to the sidelines and my only mission at hand was to not run out of money. My “career dreams” were non existent. Which is ok. Lots of people work to work. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’ve done that. In smaller companies, at the least, I felt like there was this energy of doing the impossible that I was familiar with from my creative pursuits. Sure, everyone wanted to get rich–but we knew it was a long shot. We enjoyed building something new together. At least that felt a bit more home to me, despite not being right. Had I founded the company–maybe then it would feel right, but inevitably with a thick-headed CEO who thought they knew everything (and clearly didn’t) I ended up, along with my colleagues, becoming frustrated watching our collective dreams turn into a company worth less than investors poured into it.

But in a big company, where money flows into bigger salaries and stock packages, especially for those considered rockstars, there is a clear focus on work for work’s sake. I sit back–fall back–and watch those around me operate flawlessly, with the energy of a doctor saving the life of a newborn child, to promote a product designed to help automate processes and save costs by removing human labor (amongst other useful but equally dystopian value props.) As I’ve managed to double my net worth in the last hand change of years, many others who, pre-covid, sit alongside me, are off on a rocketship straight to the .01%. And those fresh out of college, lucky with a relatively small grant that has turned a small amount into a large amount, are not set for life, but on the path to far greater wealth than I’ll likely ever see. These people work hard as hell (or fake it well enough that even intuitive I can’t tell the difference.) They send perfectly-scripted email notifications that thank everyone who contributed to a project while, barely reading between the lines, self-promoting their own work. These people talk the talk so well, from using all the business jargon without a hint of irony, to making everything sound so damn important. There’s humor as well, but a certain type of humor that is not dark or witty or particularly funny. It’s careful and redundant, and yet everyone laughs anyway because that’s what you do. Those who can’t do humor tend to avoid it until their boss tells them to throw a joke in their next speech, and we continue to laugh.

I’d rather get to the point, I guess.

What is the point? My point. My point is that I don’t fit in this world. I like making money. Clearly. It’s pretty incredible. Necessary, of course. How else does one pay off a $7k a month mortgage? Even if it’s $5k a month now with my FIL paying $2k a month in rent–in a few years it will be all us. Can we really afford this? I guess so. Eventually $7k a month will seem reasonable… maybe. Going rent for a house here was around $5k, so in some odd years it will catch up. But then there’s the cost of keeping the house functional. So many things have popped up. I’m now budgeting about $2k a month for house stuff. Some of it is must have, some nice-to-have, and maybe eventually we’ll be able to bring that down to a lower amount. This doesn’t include utilities and such, but everything else that goes into owning a house. It’s not cheap.

The house does kind of lock me into this high-earning lifestyle, even if I’m unable to get a job ever again that’s quite as high earning (likely.) That’s why this year is so damn important. It’s crazy that every 3 month I can make about $200k ($100k after tax) on top of my salary and such. I’m basically making 4 years of normal income in one year, which doesn’t make it possible to quit corporate America and spend my waking non-parenting hours on passion projects, but it’s a start. It has me questioning–from the moment I wake up the instant I drift off to dreamland–what the fuck is next? Do I seek another rocketship? Do I learn how to play the game better next time (and maybe not admit to my boss, in a momentary lapse of judgment due to the sleepless nights of being a new mom, that I’ve been fired numerous times in the past and that I think I’m overpaid — oops) and see whatever’s next as another step towards freedom to do something meaningful, whatever that is? I won’t see a stock package like this again unless I manage to obtain a very senior role which is a bad idea for numerous reasons even if I could do that–but staying in my current company won’t ever see this kind of income again either (I’m not getting stock refreshes since they don’t actually want me to stay–it’s clear I’m going to be leaving by choice or by force at some point and this time I prefer to do this by choice, I think, though a few months of unemployment and COBRA may be just what I need next year–but I don’t think I can handle the mental toll of losing yet another job. I should leave on my own, with my head held as high as I can hold it, weak neck and all.)

But–where was I? I guess, I feel like maybe if I lean into this ADHD thing and try strategies that work for other HSP with ADHD then… maybe I can find something that works for a bit longer than 3 months > crashing and burning in whatever new job I take on. Maybe it’s finding a different yet still decently-paid career. In order to afford this house, this $84k a year of mortgage/taxes/insurance, we need to make $300k a year (if you go with the 28% rule.) My husband makes $100k at the moment (though that’s 1099, so we can reduce that to $85k, which means that need to make $215k a year in order for our house to make sense. Anything above this is great. But I don’t have to make more than $215k. The question is, how do I make $215k consistently? If I can get on a career path where $225k-$250k is the norm and I can get one one that I’m decent enough at to not lose my job every few years then — we’re ok. If my husband can keep his job (which he will unless the org he works for goes out of business) then I just have to get that $215k each year and we’re doing ok. Not living a fancy life, by any means, but we’ll be able to pay the mortgage for the next 30 years.

That’s clearly not what I want, though — 30 years of my entire life being centered on making $215k or more. From 37 to 67, needing every single year to have a career making such income is pretty darn depressing. My dad died at 67. So there’s that. I don’t want this to be the rest of my life. At some point I want to be able to take a risk. Make something. Do something meaningful before I die.

Does that make me a selfish person? An unrealistic one? Maybe. But I have dreams. I might be getting old(er) and grey(er) but I’m not dead yet. My kids remind me of the dreams I once had when anything was possible. I didn’t notice the moment when life switched from everything is possible to practically nothing is, but somehow that switch triggered and I missed it while I was counting up my net worth and figuring out how to convince my boss to give me another 30 days before pulling another trigger to have HR walk me out of the building. The years just go. And soon they will be gone. How do I make any of this make sense while not putting my family on the street? I guess it’s not that dire. We’ve got plenty of savings now. Enough to ride of a few bad years. But I don’t want a few bad years. I want many good ones. And I’m desperate to find a path to them.

Looking Ahead to What’s Next and Getting Through the What’s Now

I really, really, really want to stay in my job until at least the end of this year. I know it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t make it that far (even a few months into the year and I’ll have earned more than every single prior year of my life with the exception of 2020) — but, BUT… I really want to do this. I want to somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, in the first year as a mom to my second child, while trying to ignore the gnawing sensation of my ego being constantly ripped apart by a boss who has banished me from any semblance of leadership and telling me, flat out, that I will never, ever be a leader, hold on and get through it without any more wounds along the way.

But I’m also–exhausted. Sad. Upset with myself but also at the system that’s just… against working parents and especially new moms. I’ve got too many issues, I guess. If my mental health alone wasn’t enough to destroy my hopes of job stability, then we add in my having children. I don’t regret having children. But it does make it harder. Having to wake up every few hours to feed my child with my own body, well, that makes it harder. And I wish I could have stood up for myself more–but I’m not sure how that would have helped. Does anyone care why I’ve struggled? That’s just more reason to say I’ll never be a leader. So what if I tend to babble more on my worst days? I babble enough on my best ones. I’m not a leader. Not this type of a leader. Maybe not any type. I don’t have that kind of energy. I’m not consistent. I’m a ball of energy that can come in and explode and then need time to pick up the pieces and inflate again.

Maybe there could have been a little more support? I don’t know. On one hand, I’m completely to blame. I don’t expect anyone to hand hold here. On the other, some companies went out of their way to support working parents. To cancel performance reviews for the year. To provide time off and flexible hours. Others, like mine, expected us to just keep up. When I failed to meet a deadline there was no discussion of how I’m doing the best I can in a global pandemic while parenting a toddler and dealing with the exhaustion of pregnancy. I mean, who cares, right? I missed the fucking deadline. That I set. So, that’s on me. All of it’s on me. I shouldn’t have set an unrealistic deadline. And any deadline would have been unrealistic because my anxiety made it impossible to get the work done until I already was late and had failed. I can only do good work when failure is not only imminent, but it’s a sure thing. I can’t blame anyone but myself for that.

I don’t think the work was good anyway. But I guess it wasn’t bad. It seems some people thought it was ok. It doesn’t matter. I’m a never leader. And I cry about this every fucking day. Because she’s right. Because I can’t hold it together.

But my problem isn’t that I’m a never leader. Well, it’s that. But it’s more I can’t be relied on to do anything when anyone else is relying on me. That’s not a leadership issue, that’s an ability to keep a job issue. That’s an issue that has plagued me since I was fired from my first job as an admin assistant to every single job where I found myself too panicked to get work done. Why? I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t feel confident in the quality of my work. It wasn’t perfectionism, it was being embarrassed by how bad I was at my job because I didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes I put out good work but in the grande scheme of things I never know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t have the confidence or ability to fake confidence so people lose trust in me. They move on. They aren’t on my side, they’re against it. They say shit about me behind my back. They wonder why I’m still employed. Until I’m not.

This is a problem.

I could have been good at this job, too. I mean, I’m a never leader but at the very least I had some decent ideas, if anyone cared to listen. I had my hands tied. I tried to be collaborative, as I was told I was working in a silo and this was bad. Then I was told I was too collaborative, which is not leadership either.

It’s hard enough trying to navigate all this not as a tired pregnant mom in the middle of a pandemic, you know?

Is this an excuse or reality or a little bit of both? How much harder could I have worked? There was too much spinning and I was spun out. Off to “lead” a function that no one wants to fund properly and I must wait to be told what to do. And even in this role I managed to already mess up in a meeting where my former boss basically was on the verge of firing me at the end of it because I was a babbling mess.

I don’t think it’s this job. I think it’s my inability to do well in any job. So I need to fix that. But how? I have no fucking idea.

Junior level jobs still require you to be good at communication. Get shit done on time. The basic things I am bad at. What I’m good at is strategy and planning. But you don’t get to do a lot of that at the junior level. I just wish I knew what the fuck I was doing. Will I ever? Not when I’m this tired.

I go back to work in 2 months. That’s a world away but then it will be here in the blink of an eye. It all goes so fast. If I’m as tired then as I am now then I don’t know how I will make it. If I’m WFH that’s a good thing as I don’t have to drive half asleep commuting to the office but I do have to keep my eyes open on long zoom calls and try to appear alive when I’m clearly not. At least I’ll be too tired to physically appear jealous or sad or whatever when my work friend who is now in my former job is saying shit in a way that shows just how good someone can be at sounding like a leader as a reminder how I’ll never ever ever be that.

She’s right.

I don’t know what I’m good at. If anything. I just know I’m tired. Tired of constantly walking smack into walls. Tired of living on little sleep. Tired of being tired. Tired of reading articles about how working moms are not supported in society and feeling all righteous and angry for every other working mom out there but then when I turn to myself I feel guilty for absorbing any of that anger against “The Man” for me because I don’t deserve any of that pity or sympathy or empathy or whatever support should come with it, right? Other moms, they deserve to be provided something to get them through this but me? I’m failing for some other reason. My own reason. My own messed up issues that aren’t going away even when the pandemic is long gone and my kids are grown. I can’t ask for help because I don’t know what would help anyway other than maybe a personal cheer squad that tells me my work isn’t shit so I can just get onto the next thing and the next. Is it shit? I don’t know.

And I was on a performance plan a year ago and my boss clearly did that as a safe way to get me out and then I briefly was doing ok and that saved me for a short while and she was all excited that I managed to turn things around until I turned into a pile of shit sandwich on the floor. I feel and about it. I wanted to prove her wrong. Instead, I proved her right.

So I’m sad. And tired. And what’s new?

Wanting a Life That Isn’t About Making It to the Next Vest.

My spreadsheet has some good news — if I can hold out four more vesting periods, I’ll be able to afford taking a job with lower pay for a few years while I sort out a better career path. “All I have to do is just survive until 2022, and then… things will be better. Somehow. Or, at least different.” I think this to myself over and over again as my fast-growing toddler and infant cling to me and I realize that a year from now my infant and toddler will be, well, a year older–a big year of changes and growth that I don’t want to miss. I don’t want to “just survive.”

Then–there’s the fact that I’m almost 40. Fuck. How’d that happen? 40. It is just another year and yet it is–fucking forty. That’s old. No offense to my readers who are 40 or much older. Because there’s nothing wrong with being old. And certainly when you’re 70, 40 seems young. It’s a matter of perspective. But it’s one of those ages that when you’re a kid and when you’re 21 you think is old. Not to be morbid, but random people start to die at 40. Not a lot of people. And it happens before 40. And others live to 110. But you hear things like… just today actor Dustin Diamond died at 44. Cancer. He found out about it 3 weeks ago and just like that, he’s gone.

I don’t think I’ll die in my 40s just because I’m turning 40–but I certainly feel my mortality in a way I didn’t in my 20s or 30s. Time is always finite, but it is–finiter. And being 37 thinking “man, I just want to survive until I’m 39” doesn’t sit right, even if it means I’ll have (maybe) $500k more in my bank account. It’s fine to want to get through the year and do a good job at work to earn my keep and then some, but I’m so so so tired of spending my life waking up every day thinking how do I get to the next X. Friday. Vest date. Year end.

I’ve lost all passion for living. Not that I had a ton, ever. But I used to look forward to things in the short term. I don’t know how to anymore. Occasionally I look up and see my toddler cuddling with my husband and I feel like I’m watching my life as if it were a movie. How cute they look. What a perfect father and son. A little boy who is no longer a little infant who is no longer a combination of DNA in my belly. A little boy who soon will be a big boy and then a man with little time in between to even notice the transformation unless I’m paying close attention. And here I am, waking up each day thinking how I’ll survive to 2022.

I’m not going to change this mentality any time soon. Surviving until 2022 is still a major goal of mine. As I’ve mentioned before many times, it is the winning lottery ticket that I just need to keep in my hands for a short time via quality and on-time work and then the proceeds can significantly impact the stability of my family’s future. I just want to figure out how to stop playing my life like it’s a game and just start living it. But how?

I don’t know if this is depression or if it’s just what happens when you’re an adult who has lost her way. I don’t know if I take some pills to boost my dopamine that I’ll suddenly feel “in” my life again. Like, is this actually chemical? Is this why in periods of mania and/or depression I find myself craving chaos, something that shocks the system and provides a different sense of time. I get that from some healthy things… like starting a new job, for the first few months. Those early wins. The first months where unconscious bias of your hiring manager gives you the benefit of the doubt and tells themself you can do no wrong — after all, they hired you and you must be great. Your work proves them right.  You’re a shining star, picking things up so quickly. Impressively so. Until you’re not. Until everything great is expected of you, and anything less than excellent causes grave concern and achieving success becomes a higher hill to climb each time. The novelty is gone. It’s just another job. And you’re just another employee.

There’s seeking that thrill in work, there’s not finding it there and accidentally chasing it in real life. There’s stepping back and slapping yourself in the face with a big reality check and a reminder that your life isn’t meant to be some crazy adventure. Stability is good. Enjoying the little moments is what it’s all about. There is no plot. No  winning. No game. Well, the only winning is–actual survival. The health of your family. Helping your kids solve challenges. Inspiring them to do so on their own. Changing their many diapers. Getting them ready to face adulthood a little (or a lot) better than you did. Watching them grow. Spending time with your parents and other family members as long as they have left. Talking about meaningless whatevers. Disagreeing and debating for the sake of social entertainment. That’s life. That’s what maters.

Survival is pathetic. It’s basically a form of long-term suicide. Just watching the months and years go by. Experiencing all of it from the outside. Afraid and uncomfortable. Unable to say the right things but somehow perfectly capable of saying all the wrong ones. So you just get through it all. You kick yourself, constantly, for all the things you’ve said wrong. You wish to start over. You run from your past, even if your past was just a few minutes ago. Your life is survival and escape. And you’re so tired of it. You want to be normal. Happy? Maybe. At least just living for the moment instead of trying to get through the moment. It may be a pill is needed to make that possible.  A pill to fill my mind with the chemicals needed to wake the fuck up and fall in love with life before it’s too late. Hopefully there’s plenty of time life. But there’s never enough. So why waste it wishing the days disappear as fast as they appear? No good reason. This has to change. It must.

 

All I’m Asking is For is a LIttle RESPECT (just a little bIt)

Two things are blatantly obvious — when my division’s boss wants to keep someone, he throws the world at them. And when he (and those under him but over you) don’t care if you stay or walk, they treat you like less than a human being who isn’t worth their time. It’s painful, but they know as well as I do that I can’t walk unless I’m a trust fund baby (I’m not) or criminally insane (close, but not yet.) So they don’t invest any time in caring about informing me of such things as whatever kind of weird demotion I’ve been put through this year.

My new boss sent me a note this morning with my old boss CC’d about how my bonus will be paid out today (great!) and to let him know if I have any questions (uh… not so great, that means I’m not getting my full bonus, right?) Now, this year I’m lucky to get ANY bonus for many reasons —- the state of the world… being kicked out of my role and my old boss clearly wanting to fire me and likely being told by HR to wait until after maternity leave and such (no proof of this but seems to be true) I ought to be happy for pocket change as a bonus. My overall compensation this year due to my stock vesting is insane. A few percentage points in bonus distribution won’t put a dent in that.

But here is the deal — for the last 3 years… even last year when I was put on a PIP—I was paid my full bonus. I didn’t expect it last year. But that set a psychological precedent. And I know I 100% performed better this last year. I wasn’t perfect. Clearly. I suck at communication and I delivered a few projects late, even though that didn’t impact launch dates. My former boss really is over me as an employee on her team. She moved me to report to someone under her—because she doesn’t want to waste her time dealing with me. I frustrate her and she doesn’t want to have to interact with me on a weekly basis. She sees some value in my output—as long as she doesn’t have to be in meetings with me or manage me or—acknowledge my existence as a fellow human being.

So why should she take two minutes to message me and let me know I would not be getting my full bonus? Yes, I’m on leave now—but clearly she wanted to have my new boss share the news in an early review before I went out then they weren’t ready for that in time so it never happened. Instead of being honest about things and sending me a note saying something about my bonus payout and anything else hitting before I get back from leave (Ie any paycuts/title demotions) I was just ignored. Left to see my lower bonus hit my account and to do the math myself. Even the note this morning was super cryptic. “Message me if you have any questions” — from the new boss. Uh, yes I have a question… what is my bonus payout based on as I can’t figure out how this number came to be… unless my pay was significantly cut and I haven’t been told that yet either.

It really makes little sense. My bonus is supposed to be 20% of my pay. But the bonus paid out only makes sense if my salary is 150k (it’s 175k, or at least it was.) If the bonus is a percentage of 175 then I’m not sure how they got 30k. So my bigger concern is if they are flailing around when to tell me my salary has been cut by 25k. Which is possible. Anything is possible. I don’t see how I can report to my new boss as we both are at the same level in the org—so I imagine either he needed to be promoted this year, or I needed to be demoted. This is maybe all in my head, but I’m pretty damn good at intuiting these things. But if any of this is true, they really should tell me before I find out via my paycheck. I mean, if they considered me worth anything. Clearly they don’t. And it fucking hurts.

That said, everyone knows I cannot walk. The value of my stock, at least this year, is way too high. As I’ve noted before it’s a winning lottery ticket in my hand and all I’ve got to do, barring any unexpected layoff, is to hold my breath, smile with whatever dignity I have left, and take the high road until I can take the high road out of there next year. If I can take my ego out of it, I’m in a really good position to ride this out. It’s just a year now. And, I also think my old boss likes me as a person, unlike prior bosses who have fired me quickly, and she deep down wants me to win here, she just gets frustrated by me and has no time or interest in being my coach. She is undoubtedly looking at an even bigger lottery ticket, a multi-year one at that, and she sure as hell isn’t letting little ol me get in the way of wherever that rocketship is taking her. And I respect her on many levels too. I admire her work ethic, her ability to multitask and always deliver excellent work. So I am sad I let her down. That I am in this awkward place between staying and going. But it is what it is. It most certainly won’t get any better. My job is to stay employed 12 more months. To do a few really strong projects between now and then, despite being in the sleep deprived haze of year one of parenting and full-time breastfeeding. Uh, good luck to me.

I’m trying to approach the year ahead as one quarter at a time. Each is an opportunity to earn more than I earned in an entire year before starting this job, and likely more than I’ll earn in an entire year after leaving. Yes, it’s sick how I, at a time when so many are going hungry and not allowed to work, even as an employee considered an underperformer, am being paid so damn much. I don’t deserve this at all, and yet here I am complaining about getting like 85% of my bonus instead of 100%. But I know my company performed strongly this year, and my guess is a small batch of people were given less than full bonuses to manage cash flow and maybe to prevent any layoffs in the coming year should things take a turn given the whole world is fucked right now. And many companies didn’t even pay out bonuses at all, so I’m damn lucky to get anything (and they know that.) Right?

For all I know, everyone didn’t get their full bonus this year. But if that was the case it would be helpful for them to communicate this to be as well. Just some sort of explanation now vs waiting until I come back from leave and have a formal review. Then again my boss apparently thought I was returning in 2 weeks (um, 6 weeks after having my baby) — which is not correct—I’ll be out for 14 weeks, a pretty big difference. Not sure where he got the 6 weeks from but again you would think if he wasn’t sure he might ask me (I also mentioned Q2 before so not sure where he got the idea i would be back in Feb?) Anyway, yet another example of how this company clearly doesn’t give a shit about me. If they don’t want me to leave, they sure as hell are doing a horrible job encouraging me to stay—esp after this year when my stock pool is much smaller. I must be in the bucket of employees titled “meh” — subtitle “let them leave on their own… or not… we don’t care.” I’m guessing this bucket is also the first to be cut in any formal layoff, so knock on wood that doesn’t happen this coming year,

Ok, so the challenge here is how to put out incredible work while being so ripped up about how I’m sitting in horse manure at my company with no path to get out of it. So I have to sit in the muck and smell it all day long and still have a big ass smile on my face and pretend like I don’t notice I’ve been relegated to function in a big ol pile of poop. I can get up and shower and get out on my own, but man does life in poop pile pay well. I think I’ll stay a while. And try to convince everyone I just lovvvveee sitting in heaps of feces, watching my colleagues be wrapped in the finest silk and flown on heavenly jets, and doing my best creative work. Ever. Like some brilliant shit that makes them think, man, we ought to keep her around for one-more-quarter. Just four more times. Three more, really, once I am back. So doable. So smelly. Shit.

But before you roll your eyes at me and my situation, know that even my silk-wearing colleague who took over my role is struggling. I mean, I’m not sure if anyone notices or if he is just overly critical of his work, but he is facing the same roadblocks I did due to the disorganization of leadership and constantly changing direction. People think he is brilliant so he gets away with delays and such, as far as I can tell, but he sees that the whole situation is pretty challenging for anyone to thrive in. I guess that makes me feel a bit better about things. Not that he is being set up to fail as well, but that anyone in that role would struggle (plus I always had that role plus about 90 other roles making it impossible to focus on doing it well, kind of unfair to compare my performance in the position to his anyway, right?)

Well, I should be sleeping as it is 4am but I have a 3 week old who refuses to sleep in his bassinet so I’m currently under him as he grunts and farts away the night (until he wakes up and looks like a bird human from a horror movie, attempting to find my nipples fit his hundredth nightly snack.) This is what matters. I’m trying to separate work from life but it’s hard as work has always been my life. I don’t know how to make it not my life. Maybe that’s the problem. But if you look at anyone in my company, especially those on my team, who are successful — well they live and breathe their jobs. My former boss hasn’t taken much time off since she started at the company, and I’m pretty sure she worked a bit even on her days off. I think she subconsciously resents me a bit too—being able to not only take maternity leave, but also taking vacation days and using them. I took no more than my colleague but I’m sure she forgot how much he took and sees me taking a lot as I’m a mom with kids so obviously I’m not dedicated to my job. Maybe it’s all in my head but I don’t think so. Unconscious bias is real and when you already have a narrative in your head about a person every little plot point will support that narrative unless you actively try to reframe it (or, you know, care to.) Everything I do supports her story of me being a train wreck. Anything positive I do is quickly forgotten. My only saving grace is that compared to a few prior hires who were total asses (or rightfully spoke up for themselves amidst the craziness, depending who you ask) I have generally maintained a ridiculously good attitude about sitting in the shit pile. Instead of complaining about my partial bonus pay or asking for an explanation I just responded with a thank you. When my former boss told me on my half year review that I just don’t have the personality to lead, I shared that I believe one can always get better at things and I will always try to improve myself, but I am open to any role she sees fit for my abilities (and lack thereof.) i guess compared to a few of her former hires and the crapshoot of future ones, I’m at least loyal and do good work. That’s not me trying to keep my job, that’s just me. I care a lot. Too much. It’s a problem. I’m not some corporate robot. I’m in it with my full heart. I can’t be any way else.

So right now I’m setting a first goal for June 30. At this point of the year I should be at approximately $450k in income for the year. Should I lose my job at that point, I can walk knowing this was still my second highest earnings year ever. While I can make about 200k per quarter for the remainder of the year (and very much want to make that additional 400k) I HAVE to feel good about getting to the end of June if that’s all I can do. That’s just 10 weeks or so after coming back from leave. And barring getting caught up in any mass layoff, or losing my mind and telling them “what I really think,” I should be able to make it. That’s a huge win. Ginormous. I have to be happy with that. And I can still earn more this year… I could take 3 months off and get another job in the fall and still make over 500k for the year. It’s hard to see that as winning if I’m leaving another 400k+ on the table (when it is likely my income will drop below 200k in my next role) but fuck it. I have to feel good about all of this. My husband makes 100k a year yet still makes me feel crappy about maybe losing my job half way through the year. I don’t think he really should criticize me when I have managed to earn so much in a short amount of time. Maybe taking 3 months off this year, should I get fired, isn’t the end of the world. Maybe it’s the start of a new world. I don’t know. I’m tired. Tired of being in their corporate career that makes no sense to me. I don’t know what I want other than not this. I want to write, I think, but maybe movies or tv shows or something. I want to help people. To inspire them. And to be a good mom. I don’t know. I feel like — I am turning 40 in less than 3 years. And while 40 isn’t “old” it sure as hell not young. Fuck I can’t even make those 40 under 40 lists anymore at that point. I’ll have to encourage someone to start 50 over 40 who aren’t yet 50 who suddenly figured out their life’s calling but aren’t old enough to be on lists of people who did that when they were impressively old. Or something. Did I mention I have a 3 week old and I haven’t slept much in 3 weeks?

June. 30. I’m going to get there. Some how, some way. After that every paycheck and vest for the year is icing on this melted manure cake. I’m all for icing, but I’ve got to grant myself some grace. Or whatever. It’s important to recognize that even if I am falling apart in the flesh, on paper I’m kicking ass. And, in reality, I’m just, as always, holding on for fear life. So I’ll keep on keepin on.

433 Days Until Something Better.

I browse job postings on the daily. Usually they just depress me. I feel painfully unqualified for everything. While I’m in a better place than I was on my last job search, now with 3 years under my belt at a public company with a name that would be recognized, my experience still makes absolutely no sense when compared to jobs out there in the real world. But today, I found a job that actually seemed like it might be a good fit at a target company that is about 15 minutes from my new house.

However, I’m not going to apply. I’m tempted. Trust me. But between being on maternity leave and my earning potential over the next 433 days, I just can’t get into the process of attempting to get a new job. But I’m getting close to the time when I should start applying. I’m going to try to wait until 2022 before I start applying, and then I’ll let the resume outflow flood gates loose. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Or not. I guess as long as I have a job I’m in no rush to jump to the next thing. Maybe on Jan 1, 2022, I’ll still have a job. It’s possible.

I’m hopeful. 433 days sounds like a lot. But time still has its way of flying by, especially in the first sleepless year of having a kid. I’m hoping with the whole work from home situation ongoing people will just forget I exist. That’s not going to help me get ahead in my current company, but getting ahead is not actually possible anymore. I’ve lost any chance I had at a leadership role or promotion and am lucky if I don’t get an official demotion this year. So maybe I can just stay quiet, put out a few good projects, and ride the year out without people remembering I’m still on the payroll… at least until next year’s performance reviews and when I’m already at least deep in the process of applying for new roles.

But I’m so tempted to apply now and to get out. My ego is beyond beaten down. It isn’t what happened, it’s how it happened. It is a new leadership team forming for my group and not being told about it and not being placed on it — not being officially demoted yet clearly being removed from any strategic decision making. I am not at all surprised by any of this, I just feel like the least they could have done was given me a new title and explained I wouldn’t be considered a leader on the team anymore. Just some honesty and clarity. But I guess that’s too much to ask for when my boss is probably thinking I’m lucky I was pregnant and that she can’t fire me per some HR policy or something. Anyway. I’m trying not to dwell on it. I am lucky. and she could have still let me go as she has plenty of documentation on my failures and my admission of my mental health issues that get in the way of my doing a consistent good job. So. I know things are shit and they aren’t getting any better. Not at this company. It would be nice to think I could move up again. Redeem myself. It’s not happening. That’s ok. I feel humiliated and want to just put it behind me, but I can’t. Not yet.

I’m trying to focus on how to go into a new role — if I can get a new role — with a new personality. I can’t let any mania or depression lead me to admitting anything to my boss about how much of a mess I am. I need to hold it together. Keep my true self hidden. Figure out how to not overcommit and get everything done on time. I’m scared because I feel like I’m doomed to repeat this mess over and over again for the rest of my career. I need to learn how to control myself better. The last two years have been an exceptional cluster. It’s not new for me though, but normal cluster me with the exhaustion of young children is pretty much a recipe for getting fired. I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long. I put out some good work in between falling apart again and again. So I just have to get rid of the mess part and focus on the good work part. Somehow. Maybe next time I can not crumble as I always do.

It just feels like a lonely road. I don’t have anyone to talk to about this who gets it. My husband doesn’t work in the same industry and he’s watched me fall apart time and again over the last two decades we have known each other. While he used to be worried about it, he has also seen how every time I’ve gone through getting fired I’d find a new job that pays better soon after and he no longer is too concerned. He doesn’t like to hear about my work either way. My therapist doesn’t get it either. The only coworker who gets it is the one who took over my prior role, so that’s awkward. But he knows how messed up things are and how it wasn’t all my fault. I wish I had friends I could talk to about work shit. But I don’t. I mean I don’t really have many friends. I blog because who do I have to talk to about any of this? It’s nice there are people out there who read this blog and can relate, or at least understand this type of corporate environment and can see how it’s not completely my fault or have some context of even if it is then maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s ok to seek out a lower stress role and try to float, or something.

I’m tired of chasing money, I guess. Not that I was… the stock gains happened without chasing them. Now I have this crazy potential earnings amount on paper for this year and I freak out whenever I think of losing that lottery ticket. So I just have to calm the fuck down and carry on. For now. Then… well, then… I have to figure out what happens then. On my own. Because who can help me? Who would even start to understand… how I’m so “successful” and yet have no employable skills. People hire me because they think I’m brilliant and then they soon realize that I’m not. But how else can I get hired? I’ve only been hired because people think I’m special. Well, clearly I’m not special enough.