A question for ya

QuestionI got this question from Mark in a comment and I would love to hear your take:

My job has been literally killing my soul for the past 3 years. I have known this entire time I needed to leave. But I didn’t realize how seriously I was burning out, and now I feel like I am being pushed over the edge. I have drank every night for the past three months. I am acerbic, aggressive and emotionally closed off. I hate the people I serve so much I cuss and spit when I have to see them. I have secondary trauma and can no longer sleep without medication. It is not possible to hate your job more than I do.

I have applied to seemingly countless jobs, but as I want nothing to do with this career field any longer it has been impossible to actually land anything in this economy. I have begged for other work at the company, but there is none. Most places are laying off. I am lucky to have a job. But am really not, because it is poisoning me.

It is nice and pat to say “Hey, it’s your life, just quit!”, but the problem is that I make an utter pittance, have essentially no savings (not very possible on my salary), and have thousands of dollars in credit card debt due to a combination of bad choices when young and bad luck/unexpected crisis expenses. Life has been tearing me down and I have not gotten a break.

I cannot afford to leave. I have no money to do so. I will go broke. I will lose everything. I have school loans and a car loan in addition to my aforementioned expenses. I have applied for so many jobs I no longer really believe in some level that I *can* get another job, despite being very highly educated. I can’t afford to work part time. If Ii don’t work for a day I will go under.

I have less and less energy every night to look for other work. It’s quicksand and I am not getting a break to get out. I feel completely trapped, despite knowing I have a choice… though the alternative is to lose everything. I never thought I would be this guy. Does anyone have any suggestions? I really need them. Thanks.

What do you think about Marks’ situation? What would you advice him to do?

33 thoughts on “A question for ya”

  1. Have a look at the Simple Dollar blog (www.thesimpledollar.com), a personal finance blog focusing on ordinary people dealing with unprecedented levels of debt. It is written by Trent Hamm, who was in a similar situation, and now makes a living as a blogger, author and public speaker.

  2. I would first suggest he look at Randy Pausch’ Last Lecture, it’s incredibly inspiring… and I would also pull a cheesy quote from that lecture… “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!”

    I understand his situation and feelings of despair but my advice would be to stick it out and fight for what he wants. Obviously if he’s not in a situation to quit or get a part time job, he shouldn’t do that. Try and do his job to the point where he gets paid, try to not take personally and bad experiences he has there, and double up on efforts to find a job that would satisfy him.

    I used to have a very safe job, government office, guaranteed for life, basically. It wasn’t particularly demanding, had very flexible (almost loose) hours and the pay was minimal. I found a better job, doing things I love, by accident and I was afraid to make the jump… When I did, I found that I should’ve done it much sooner and I learned that there is NOTHING on this planet as rewarding as doing things you love for a living.

  3. Mark, from what you say it sounds as though you WILL leave your job sooner or later. The only question is whether you choose the time and manner in which you leave. If you don’t choose, I’m sure you will have a breakdown, which will probably lose you your job, and leave you damaged.

    A question: why can’t you take on more debt? Surely a little extra debt is worth the extraordinary benefit of owning your life once again?

    I think you need to question your other assumptions too. Look at each of the definite statements you made in your letter, and ask yourself if they really are as definite as that. Think of creative ways to break those “rules” you have set yourself. At the moment, all they’re doing is holding you back, so you need to find another way.

    Good luck. You can beat this. Your courage in writing to Alexander shows me that you can do whatever it takes to get your life back. You deserve it. Now do it.

  4. I once was in a job where I literally put my health/safety on the line every day. My salvation was short term disability/unemployment benefits until could reinvent my life. Before I knew that those financial options were there for me, I discussed the situation with my Mom and Dad (not easy for me, but I did it) and they said I could move home or that they would find a way to give me a little money to live on. I didn’t have to do that because of the benefits but it was an option for the short term. Don’t make yourself sick. You will end up behind in the long run.

  5. You need to change something about your point of view. I can’t say what, but you’ve locked yourself into a situation you don’t want.

    You can’t leave because you don’t have savings, and not working 1 day would cause you terrible financial grief. Also, the economy isn’t great and finding that next job is looking to be much harder than it should be, so you’re worried about the financial burden again. And you can’t stay because you’re job isn’t controllable and you can’t change it to make it better.

    In the short term, one of those two things needs to change. Either you need to find a way to relax at work, and not care so much, so it doesn’t stress you out. Or, you need to find some way to support yourself while you’re unemployed like family or friends. Neither is probably easy or you’d have done that already.

    Have you talked with your boss? Does he know that you can’t sleep because of work? That it’s causing you to be in the state you’re in? I can’t imagine anyone not taking action to correct a bad situation like this, especially if they’re able to effect the situation.

    Otherwise, you need to learn how to say no at work is probably my guess. Stop doing anything you don’t have to, and that probably means rethinking what you think “stuff you have to do” means. Let things fail. Let your co-workers and boss(es) do their job.

    Whatever the solution is, you need to start looking at your situation differently or you’ll never see a way out until it’s forced on you.

  6. Start by changing the rest of your life! Get rid of the TV, the microwave oven, the HIFI, old stacks of books, papers, furniture, clothing, newspapers, anything that is not absolutely necessary for your survival right now. Or sell all that stuff, but not just for the money.

    Challenge everytime item on your budget, in your inventory, in your habits. Do you need it?

    The point is, your present predicament is largely your own mental prison. Really, it is! You need to refocus. You need to renew your sense of empowerment. You need to take action. Any action at all, simply to rediscover the feeling of being in charge.

    Then move on from there. Perhaps call creditors to renegotiate terms? Perhaps take an extra job?

    Change everything else. Then check again, with renewed perspective. Do you really need that job?

    Even if you need to support a family, they are much better off with you as a human being, rather than a breadwinner.

  7. Can we find out where Mark is from? Perhaps there are resources in his area that are available to help him out of his situation.

    Man, I feel for ya Mark. I felt like that once (well, not nearly as badly) and was fortunate to get a new job. Before I was able to resign, I was laid off. I’m pretty sure they knew I was miserable and in a way, I think they were doing me a favour. It also meant I got paid severance, which would not have been the case had I quit.

    Guess this bring up a point. If you’re that miserable, I’m sure everyone around you is feeling it as well and your production/performance is compromised. The reality is, one way or another, you might be leaving your job soon. However it happens, you need an exit strategy. Do you have the opportunity to take stress leave for a few weeks, during which you can figure out what to do while you do a bit of recovery for yourself? I also kinda like the idea of moving overseas to teach English or something. What this does is to allow you to completely break out of your rut, do something completely different, and to regroup while making money. I know several people who have done this and it was great for them. There are so many countries where they want people who speak English to teach them. I’ve heard of ridiculously good opportunities in the UAE teaching English to the children of wealthy oil barrons. I dunno. Wouldn’t hurt to look… and it doesn’t have to be forever. Just a year or two to figure things out.

  8. I was in a similar situation once and able to quit. Since Mark cannot do that, the most immediate action he can take is getting a hobby. Having something to lok forward to once you get home. Something to focus all of your energy on.

  9. Mark,

    I’d like to echo some of the same sentiments you’ve heard/read by driving home a couple of essential points: Depending on where you are located in the world, seek advice from a medical professional; and, access resources in your area. I am not a psychotherapist, but I am a person who has experienced some of the same things you talked about. I would venture a guess that you are feeling trapped (as it clearly sounds that way), desperate and at the end of your rope — just to toss a couple of things. Situations like the one you are in can and often do lead to depression, which in turn may lead you to feel like you have few, if any options. A talented and wise health care professional, such as a psychotherapist, may be able to help you identify a way out, address some of the immediate symptoms that are naturally springing up from your current situation, and assist you in crafting your escape plan.

    Also, I am never adverse to telling a person in your situation to make good use of the resources available to you. For example, if you work with a health care professional and it is determined that you may need to enroll in short-term disability to address the mental fatigue and psychological symptoms resulting from this situation, then do it! Get the help you need to get out of there. And, please know that you are not the first, and sadly not the last, person to be in this situation.

    I hope all the comments you’ve read here give you some ounce of hope, help and relief. Best wishes to you and keep us posted!

  10. I’m in a very similar place as Mark. I want out of my job in a bad, bad way and have for some time. For a long time I hated going in to the office everyday. I could feel my mood fowl the moment I stepped off the elevator. Making it worse is the fact that not only do I hate my job but I don’t know what I want to do so it’s hard to even start looking. It was affecting my attitude, life, health etc… so much so that my wife convinced me to go talk to a counselor. Not something I’ve ever done or ever thought I’d do but I was willing to try anything at that point. He gave me some sound advice:

    1. I’m done with my current employer, I know that. Once I realized that it became just a matter of time to find something else. This helped with the dread and hopelessness I felt of being stuck there.

    2. Don’t try to figure out what I want to do/be right now. First focus on finding something else, fast. Once you achieve this and the change of pace, scenery, whatever you can focus on figuring out your long term goals without the fog of anger etc… of being at the current job.

    It hasn’t been a complete fix but it has helped considerably with the way I approach my job each day. Good luck Mark!

  11. hi Mark..

    Step 1: This is a tough PHASE – you to look at it as a phase & not as your entire life.

    Step 2: Mark – you need to first get healthy – healthy bodies lead to healthy mind & thereby having more ideas, energy to deal with life – fix your health – that itself will give renewed energy to deal with this phase of life

    Step 3: Start diluting your debts – you need to create a plan – even if it is a small debt to start with – have a clear plan on how you would dilute them – by selling it off – i did that – closed many many small debts – while they seemed small & insignificant – put together it was a big debt out of the way

    Step 4 – here’ one exercise i really loved – you may want to look at it – Paul Myer’s Ideal World Exercise – this actually helps you plan your finances & goals in a superb way – here’s the link http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/ideal-world/

    Keep trying Mark – never ever give up – you can do so much more in your life…..anand

  12. Congratulations!

    I love how you know you have a problem and that is the first step. Really, I mean it. You are paying attention and that is so important. You want help.

    I say, follow up with the guy on Linkedin and use Linkedin. There are opportunities there. I know there are.

    You have to stop thinking that you have no options. Just believe that you have not thought of every possible option.

    I was a lawyer. I owned my own small law firm and it was exactly like you described and I worked for myself.

    I created so much drama in my life just because I did not have the courage to say that I no longer wanted to practice law.

    That is how I became a coach. When I was a lawyer, I saw no way out. Just like you. But there was a way out and I found it.

    So, trust that the Universe is indeed a friendly place. Trust that you will be taken care of. Let yourself off the hook. You do not have to figure it all out yourself! Trust that everyone that has responded to this thread wants the best for you.

    Email us privately. Let us all see how we can chip in and help.

    Big hugs to you. The best thing you can do for yourself is be kind to yourself.

    In the midst of your heartache right now, believe me, you are an amazing wonderful human being and you have so much to offer the world. You have gifts in you that you have not yet discovered.

    I hold you in the space of peace and solutions.

    Iyabo Asani

  13. To Mark – Quit!

    Nothing is worse than a job you hate, people you hate, etc…

    Look around you and see where you can get help (in terms of money and a place to crash in case you lose your apartment) – I’m sure you’ll find at least one person willing to help out.

    In 2007, I was out of a job for 3 months – it would have been longer, I guess, but a friend of mine asked me to go work with him. I turned my whole career around at that time. From a Project Manager (a secretary, really, but one who implemented projects of over 500.000 USD), who brought more money in a company than all the other employees put together, I got to unemployed and happily resting in my Grandma’s house, to Senior Consultant. I eventually quit that Senior Consultant job as well.

    I am a Project Manager again, I work on human resources development projects, I write (sometimes daily) a blog, I am free-lancing when I get job offers, I work 4 days/week and I generally love my work, but not my job. :-)

    Work is just a place to go to – you think anything else, you’ll go nuts!

    Melania

  14. There is plenty of sound advice for Mark in some of the earlier replies, but – as someone who has been there and got the T shirt – I recommend that he start with himself. Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world!”

    How? Well begin by accentuating the positive. When one sees oneself as a victim one becomes a victim and acts like that and simply depresses everyone with whom one comes into contact. That, of course, only makes the problem worse. It is a real downward spiral. Three steps for breaking out of this vicious cycle are:-
    1. To consciously focus on all the things you have to be grateful for; keep a gratitude journal and every night record all the things you have to be grateful for, no matter how small or insignificant they seem to be.
    2. See whatever you are doing as a way of expressing who you really are and aspire to be. Instead of hating everything you do and resenting it, think about what talents or skills you have to do it, and be grateful for those and the opportunity to use them and for the contribution you are able to make. Look to see how you can do it even better than you have done in the past. Make a game of doing it better and set yourself challenges to measure this.
    3. Stop blaming yourself for bad decisions you have made in the past. The past is past and you cannot undo what you have done, but you can learn from the lessons: pick yourself up, dust yourself off and press on with a determination to not make the same mistakes again.

    Doing this is all that has lifted me out of the pits of depression in the past and I have found that as my attitude has improved so I have become alert to and/or more opportunities have come may may and the situation has been transformed. It is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but believe me it is a lot better than anything else.

    There is a lovely verse that puts it all so much better than I can. It reads, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that ye may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will no open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, and there shall not be room enough to receive it.” It is from the book of Malachi in the Bible (Chapter 3 verse 10) Tithes were the 10th part of any production and they were paid first, out of the best of the produce. Now if you are in paid employment then your produce is money. But in those days money included a currency called talents; and thus I find it helpful to think of that literally. In other words your tithes are your talents and so, as you ensure you make the most of your talents and deploy them with pleasure and gratitude, your blessings will be infinite and you will be blessed with happiness. That ancient wisdom is just as applicable today and works just as well.

  15. Wow, you guys are an awesome bunch.

    Here’s what I was thinking, though I haven’t been where you are, so it might just be useless.

    Pull the rip cord. If there’s somewhere else you can stay, then quit, move out, sell everything, go to a doctor, go on long walks, rediscover life somehow.

    Declare bankruptcy.

    Do you have anyone?

    Good luck,

    Steve

  16. Steve,

    Declaring bankruptcy is not an option. Never an option. What does it say about you, as a person???

    I can’t think of anything worse for one’s self esteem.

    Plus, getting back on track after such an event… without support from friends and family, I would say that is almost impossible.

    Basically, in my view, bankruptcy is the worst thing ever because you’re like… admitting you’re not an adult (look who’s talking, anyway!), that you’re incapable of taking your life and your decisions and your obligations as a responsible person.

    3 years ago, when I was unemployed, I had my parents and my Grandmas and my landlady by my side, always supporting me morally (that’s where the worst part happened – I was completely down, thinking the worst of my abilities), and my brother kicking my ass… He once asked me:
    “What’s the hymn of the unemployed?” and I said I didn’t know. He answered: “Sean Paul – Get busy”

    Hard to keep up a good depression with the people I had around me back then!

    So, for Mark – get out there, find people who will back you up and then get the hell out of that job, buddy!

    Melania

  17. Great post – and love the comments.

    My advice to Mark would be to start out by addressing himself. Why are you blaming the world, the job market, other people for your situation and talking like is no way out. Mark – think about what is really important to you in this situation? What do you really want to change? How would you like your life to be different? What would actually make you happy?

    Mark – think about how you can regain ownership of your own destiny. Once you are responsible for your own happiness, the world around you will open up with opportunity.

    Phil

  18. Wow! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had this same conversation with friends, colleagues, etc in recent months. Especially in this economy, so many people feel trapped in jobs or careers they hate. Having recently made a career change myself, my best advice for Mark is to think outside the box and get creative in finding his career solution. He might have to be willing to give up a fancy title, he might have to work a few nights or weekends, he might have to give up his car and start using I-Go, but the important thing to remember is that he has options. And the worst thing about being in a bad job is that you feel like you have NONE. It’s hard when you’re in a 9-to-5 corporate mindset to look for jobs and opportunities outside of that realm, but once you do, it’s really a brave new world out there. And it will be well worth it, especially if he regains his health and happiness.

    Also, Alex, I hope it’s ok I’m including this link to a blog post I wrote about making a career change: http://www.myfootpath.com/mypathfinder/making-a-career-change-the-first-steps/. These were the steps I took when I made mine. I actually sat down, drafted up a plan, and followed it. Having some steps to follow really helped alleviate that whole “jumping out of an airplane” sensation that comes with leaving a job, at least for me anyways. (Although in hindsight, that sensation was actually rather thrilling!)

  19. I have been in his situation and felt the hopeless. Millions of people are in the same situation. Although I know most of you have the best of intentions, some of this advice is clearly tripe.

    If you were stressed out by your uber-successful, jet-setting, high-paying job, well cry me a river. That’s not where he’s coming from, and your “I was awesome & now I’m awesome-er” motivational technique does nothing but rub a raw nerve. Don’t recommend a diet to a starving person after you’ve overcome a weight problem.

    A person’s sense of self-worth in the West is (unfortunately) usually tied to their income and possessions, and several of you are advocating that he throw those away as if they were an unfortunate clothing combination he chose. This is a lifestyle he built over years, and it is unfair or at least inconsiderate to blithely advise him to chuck it all.

    One person insinuated that declaring bankruptcy would make him a bad person! No one wants to hear that. The man is caught in a black hole of debt and stressing about the existential meaning of it: does it make him a bad person? Will it damage his relationships & status if anyone finds out? Etcetera. He doesn’t need your judgment, he needs support and advice.

    I agree with Steve. Unless Mark’s willing to scrimp and save and put up with the hardship of clawing his way out of debt, bankruptcy would be quicker, easier and healthier in the long run. Then he could take an “extended sabbatical” from that awful job or just tell them to shove it, and ponder the choices in his life that led him to this point.

    Finally, I agree with everyone who said that Mark’s issue is basically a matter of perspective. Unfortunately, many aren’t able to change their perspective easily. Religion helps some, exercise others. Food, sex, TV and/or booze isn’t the way out, Mark!

    So don’t blame Mark, help him! He is caught up in a system _designed_ to put people into debt and keep them there. Some people are just more susceptible to this trap: the young, the ignorant, the poor, the hopeless, and people with health issues. They are the flip side of the free market.

  20. What strikes me most about the post is that this is a man who is seriously depressed. I think you need to see someone for treatment as soon as possible. It’s often impossible to take the rest of all this great advice if you’re in a deep depression and hard for others to understand that if they’ve never been there. Once the fog starts to lift much of this advice will seem do-able.

  21. If I had to give Marc some advice I would tell him to find the recording of the Strangest Secret by Earl Nightengale. and listen to you until you really understand the message. Then and only then will you get out of this undesirable situation. The key is we become what we think about most of the time this recording although over 50 years old will speak to you in a way that you would not believe it you allow it to.

    God Bless

  22. I am another one who has been there. Last year I took a job I knew I would hate, because everything kept saying how awful the job market was, etc. I was, predictably, miserable. Coincidentally (or not!) I also developed a chronic inflammatory disease that has been linked to stress and which has been very expensive and time-consuming but thank god is treatable.

    All I can offer is what helped me:

    1. See a counselor, stat! Even if you don’t want to, you don’t think you need to, you can’t afford it…whatever. Just go. Does the crappy job have benefits? Find out if they include mental heath. If not, go anyway. Someone will work with you. Make it work. The Psychology Today web site has a good finder tool for therapists.

    2. Lean on your peeps. I leaned hard on my boyfriend, my friends, my parents, my cousins. I mean I was a *mess*. But it’s true what they say, you find out who your friends are. If you don’t have a strong support network, see item 1. But have the guts to ask for help.

    3. “One is not got out of the cave, one comes out of it.” I think Simone de Beauvoir said that. The only person who can save you is you. I think the fact that Mark wrote this email is a good sign that he’s workin’ on it.

    4. Brainstorming your options. OK, so the traditional “send resume, wait for call” approach is not working right now. What else could you do? Leave no stone unturned. Could you move in temporarily with family or friends to save money? Have a roommate move in with you? Move somewhere where you don’t need a car? Give up cable? Do you have a skill or knowledge set that other people would pay to have access to that you could advertise on craigslist? For me, even thinking of really heinous options was oddly refreshing. Thinking about how much I did not want to move back in with my parents was kind of motivating. There is always a choice, and there is more than one. Thinking that the only two choices are “be miserable or lose everything” is just false.

    4. Taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep, trying to eat right, trying to get some exercise. I realize when your job totally sucks you dry and when you’re really in pain, it’s hard to do anything but numb out with food/alcohol/TV etc. Maybe think of one thing you could do that would bring you some energy, or just some fun. I hate to admit it, but all that cliche touchy feely stress management stuff kinda helps – going for walks, taking a bath, calling a friend, writing in a “journal.”

    5. Hear yourself: the job is literally killing you. It’s literally sucking the life force out of you. Save your own life, man! It is really risky and really scary to jump out of a burning plane. So you have to pick – scary jump with uncertain outcome? Or certain death by burning plane?

    6. That said, you don’t *have* to jump tomorrow. As tempting as it is to drop it like a hot potato (and I’m not convinced that’s *not* the best idea), you could also start small. Start plotting your escape. Add one good thing to your life each week. Or take one bad thing away.

    6. You gotta believe. I know all too well how hopeless and impossible it seems when you’re in the middle of it. You just have to go on faith that a better future awaits and that better possibilities await. It really doesn’t seem that way when all you can see is the reality in front of you. But it really is true, i’m telling you. When you ARE in the right place (or at least headed there), you can tell.

    7. Recognizing that it’s the work of a lifetime to find out your life’s work. Mark has a really good start because he already knows that what he’s doing… ain’t it. Cross that one off the list. Every person has something that they can give to the world – sometimes it’s hard to recognize because it’s right in front of you, a passion or a talent that seems like no big deal because it’s such a part of you that you don’t notice it. But to put it another way, the longer Mark stays in this wrong job the longer he is depriving the world of what he has to offer. If you can’t do it for you, do it for the rest of us who need what you got!

    My life isn’t perfect or anything now, but it’s waaaay better than it was. I still look back on that time and cringe. If there’s any use for it it’s the ability to tell people “no, seriously, just get out. it IS possible.” Changing my life around felt less like a magic wand wave and more like crawling out of deep well using only my fingernails, but at least I was going somewhere.

    Even just from his comments, you can see Mark has a lot going for him – he is articulate, apparently well-educated, good vocabulary. I’m sayin’, times are tough. No one’s saying it isn’t hard. It’s easy to get discouraged. But you gotta fight for your life, the good life, the one your soul is rebelling against not having. In some ways, this is bigger than you. Obey!

  23. Well what a response. You guys are something else… you are really so helpful I am kind of taken aback. My thanks to Alex for posting this… I was reticent at first but can take a lot from what everyone offered from their own life experiences. I don’t want to share too many details, for the sake of not being compromised at work, but I work in the helping field and have simply excessively burned out. This kind of help is something the Internet does best: allow people to share their deeply personal experiences in a generally anonymous manner.

    Anyways, just to follow up, I went on a vacation and got some perspective re: having a choice as to whether I had to put up with this misery at work. I remembered that I do have a choice, which I had forgotten in all of my progressive unhappiness. To relate it back to the goal of this blog/website, I also realized that I had very high expectations for myself and my life that had become toxic; I was expecting things from myself that were based on comparisons to others and how I perceived my life trajectory should be. I was finding that the success train was not coming “on schedule” and I was internalizing failure based on my measuring myself up to others. This was a recipe for depression and for feeling like a victim.

    Now, I still have to get out of this job. I am in a temporary good place because I see now, and with the help of you all’s input, that I can leave at any time (it’s staggering how I could have forgotten this). I have applied to the most menial of jobs (won’t say where for anonymity reasons) because I have accepted that it’s just life, not to be taken so seriously, and that sometimes you have to just do what you need to and forget how you think you might measure up to others

    If my menial job options don’t come through -and maybe I’m saying menial when I have no right to- I will quit and force my own hand. I have family and friends to fall back on and do have options. I just need to remember that.

    Anyways, this has gone on too long about myself. I do have the support of a counselor and I do exercise regularly. I am actually quite healthy aside from the job and drinking too much in response to it. But I will put some of your suggestions into practice and and very grateful for your input. Thanks so much for offering up your experience to me. And Alex, thanks for the website.

    Mark

  24. Mark, I’ve also heard many of my friends share their sentiments about their 9 to 5’ers and it really does match up to what you described (ie. the drinking and depression). I myself have gone through this.

    The advice that you received was good so I will not add to it. I just want to say thank you for posting this – you may be the quintessential depiction of today’s office worker. There are many of us out there that are suffering and need support to have courage to take things lightly, break out and experience life without wasting too many days on sadness. You are not alone. Many people go through the same thing, but the way I think about it is – what will I do differently in my lifetime?

    Have fun and live well!!

    -Dina from Toronto, Canada

  25. coming to this post a bit late but i thought i’d share what i have been doing recently to make my days in the office a bit more bearable, as i look for better employment: Office Art Book!

    i’ve been making an ‘artbook’ out of items found mostly in the office primarily to store all the images, quotes and notes i keep around my work space to stay inspired, but i’ve begun to move into ‘journaling’ territory by making pages about the things that lead to my burn-out/breakdown. i’ve been sharing it on my blog and here is the first post about it:
    http://thecreativebeast.blogspot.com/2010/03/self-portrait-for-today.html

    i’m glad to see you managed to regain your perspective =-) being in a job you hate and having difficulty finding a better job can be frustrating as i’ve been experiencing, but i think this recent project of mine is a fun way to work out the feelings and maybe poke fun at the company in the privacy of a ‘journal’, especially if you use items in your line of work ;)

    good luck with your job search!!

  26. Thank you SO much for posting this. My situation is very close to Mark’s. I have been drinking every night for the past year. I’m wiped out tired when I get home, have high blood pressure from the stress and have a hard time sleeping most nights. I have been watching my personality become more cynical and pessimistic as time goes on. I have had a hard time dealing with my situation because I love what I do at work, but I despise and hate where I do it. My workplace adds so much unnecessary stress to every little thing it’s insane.

    I have decided to make a promise to myself. I am going to stop drinking at night. Dump all the alcohol in my apartment down the drain. I will apply aggressively to other jobs over the next month. If I don’t have another job by the end of April I am going to just quit.

    Thank you so much to everyone who’s posted here. I feel not alone and I don’t feel trapped anymore. So much weight is off my shoulders and I have barely started.

  27. If I can add more to this discussion, I will say that a primary issue in this whole experience has been learning to deal with expectations I had from my past for how my life would progress. I left school with a (typically?) big head, really having this understanding that things would just fall into place in my life, kind of like they do in the movies. It sounds stupid, and it was naturally naive, but I had had successes in my youth and was encouraged to do anything I wanted, to follow my passions, and was very much programmed to believe success would follow from some hard work and determination. But life is bigger than that. I used to love what I do, an experience for which I am grateful. But my career involves working with some of the most destitute people in the country, which has shattered many of my illusions of what life on this planet is really like.

    I wish my life were different right now, even though it’s not all bad by any means. It’s very hard for my ego to look around and see others (apparently) succeeding when I feel I have failed by not being able to live up to my own expectations for myself. It just hurts. But I am seeing that, even though by all accounts I have an extremely difficult (and most say awful) job, I still have a job, and options, and my health, and the power of choice in my life. I am still not comfortable with the idea of quitting without having another job, as some here have suggested and been successful in doing. I have fear and a lot of distrust that things will just work out. Even though it sucks for us all I like hearing that others are in similar positions (like Joe) because it lessens the self doubt that comes from competing for jobs in a brutal marketplace, with no feedback, and not having the money to just say to hell with it all.

    For me I’ve had to look to the bigger picture to deal with it, and it’s become a theme of humility and of reconciliation with the hard realities of life. I have found that all I can do sometimes is just continue to make good decisions (to the extent that I can), to take care of myself, and to be grateful for what I have. Keep doing the “right” things and eventually things will change. It’s so nice to have a place like this to connect with others’ experiences.

  28. Alexander –

    Just want to say that I finally got a new job, after 3.5 years of trying. Its a vastly less stressful job making a lot more money. Its hard to believe its happening.
    I was cleaning out bookmarks and thought I’d post to you… I think it was very helpful mentally to hear other peoples take and their own experiences with this sort of thing. This was a brutal experience for me but I think I made it by deciding to make good choices every day and to keep going, even when almost everything in me had given up. Anyways, I wanted to say thanks as this posting was one of the resources that helped me.
    Regards,
    Mark.

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