I have trouble getting work done if I'm not in the right mood, which is a rarity. I've become an extreme avoider of anything that will make me mad or frustrated or remind me of things that make me mad and frustrated. The problem is that I’m the number two in a small, overly-ambitious company that may just be the most frustrating one in existence. So I have what many would call an impossible workload and also a massive amount of frustration. The latter unfortunately usually cancels out the former for me and leads to much more of both. Oh, and I can’t easily quit, because it’s a family business and my boss/dad’s life’s work. Simply put, I need to do a complete 180. I need to go from being an emotionally-scarred avoider to a guy that can do what needs to be done even when he feels like screaming until his lungs explode. Paper thin skin to tank armor. I’ve taken too long to realize that if I don’t solve this now, it may ruin the company and my life. I’ll take whatever you can give me: advice, coping techniques, books or articles I should read, websites and online communities I should visit, specific counseling suggestions (not just “get counseling”), whatever. I just can’t take it anymore.
posted by KinoAndHermes to Work & Money (23 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
My unexpectedly-long and desperate question pretty much lays it out, so I’ll just fill in any other details that might be relevant.
If you read through any previous questions I’ve posted, you’ll probably get a decent feel for the chaos that is my company. My dad’s got brilliant vision, but lousy execution. That means we can sell jobs just fine, but then struggle to actualize the work. He can’t bring himself to let go of engineers that simply cannot cut it, so I end up spending all my time fixing their work (when I can stand to do it). He firmly believes that just about anything can be learned and finished in a couple of hours and that constantly moving forward is more important than taking the time to plan properly and making sure everything is right first.
I’m the opposite, and my goal has always been to properly and completely learn how to do something, then write standard procedures that anyone can follow. That would be a lot of extra work, but it would be immensely useful to the company. Instead, I spend all my time at work playing fireman and troubleshooter for other people’s mistake-laden work. All those goals of writing standards have gone out the window, because I just don’t have the willpower to put in the extra work to do it because the frustration level of always being the fireman is so high. In truth, I should be putting in about 70-80 hours a week over all seven days. Nights and weekends should be a blessing where I can catch up, but I find myself wasting them, because I just don’t want to even think about work. Knowing that I probably don’t have enough time to do what’s expected of me (checking other people’s work when I need to learn it myself, first) just makes me waste that valuable time with sleeping, worrying, and distractions.
On top of work, I have a girlfriend, who I love, but who is also a source of stress from a different angle. In the same way, the stress from that has inhibited me in my work over the years as I worry about the relationship. We’re going to be going to couples counseling very soon, however, and I pray that that gets us on the right track. Right now, I don’t feel comfortable at work or home, which means I don’t get much done. I’d love to find a place where I live (Houston) where I could get away from both places and just read and work on my laptop with a few people around so I’m not in total isolation, but I haven’t found any real viable options for after work or late at night when I often feel most motivated. The major university libraries are pretty far away from our apartment, so I’d be talking a minimum of an hour of round-trip travel time just to go find a comfortable place open for some decent hours after work.
I’ve been to personal counselors of all types over the years to discuss these issues without any luck. I’ve tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but it falls flat when you confront it with the fact that the things you’re describing really ARE as bad as you’re describing them. It’s not just your outlook that needs to change. I figure if I give counseling another try, I need someone or some system with more oomph to it. Someone that actually has lots of ideas and techniques they can teach me that I can draw on to immediately help keep going me when I’m in a bad mood. Someone that takes an active role in trying to manage my progress and tries to make good strides each week. I’ve always found all my counselors to be too passive, wanting me to figure out the answer myself in miniscule increments, which just leads to months of paying them for not much in return.
I have also been on all sorts of different meds at one time or another. I’ve tried a variety of SSRIs, SNRIs, DRIs, bipolar meds, lithium, and even one for potential ADHD (Vyvanse). None of them really made me feel better or more positive and able to roll with the punches, and the Vyvanse just made me extra focused on the distractions I had around me. Right now, I am on 2 mg of clonazepam a day to try to help mitigate the crippling anxiety that is at the core of what I’ve described here. I did notice an almost immediate improvement in my ability to work while worrying less when I first started taking it. I don’t know if its effect has tapered off in the subsequent months or my responsibilities have just increased since then, evening the stress back out to where it used to be. I don’t dare stop taking them, since they’re the only pills I’ve ever tried that ever had any sort of positive effect that I could discern. However, they’re not the magic bullet, because I still don’t have the mental skills to actually deal with the stress. The pills probably make it easier for me to get out of bed in the morning instead of lying there dreading the day ahead. When I get to work, though, it’s anybody’s guess what my day will look like, so I doubt any dosage of pills is going to get me through that calmly on its own.
I don’t have any sort of wife and kids to support and my job is pretty secure even despite my problems with productivity. I have money in the bank. I’m getting older, though, and I don’t want my experience here to actually inhibit my prospects at another job should I just have to leave some day. I’m a jack-of-all-trades by necessity and sadly kind of weak in the area my degree is in, because I’ve had to learn to fix everything else. My point is that I don’t have any real, critical outside influences that can just FORCE me to shape up. It’s all got to come from me developing my own willpower. And I’ve got to develop a lot of it very quickly. I just don’t know how to do it, and that’s why I need your help. If I can’t fix myself, I think the company’s future, my family’s future, and my relationship with my girlfriend are probably all at high risk of destruction.
To summarize, even if there’s no end in sight or light at the end of the tunnel right now, I need to be able to diligently keep getting lots of stuff done. Regardless of my frustration with my capricious dad, or his stressful company’s effect on my family, or the troublesome aspects of my relationship with my girlfriend, I need to be able to keep going and getting things done instead of sinking into despair, anger, and avoidance. It’s irrelevant whether this is an unfair load for me to carry or not. Things simply tend to fail if I’m not involved, and until the fundamental structure of my surroundings changes, I’ve got to work extra hard to keep everything together. And I can’t do that right now. I can’t get anything done right now, even going through my backlog of emails. It just all makes me feel too awful to confront any of it. However, I’m not helping to fix that by avoiding it all; I’m just making it worse. Help me break the cycle and become a much stronger person. If I don’t, I’m going to break to pieces.