I'm totally screwed. What do I do?
October 2, 2009 1:55 PM   Subscribe

My escalating depression has caused me to hit rock bottom, mainly an arrest for DUI and will almost certainly be fired since they are using any excuse to fire anyone. What do I do now to recover mentally and get another job when I can't drive and have a record?

I work at a newspaper, and the constant layoffs and the demeaning things I have had to experience has made me depressed for nearly a year. I don't just hate my job, I hate myself, my life, God, any writing and am an angry person. I should have seen the signs, but I thought everything would magically get better, everyone would love me, etc., if I got another job. That never happened, maybe I should have just quit. However, my job is the one thing I have, crappy as it is.

A couple months ago, I got transferred to a less prestigious assignment for writing something on Facebook I'm not supposed to, maybe I should have just quit.
Lately, I've been going to bars and driving home, which this week got me arrested. I guess it's my due, I've done it more times than I remember. I work v. far away from home due to shit wages. This is a small town where I work. They aren't just Nazis about being "tough on crime" they know me and it is even more humiliating. I won't get off with just a fine, if you know what I mean.

How do I recover from this? I don't want to just stay at home all day, I'll go nuts. I'm ok with money for now, I live at home and my parents haven't disowned me yet. I could get a crap job, but it's OH and I don't know if anyone will hire me.
I have to make court dates, so I can't flee the country unfortunately.

I'm not sure if therapy+meds is worth it, I can't change what happened, even though you guys think that's the greatest.

God, will I ever stop wanna feeling like crawling in a ball and escaping?
posted by greatalleycat to Human Relations (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the laws in Ohio, but in PA for a first time offense you can get off with a slap on the wrist. Talk to a lawyer and figure out exactly what you are facing.

You will almost certainly have to take some form of court ordered treatment no matter what. If you are serious about needing help you have to talk to a real professional though.

I've been through the DUI thing, it feels like shit for a long time, but things picked up for me as time went by. I can drive again and I have a job I like. It's a serious bummer, but not the end of the world.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:00 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Therapy and meds are worth it. You can't get better until you take action to make your life better. Maybe those things won't fix your job situation, but they can at least give you clarity to make good decisions about where you want to go from here.

Your situation is not hopeless, but it's hard to see that when you're depressed. It's possible to get undepressed, but maybe not on your own. Why not open yourself up to options that have helped millions of other people?
posted by something something at 2:01 PM on October 2, 2009

God, will I ever stop wanna feeling like crawling in a ball and escaping?

First off, yes. You will feel better. Nothing bad lasts forever, and a DUI isn't the end of the world. Get a lawyer. Keep your mouth shut. Let him (or her) handle it.

Second, I have been in your situation with regards to a horrible newspaper job that made me hate life. In a moment of anger, I quit. The year afterward was rough, but it was one of the best things I've ever done. I've got a much better job now, and I feel a lot better. If your job is making you feel terrible you need a change. Talk to your parents, go to a doctor, take the initiative and get help. Look at this experience as a wake up call.
posted by dortmunder at 2:05 PM on October 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm not sure if therapy+meds is worth it

Why wouldn't it be "worth it"? Even if it's not a guarantee of success breaking out of your depression/destructive behavior, surely it gives you an improved chance of success. (A hell of a lot better chance than the method of doing nothing!) Of course it's worth it. This isn't the end of the movie, this is the middle part, where you face a problem and then you make an effort and overcome it.

You are very lucky that things worked out this way before you hurt yourself or someone else. So, capitalize on that good luck by taking positive action. Depression makes you feel like you're not capable of taking positive action -- but you ARE. Set up therapy appointments, set up systems (maybe your parents can help) so that you actually show up to the appointments. Small steps is how you walk out of hell.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:07 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

1) Go to an AA meeting. You don't have to say your name, speak, or pick a sponsor if you don't want to. It's not an admission that you have a drinking problem. Just go.

2) Lawyer up. Besides it being necessary generally, your lawyer might be able to get you permission to drive to and from work.

3) Don't assume that you will be fired unless there's a work policy that states explicitly that you will be in case of a DUI conviction or that you have to be able to drive (unrestricted) for the job.

4) You will get through this.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Therapy and meds are worth it. Absolutely yes. They do not fix everything, and there are a lot of downsides to meds - but they can really, really, really help. I've been in similar shoes brother, and trust me, it is worth it to get yourself an appointment.

And you know, even if the meds aren't that great, even if it's just placebo - the feeling of being proactive about your depression, about taking the necessary steps to help yourself instead of wallowing, can be just as big of a boost as what ever serotonin is being inhibited from reuptake.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:23 PM on October 2, 2009

I'm unclear whether there was anything prior to the problems at work that are exacerbating the depression. The big clue here, for me, is your parents. You say they haven't thrown you out yet. I don't know you or your parents but, based on personal experience, my guess is they're worried about you and this, however uncomfortable that might be for you to address, might be the foundation you need, particularly if you're living with them right now and they can see everything that's going on. There's a good chance they've seen a change with you that we can't see. Don't be afraid to be honest with them and your worries. You need to have someone you trust, whether that is your parents or a therapist or a friend who can take on your concerns and help you.

My advice, given you have the finances, quit the job the job you hate that you have to travel miles to. Take solace at home. Talk plainly to your folks, talk about your concerns, take time to heal yourself, talk to someone independently about the depression. Can you volunteer in your home town for a while?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2009

Therapy and meds work wonders for many people. Keep an open mind. Even if the first therapist and the first med don't work out like you you want them to.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:29 PM on October 2, 2009

Of course therapy is worth it. Why would venting to a bunch of internet strangers be worth more than at least one session with a professional? I'm sorry you're going through a rough patch, but that's all it is if you're willing to get help.
posted by katillathehun at 2:35 PM on October 2, 2009

Therapy + Meds is indeed very much worth it. I am walking, breathing, and living proof of that. We won't go into my story.

Therapy is not some arcane forensic exploration into the most hidden recess of your psyche. That's Hollywood baloney. Therapy will consist of learning simple, straightforward mechanisms for dealing with your burdens. You will likely learn a lot about yourself in the process. You can learn things you didn't know you couldn't see, but were in front of you all your life.

I told my group therapist that I was surprised at how simple this stuff was. I already knew most of it - but I thought it never applied to me. He laughed, and said "Everyone says that." Therapy will help, if you apply the lessons you learn.

Meds will help too. I have seen impressive changes in myself and family and friends. Very positive, life changing differences, all brought on by a little push to the brain in the right direction.

Get the therapy and meds going before anything else happens. You may be surprised at how good things are actually going for you, but you have been blind. I was.
posted by Xoebe at 2:37 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Talk to a lawyer before you quite your job. Having a job that you have to drive to may mean that they will not take away all of your right to drive. Finding a new job will be impossible if your driving privileges have been totally revolked and you dont have another means to get there. Really talk to a lawyer before you do anything else.
posted by ihadapony at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're not alone (unless you actually submitted this question, too). I don't know how practical the advice is here, but check it out and realize you're not the first person on the planet in this situation.
posted by availablelight at 3:17 PM on October 2, 2009

You're right: you can't change what has happened. What you CAN change is what WILL happen. Deciding not to decide is still making a decision. What you need to do right now: contact an attorney. Go to court. Do what your attorney suggests. Then, consequences known, parameters defined, DEAL. That may mean therapy and meds. That may mean working a shit job for longer than you'd like. That may mean asking your parents for help. That may mean all three of those things. Now, the real question is, how does a depressive deal with such a huge pile of suck? Well, for one, take stock. Make lists. Good things, bad things. Things you can change, things you can't. Walk in the sun. Smile, especially when you don't feel like it. Don't get overwhelmed. Take things bit by bit. Look for joy, but don't seek escape. Things didn't collapse in an instant, things won't assemble automatically. Do one thing at a time. But DO one thing. Don't get paralyzed. You don't hafta sprint, you aren't being chased. That's just hindbrain yammer. Block it out. Just keep moving forward. A little bit, that's all. Just a little bit.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:04 PM on October 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: So, I went through the whole DUI thing in smalltown, OH as well. Get a lawyer. Don't say anything at work. From experience and what I've heard from other DUI people, most first-time offenders manage to have the DUI reduced to wreckless opp or something else less offensive. No promises and I'm not a lawyer, just ya know, you might not be doomed. You'll more than likely be granted work driving privileges. Work might not even need to know. I ultimately shelled out around $4000 (and this was almost 10 years ago) so be prepared for that and the mandatory informative weekend you'll get to spend in a crappy hotel that essentially exists for DUI weekends. I couldn't wait to get the f out of there.

I just want you to know that after I was arrested (humiliating!), I went through a really really crappy depression. In fact everyone I know that's ever had a DUI went through this. I had to ask my parents (who I lived with at the time as well) to drive me to court, I had to ask my friends for rides all the time. I was swimming in self-guilt and the social stigma attached to people with DUIs made me feel like scum. But after a couple of months, wrapping my head around the idea that nice little law-abiding me was caught doing one of society's most love-to-hate crimes got easier. Not easy, but easier. I made a mistake. So did you. Learn from it. Quit drinking. And dude, quit your job! If you have some money and mom and dad have a room for you, you'll survive. Maybe start writing about things you've wanted to write about but haven't. You need to get yourself in a better place and maybe you can make the DUI work for you. I feel really cheesy saying that but it's true. This isn't the bottom. You could do worse. But don't. Let this be your bottom. Sure, therapy's not a bad idea. (And for the record, on your funfilled "weekend," you have to talk to a counselor.) Hopefully this DUI can propel you to make some decisions in your life that maybe it's time you made. I wish you the best.
posted by smeater44 at 4:08 PM on October 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the help! The consensus seems to be some kind of therapy.
I have decided to quit my job, I don't want to get fired. I guess If I needed cash that bad, I'd get fired and try to fight for unemployment, but I'd rather get a crap job than sit for 6 mos. at home getting checks.
I am worried about the priviliges, but couldn't I get them if I got another job? I mean how else do people pay costs? Of course, the point is to humiliate and degrade you I know, but I'm a first offender.

In response to someone, I was told I'd be fired if I didn't get privileges by Wed. They are bastards and did this to other people in the company. It is the job that drove me to it, I was happier when it was better when I first started out. Of course, nobody cares about that except a therapist or something.
posted by greatalleycat at 4:11 PM on October 2, 2009

Response by poster: My job involves constant driving, this is why i had to mention it since they wonder where my car was after a few days.
posted by greatalleycat at 4:13 PM on October 2, 2009

If you're asking whether therapy and meds are "worth it" -- I challenge your notion that you're at rock bottom. Being at rock bottom means you're so lost that you might as well try anything because you have nothing to lose. You do get to decide where that is. Think about how things could actually be worse. See if they might be going there, realize that you're in the driver's seat to get there, or to get somewhere else.

Meds do not go hand in hand with a therapist. I'm not sure what you think you're giving up by seeing a therapist or getting help in some shape or form (be it AA meetings, or group therapy, or seeing an individual therapist, etc). Maybe you don't know either, but you can ask yourself that. Many of us spend time in a mental or physical place in which we're terribly unhappy because it does serve us in some way. Waiting for external factors to make you happy (i.e. a new job) is not uncommon. It's just not very likely to get you the results you want. It's hard to let go of that, though. Forgiving yourself for not being in a place to be happy in the past is a good first step to making your life better now.

God, will I ever stop wanna feeling like crawling in a ball and escaping?

This is going to sound much more harsh than I mean it to, but: Yes, as soon as you realize why part of you believes that pitying/hating/beating yourself serves you, and logically conquer that by recognizing it really does NOT serve you.

First step is, you decide you are done being in situations where you are likely to feel this way. Perhaps losing this job will be a blessing (have you actually lost it yet?) You force yourself to emotional and physical places where you feel better. You start by remembering that you DO have some really great things going on in your life (your parents are still there for you, that is a start). You have this moment and every moment afterward to feel good about what's positive in your life, and to reach out for what's missing -- or you have this moment to dwell on your past behavior and why you suck for behaving that way and how you're doomed to repeat it. That being said, you may have been depressed and mired for so long that it's not clear or easy for you to just decide to focus on what's good and move toward what's healthy for you. Which is why therapy or AA or whatever form of help resonates with you is a very good idea.

Of course getting help is worth it. Of course you're worth it.
posted by pazazygeek at 4:23 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

"... It is the job that drove me to it, I was happier when it was better when I first started out. ..."

As a former world class enabler of an epic female alcoholic, with a few hundred Al Anon meetings in his past, let me respectively opine: I doubt it, all, very much. 90 AA meetings in 90 days, greatalleycat, and then re-read your words, please.

One thing you might discover in one of those meetings is that shame and guilt fall, still, somewhat disproportionately on female drinkers, if only because society, in general, remains less tolerant of excessive drinking by women. You might discover that you best not be making big life decisions on your own, right now. You might discover that alcohol hits women harder, ounce for ounce of liquor, and pound for pound of body weight, than it does men, and you might learn a few theories about why this seems to be. You might learn that your job is not the spring of misery you think it is, at present, but just a place where it is hard to cover up how miserable you can be.

Lawyer up. Get honest with yourself, and your parents. Get to an AA meeting, every day, rain or shine, snow or sleet, hail or duststorm, for the next 3 months. Get to court, and do what the court tells you to do. And don't quit your job; right now, terrible as it seems to you, it may be an important place for you to be, as you go through the process of sorting out what alcohol is going to represent in your life. If they can you, they can you, but don't can yourself.
posted by paulsc at 8:32 PM on October 2, 2009

Response by poster: I'm not an alcoholic, I didn't mean to give that impression. I only drink socially and not often.
posted by greatalleycat at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2009

What I'm hearing is an inability to take responsibility for your actions. You're making a lot of excuses here, and getting upset at your employer and the judicial system for reacting (in what seems like an appropriate way) to your behavior.

A therapist is a great way to start. A lawyer, at the moment, might be a better one. You may not have the cash for that right now, but talk with your parents -- might they loan you the money to get back on track? Find out what a lawyer recommends, then take your next steps. Try writing: freewriting about your feelings about all of this, and once you've let most of the anger and anxiety out, try writing out various plans of action.

FWIW, I'd consider making this anonymous if you're calling your employers bastards, after you've already been reprimanded for writing inappropriate things about work on the internet. Pay attention to what you're doing, and anticipate the fact that the things you do have consequences.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:21 PM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

"I'm not an alcoholic, I didn't mean to give that impression. I only drink socially and not often."
posted by greatalleycat at 12:08 AM on October 3

I have no intent to snark, particularly to a person already feeling badly about their life situation, greatalleycat, but neither "only" drinking socially, or "not often" is any reliable measure of whether you are, or aren't, an alcoholic.

You got a DUI. Why not presume, on the strength of that, that you might not, at the moment, be the best judge of your situation, and get together with other, more experienced people, who might be better at spotting denial, and other common mechanisms of self-deception, in what is for many, a very confusing, crippling condition?

If you're right, believe me, they'll tell you. If you're wrong, and you'll let them, they'll help you.
posted by paulsc at 9:33 PM on October 2, 2009

Former small town newspaper writer here - please go to therapy and if meds seem to be the thing please take them as long as they help you. The DUI is a heinous situation, you did something stupid, BUT the most important thing is to deal with your depression. If you don't do this, you may possibly wind up in a worse situation than a DUI. Pleaaaase - take care of yourself now. Those options are something available in this world that can possibly help you, do it now.
posted by Kloryne at 9:39 PM on October 2, 2009

"I'm totally screwed. What do I do?"
"My escalating depression has caused me to hit rock bottom ..."
"I don't just hate my job, I hate myself, my life, God, any writing and am an angry person."
"I should have seen the signs, but I thought everything would magically get better, everyone would love me, etc., if I got another job."
"It is the job that drove me to it..."
"I'm not an alcoholic, I didn't mean to give that impression."

Stacked together, it's hard to hear all these statements as the consistent, single voice of a completely rational individual, even over a deaf text medium like AskMe.

I'm not playing games with you, by quoting you sequentially. I'm simply asking, that you don't play games with yourself.
posted by paulsc at 10:01 PM on October 2, 2009

Best answer: quit your job. i had a job once that broke me. it wasn't the work it was the job. the environment, the people, the office, the culture. it had me hating myself, thinking i was worthless, ugly, stupid, etc. a lot of people there did not like me, and i turned that into no one liking me. depression and anger and a lot of self-loathing became my life. and really, it was all because of this job. this fucking job that i was at for 9 hours a day and that i had to ride a disgusting bus to and from and that i had to wear work clothes for.

it took me a good 2 years to come out of the depression that that job put me in (2 years after i left the job).

i can only look at your situation through the lens of my life, while paulsc is looking at it through the lens of his. neither of us know for sure.

but, you might as well quit, since they're probably going to fire you anyway, and you don't have driving privileges to get to and from work. you have a place to stay with your folks, and you say you're okay for money for now. quit. get some meds and some therapy (if you want to), regroup, and then get another job.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:06 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

"... i can only look at your situation through the lens of my life, while paulsc is looking at it through the lens of his. ..."

Except that, listening to greatalleycat, statements like:

"Lately, I've been going to bars and driving home, which this week got me arrested. I guess it's my due, I've done it more times than I remember." and
"They aren't just Nazis about being "tough on crime" they know me and it is even more humiliating." and
"However, my job is the one thing I have, crappy as it is."

aren't coming from my life, they are coming from greatalleycat's life, misanthropicsarah.

I think it would be great if greatalleycat could flush her problems by changing jobs, misanthroopcisarah. But, straight out of her own mouth, even greatalleycat doesn't believe that:

"I should have seen the signs, but I thought everything would magically get better, everyone would love me, etc., if I got another job."

Although, she's still trying to: "That never happened, maybe I should have just quit."

In my limited experience, when you can't tell your own bullshit from the unvarnished truth, it's high time for a circle of experienced drunks who can.
posted by paulsc at 11:41 PM on October 2, 2009

I'm not an alcoholic, I didn't mean to give that impression. I only drink socially and not often.

Either way the court is going to make you take alcohol treatment classes, and probation may require AA meetings.

Despite saying it's social, you also say you drank to cope with being miserable with work, that is obvious alcohol abuse at least. Even if you aren't alcoholic you can learn a lot from AA about how to cope with problems without turning to a drug, so listen close if you go.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:05 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd try and give your two weeks notice if you are quitting. This way your next employer, even if it's McDonald's, can call and see if you left on good terms or not.
posted by glenno86 at 6:16 AM on October 3, 2009

1. DUI, knowingly driving home drunk on multiple occasions and you just finally got caught, which you seem to own.

-Are you the least bit concerned that you might have hurt or killed someone while indulging in your negativity, and then your life and theirs would be over?

2. "I'm not sure if therapy+meds is worth it, I can't change what happened, even though you guys think that's the greatest."

This, along with the comments about you believing you're unhireable, suggests to me that you don't want things to get better, and so you're not even really trying.

Have you sent your resume anywhere? Sent notes to other fired employees to see what they're doing and if they might have job leads? Looked into leaving the journalism industry for some type of writing that has a business model that isn't melting while we watch?

Is moving somewhere with greater opportunities an option? Do you do any writing or creative work that's entirely your own that you're willing to risk exposing to the world to see if it can take you somewhere better?
posted by medea42 at 3:35 PM on October 4, 2009

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