No job and scared.
March 22, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Today I was fired from my job of 10 years. I don't know what to do.

I wasn't going and had excessive absences in the last year because I was depressed, overwhelmed and couldn't handle it. For a while I had been wanting to try some new things but never knew how to break into new fields. Now it seems I may have no choice. Please no judging. I know I am at fault for the loss of my job.

I live in the US, in New York state. I had been on medication and seeing a therapist and psychiatrist. I am not sure that this is going to be possible now that I have no job, no insurance.

I am shell shocked and don't know what I am going to do. I have some questions that any adult should probably know the answers to. Forgive these probably stupid, probably self evident and google-able questions that I have now.

- What actions should I take first? Second? Third?
- How do I go about looking for a job? This is such a simple yet such a loaded question from someone who hasn't looked for a job in 10 years.
- Can I get on disability for depression?
- How do I get a job when I have been working in a specialized field (graphic design) that payed fairly well? I feel I am so specialized that it may be hard to find another job that I fit into.
- Can I get on unemployment insurance if I was fired from a job? (I was fired for the excessive absences)
- I have $5000 in credit card bills. What happens if I can't make payments on my bills?
- What if get sick and I can't pay for treatment because I have no insurance?

Throwaway email

Thank you in advance for ANY and ALL advice you can give me.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (28 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You should see if your employer offers COBRA, which lets former employees continue coverage of health care after voluntarily or involuntarily leaving. Employers beyond a certain size are required to offer it.
posted by jasonhong at 6:48 PM on March 22, 2011

Depending on your insurance policy, your coverage should still be in place until at least the next pay period and possibly until the end of the month, so you need to make an appointment with your therapist and psychiatrist right away because your mental health situation is of primary importance in figuring out everything else.

If you were missing work because of depression and/or other mental health issues, and you've been under the care of a therapist and psychiatrist, there are probably assistance programs to help you get by until you can get on your feet again.

And, I don't want to give you false hope, but you might even be able to qualify for unemployment compensation, even though you were fired, if the reason you were fired was related to the medical/mental health issues. Your therapist or psychiatrist might be able to advise you on the proper channels for pursuing that.

Try to take things day by day, and step by step, so you don't feel too overwhelmed. Sending good wishes to you.
posted by amyms at 6:49 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

You will get through this. It is just a job. You are more than just a worker. First tell someone, someone you know will be supportive and non-judgemental (maybe your therapist would be a good choice). With your support person look though any documentation your former employer has given you. Bring your questions to your therapist (even without insurance you need to see them and let them know you may need a sliding scale). You WILL get though this.
posted by saucysault at 6:50 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can answer a few of these. I'm sorry the answers are going to suck and are not going to make you feel better:

Q: What actions should I take first? Second? Third?
A: Right away, go file for unemployment, food stamps, and any and all state and federal aid you now qualify for, as your income is now zero. This site will steer you in the right direction. I'm sure others will chime in with ideas for belt-tightening.

Q: Can I get on disability for depression?
A: Sometimes people can get on disability for depression with a firm diagnosis from a doctor stating that they are unable to work. However, in order for depression to be considered a disability by ADA standards, you have to be treating the depression and the treatment still not mitigating the depression enough for you to work. Note that you cannot get on unemployment if you are on disability, and more importantly, you will be disqualified from unemployment if you are unable to work for any reason, disability included.

Q: Can I get on unemployment insurance if I was fired from a job? (I was fired for the excessive absences)
A: You can always file for unemployment by saying you were laid off. There is no penalty if your state unemployment office checks in with your old job and they say otherwise, but there is everything to gain if your old job doesn't dispute the unemployment claim.

Q: I have $5000 in credit card bills. What happens if I can't make payments on my bills?
A: You can call the credit card companies and let them know you've lost your job, and they may be willing to freeze your payments for a little while, or lower your APR temporarily. But realistically, if you can't make payments on your bills, you will continue to compound interest as your debt snowballs.

Q: What if get sick and I can't pay for treatment because I have no insurance?
A: People who get sick and have no insurance go to the emergency room for treatment and go into debt paying their medical bills. A recent study showed that around 1/4 of ER visits were actually for primary care.
posted by juniperesque at 6:52 PM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

- Can I get on unemployment insurance if I was fired from a job? (I was fired for the excessive absences)

maybe, since you've been under a doctor's care. start by asking your doctor if s/he's familiar with the laws in that circumstance.

I don't have a lot of advice other than to say:

I'm sorry this has happened to you. It seems like you've been immobilized by depression for longer than you know. This will be a hard time, but you will get through it.

First, call friends or family that you know IRL who will not be too judgmental. You need in person support, and probably hot soup and pot roast.

Second, don't throw away your alarm clock. Your instinct now may be to sleep and forget, but that will make everything worse.

Third, (sort of first), call your doctor. Since you're under treatment, you need a battle plan. Let him/her know you're unemployed and unsure about ongoing income, discuss sliding scale or other fee options, and don't forget to ask about the unemployment insurance thing. Most importantly, talk about what it will take for you to feel well enough to face the world, acknowledge that you're a worthwhile person who makes mistakes, and believe that you deserve a good job and a good life.

It's kind of a cliche to tell people that getting fired is an opportunity, but it frequently really is. You have been thinking just that. Now you need to persuade yourself that you're ready to take advantage of it.

Take care of yourself. You deserve to feel better and do better. I wish you the very best.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:52 PM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry you're going through this.

First and foremost I suggest you take a break. Don't feel you have to find your next job omgtomorrowrightnow. It's clear from your question that you are feeling way down on yourself and probably beating yourself up a lot. Stop. It's okay to be nice to yourself even though these things happened -- in fact, it's even more essential to be super nice to yourself when you feel you deserve it less. I mean it!

I also suggest you let your therapist know what has happened right away and ask for a session as soon as possible so you can start to untangle all the feelings you're having.

I agree with others suggesting COBRA, unemployment, networking, etc. I just think you should start in few days at the earliest. Allow yourself to grieve this loss. Focus on supporting yourself and getting support from others before getting into the nitty-gritty of your next steps.
posted by hansbrough at 6:53 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unemployment insurance varies a little from state to state. For New York, this is the website. I linked to their FAQ page, which answers one of your questions:
Unemployment insurance is temporary income for eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and who are ready, willing, able to work and have sufficient work and wages in covered employment.
Another FAQ page (here) says expands on this:
You may be eligible for benefits if:
  • You lost your job due to lack of work: the temporary or seasonal employment ended; your job was eliminated; there was an involuntary reduction in force; the company downsized or shutdown; the company restructured or reorganized, there was a lack of company operating funds/orders; or for any other business operating reason which resulted in your involuntary unemployment.

  • You were discharged or fired because you were unable to meet employer performance or production standards, or you were unable to meet employer's qualifications for the job.

  • You may be denied benefits if:
  • You were fired because your employer alleged that you violated a company policy, rule or procedure, such as absenteeism or insubordination; because of a disagreement or dispute with a boss or co-worker; or you were fired for any other reason.

  • You quit your job.

  • You are unemployed because of a work stoppage in the last 49 days which was conducted in violation of an existing collective bargaining agreement in the establishment in which you were employed. It is not necessary that you are actually participating in the strike, but only that you are not working because of the strike in the facility in which you worked.
  • It is your responsibility (not your former employer's) to file for unemployment. Your filing goes to your former employer, and they either agree or disagree that you are eligible. If they think you are not eligible, they respond with that information and a representative from that company and you meet with the a person from the unemployment insurance department to each present your case. The case is then evaluated, and the unemployment insurance department makes a final ruling.
    posted by Houstonian at 6:54 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

    First: to quote a lot of recent videos: It WILL get better. (They may have been on a different subject, but it will. Really.)

    Now: You can get another job. It's likely you will work in your own field again, even. This is not a doom.

    You need to focus, #1, every single day, on your number one problem: your best friend in the world (you!) is so depressed, he's actually been sabotaging his own life. Stick up for him. Fight for him. He needs you. Start doing all those things a best friend should do...

    Here's one link to free mental health services. A suicide hotline may be able to provide more - don't hesitate to call. You are your best friend. Do it.

    Your job is not so specialized as you might think. You'll get another... but probably not until you do some real work on your bigger problems.

    The credit card companies may eventually begin to harass you by phone and mail. They may damage your credit score, which will affect your ability to buy a house, get more credit cards, and so on - but they won't repossess your couch, or get you evicted. They are not your first concern. (However, as soon as you have a source of income, do begin paying the bills off, even if by a trivial amount, regularly. It will help stave them off. Don't get into extended discussions with them, but do make payments.)

    If you get sick, there are free clinics available for that, too. If it is not an emergency, you may have a wait period of a couple weeks - yes, America's health care for the poor sucks that much. If it is an emergency, the nearest hospital must admit you.

    Take care. It will be hard, but things will work out. Emphasis on the word "work" - nothing is going to be easy, dammit. But things will get better, if you work on them.
    posted by IAmBroom at 6:57 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Houstonian brought up a good point about unemployment. I have known at least one case where an employee was fired with cause, and yet was able to collect unemployment. The reason was simple: it was easier for the company to claim the action was a layoff, despite what they told the employee. They took the easy way out, instead of the extra risks of officially firing.

    My friend was thus able to collect full benefits, and can legitimately write on their resume that they were laid off - it is the legal truth, and if their former boss disputed it during an employment check it would constitute actionable liable!

    Go file unemployment. It can be your first new act of defiance, in support of you.
    posted by IAmBroom at 7:02 PM on March 22, 2011

    I'd look into contacting local temp and recruiter agencies. While neither may get you a full-time replacement job, they both should offer enough part-time and contract work to get you through some rough spots.

    Your budget is going to be very tight for a while. See if you can give it a boost by ebaying / craigslisting things you don't need. If you've been anything like me when I was depressed and had high credit card debt, you've accumulated a lot of junk you've never used. Sell it.

    If COBRA does not work out for you, ask your health providers if they have a sliding scale. Many, if not most, places have a separate rate for self-pay people.
    posted by Wossname at 7:05 PM on March 22, 2011

    I have posted this link several times, and it makes me sad that there's such a need for it, but anyway, enough of the philosophizing about the state of the world:

    There is a nonprofit called Needymeds whose mission is to direct people to low- or no-cost sources of medication and health care. The site has a searchable database of free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics nationwide, and many of these clinics offer mental health services. (The database includes info on each clinic's hours, location, cost, and services.)

    Second, nthing what toodleydoodley says, especially the parts about:
    a) Surrounding yourself with supportive people: You're tired and drained now, and being around nonjudgmental friends/fam will help you heal.
    b) Resisting the siren song of the bedsheets: I hibernate when my depression flares,. But the extra snoozing makes me more fretful and isolated, neither of which is really a big help.

    Also: I wish you the best. You deserve it, and if I could bake a loaf of bread and bring it over to your house, I would.
    posted by virago at 7:12 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

    I just want to note that the information above that you cannot get on unemployment if you are on disability is incorrect. Here is a Social Security administration memo that explains more.
    posted by southern_sky at 7:21 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Get your resume updated. If you haven't been keeping it up, ask some friends or family if you can see theirs, and if they'll proof yours when you're ready. (In the future, update your resume every quarter whether it needs it or not.) Make sure that all the words that people might search for when looking for someone like you are on the resume.

    Get yourself a neutrally-named gmail or yahoo email address (like, don't call it sexxxxxykitty3982; stick to some variation of your name) and use that on your resume and to sign up for,, probably other places that other people will suggest. That email address will get mountains of spam, so don't use your "daily" email. You might also want to get a Google Voice phone number.

    Once you've set up your profiles on the various job sites, go into your profile and edit/resave it every morning so it is fresh in the search results.

    Set up searches on for keywords you'd use to find a job. Check the results 2-3 times a day. Apply to jobs you like.

    Between those things, go ahead and file for unemployment and research your other questions - assistance in your state/county/city, health resources, the best way to handle your credit cards (there's lots of people writing in depth about those things online).

    Breathe. Don't blame yourself. Don't shame-spiral until you can't function. Ten years is an incredibly long haul at a job, and you just might find when you get a new job that your work situation might have been exacerbating your performance issues. Fresh starts are awesome.
    posted by Lyn Never at 7:22 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


    For unemployment, you must file. It is not automatic. Say that you were laid off, not that you were fired. It's on the employer to say otherwise, don't do that dirty work for them. If they dispute it and say you were fired for cause, your benefits may be denied or stopped. If that happens, do not give up, demand a hearing. In NY, at least, unemployment standards do recognize that behavior can be sufficiently sub-par to warrant being terminated but not so bad as to rise to the level of "for cause" as it concerns unemployment.

    You have had a documented illness, for which you have been medicated and received therapy. This is at the root of why you were let go. Words from a random stranger on the net are not enough to cushion a blow like that even if you had no medically diagnosed mood disorder. but I'll say them anyway: THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You aren't lazy, you don't have a bad attitude, you have been sick and that is not your failing.

    Your employer, if it's large, may have its own specific policies for dealing with sick employees. It's entirely possible that they may have violated their own internal policies by kicking you to the curb rather than by placing you on disability. It does no harm to call their HR (if they are large enough to have one) and find out if there is a formal grievance process by which you can raise that point. It may even be that they would rather consider you disabled for a time than to fight such a battle. It is a long shot, to be sure, but it costs you nothing to try it, and perhaps will help you remember that you bear no blame for this.

    Your current income is zero. You should qualify for medicaid. If the state bureaucracy is too intimidating a place to start, you might try Fidelis, which specializes in health insurance for those with low incomes. It's an outgrowth of what was once Catholic Health Services, so they have been known to be willing to talk through things with people and actually try to help even if you are not a fit for their particular services. I have no affiliation, but they helped someone close to me.

    Please believe things can get better. Good luck.
    posted by tyllwin at 7:38 PM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

    I'm in Canada but file for EI. Like others have said, you can get it if you were fired. I was fired last month and received it last week. At first the company wanted to be jerks about it but I talked to an EI officer and explained the situation. Plus, I'm sure you can dispute a denial of EI like up here.

    If they give you some space to explain, use it. Don't get heated and badmouth the employer, just state what you said here. You are going through psychological issues. There is no reason why the gov't should hang you out to dry when you've paid into the program for so long and now are in a legitimate need of it.
    posted by penguinkeys at 7:46 PM on March 22, 2011

    For the job hunt, here's a perennial classic on the subject: What Color Is Your Parachute?
    posted by Ryogen at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2011

    The first thing you need to do is tell your friends, and talk with them, and unburden yourself, and listen to their experiences, and form as much of a supportive circle as you can.
    posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:53 PM on March 22, 2011

    Don't say that you were laid off if you weren't. I don't work for an unemployment office but I'm in eligibility determination for other social programs and I work with people who are applying/are about to apply/have been approved for unemployment compensation. Being fired for not turning up for work will, at least in Tennessee, qualify you for unemployment pretty easily. Did you get a separation notice or some other termination paperwork from your employer? I'd bet it says something like "violation of company attendance policy" (because that's what most of the hundreds of separation notices say). That's a good place to start.

    One stumbling block with unemployment is that, in order to receive it, you must be able to work and actively seeking unemployment. My clients who have left jobs (voluntarily or involuntarily) because of a disability and have filed disability paperwork are told by unemployment that they do not qualify because they can't work. Often, if they've got a lawyer working on their disability application, they lawyer will advise them to not apply for unemployment because it implies that they're physically able to work.

    First: file your unemployment, and do it ASAP. Be up front on the application, and get something in writing from your former employer verifying the date you were terminated and the reason. Many applicants are denied on the first round of unemployment determination. Don't be afraid to appeal. This process seems to move pretty quickly in most states.

    Second: Find out when your health insurance ends, and do your COBRA paperwork.

    Third: Getting disability for depression isn't impossible, but even under the most favorable circumstances with obviously disabled applicants, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to be approved. Don't bank on getting disability soon enough to take care of your immediate needs.

    Fourth: Social services. From my experience (again in TN not NY) is that NY is one of the states that offers Medicaid to some adults (TN does not, unless you're under 21, pregnant, or the qualifying parent of a minor child). Apply, if you think you need it. The absolute worst thing they can do is say no (a conversation I have many dozens of times a day with my clients.

    Fifth: See if your current doctor can help you lay in a few months' supply of any necessary medications. If you need help past that, look into your local health department. There are also a number of free or sliding-scale mental health clinics all over the country. There are ways to get help, especially with prescription drugs.

    If you have any questions about social services (general Medicaid information in particular, maybe if you think you might want to apply for food stamps or anything else) feel free to memail me.
    posted by kella at 7:58 PM on March 22, 2011

    One stumbling block with unemployment is that, in order to receive it, you must be able to work and actively seeking unemployment. My clients who have left jobs (voluntarily or involuntarily) because of a disability and have filed disability paperwork are told by unemployment that they do not qualify because they can't work.

    This happened to me. Actually, I was on unemployment when I became unable to work and filed for disability (which I was also denied). Be very careful what you are trying to do. If you are able to work and looking for a job, you qualify for unemployment, if you are unable to work (and your doctor will tell you whether you are or not) then you MAY qualify for disability.

    As for affording doctors and medication without insurance. I haven't had insurance for nearly ten years, for one reason or another, and I get my medications through patient assistance. The links that virago posted are helpful, but I went straight to the websites for the medications. Almost all of them say "if you cannot afford your medication...". You may have to change doctors and find the nearest mental health clinic. Nearly every town I've lived in has a mental health clinic that's either free or sliding scale, depending on your circumstances. The doctors in those clinics are just as good as doctors in private practice - sometimes better in my experience. Please don't go to the emergency room unless you believe you are a danger to yourself or others. It is too expensive.

    If you're looking for immediate money I would say to hit the temp agencies. They are a good way to get your foot back in the door and find out what's out there.
    posted by patheral at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2011

    Sorry, I meant to say MAY qualify for unemployment...
    posted by patheral at 8:22 PM on March 22, 2011

    Absolutely apply for unemployment and do it immediately. I live in NY state and was fired from a job a few years ago for not meeting performance standards (from an oddly contentious employer) and was found eligible.

    I did NOT lie on the unemployment form and offered the short, straightforward reason that I was given for being fired. Had my former employer denied this, I had their documentation of my termination to back up my statement and would have easily won an appeal. They never disputed my claim, so it never came to that.

    It's my understanding that companies with employees pay into a general unemployment fund as part of their yearly taxes, so you're not exactly causing them any additional financial burden. (I could be wrong about this, however.) They have little reason to dispute your claim if you're truthful in your reporting.
    posted by greenland at 8:25 PM on March 22, 2011

    I lost a job because of my depression (absenteeism and not getting the work done), and I was able to collect unemployment. You may be able to accurately claim that you were terminated because a medical condition made you unable to work.

    In my circumstances, HR spoke with me about my termination letter, and they included a sentence about a medical condition. I doubt that was necessary. I did put off filing for unemployment for a couple weeks while I focused on the worst of the depression, but within a couple weeks I felt like I could probably stumble in to an interview or a dead end job, and I figured it would take a while to get from application to starting work, so I didn't feel as if I was filing dishonestly.

    Look into the NY unemployment rules on medical discharge. It may be the way to go for the reason for your unemployment. Of course, do some figuring about whether you are actually able to work.
    posted by freshwater at 9:07 PM on March 22, 2011

    I'm sorry this has happened to you.

    I can't address unemployment, insurance, or credit cards, but here some job hunting tips to get you started (based on my own semi-recent dalliances with unemployment). Adapt as necessary for your field/situation.

    1) When updating your resume, don't merely list your responsibilities at your previous position(s). You want to use achievement statements, and lots of them. I formatted mine like so:

    JOB TITLE, Company, Location, Dates Held
    [1-2 lines summing up responsibilities]
    - achievement one
    - achievement two
    - achievement three

    2) Pull together an awesome cover letter. I had the quickest and most positive responses from employers when I laid out all their biggest requirements from the job ad in separate bullet points, accompanied by bullet points about how my skills and talents specifically addressed their needs (don't worry about addressing every single one, just pull out the 3-5 important ones). Like so:

    [date, pleasantries, why you're writing, job you're applying to, etc.]

    [column one, headed "Your requirement:"] [column two, headed "I have:"]
    [line from the job ad, verbatim] [my education/expertise/experience that matches requirement]


    3) Write up your SOAR stories about all those times you kicked ass at work: Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result. You've got a bunch, because everybody does (hint: refer back to your achievement statements from your newly updated resume). These will come in super handy when you interview because they'll be at the forefront of your mind when they ask certain tough questions. Unexpected bonus: writing these out strongly reinforced my previously-shaken confidence in myself and my work performance, which almost certainly came through in my interviews.

    4) Develop your elevator speech, and use it with wild abandon. I mean, don't go busting it out without context, but seriously, share it with absolutely everyone you can, whenever it seems appropriate. I got my current job as the result of one, and it came from a most unlikely and random connection. I know of someone else who got her job as the result of a conversation with a neighbor who saw her putting out her trash one afternoon and came over to ask why she was suddenly at home all day.

    5) Brainstorm lots of stuff you can work on that's job search-related even if it's not explicitly applying to jobs. I applied to tons of jobs online everyday, but quickly discovered that there are only so many times you can cycle through the same old tired online job postings, and it can be really demoralizing to log on every day and see nothing new. For my part, that meant I contacted recruiters, researched companies, conducted a ton of informational interviews, applied to temp agencies, taught myself software that I'd slacked on learning while I had a job, sought out people in my field on Twitter and began conversations with them, and so on. Not all of it always amounted to anything, in fact a lot of leads fizzled out eventually, but it was really critical that I felt like I was doing something to better my situation and make myself the most desirable employee possible even if nothing came of it.

    6) I saved a copy of each and every job ad I applied to. Not just bookmarking it, but saving a separate file to my computer marked with the job title, the company, and the date I applied. This was important because a) months could pass between my application and getting called for an interview and sometimes I didn't even remember applying, and b) often the job ad would disappear from the internet and I wouldn't be able to reference it in preparation for the interview.

    7) When I finally started getting calls for interviews, I followed a tactic similar to #3 above: I'd copy the job ad into a Word document and type out how I fit each and every need that they had, anything else I wanted to refer to during the interview, and any questions I had for them. I rarely referred to these notes during the interviews, but having done that work thoroughly in advance meant I rarely fumbled for an answer during an interview, and it refreshed my confidence in my expertise, something that can take a real beating during unemployment.

    8) Here is a previous answer I wrote about structuring your days now that you don't have a routine anymore.

    That should be (more than!) enough to get you started. I hope it helps, and hang in there. And please feel free to contact me if you'd like someone to review your resume. I would be happy to look at it.
    posted by anderjen at 9:12 PM on March 22, 2011 [31 favorites]

    I have no personal experience with unemployment (UI), but it sounds like others here have given you good advice on that. I do have experience with Social Security Disability (SSD). It can take years to be approved. My understanding of the relationship between UI and SSD is the same as southern_sky's, but that's all I can really say about that here. (

    If you have no income and no savings, you can apply for public assistance and Medicaid. If you have a small amount of savings, you may still qualify for those programs, but I'm not at my office this week and can't look up the numbers. If you're over the asset amount for Medicaid and/or are able to pick up some part time work, there are other public insurance programs, like Medicaid Buy-In, Healthy NY, HHC Options, and sliding scale clinics.

    Missing credit card payments will mess up your credit, but the most upsetting thing for a lot of people is the collection calls. You have the right under federal law to demand that they not call you. There are form letters all over the internet for this, but I've found that a reliable and user-friendly source for info on consumer debt issues is

    If you're in NYC, you can call 800- Lifenet for referrals to treatment providers, and I think they can also find out about public insurance programs.
    posted by Mavri at 4:27 AM on March 23, 2011

    Can I get on unemployment insurance if I was fired from a job? (I was fired for the excessive absences)

    Totally depends on the state. As said above for NY State, you get it unless your employer disputes the claim. And boy, do they ever put the burden of proof on your employer- I once started going down that route with an employee we fired, and the questions were fast and furious. We ultimately ended up not pursuing the claim.
    posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:04 AM on March 23, 2011

    I can't address the health issues, so I'll stick to the monetary/job ones: I personally know at least two people in NY who were fired for various performance-related things, including not showing up often enough, and they both collected unemployment. Also know several people in MA who had similar issues and also were qualified for unemployment.

    So as everyone has said, apply for unemployment! Do not lie on the application; you don't need to and lies will almost always bite you in the ass. Also someone mentioned food stamps and social services, etc. — do that too, because it sometimes takes a few weeks to kick in. Apply for COBRA — call your former employer's HR dept for info how to do that. They'll send you forms. They probably already are, or have given them to you. COBRA can be expensive, though, so you'll need unemployment to pay for it.

    Get all that sorted, then take a breather. It's Wednesday. Don't do anything else for the rest of this week other than pamper yourself. Make sure you don't say embarrassing things on social media (twitter, facebook) because you'll need those later for networking. Monday AM, start your career searching process. Polish the resume, sign up on monster and career builder and any other site you can find. Scan the listings at craigslist. Etc. Sign up for LinkedIn if you haven't already. Add everyone you've ever known. When you start networking and actually talking to people, leave out the information that you were fired. They don't need to know your personal business, they just need to know you're looking for work.

    You'll need to think of a way to address how you left your job for future interviews. That's up to you. Generally your former place of employment will only confirm you worked there, the dates, and the amount you were paid. You can soft-shoe it a little, say you just needed a change. You did! It's true.

    Good luck.
    posted by clone boulevard at 9:29 AM on March 23, 2011

    I am so sorry this happened to you. Lots of good advice upthread.

    I just wanted to say: not going to work, having a lot of absences does explain why they let you go, but when you say, "I know it was my fault," please give yourself a break. Depression saps your motivation. It makes you do stupid things, or not do things you should. It's like having a ball and chain around your ankle, keeping you from getting up and getting out. If you had excessive absences due to being physically ill, you would not be so hard on yourself, and what you have is a mental illness.

    Now, what you CAN do to help keep this from happening again is to monitor your depression carefully. Look for triggers, learn what sets you off, get others who are more objective to help keep you on track so that, if you do slip, you know to go to a therapist right away next time, get medication from your psychiatrist, and not let it get to this point again, for the sake of your own mental health and for your future job stability.

    I wish you the best.
    posted by misha at 10:42 AM on March 23, 2011

    The first thing you should do is get a nice routine started. Get up in the morning, take a shower, do some mild exercise and eat at least 2 meals a day. Everything else follows from that.
    posted by everyday_naturalist at 2:32 PM on March 24, 2011

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