How do I get better emotionally and still have a job?
February 18, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with severe depression and delusions? Where do I go from here? Special snowflakes inside.

I've been struggling with life and I'm not really sure what to do from here.

I'm a 30 year old male who upon graduating with an MBA in 2010 couldn't find a job in my chosen career field for over a year. I had no experience in the field and I don't interview well. So without financial resources, I had to move back in with family. About 5 months ago, I finally landed an entry level job. I worked my tail off for the first few months of the job to try to make the best of it in an effort to be promoted quickly and to "catch up" with my business school peers who did land good jobs and to where I thought I should be in life or at least be able to financially stand on my own two feet.

All of the stress in my life finally overwhelmed me and I was hospitalized for a week about a month ago. I thought I was hearing actual conversations of my bosses talking about me that were really just in my head. I claimed short term disability and didn't return to work for 3 weeks.

While in the hospital I was put on medication and started seeing a therapist. It's been a month since my breakdown, however I still dread going into work and am terrified of interacting with my boss who I have a poor relationship with. Since my return to work two weeks ago, my responsibilities have been diminishing. I was in a car accident last weekend (rear-ended and not my fault - really) and when I returned to work this past Wednesday I was put on final warning for 2 mistakes: one, I made the day before I went into the hospital for the delusions; and, two, last Friday - the day I received an annual review from my boss.

When I got out of the hospital I knew I needed my own space, so I rented an apartment which is about half of my monthly salary, and I bought an expensive new mattress so that my girlfriend of a year can stay overnight.

I still feel depressed, extremely anxious, and am not sure what to do. Should I quit my job and look for a new one even though it took me such a long time to find one in the first place? I'll probably have to move back in with my family. Or, should I keep going to work even though I'm terrified and probably on the way to getting fired? Or, do I go back to the hospital to get treatment for my anxiety and depression and claim disability? My fundamental question is: how do I get better emotionally? I feel completely stuck.
posted by Gosha_Dog to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Should I quit my job and look for a new one even though it took me such a long time to find one in the first place?

I don't know if you should leave your job at all, but this is the entirely wrong order in which to go about it. Find a new job first, get a written offer in hand, and then and only then quit your current job. This is a terrible economy and you need health insurance to adequately pursue treatment. If they fire you, you MIGHT be able to collect unemployment; if you quit, you almost certainly will not be able to.
posted by desjardins at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Processing a disability claim takes months if not years, just so you know.

Can you take a medical leave of absence (paid or unpaid) from your job at this time? It seems like a way to potentially stave off being fired for now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2012

Do you have a psychiatrist? If not, find one asap. If you were having hallucinations, that is a pretty severe depression. It can take several tries to find the right medication to get you up to a reasonable level of functioning. However, once you do, you will be able to think more clearly about things. If you do already have a doctor, get in to see him/her and talk about your situation with your meds, your depression and your job and see what he thinks can be done.

Also, does your company know about why you were in the hospital? I'm guessing yes. You might be able to get some protection under the Americans With Disability Act (if you are in the US). NAMI would be a good resource for your rights and options in this area.

Changing jobs might be the right thing in the long run - a good question to work on with your therapist but you really don't want to be without health insurance (especially since a gap in coverage could leave you open to any new insurance excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions such as depression) Can you afford COBRA if you leave/lose your current job?

In the meanwhile, make sure you are taking good care of yourself in terms of diet, exercise, sleep and taking your meds as prescribed. These basics can make a big difference in how you feel day to day.

Good luck!!!!!!!!!
posted by metahawk at 2:33 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like this job is truly horrible and you may lose it even if you don't quit. If I was hallucinating about my boss, I would definitely be planning an exit strategy no matter how good the job was on paper. You deserve better.

Maybe it is time to start looking for jobs that don't require an MBA. Maybe a different field or a radically different corporate culture would be less terrifying. Don't stress out about keeping up with your business school peers.

If this is a big company look into FMLA leave. You may be entitled to 90 days unpaid time off. That is enough time to gather your thoughts, discreetly network and check job listings, and keep working with your doctors.

It is possible that taking care of your depression will help with the "I don't interview well" issue. A lot of being a good interviewee is appearing super happy and excited about the job.
posted by steinwald at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Generally, you cannot qualify for FMLA until you've been with a company for a year.
posted by desjardins at 2:46 PM on February 18, 2012

Just my 2¢, but when I was feeling "overwhelmed" at work, I found it transformational to keep track of every interaction in a small journal. It helped me focus on my core duties and people took more care in outlining my responsibilities.

Don't be pushing yourself to "catch up". There's no particular place you should be at in this stage of your life. Fretting over your relative success is the most corrosive, counterproductive outlook you can bring to your work. It's a terrible way to live your life, too.

Getting fired isn't inevitable. I don't know your workplace but it's quite likely that some people have suffered something similar to what you had just been through and might possibly relate to your predicament. Try to treat this as a fresh start. Be humble. Be open. Listen carefully to directions. Don't pressure yourself to be a hero. Focus on the basics. Even if it doesn't work out with this company, you'll be practicing valuable skills.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:03 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

First, I’d like to tell you about my experience with debilitating mental illness. I had an emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for treatment in my early twenties. Five years out, I’m doing very well. But honestly – it took me like six months to just get over being in the hospital, let alone the breakdown that precipitated my hospitalization. Recovery was long and arduous. Many times I wanted to give up and give in to my mental illness. Through determination, therapy, and a supportive network of family and friends I made it out of what I call “the crisis zone” about six months post hospitalization. I still go to talk therapy once a week.

Second, to address you fundamental question: How do I get better emotionally? I think the severity of your symptoms warrant you devoting most of your attention to getting back to a stable place. This might mean you have to quit your job and move in with your parents temporarily, but you deserve help and recovery. I’d consult with your therapist on what all your options are. When I was considering hospitalizing myself for a second time I wrote out this giant list of pros and con and brought it to my therapist. Together we wrote out all my options and I chose to try twice weekly sessions. It worked helped get me through a really rough patch.

I wish you the best. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled.
posted by brown hound at 3:56 PM on February 18, 2012

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