Is it destination envy or a real problem?
May 8, 2012 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Do you have dysthymia? How do you deal with the constant dissatisfaction part of it, specifically as it relates to careers?

I am medicated so the sadness, anxiety and constant fatigue portion are bearable and most days, non-existent. What doesn't seem to go away is the constant need to change things. I am happy with my relationship and happy with the city in which I live (for the most part. I'd like more friends but that's another Askme).

But I am 16 months into a job that is only fine: It pays well, stressful some days but not overly so. Good work/life balance. Nonetheless, I'm bored a lot and find that I am always, always looking for a new job or a change in career. The job I had before this one lasted one year. I left mostly because I couldn't both eat and pay rent on that salary.

I have a reasonable idea of what I'd like more from in a career: I'd like to do more writing in any form, I'd like a bit more people-interaction and I'd like to work in an industry that I feel a bit more passion for. Nonetheless, I'm afraid that even if I got those things, I'd still be dissatisfied.

Any ideas?
posted by nubianinthedesert to Work & Money (5 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Like you, I have disthymia, but I'm not on meds because of an allergy. So I have to pretty much deal with it purely through psychological and environmental factors.

I rather suspect that it's not so much you want to change jobs, but that you don't want to close off any opportunities. The grass always seems to be greener elsewhere, am I right?

I have found my peace with the idea that my working situation will never be ideal, or even stimulating. The job market is shrinking, and I have a skill set that's not particularly marketable widely, added to the fact that I am not a very competitive person. My ideal job is likely not in the cards for me at this stage of the game. So, I seek opportunities to do what I love and find that satisfaction elsewhere in my life. For me, my solution has been to take up activities outside of work - I am a contract lecturer at a local university, and I conduct a choir.

I am an inveterate nerd, so I like to think of my working life as the mild-mannered Clark Kent type, helpful but prone to foibles and clumsiness. At night, I can pull out the proverbial tights and be super. Somehow, the inevitable fuckups that make working life so frustrating are easier to take when you know you're secretly awesome in ways the boss can't even imagine.

(I actually performed with my choir a couple of weeks ago in front of one of the worst bosses I have ever had; he was one of the primary drivers responsible for me having disthymia, actually. I had no idea he was there - he was apparently floored, he had no idea I had started a choir, much less heard what we could do!)
posted by LN at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've had long periods of dysthymia. I turned down depression meds and am instead trying to perk up my stubbornly hypo thyroid. T3 is my new best friend.

I'm also rarely satisfied. I shake things up every few years -- ditch the boyfriend, quit the job, move, new job, new boyfriend, ditch them both, move, live in the country, live in the city, restore a house, design a house, play this instrument, play that instrument, raise mushrooms, teach dance... However, I'm not convinced that this is a 100% bad thing.

For example, the only way I ever got decent raises was by quitting the low-paid jobs and getting new ones. Then I quit my last job because I started my own business. Then I got restless and changed the business model to one that let me travel. Thanks to all the travel, living in the US got boring, so I moved abroad. Now I'm living in a challenging, interesting place, speaking a different language, and reshaping the business again to get rid of some of the drudge work. Once that settles down I might move again. Who knows? I'm 51 and still have time for plenty of things.

If I had decided that I needed to stay put even though I wasn't happy, I would still be living with a somewhat charming but expensive slacker in a safe but dull community, driving every day to a slightly interesting job working for nice-enough people who didn't want to hear my ideas and didn't care as much as I did about the quality of our work. I also wouldn't be making as much money or have anywhere near as much freedom as I do now.

My restlessness has given me a ton of interesting experiences and ideas. With each change I'm happier. I've never wished I could go back.

A constant need to change things might come from a clinical problem, or it might just mean that your brain likes variety, you have a healthy curiosity, and you have high standards for your life that aren't being met. While high standards can lead to unhappiness, if they're handled with moderation they can help you make positive changes.

And for the stuff I can't change, meditation, Buddhist podcasts, and exercise have been helpful.

Good luck!
posted by ceiba at 2:19 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Only two answers but both very insightful! Thank you!
posted by nubianinthedesert at 2:58 PM on May 8, 2012

Best answer: I just wanted to chime in and say I'm relieved to hear other dysthymics with the need for change. I didn't think to connect those two things in my life. I too get restless, want change for "no good reason", etc.

for your specific question, I'd stay in the job while researching other careers/jobs. I often look at the job ads just to see what's out there. Once you get an idea you can see where you need more skills, etc. there will always be aspects of a job you won't like, so there will always be disatisfaction. It may also be more important, as I've learned, to figure out the type of environment you'd like to be in more than what you're actually doing.

If you find nothing, or even if you do, look to non-work as your outlet like LN mentioned. I also came to the conclusion that work was work but that didn't have to define my life or who I was. Work can be the thing that gets you $ to do what you really want.
posted by evening at 5:05 PM on May 8, 2012

You might just be dissatisfied with your job. It can take a lot of trial and error to find a good fit.
posted by elizeh at 7:44 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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