Help be unbreakup with my work
June 28, 2012 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I recently posted a question on getting my confidence back after making a number of (considered major) mistakes in my work. Since then I've been having odd emotional reactions and I'd appreciate any thoughts as to how to manage and minimise them.

So I asked for help managing my meltdown after making a number of mistakes in my work. I got some useful answers and implemented a lot of the advice, specifically counselling, the books recommended, took two weeks off and exercise.

The two weeks off were quite good. I didn't even think about work, spent it with family and generally did other things. At the end of it, I felt fit and able to come back to work. However, I now am (and need to be) back at work and I'm experiencing quite odd emotions with dealing with my work -- I'd appreciate any advice anyone has on dealing with and minimising these emotions.

Specifically, I feel like I'm going through a break-up. I have waves of intense stress and absolutely hate my work and the environment and everything about it. I feel like I have failed and will continue to fail and I fantasise about changing my career entirely and doing something completely unrelated. However, I know rationally this is silly because I've put a lot of time and effort in getting where I am. Forcing myself to work is hard but seems to lead to mediocre results. When the waves pass I feel drained, foggy and tired. Other times, I feel normal-ish and can continue to plug along, albeit at a reduced pace.

Generally, I feel like I'm having difficulty concentrating and thinking. However it does get better and worse with times (wave-like). I'm thus doubting the veracity of my own abilities and the decisions I'm making.

I would love to just take more time off but unfortunately cannot. I somehow need to get on with the work.

I'm sure someone somewhere must have experienced this, I'm looking for any useful tips on getting over this "breakup" with my work or some ideas on what is wrong and how I can go about fixing it. Thanks.
posted by gadha to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had a similar meltdown. I was fine with a poor work-life balance for many years, but a breakup and stressful work environment caused me to fall apart. Foggy thinking, wanting to flee, generally being unable to function. I ended up switching to a job that enabled me to have a better work-life balance. It took me the better part of six months to get better. I think you may just be exhausted and overstretched. I'm a software engineer; I know where you're coming from. The mistakes you made are the kind of mistakes people make when they have too much to manage. You don't have to leave your job, but you may need to change the way things work there so that you don't have another meltdown.

What steps have you taken to reallocate your workload to other people? And, are you making sure you're eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising and spending time with loved ones on a daily basis? Do you make time on the weekends to play? A two week vacation isn't enough; you may need to change your habits to prioritize those things more.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:16 AM on June 28, 2012

I've been in your shoes and felt like walking away from a job and a career path after a relatively large project went out riddled with errors I didn't catch. So here's a couple things that worked for me (perfectionist, insanely high standards, really self-critical).

Feeling like you will continue to fail could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Make a list of all the things you've done right in your job, no matter how small. Print it out and read it over when you're thinking, "I suck and this is futile and I should just quit."

I think someone in your previous thread mentioned keeping in better contact with peers and mentors; continue to do this, or start doing it. It helped me realize that most of my peers felt as insecure as I did, and collaborating with them helped me feel less like the stupidest person in the room.

And there is a chance that this job (or this entire field) actually is not a good fit for you. Maybe quitting and doing something else is ultimately a good idea. But it's probably not a good idea to decide that until things have calmed down and you're feeling more secure. Make a date to check in with youself six months from now. Are the same external frustrations still there? Have you been able to change anything? If you still feel this way in December, then yeah it may be time to consider a bigger shift. But for right now, exercise, get plenty of sleep, concentrate on what you know you've done well, and forgive yourself for the mistakes you made. You are not your job, you are not a machine, you are not required to work at 100% accuracy all the time. Nor can you.
posted by Angharad at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can stand the sappiness, metta meditation is likely to help with both the anxiety and the lack of confidence. Plus, it feels good.
posted by fivebells at 12:14 PM on June 28, 2012

Did you take the two weeks as holiday or sick leave? Either way, have you talked to your doctor about your current situation? It's just that what you're describing sounds like the symptoms of depression to me, and you might be better off making a gradual, managed return to work. IANAD.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:09 PM on June 28, 2012

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