How do I get my life back together after depression?
January 1, 2015 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Long story short, I've suffered from depression on and off for the past 10 years, with the past 3 years being the worst part of it. How do I take care of the incredible amount of stuff I've let pile up in my life? To add a little spice to the question, I'm also working in a bizarrely abusive, toxic job right now.

Current Situation -- Is my abusive job making my depression worse?

I never realized this, but a big reason I think my depression got so bad is that I've been working in an abusive job for the past three years--it's filled with manipulative, sadistic managers and co-workers who've been screwing with my head and having some real fun at my expense (and it's not just me, I watched them gang up on another co-worker and they caused her to have a nervous breakdown and she just disappeared one day ... and I was punished for bringing the matter up my director, HR, etc.).

I was pulling myself together a little bit before I took this job, and then got ensnared in a spider's web... like, creepy, pathological lying, manipulative, sadistic, mass bullying, slander, humiliation, sabotaging work, dangling carrots then beating you with the stick, all sorts of really weird, twisted stuff. I've never seen anything like this at work (but my parents were abusive in a similar way, so it has a familiarity to it, I guess).

For example, with the bullied co-worker I mentioned above, my direct supervisor led the cause against her, and she spent a year and a half spreading lies, rumors, and gossip about her, weaving this alternate reality that she was an evil, awful employee (when the exact opposite was true, she was the nicest, hardest working person I worked with there), and getting her minions worked up in a blood lust about her. Seriously, my supervisor dedicated a year and a half to destroying this woman, and it worked, and when she threatened me for speaking up about it she GLOATED about her victory in destroying my colleague.

Needless to say, I'm her new target now, and I've put up with some really awful shit for the past year or so, and my department director supports it and abuses me alongside my supervisor, my supervisor's minions and others are on board, etc., and HR told me to go screw myself, so I'm basically in enemy territory and I think I have to get out. I've seen people run screaming from this place after just a couple of months, and I should've been smart joined them.

Recovery and getting my life together

I'm recovering enough to want to fix everything that's gone wrong in my life. But I've neglected just about everything a person can neglect and still survive at a basic level. I'll give a short list below of what I'm facing. Any advice or ideas on how to organize and proceed would be greatly appreciated.

* Health (doctor, dentist, diet, habit of actually moving around, quitting smoking because nicotine fucks with my brain chemistry and body in a bad way). My health is in a crap state right now so I don't have much energy to take care of anything in my life, and my "average" lifestyle is sitting at my desk mindlessly browsing the internet.

* Responsibilities (buying a new wardrobe because my clothing is in tatters and I look like an embarrassing wreck, getting a new car since it's falling apart, finding a new job because it's abusive and hurting the hell out of me)

* Getting back in touch with people (I let all of my relationships die off, including family and old friends... my social life is dead right now, and my dating life seems off in some other galaxy)

* Habits (I've been sitting on my ass wasting away working in a bad job for the past 3 years so my lifestyle has become really sedentary and insular and my job skills have gotten rusty; I also had poor time management skills even before then)

I'm turning 32 soon and I'm freaking out about having let my life waste away like this. I want to work on my career, get married one day, own a home, hobbies, travel, pretty generic stuff, but it just seems so damned far away, if not impossible to achieve. I have about $10,000 in savings and some stock, a graduate degree, good job experience (before this job at least), and I'm decently smart, so I've got some things to work with at least (but it's also really hard for me to appreciate any of the good stuff like that).

Any ideas or advice on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
posted by gehenna_lion to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I think I have to get out.


Nothing else on your list is as important as finding a new job.

Worry about the rest later. Once you get a new job, you need to figure out what kind of checklist or test you need to implement in your life to make sure you don't spend another 3 years in a toxic work environment with Stockholm Syndrome, but for right now you need to direct all your resources toward finding a new job.

Most of the other things will at least partially self-resolve once you do.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:24 AM on January 1, 2015 [21 favorites]

Do you have a union at your workplace? They could be a good place to seek advice about your work troubles.

In terms of getting your life together, I find this stuff really difficult even when my mental health is good. I would try setting yourself a goal every few days like:

Monday: Dig out medical paperwork and get in order
Wednesday: call up doctor and find out what I need to do to register
Friday: make dentist appointment

This may seem counterintuitive but maybe don't try giving up smoking until you've sorted out some of the other stuff, as that could be really difficult without your normal stress reliever.

How much disposable budget do you have to throw at getting healthy? Some kind of meal plan/personal training could be useful.

Most importantly, try not to be too hard on yourself! You can't have wasted too much of your life if you have savings, a graduate degree and good job experience. You're still young!
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 11:30 AM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Job is definitely your first big problem. However, to do that, and to tackle the other issues in your life, I would suggest taking baby steps toward improving your health. Treating yourself well (eating healthy, getting plenty of good sleep, and definitely not smoking) will help you maintain motivation in those other areas.
posted by mchorn at 11:30 AM on January 1, 2015

In what universe would NOT getting a new job be the first, most important step? I got let go from my last job after 3 months. I was a nervous wreck every day, the place was a zoo and no matter what I did, they'd pick it apart. And I'm ME! I'm awesome! I got let go (fired is such a loaded word) and money and shit. But know what? Money has sorted itself out. I actually got a letter from the Department of Labor stating that they HAD to pay my UI because they couldn't show how I was helped to correct whatever it was that was lacking with me. Also, I was the 4th person in that job in a 12 month period.

The best part. Although I'm on pins an needles waiting for my official offer for my new gig, I am calmer and happier now, than when I was making a small fortune at this nightmare of a job.

So LEAVE! Have your doctor write you out on disability and then find a new job.

Of COURSE a terrible, toxic job is the cause of all of your problems.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:33 AM on January 1, 2015 [9 favorites]

Number one, first off, get out of the job. I had a Job From Hell that had me waking up with dry heaves every work morning for a year — and I only had one person gunning for me, not a whole gang of them! The day after I submitted my resignation I woke up without nausea and never had another attack like that.

Getting clear from that toxic mess will make everything else more possible.
posted by Lexica at 11:39 AM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thirding "get out." I had a toxic experience with a graduate program and situational depression that reads much the same. Finally got myself into therapy, on a course of meds, and was able to see clearly enough to get the hell out. Got a real job, with real insurance and real pay, doing interesting things that don't make me wonder every day if I'm a failure. It's glorious. I still struggle with mood sometimes, but getting out of an environment that's toxic for you will do wonders!
posted by Alterscape at 11:51 AM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Look up corporate psychopaths and mobbing. Jesus sorry you are going through this crazy making hell. Tim Fields is great on workplace bullying.
posted by tanktop at 11:54 AM on January 1, 2015

Not sure this is what you're hoping for but I've been listening to the 25th anniversary edition of Gary Zukav's Seat of the Soul and after reading your post it I felt moved to recommend it to you...emphatically.

It wouldn't be the way to go unless you're 100%, wholeheartedly seeking a change for the better and are equally willing to do the hard work necessary. If you're intrigued you really can't go wrong with a spiritual partner to help with any unfamiliar territory. The best one in my area happens to be a medical doctor who does analysis in the afternoons. Someone like this would definitely be qualified. Suggest you find your nearest Jungian Institute online and check their site for a list of names. All of those folks will have what you need. The right member of the clergy will, too, but they may not have the time needed to make a good start together.
posted by R2WeTwo at 12:17 PM on January 1, 2015

Quit that job! I've worked at multiple toxic employers, to the point where even six months in to my new (awesome, super supportive coworkers, helpful work structures, low stress (by IT standards), etc etc) job I'm still traumatized and some days basically just waiting for everything to go horribly wrong ... but even being scared of imagined shadows is miles and miles away from being scared of actual abuse. So that's definitely something that you need to get out of, because it will help make everything else so much better.

That said, I also recognize how being in a toxic environment can be super hard to escape, because you get in the evil death spiral of "but my wardrobe is crap," and "but my resume is crap," and so on. So, I suggest outsourcing things that you can, at least long enough to get started.

Wardrobe, first off: if you live in an urban area where it's a possibility, go to a department store like Macy's or Nordstrom's and use their personal shoppers. I did that with Macy's when I suddenly hit a point of "I have no clue what I'm doing, I can't deal with shopping right now, and I'm, like, out of pants." The personal-shopper service is free, the shoppers will work within your budget and let you know about sales, and you can go to them and be really vague with your initial requirements, and they will still help you. You aren't required to buy the things they like (if you tell them "no" that will help them find things that suit you better!), the time required is very low (I spent less time with it than when I was haplessly wandering racks on my own), and I promise you can do it even if you're in a big funk. Having things to wear that you're more confident about will help you get over the "oh god, what do I wear" interview prep panic, and remove one obstacle towards escaping your job.

You can also, money and location permitting, outsource food by getting a meal delivery service. For me that was a huge help at one point when I needed less shit to freak out about, because it made it so I didn't have to think anymore (don't have to go to the store and worry about budget because it was just a lump sum every week, don't have to figure out if I'm eating balanced meals because that was their whole schtick, don't have to come home from work and then cook and then clean and oh god can't I just sit on the couch for five freaking minutes). There are loads of services out there catering to various requirements (diabetic, vegetarian, paleo, high protein, you name it), but if tend (like me) to be a perfectionist and may get hung up on which one to choose, I suggest basically picking one based on throwing a dart at the ones in your price range. They're probably only going to sign up week by week, so if you hate the meals from one place there's always another you can pick for next week; it's a very low-risk choice. -- So that helps you tick off the "take better care of yourself" box, at least to get started.

Time management is a thing you can tackle on your own, even if by default you gravitate to INTERNET FOREVER. If you have a wall and some sticky notes, try making a little kanban board for yourself -- my kanban board wall was a blank bit of bedroom wall, with two stripes out of blue painter's tape to make columns for "to do," "in progress," and "done." Then I picked out my big-ticket items, broke them down into a bunch of tiny pieces, wrote down the first five tiny pieces from the most important big-ticket items on sticky notes, and slapped them up on the todo column. It's really helpful for me to have a visual, and getting to move something to "in progress" is really helpful as both a "oh, I actually am doing something useful" marker and also a "I'm sick of looking at that blue sticky note, I need to get it taken care of" way. It's simple, cheap, and not especially guilt-trippy, once you accept that you actually legitimately do have a lot of stuff to do, and so it's okay to have lots more things in that column than the others. You can tie this in with Pomodoro or timeboxing or whatever you like, but just set yourself small goals to start, so you don't accidentally overwhelm yourself and make yourself feel worse because you "can't even do that much." Maybe only have one or two things "in progress" and touch them once or twice a week. Progress is progress, and you can always take more on later when you feel like you can handle it. Use the sticky notes for a few things like "post resume to monster" and "call dentist for an appointment," and then boom, you've got two things in the done column AND you're working on improving your health and situation.

Best of luck getting out of that job and getting back to a happy space quickly! You can definitely do this!
posted by sldownard at 12:19 PM on January 1, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm not sure if anyone could work in the type of environment where you work and not end up slipping into depression.

You sound like a strong person. I don't think I would have lasted 3 years at such an abusive job. I think you should prioritize getting a new job above anything else. Working on the other things will be easier when you don't have to be in a toxic environment every day.

My one other suggestion is to get a great outfit for interviewing. As someone suggested above, if you can afford it, go to the type of store that has people help you select outfits. If a department store sounds too overwhelming, try a smaller store like Talbot's or Ann Taylor.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:36 PM on January 1, 2015

This sounds awful and I'm sorry you had to make this post. I recently came out of a similar situation, having also spent 3 years in a toxic work environment. Thankfully, along with the rest of the office, I was laid off several months ago, and have been able to mostly patch my life back together. If I hadn't of been laid off, I probably would've stayed and continued to endure the abuse. So I get it -- the job poisons your confidence and you can't fathom doing anything other than staying. But at this point I think it's really important that you simply GET OUT. Let your savings be your cushion until you get back on your feet. You'd be surprised at how much better you'll feel when you walk away from such a toxic environment/relationship.

Other things that have been helpful for me (so YMMV), has been taking regular nature/urban walks (even when I really don't want to), reaching out to those people I have missed (and surprisingly rekindling friendships), drawing (writing, sculpting, etc.), reading (mindfulness has been awesome), limiting my consumption of media/internet (quality over quantity), truly loving myself (and really believing I deserve that love), and finally...asking myself before I make decisions: what you would do if you had no fear? Generally, the response to that question has guided (and sometimes motivated) me towards making more fulfilling/rewarding decisions.

So... what would you do if you had no fear of walking away from this job? Do that.
posted by stubbehtail at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Get out. My last job was horribly toxic, but wasn't nearly as bad as you describe yours, and my mental health and ability to deal with the world improved immeasurably the day I quit. I had convinced myself I couldn't afford to quit until I had another job lined up, and I stuck with that, but in retrospect I don't think I was right. And I didn't have as much in the way of savings as you do.

Please make getting out of that horrible job your first priority, and if you don't feel you can quit and have a shot at finding a new job quickly, then at least try to get some measurable job-hunt thing done every week. It'll make you feel better to be able to dream about an out even if you haven't got a new job yet. If you seek therapy at this point they're likely to spend a lot of time helping you with this, since it's the single life change you can make that will have the greatest effect on everything else.
posted by asperity at 1:26 PM on January 1, 2015

Yes. Nthing this. In fact, if you can swing it; by whatever means, I'd say get out before you have another job lined up. You're in a bad place; I've been there, and the fear and self-loathing from the abuse is paralyzing. It wasn't until I was pushed as far as I could be pushed and I *up and quit* in the middle of a meeting. So I feel you. You will have a hard time making rational decisions or even interviewing well until you're gone.

If you're able to maneuver it, try and get yourself fired or even better laid off. But even if getting yourself fired is the only way you'll get out, go for it. Don't do anything that would get you fired for cause; just stop caring (this can be hard, depending on your personality type) and blow deadlines, do subpar work, be cranky, come in late, etc.. Take long lunches. This has two benefits - one, there is a certain awesomeness to deciding that you're going to take back from your employer through a contentious work slowdown. Make sure to check your state laws to ensure that it's something they can't deny you unemployment over, but most states are pretty lenient.

Otherwise, if you can swing it, just quit. I recommend anyone do this at least once in their life. It will immediately let you feel like you have some power back in your life. You may need to find a way to couch surf or take on a roommate during lean times. But it's worth it. I say everyone should do this at least once.

Once you're out, volunteer for a bit to get your feet grounded. This was one thing I didn't think to do when I quit my toxic job, and I spent the first six months to a year in a depressed funk, completely unconfident in my own skills. It wasn't until the people around me at the new job started coming to me for help that I realized "holy hell, I am good at my job." Still keep looking for work, but give yourself some room to breathe while you're coming down from the job. It will take some time, and you might even end up with a bit of PTSD, especially with your history (I had an abusive home life, so I get this.)

And, I don't know if this will help, but now, just shy of a decade away from my own terror job, the job that seemed like it was cartoonishly bad with a poorly written, over the top villainous boss, I look back with a weird fondness. Like "Yup, I went threw that and it was HORRIBLE, but so bad that it's funny to tell people about it." You're a long way from there, but trust me, you can get out and it will get better. The sooner you make it happen, the happier you'll be.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:41 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

I feel like I should add a few things. You're being gaslit, as was the former target. There really isn't much you can do but understand that's what's happening, try your best not to let it get to you (which I realize is a nearly impossible task, so just remind yourself of this and give yourself a break when they won't), and get out as fast as you can. No one there will lift a finger to help you - those that care, can't, the rest don't. I don't want you to feel bad about that, just that trying to work within the system there will not work.

Something that might help you too is the knowledge that the nasty abuser is totally ruining her career. I worked with that person, and while she never took it out on me, she did to other people; making their lives miserable and being unbelievably terrible. Anyone she considered an underling was at risk (whether or not they actually were was up for debate) but she presented herself well to upper management. Anyone who was her peer saw both sides, which meant seeing right through the fantastic face she put on to upper management and seeing the way she tormented some people.

She has been turned away from a number of jobs now due to the bad references about her. She interviews well, then hiring managers get to talking to people she's worked with in the past and their interest in her dries up. She *is* working at a new company, but it's a step down and I know that she's also interviewed at several jobs and had the same thing happen repeatedly. I'm not much of a believer in Karma, but she made some poor choices and they're coming back to haunt her. I've heard from a few people she's not happy there, but she now can't leave that job.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:18 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

The thing to do is put one foot in front of the other until you are through this.

You are still young, and you're in a good place financially. It seems like you're right on track, career wise as well. Don't panic! You are young, with $10,000 in the bank, and a graduate degree and solid work history. You are young, $10K in the bank, a graduate degree, solid work history... Repeat as needed.

Since you have a financial cushion, I would consider just flat out quitting your job. How many months can you live off of your savings? Maybe take a job that doesn't pay the full salary you need, but is freaking awesome. This will help you meet living expenses and make your savings last, and get you into a new mindstate. Maybe get a job working outdoors, or doing something physical. Teach English as a Second Language in some foreign country for a year or so.

The other stuff, I think, will fall into place if you can take care of your depression. Step 1, find someone to talk to. Pay a counselor. Maybe there's a super cheap one out there. If you already have one, maybe find another one to get a different perspective. This will help.

Step 2, figure out what your ideal, awesome life would look like. Maybe take the first week or so after you quit your job to do nothing but write and dream. I don't know if you need more friends, or better hobbies, or more physical activity, but you do.

Step 3, Figure out what you want, and then prioritize, and go for the thing that's on the top of the list. One thing at a time, one foot in front of the other. Keep it simple.

Exercise, physical activity, and maybe some kind of meditation might help, but I think that varies for different people. So I would sit down and figure out your own priorities from the things you've listed above, and then do them, one at a time.

Good luck! You are going to look back on this one day and be thankful for the experience that made you a stronger person.
posted by natteringnabob at 2:25 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suggest you quit immediately and throw yourself full-time into getting a new job.

Now here's what I suggest you do.

To avoid a clash of references, you would ideally find a new job first and then quit, but if your health isn't up to that, that's okay. It is probably your smoothest ticket out of there, though.

Figure out what time you need to get up in order to take a thirty-minute walk or do a thirty-minute workout first thing tomorrow morning. The BeFit channel on YouTube has tons of workouts, it doesn't really matter what you do right now, just get up and get moving for 30 minutes and then deal with the rest of the day.

Having figured out what time you have to get up, count back at least seven hours and make that your latest permitted lights-out hour. No looking at screens for an hour before bed, just read a nice book. If you can't sleep, don't wangst about it, just keep reading your nice book.

Take your bust, waist, shoulder and hip measurements, then go online and order yourself seven Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses with sleeves. Make sure the fabric composition has some natural fiber. You now have seven no-brainer work outfits that you can wear year round. When you take a dress off at the end of the day, air it out good - hang it outside if you can. After two or three wearings, take it to the cleaners or (if you're careful and a risk-taker) hand wash it in cold water (TBH this is usually fine if the dress doesn't have a lining).

You must also go out and buy some leather dress shoes for work, which should have about a two-inch heel and closed toes. Get one pair in black, one in brown and one in beige. Do not wear the same pair of shoes two days running. Go to a shoe care store and ask them to stick an extra sole and heel on each pair of shoes. They will also sell you some shoe trees, and for each pair of shoes you will need a polishing cloth, a brush, and a can of polish in the appropriate colour. Every day when you get home, take the shoes off and wipe them clean with a baby wipe; polish them when you can.

Dark brown leather looks bad with beige, so medium brown leather is more versatile.

Get a handbag organizer, sort your purse contents into it, and go out and get three day bags, one in black, one in brown and one in beige. IME these are better if they're not leather because leather bags can transfer dye to your clothes.

Get three pairs of cheap sunglasses, one in each colour. Ditto gloves.

Get a fabric (not felt, not straw) fedora, one in each colour or at least in a neutral colour with the right-coloured bands. The hat should have at least a two-inch brim. Different crown heights and shapes suit different face shapes and head sizes, so experiment until you find one that looks right on you. If you have bangs, pin them out of the way with a bobby pin and stow the pin in the interior band when you take the hat off. To avoid flat hair, push the hat upwards at the back with a snap after you put it on. Your hair products can be reactivated by running wet fingers through your hair.

Since all your dresses are about knee length, your dress coat should be a little longer than that. Pick a neutral colour, maybe beige. Get a scarf with a Burberry check.

Get fourteen pairs of low-waisted, laser cut flesh coloured panties. Fourteen black pairs ditto.

Get two flesh-coloured moulded-cup bras, and one flesh-coloured convertible bra plus several pairs of clear straps. Black bras ditto.

For the winter, get seven pairs each of black, beige, and brown opaque tights (coordinating with your shoes). Make sure these are 70 denier or more and are plain, not patterned.

There! Now you've either quit your job or are looking for a new one, you've taken some exercise, and you look better than everyone else. Time for some Fabulous Person Chow. What do fabulous people eat? Well, if we don't feel up to cooking, we eat just delicious fruit, wonderful cheese, and good bread with Lurpak unsalted butter. Sometimes we scrub up a potato, stab it, roll it in salt, then bake it and eat it with a glob of sour cream and an avalanche of dill. And it doesn't take a moment to fry up some steak or a chicken breast. Simple, but we love ourselves and therefore we only eat gourmet food.

Make an appointment with your doctor and dentist for a check-up, that'll only take a couple of minutes to do. Obviously we'd prefer it if you weren't smoking, but one thing at a time.

Go to your address book, start with the letter A, and dial the numbers until someone picks up. Then chat with them for about ten minutes. Or, send them a "howya doing, I haven't heard from you in ages," email.

God, you're going to be so fabulous this year. It's exciting!
posted by tel3path at 4:42 PM on January 1, 2015 [10 favorites]

Oh, and make an appointment with a hairdresser and tell them you need to get your head sorted out. When you get there, show them your hat and explain that you need something low maintenance and hat compatible.

When the vengeful bitches see how much more fabulous you are than them, they will probably get worse. Anticipate this.
posted by tel3path at 4:45 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Honestly, If I were you I would have a hidden camera on me at all times during that job and record EVERYTHING. Gathering enough evidence of what you've written would make it super easy to sue that supervisor and the company.

Let her brag about destroying employees some more... and get it on tape. Then get a lawyer and upload all her most unprofessional moments on youtube. As far as I'm concerned this person isn't only dangerous for worker's wellbeings, but she's also very likely compromising performance in the workplace with her actions... and as a workaholic I do take offence to creating both a difficult AND less productive work environment.

She thinks getting an employee to walk away from her job is "destroying" her? Ha. Stay calm and record and then Let her know what destroying someone REALLY means. She'll be gone and replaced before you know it. And you may very well get a nice settlement out of it too.

Look for a new job, if you want, but while you're doing that I still think you should be on the defensive and keep records.
posted by rancher at 8:58 PM on January 1, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice and good words everyone. I should definitely focus on finding a new job above everything else, because this environment is twisted, bizarre, and way too reminiscent of my family for it to be any good for me. Can't believe it took me this long to figure it all out, and it's been quite a journey.
posted by gehenna_lion at 8:59 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Don't feel badly, at all – be as kind to yourself as you can, and rest assured you are worthy of even greater kindness.

It's great you're going to look for a new job. If you can, use your savings as a cushion to get out now. You'll need time and rest to recuperate and rediscover your self; a few weeks of no job responsibilities can do wonders for the harassed soul.

I've been in your shoes. In 2014 my career finally fell into place, in a sort of slow motion that was an immense blessing in disguise, because I might have rejected the changes if they'd all been presented to me at once. That would be a long story beside the point; my point being, I've finally come out on the other side. I'm 38 years old, and only just now, for the first time in my life, know what it means to go to work without worrying about What Will Happen Today. Like you, I grew up in an abusive, gaslighting family. I did not fully realize the extent to which I was living with a knot in my stomach until I finally, entirely, got out. "Better than but similar, reminds me of that" is still abusive.

It's OK to take it slowly. It's OK not to have a firm, stable solution lined up elsewhere right now.

Buy one interview outfit: suit (navy or black), white blouse/shirt, tie if you're a man, black shoes.
For other clothes, look up capsule wardrobes. Tel3path described the general gist of one too.
Set an appointment with a GP and ask them for dentist and ob-gyn (if you're a woman) referrals when you go.

Don't worry about habits or work ethic right now. Sometimes the sitting around doing nothing, is actually a way of protecting yourself without realizing it. How/why? You're in a safe space when you're "doing nothing." It's the "nothing" that counts: nothing is safe. Never discount the importance of safety when you are surrounded by dangers. I gained management responsibilities this year, and do you know what one of the fundamentals we were taught is? That we are to provide a safe space to our reports. So safe, that reports should feel comfortable telling me as their manager when things are going wrong, including complaints about me. (That would mean they trust me to handle it appropriately.) There should be zero fear. Anxiety is a bit of a different story; fear, though... when there's genuine, fact-based fear, management is NOT doing their job. There are a host of reasons for this.

I'm willing to bet that as soon as those dangers are no longer present, with space to breathe and just be, new habits will arise spontaneously. Give yourself a few weeks, seriously. During those few weeks, don't judge yourself! If, after a few weeks, you are still feeling unmotivated, depressed – find a therapist. It can be worked through.

There is life after all this. Take care, and feel free to hit me up via memail if you want.
posted by fraula at 6:01 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. I guess my background applies to why I ended up in such a nasty situation in the first place (and coming to terms with this will probably help me avoid this in the future). The first comment that mentions Stockholm Syndrome really rung out to me. Here goes...

My background is a little uncommon; my mom was considered something of a child prodigy when she was growing up and she also happens to be a miserable psychopath-type person, and my father had a similar background and personality, too. My maternal grandfather was also similar. I grew up in a world of false memories, lies, complex, meticulously-designed alternate realities created through years of hard work on my mom and grandfather's part, and I'll leave out the more lurid stuff. The worst of it was my parents and grandfather abusing their intelligence and insight to convince me I was some awful, subhuman piece of crap for their own selfish reasons... like, world-building level of abuse. It was basically "practical scapegoating" as done by very smart and capable people with professional backgrounds in social psychology and persuasion. I feel like I was a project or an experiment or something, and only in the past few years I've been breaking free of it.

By all accounts I shouldn't be here right now except for the extreme force of will and practical thinking I've had to use to get this far plus my capacity to endure pain, but I have a lot of wounds and screwed up thinking I need to unravel to keep on going. And I did it all on my own for the most part along with the occasional help from strangers, and it sure as hell wasn't easy.

I hate to admit it, but I've got some complex mental stuff I still need to work out, and I haven't met a single therapist yet capable or willing to handle this, and plenty who were willing to exploit my particular problems for their own profit and peculiarities. I'm working on these issues on my own with CBT and REBT books, but again, it ain't easy. I'm not giving up, though, and I've made it further than me or anyone else thought I would go, so I'm confident I'll make it even further.
posted by gehenna_lion at 10:35 AM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: Alright, maybe I'm thinking too much into it. Coming from an abusive, gaslighting family creates some interesting problems in life, doesn't it... like, I'm shocked right now about how misled I've been about myself, what I deserve in life, what I'm capable of. It's like I've been living a sham version of myself, and most of my family was behind it, and that's a very freaky and very much unfun idea.

I don't want to get this too off track, though. Thanks again all for the advice and ideas, at least I have a clearer idea on how to attack this problem. This job is like a cancer that needs to be cut out of my life as soon as possible, because it's rotting everything else in it.
posted by gehenna_lion at 11:05 AM on January 2, 2015

May I suggest that you consider suing those SOBs?
posted by volitional78 at 11:19 AM on January 2, 2015

I don't want to minimize the role your background plays in this, but this happens to a lot of people and sometimes it's just because we are hostage to our paychecks. If you want to read more about "sick systems", you may find some tools that help you defend yourself for as long as you must before you reach escape velocity, and how to identify it and react to it in the future.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:58 PM on January 2, 2015

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