I need a job. I want a job. But I don't *want* a job
July 1, 2015 10:16 AM   Subscribe

So I've been out of college ( psych and neuroscience BA) for two years now. I have very little experience beyond the classroom ( VERY little), no salient passions, and a physical disability. I have a history of depression and ADD-like symptoms. It's time for me to work- I can't afford to live on 500 a month from the government. But how do I get a job when even filling out job applications and customizing the resume to each job feels like slow torture?

I have no energy. To do so much as address my cover letter to different people is like pulling teeth. I have things I can do: I can apply for internships and volunteer positions, I can meet with a local job coach and practice interview questions, etc, etc. I have options. But I can't move. I feel paralyzed. If I'm honest, it's easier to get $500 cash a month while living with my parents than to play the field like most do, with all I have holding me back.
Inb4 go to therapy and get on meds: I have been, and therapy doesn't seem to help me, nor can I afford good ones ( almost none take my commercial insurance, and if they do it's a $60 copay. The ones that take Medicaid, at least in my area, are pretty crappy). Adderall doesn't work for me, neither does Strattera or Vyvanse. I've been on every antidepressant.
I need help. I need to start my life and get out of the house. The problem is, I have to WANT that first. What's going on here, MeFi, and how do I fix it?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
While many people dread the job application process, this level of dread and paralysis is generally not a normal reaction to the prospects of getting a job, so I would suggest looking at other therapists.

Side-stepping that bit, are you paralyzed by all of life, or only events that are generally required to get a job? Are there things you do for fun? See if you can start chipping away at that paralysis by doing things you enjoy, and try to find elements of that where you can get work experience and your toes into the job market, while focusing on how much you're enjoying what you are doing.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am medically handicapped. I will suggest your dread of job hunting may be rooted in an awareness that a fulltime job is a recipe for disaster. I know that was true for me for a long time. I was able to hide out under the label of homemaker and avoid getting a real job for a lot of years. Five years of a corporate job convinced me that does not really work for me and I have been working ever since on creating a path that will work.

I will suggest you look over the rules for disability and how much you can make without losing your disability and then look at finding a way to earn casual income that might work for you. Also, start researching your alternatives wrt getting your issues under control so you can be productive at some point. Then come up with a plan for how to make enough to support yourself independently once your issues are better managed. That plan can potentially include moving someplace cheaper so your money goes further.

I do freelance writing online and I am developing some web based projects. I have pursued a dietary and lifestyle based approach to getting my condition under control. It is working. It has been slow and frustrating, but compared to the prospect of never getting my act together, that's a good deal.
posted by Michele in California at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Filling out job applications is a waste of time. Literally. The time is better invested in "networking." Networking really means participating in a professional community. People tend to hire or recommend someone they know.

The first step of the time investment is doing a scan and finding out what's out there. The second step is listing your skills and your passions and your goals.

After that, start calling people up. Go to Meetups. Attend mixers. Start to build your community.

This doesn't have to be Chamber of Commerce stuff. It could be something in the non-profit realm. Try volunteering. Just get out there and meet people, tell your story, and ask for help.
posted by Nevin at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Do you actually think you'd be unable to handle a job, or is it just that the job search process is horrible to you? Because I think most people hate the job search process -- I sure as hell do. But that doesn't mean you can't do it, it just means you have to endure some stress and unpleasantness in order to do it. Eventually, you will probably find a job, and then you'll be able to stop with the horrible process of searching.

This may just be a case where you acknowledge to yourself how much you hate the process and then do it anyway, since the results are worth it.
posted by mister pointy at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Normally I would give Nevin's advice, but actually I would not recommend trying to heavily network for you because I think it will be very difficult at this point in your life. Instead, I would recommend both signing up with a temp agency and volunteering with organizations that relate in some way to your degree. Both of these will get you contacts in the industry and some job experience.

Re: therapy, studies show that if you believe therapy will not work, it does not work. You can make it work for you but you will need to be open to change.

Though for me, what actually got me over my job-hunting anxiety was reviewing job applications in my last job. I was so terrified that I was being judged, and if I used the wrong phrasing in a cover letter they would immediately mark me down as someone who should never ever have a job at their organization/company. Once I started reviewing applications, I realized that a) no application is ever perfect so we're not judging you, b) there are some really, staggeringly bad applications out there and if you actually included a cover letter and it is for the correct position yours is not one of them, so we're not judging you. The other thing I was afraid of was committing to a job that turned out to be terrible and then I would be trapped! Forever! And I recently made a job/career change and it was pretty painless.
posted by capricorn at 11:32 AM on July 1, 2015 [8 favorites]

One of the things that's blocking you is this false assumption:
"I need to start my life and get out of the house. The problem is, I have to WANT that first."

That's not actually true. You don't have to WANT to do it -- you just have to DO it. The DOing can be separated from the WANTing. How you feel about doing the thing is not necessarily relevant to the question of whether or not the thing gets done.
posted by Corvid at 11:42 AM on July 1, 2015 [12 favorites]

These are just some ideas, OP. I'm not going to provide details as to where to look/places for employment, because I think that I've put that in askmeta several times and it sounds like you are looking for other ideas.

-You mention that you are currently living with your parents and getting disability payments? What if you used part of your payment toward the copay or for a specialist outside medicaid? My guess is that you are paying your parents something small for rent or food, but if you told them that that you want the $ to go toward specialist X so that you can try to deal with fatigue, motivation, etc., my guess is that your parents would help you. Ask them for this. At the end of the day, this is a small cost if it can improve your functioning in these domains.

-When I read your description, I wonder if your fear is: "Can I succeed at this job? Will I want this job?" in terms of committing for a year/years and full-time. You don't have to commit to a job forever. There are also part-time jobs that you can test yourself with (ie, I know that universities in my geographic area have part-time jobs with a maximum duration of a year). Maybe apply for something like this if this is the main barrier that you have?

-Have you talked to people who have the desired job in your field (or people who hire for your field). Not to make connections and get hired that way, but more to make a plan and see if you can do the same things. If you find, for example, that people won't hire you to (making up a job, work in a lab as a tech) because they have not seen experience or recent experience, then if 5 people who are in the field/hire in the field tell you this, then yes, go volunteer. This might actually improve your motivation if you are doing something toward your field/learning about your field, even if it is a few hours/week.

-I've said this before in metafilter, but it might be easier to get a job by giving you their info BEFORE they post a job. I don't call people/network because that is not my skill, but I have emailed people and sent out my CV, and it has worked (and as Nevin stated above, calling can work, too, for some people). But why not look at an industry that interests you, get a list of companies. Don't send stuff out to all 100, but send something to 5. Do you get a reply? If you get a reply, start to tweak your response and send out 10 more. But it won't be as overwhelming as needing to try for 100 at once. Plus you can use the data to make better resumes, replies, etc.

OP, I have similar undergrad degrees and in the past, hired people with a similar background for part-time jobs. So if you think that it would help to have yet another person review your resume, brainstorm with you, point at places to check out, be an accountability buddy, feel free to memail me. I promise that I won't badger you for taking/not taking suggestions from either the past or now.
posted by Wolfster at 12:02 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

ADD and depression can rob you of the desire and will that you're looking for to deal with them. Ha! That's the paradox though. Anyway, I might be able to speak to part of the puzzle here.

You say you've been on Adderall, Vyvanse, and Strattera, and none of them work. That isn't the end of the road. Off the top of my head: Ritalin and it's more specific cousin Focalin are both out there, and you should try them. All of those medications do (sometimes slightly) different things, and they affect people in (often very) different ways. If you get the chance to meet with someone who takes adult ADD seriously and knows what's out there, you have as many as a half dozen more options before you exhaust your *purely* chemical solutions.

If it helps: I hated Adderall and Ritalin-- they did nothing for me. Focalin, on the other hand, is my hot sauce jam. It doesn't work for me every day (ADD meds aren't magic) but I can do work without treating my brain like a giant monster that I have to both outwit and exhaust to get what I need out of it, and that's amazing.
posted by Poppa Bear at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

this level of dread and paralysis is generally not a normal reaction to the prospects of getting a job, so I would suggest looking at other therapists.

I agree with this advice, but not the premise. If you've been applying/not applying for jobs for two years with no result, your dread is understandable (actually, it's fairly typical). Job hunting is brutal all around, for most. I think your paralysis is understandable, too, because you have no experience of work (or different working environments), so there are a lot of unknowns ahead of you, all loaded up with fear.

Also, almost everyone benefits from some kind of sense of purpose (not talking Big P Purpose, just a thing to do every day), and most people benefit from structure to the day. Lacking those will lead most people on the road to depression. So nth volunteering, to help with some of that.

I think if you are unsure of your ability to handle full-time work in a corporate environment, and you have no burning desire inclining you towards a particular career, it might be worth considering acquiring a skill-set that would net you a high hourly wage - some kind of job that could be done on a part-time or contract basis. Something involving a short retraining period (1-2 years max - maybe a post-graduate accelerated diploma at a vocational college). That way, you'd be on your way to earning more than you would as a part-time office assistant now, for example (maybe double or even triple, depending on the skillset). You'd also have a thing to do every day, and structure.

Off the top of my head, not having researched this, I'm thinking maybe accounting or paralegal services. Which is not super exciting stuff for everyone, but it's the kind of thing people pay for. If it turns out you hate it, you could look take another turn in a few years. But at least you'd have a way of setting up your life, and moving towards independence.

Where I live, people who are on benefits are sometimes eligible for retraining - perhaps something like that exists where you are. (This is presuming your relationships with your parents are basically ok, and that they'd support you for a bit. If not, I agree with temp work. Banks seem to be hiring part-time tellers all the time, and it seems like reasonable pay for the job. And some do a lot of training and promoting from within.)

Good luck.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:24 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's more help to be had with depression. Have you tried mood stabilizers? Mood stabilizers and anti depressants together? Short acting stimulants like dexedrine? There are tons of drug options out there for treatment resistant depression, a psychiatrist can help you find them.

You might consider group therapy to help you cut costs. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy has a structured 8-9 session program with daily homework and some science to back its efficacy. It's better at preventing relapse than pulling you out of a hole, but it might be worth a shot.

I encourage you to keep trying to treat your depression. Participating in a meaningful activity is part of the recovery. Good luck
posted by crazycanuck at 8:46 PM on July 1, 2015

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. Services vary by state, but my counselor is a wealth of information about programs, services, and resources for finding an appropriate career and keeping it. We work with my health limitations right now, not where I wish I was. It's not been fast, but I'm starting a job in the direction of an ideal career change.

I still aggressively treat my mental health and physical health. I still do the work that goes into changing careers. But now I have a trained ally who's clued into my specific needs.

Check Ticket to Work? My local VR didn't show up in their search. I heard about my VR while desperately perusing every job/employment service I could find. I still didn't hold high hopes after the mandatory presentation. Which goes to show, you never know what will pan out. Check out what your unemployment office has as well.
posted by SometimesChartreuse at 2:37 AM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

What's going on? Maybe you're having a perfectly normal, and timely response to what's on offer to you by the world. Maybe you're disgusted by the marketingspeak, all of your “options.” Maybe because the thought of hating Mondays for the rest of your life, to be stuck inside on beautiful days, to be granted only a few weeks “off” per year (if you're lucky), to slave away for someone else's benefit (the corporation's, the organization's, the institution's) sounds pretty damn miserable. Maybe its because you feel like you have a greater purpose to offer humanity than just showing up at 8 am, following the latest medical advice, keeping your teeth clean, your shirts pressed, adding the max to your 401k. Today, only a select few of us land work that challenges the mental capabilities of the human mind and pays the bills. And, today, the more mind-numbing and dehumanizing the work, the less it pays, the more one must do it in order to not starve, to not be without clothes or shelter.

How to fix it? Personally, I'm rejecting the old narrative and trying to create a new one. Right now I'm on the beginning of this journey, and I have almost no money. But I am wealthier than I have been since I was child. I laugh more, I'm more present, I go for hikes, I study topics I'm interested in and passionate about, I'm developing real and meaningful relationships, I'm finding ways to meet my needs that do not require money, I'm learning to give gifts and accept help, I sing. I still feel depressed sometimes, I get scared, I get stuck in the old way of thinking about things. And when I do, I'm learning to listen to the pain, to feel it fully, to give it attention, to accept it as feedback.

Here's a list of random thoughts for you. Maybe something will resonate:

- Start looking at people as people. Look the cashier in the eye and when you say “have a good day,” mean it. Greet your neighbors. Smile at people you pass on the street.
- If you're troubled by a “problem” in your community (neighborhood, online community, professional), work to “fix” it. Do it for free.
- Do something you're compelled to do. Do it for free. Make something awesome and give it away. Find a genuine need and fill it.
- Play. Run. Jump. Laugh. Do something silly, weird. Climb a tree, do a cartwheel, roll in the grass. Take walks, explore. Look at things with new eyes. See the ants on the sidewalk. Learn about the weeds.
- Go some place new, a forest, farm, park, alley, path, floor you've never been to.
- Find something you think you can't live without and find a way to live without it.
- Find a way to meet one of your needs for free.
- Think about the things you really need. You don't * need * money, you need the things it can buy. What do you want? Independence? Clothing? Food? Shelter? Reflect on what you really want. What truly brings you joy, purpose, connectedness. There are ways to meet these needs. There are more and more people every day who are looking to create a new way of meeting our genuine human needs.
- Learn something about the natural environment. What wild species grow in your backyard? Sit in the park and be present, what do you hear, smell, see? Learn how to identify edible mushrooms. Find out what crops they grow in your region. Visit a farmer or maker.
- Breathe deeply.
- Hold your body up, lift your chest, put your shoulders back, relax your breathing. Do it now, do it whenever you realize you're not.
- Meet others. Meet others with an open heart and open mind. Meet lots of different people. Listen to what they have to say. Form genuine partnerships. Work together. Join a time bank, a club, a meetup group.
- Work on your relationships. Remember that that is no “you and them” there is only “us.” Remember we are all human, we all contribute to whatever dynamic currently exists. No one is to blame. We can decide to react differently, and to see others as fully human.
- When people try to discourage you, to pull you back into the old story, listen to them with compassion, and stay strong in what you know to be true. Give up control.
- Surround yourself with positive people. People who spend their time finding solutions.
- Work on you. Work on becoming more self aware. Stop thinking of things in terms of success, failure, mistakes. Start seeing everything as feedback. It's all just feedback.
- Eat real food.
- Trust. Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust that you already have all the answers, that when you allow them to present themselves, they will.
- Let yourself feel pain and sadness. Let yourself cry and moan. Feel it. The world is in pain right now, people are being murdered, species are going extinct, animal-plant-human communities are being ripped apart. When we feel and acknowledge the terrible pain, we do our part in healing.
- Read. Dance. Draw. Solve a problem. Play a game. Make something from scratch. Learn a song. Memorize a story, a poem, a joke.
- Don't get caught up in the panic, the mania. It's another distraction from what is truly important. Give your parents a hug, and mean it.
- Move more slowly. Accept slow change. Celebrate your progress. Ignore those who say or imply that the progress isn't quick enough. Stay in the moment.
- Change your mind. Just because you were excited about something yesterday, doesn't mean you need to be today. Keep growing and learning.
posted by hannahelastic at 1:23 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

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