Severe depression and job search
May 21, 2016 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Feeling serious despair. I left a toxic work environment, yet not in the smartest way and that was a year ago. I've done some PT work before moving to another state.

I didn't have uber confidence in snagging another job in this previous field (librarianship) which I was burnt out after 10 years. Since then, my wife is pregnant, and now due in 9 weeks. I'm excited for the little boy coming my way but despite counseling, and meds (that have helped a bit), I look at jobs online and don't know how I'm going to support my family. I can get some job at a java joint or something, but am overwhelmed when I even look via Indeed and other sites. I've worked on social media connections (LinkeIn and FB) to put feelers out there, but I honestly feel pretty shitty at life. I was really good at helping patrons, troubleshooting tech and doing some research. I'm having trouble knowing what to look for, what skills are marketable and "do-able", and feeling extreme despair. I don't expect to land into anything great but I am having trouble coping. I have years of depression experience and remissions as well. I have been trying CBT on my ownlately; monitoring my mood via Daylio app; and meditating as well as moderate exercise as I work on a injury-repair. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. I am pretty ashamed so am posting anon. I feel so utterly useless and old.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I think you should start working at a java shop asap. This is going to help you 'get out there' and get some confidence back. You may also build some connections. Mostly it will likely help with your depression. Side bonus: you'll make a bit of money. If no java shop is readily available, try volunteering to shake things up.

You need to keep going to counseling. Does it feel helpful? Would another counselor be better? Maybe somebody who specializes in CBT?
posted by Kalmya at 7:44 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd enroll in a training program with the aim of being an analyst.

Excel is an excellent skill to have, and you can teach yourself with free on-line resources.

I learned Salesforce, and it has opened so many doors! But you can learn Pega, Workday, or any other CRM/ERP.

I'll boost for Salesforce. You can get your own Developer instance free, and there are books and You Tube resources to play around with it.

Everyone customizes their's differently, so you just need a good base and you can go from there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:55 AM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was really good at helping patrons, troubleshooting tech and doing some research. I'm having trouble knowing what to look for, what skills are marketable and "do-able"...

These are all valuable skills. I have no doubt that you have others.

I think you should temp for a bit or seek contract work through technical temp agencies, which pay a bit more. Spend some time working with different companies and environments to see what type of work and setting helps to clear out some of the dark clouds and confusion in a low-risk way. It's a good way to broaden your contacts, too -- if people like working with you, they can be excellent referrals for more potential work.
posted by mochapickle at 8:35 AM on May 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

I was really good at helping patrons, troubleshooting tech and doing some research.

These functions exist in other jobs - higher level / more complex tech support for a private company, for example. RB's idea of some kind of analyst job makes sense, too, although I'd guess there's less on the people side in some cases. Teaching, in some fields. Think about jobs that involve people + troubleshooting + tech, find the parallels. These ARE transferable skills. There will of course be a gap, in direct experience and the particular tech, maybe qualifications. Seek to bridge the gap by getting experience or training. (It will have to involve a bit of uphill effort. Even though the particular overlap of skills, or potential transferability might be obvious, HR people are usually pretty narrowly focused on particular keywords and experience, the case has to be made for them. The case = some time committed towards getting the relevant experience (maybe a bit of a step down in salary)/keywords.)

Bridging the gap means different things in different industries. It might involve getting a qualification valued by the industry (vs pushed by educational institutions). Some college level qualifications are quick and do actually offer good placement programs (YMM seriously V depending on location; buyer beware in the US, different in Canada).

Or it could mean getting an in, maybe at an entry level, at a big company that has established pathways (banks, telecomms; hell, Apple tech support people can make good money, with experience. Guessing that's probably more directly techy than your experience - but this is all learnable.)

Some industries, some companies will let you job shadow and do work experience. Even if you're not 20.

You can temp until then. No shame in it. (Or if that's not practical in terms of scheduling, you could work evenings - catering, customer service. This would mean leaving your spouse alone evenings, which isn't ideal, would require some additional support for her from friends and family, and the clear understanding that this is short term.)

You could also totally switch gears and go for an accelerated college qual in an in-demand field, in something you've never thought of. I have some thoughts on a couple, memail me if you want.

Obviously, going to college with a pregnant spouse and a baby on the way isn't something you could do without help, it is radical change, and would require more help from family, probably. Is that possible, any chance they're nearby and are in a position to help? Could you maybe rent out or sublet your place, stay with family for a bit? Or, are there any government programs that could make a difference? No shame in that, either. Where I live, there is or used to be a program that offered funding for adults looking for a second career, there may be something like that where you are.

Chin up. You can do this. It will not be easy for a while, but you have options.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

but am overwhelmed when I even look via Indeed and other sites.

Yeah, I get this. Lots of things going on with that, probably; guessing - lack of knowledge about the company/role (everything looks like alphabet soup, gibberish), fear of getting into another toxic environment; if you're looking at just *anything* without focus, thinking you have to mould yourself into whatever the market wants, and lose whatever rewards you got from your last job.

Take some time to find a focus so it's all more manageable. This will involve figuring out a plan that makes some kind of sense to you, that will honour your skills and sense of value. I don't think it's a good idea to commit to a long-term plan that's just anything. Short-term, yes, get money in however you can. But that's more tolerable when you're also working towards something that makes sense for you, when there's a light at the end of it.

To do the research that will help you narrow things down, identify where that light is going to be, you're going to have to compartmentalize a little; treat it as a problem to solve. If you can take the emotion out of it, it's easier to do the research. Maybe, assign yourself a time for this. Get a coffee, get comfortable, tell yourself, this is just getting information. Apply some of the emotion regulation techniques from CBT if emotional responses interrupt things too much. Or just take a little break and come back to it. It's just getting information. If it's super overwhelming, and there's someone you trust who's willing to sit with you while you do this, hold your hand a bit, top up your coffee, let them.

While you're getting information, keep track of decisions and exclusions you make as you, and any questions that arise, in a word doc. (E.g., "maybe not Bell" or "qualification X comes up a lot, who offers it". That way you're not swimming in detail or going in circles every time you sit to do this.

Re fear of another toxic place - and both have reviews of companies from employees, that might fill in the blanks a bit. You can also ask people you know. Dedicate some time to this specifically, don't do it while you're searching for job titles, easy to get off track. Dedicate different times for different parts of the search. (E.g., Monday morning:, bookmark jobs. Monday afternoon: get a sense of company reputation, check out glassdoor & web presence. Tuesday morning, google qualifications. Something like that.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:19 AM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

....troubleshooting tech and doing some research....

Indeed can be great for putting in key words, and then over days/weeks, reading and learning more about a particular job(s).

So in your area, type in "technical trainer." In the healthcare industry, there are jobs where you learn the specialty program to electronic records (like Epic, or whatever, I am not endorsing this company but it is an example) and train new hospital staff. Some pharma companies also have people who train staff how to to use new programs (they also have librarians). I'm only familiar with those particular type jobs, but take the word and drop it into indeed for your location and see what comes up.

Also, I do think it might be useful for you to slowly define what you want (as other posters have said, temp work, whatever) and then figure out what is the best fit for you. Along these lines, you might google "job finding club" or something along those lines for your area. What I am imagining if there is an active group is that you would be a great resource/connect with other people and gain confidence/learn what you want/and exchange info (ie, maybe see what industries are better in your area).

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 9:49 AM on May 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

Def what the others say...I think you are on the right track.
posted by chicaboom at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2016

I took a job in a coffee shop when I was too depressed/overwhelmed to search for a job that was a better fit for my skills. In many ways it has been healing for me: a job where I am moving around, where it's warm and sunny, where there's music, with lots of little (mostly pleasant) social interactions and camaraderie with coworkers, where my presence matters (if someone doesn't show it up it very measurably effects everyone else at almost every moment) has been quite good.

But. It gets exhausting and is hard on the body after a while, especially if you're not 18. And that might be an even worse thing when you have an infant.

I would suggest trying an employment/"temp" agency. That way you can psych yourself up once, for the interview with the temp agency (who are really your allies--they benefit if they can place you), and then they will take it from there in terms of supplying the oomph to look for placements for you.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:30 AM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

I did temp jobs while I was in between jobs. One was as a receptionist and I met sooooo many people, it was awesome. Try searching for records management positions as well. I think a lot of library folk overlook the potential here even though the skillset is comparable. There are ARMA chapters nationwide and members are pretty passionate about information management and helping others in the field as well.
posted by Calzephyr at 10:40 AM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

You might try an online service like UpWork or Textbroker to get some money coming in without having to go to a job site.

I was one of the top 3 students of my graduating high school class. I turned down a National Merit scholarship. I had a corporate job for a while, but it wasn't a good fit for me in part because I am medically handicapped. Doing freelance work online has helped me get healthier and having some money coming in, even if it is not really enough, really does enormous good for my mental health. It takes it from "I am on track to starve for two fucking weeks. OMFG!!!!" to "I am on track to starve for two days this week and there is time to earn more so I have a paycheck next week, and I am scared and stressed out, but this doesn't look like certain doom."

What I am saying is that the actual lack of money fuels depression. So, get some money coming in and it helps with the despair.

I have also learned a lot about how to be productive in a way that works for me. I occasionally ponder the possibility of getting "a real job" related to my actual training, something that looked completely out of the question for a long time. So, find something you can do and build from there. It takes time, but it can be solved. It just won't be solved over night. But it can get better immediately and can continue to gradually improve.
posted by Michele in California at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also - I imagine you're wanting to stay close to home, but if you can, try to get out sometimes and talk to friends. Keep your network alive. Let people know you're looking so they can keep an eye out for you. (It will help if you can give them specific areas of focus vs saying "anything" - or tell them what you can do and ask for input, they may have ideas.) I know it's hard to talk about, also hard to ask for help, but everyone knows how hard it is for jobs right now, and if your friends aren't 20, most of them will have also been through some stuff or other. They will want to help if they can, it makes people feel good to be helpful. Don't let yourself get too alone.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:31 PM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Go to your local Five O' Clock club. I think it will help you greatly to see that you're not alone and get advice from peers. Also, see if there are any other career counseling resources in your area. These are often free. You are not alone :-)
posted by xammerboy at 5:27 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Heads up, re: potential java job. A connection that my roommate made as a barista eventually led to her getting a job at a local university. She just finished her master's degree at a SUPER reduced rate, and found a new position at the same school that's more of a fit for her skills.

If your resume is causing you grief, it might be worth it to check Fiverr or something about resume writing/editing services, or see if there's any job search programming or resume workshops at your local library.

It sounds like you're highly competent, and the skills you described (and I'm certain you have more), sound like they can give you a real competitive edge for a number of positions. Good luck with your search!
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:03 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that you struggle with depression, I have issues with that as well and it makes the smallest tasks in life seem insurmountable. I'd say that since you have a child on the way that will be arriving very soon, you'd probably be better off finding some type of work (even if it's in a coffee shop) asap. Just having some type of income and being as frugal as you can is a good place to start. You'll need some type of income, especially if your wife is going to take time off or not return to work period. Start looking for work and go on as many interviews as you can manage. Try not to think of everything stressful in your life because this will affect the way you interview. Just focus on small goals, one at a time. First, finding a job. Any job at all. You can always look for a better paying job in the future, but for now take something reasonable, and if necessary, a second job if it's needed. Keep up with the CBT and if possible look into reduced rate counseling services in your area. I'm not sure where you live, but in my city government sponsored mental health clinics give a certain number of free sessions and after that rates are based on a sliding scale. Stay strong brother! You can do this.
posted by Firestorm 2018 at 8:04 AM on June 4, 2016

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