help redux
January 22, 2020 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I am supposed to begin an intensive outpatient psychiatric program next week. Today I got a request for a phone interview from a company I applied to about a month ago, before I decided to do this program. This is a really good job, for a lot of reasons, and I want to pursue it, but the timing is so bad. What do I do?

I really need to do this DBT treatment program, especially in the aftermath of ending my emotionally abusive relationship (please see my last question). However, if I were to be perfectly honest, the reason why I decided to enroll in this program is because the constant emotional abuse from my boyfriend exacerbated my depression (I have bipolar 2) and my C-PTSD. I am under the care of a psychiatrist, who recommended this program to me when I told him I was in crisis. I am also under the care of a therapist who specializes in EMDR.

The problem is, this job that wants to phone interview me is a great job for a number of reasons. It fits my skillset perfectly, it's in an industry I have nearly a decade's worth of experience, their company values are in line with my own, and best of all, they are located ten minutes away from my home. (For many years, including the last two, I was commuting over an hour into NYC for work, and the commute is also one of the things that is taking its toll on my body and spirit. I am drained all the time, and it doesn't help my emotional regulation.

The thing is, this program, which I have been actually genuinely looking forward to, lasts 8 weeks. I know this is probably putting the cart in front of the horse, but if I were to proceed with the interview process with this job and get an offer, it is unlikely that they will be willing to wait 8 weeks for me to begin working for them.

I am now seriously torn. Maybe now that I'm not dealing with my shitty boyfriend the program is no longer necessary, and my EMDR therapy will suffice. Maybe having a really good job, that is in line with my career goals, and is so close to home, will empower me and give me the confidence I need to better my life.

My program starts on Monday and I know interview processes can take a long time. I also know that there is a dearth of good candidates with my exact perfect skillset that this company needs in the town where this amazing job is located, and I think I might be a serious contender for the job as a result. Of course, I could also not get the job - nothing in life is guaranteed.

My friends are advising me to proceed with the program and also go through the interview process for this job, assuming I make the next round after the phone screen, and then only if I get an offer, consider either leaving the program, or ask the job to wait another few weeks before I can start (I am currently in a temp job two days a week that doesn't conflict with my program and I could say that they need me to give a month's notice before I leave - I'd obviously prefer not to disclose to a potential job that I'm under treatment for mental health issues).

What the hell do I do? I feel so torn.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (24 answers total)
Is there a reason that you are resisting your friends' advice? It seems wise.

Go through the program, keep your part-time job 2x week, and do the job interview process for this great opportunity. If they offer you the job, then you can decide your next steps - but at that point, you may be nearly done with the program anyway and the issue would be moot.
posted by nkknkk at 12:58 PM on January 22, 2020 [47 favorites]

Your friends are right. You aren't at the point when you need to make a decision between the two paths yet, and when you are at that point, the facts will be different* so it is not effective** to be ruminating about which option to take now.

* Facts that will be different:
(a) you will be in the program and have a better sense if it is helping;
(b) you will be a few weeks into the future as you note, so the delayed start date might be a total nothing;
(c) you will have met your DBT instructors and therapy folks in the new program who may provide you with a new perspective on this problem;
(d) you may have new DBT skills you can apply to this dilemma.

**Acting effectively is something I do now because I did a DBT skills program and it was helpful.

Best of luck!
posted by girlpublisher at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2020 [48 favorites]

I agree with your friends. The interview process and hiring calendar could really stretch and by the time an offer comes in, you may be easily able to request a start date that's after your program's completion. There's no reason to skip finding out whether this opportunity is really as good a fit as it seems. If, once you're in the process, the fit is not as good or the schedule for a start date won't work for you, you can decline the offer if it comes. Good luck with all of it!
posted by quince at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2020 [8 favorites]

I can't advise on the healthcare bit beyond wishing you the best of luck and peaceful healing. From a hiring manager point of view:

... then only if I get an offer, consider either leaving the program, or ask the job to wait another few weeks before I can start (I am currently in a temp job two days a week that doesn't conflict with my program and I could say that they need me to give a month's notice before I leave

This is not unreasonable at all. If they want you for the gig, they ought to be willing to work with you on a start date that works with your current work/personal schedule, whether it's previously-scheduled time off or something like I-need-to-see-the-end-of-next-month-through-to-get-X-bonus. I don't see any downside to proceeding with the interview if you're feeling up to it.
posted by jquinby at 1:01 PM on January 22, 2020 [14 favorites]

You want to maximize your long-term utility (happiness), but the problem is that none of us can predict which option is will do that.

It sounds like you might have the upper hand in job negotiations, so the smart thing to do seems to be to tell them you can't start immediately (if things move forward). If they balk, you can step back and reassess. This at least buys you some time.
posted by adamrice at 1:01 PM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

The job situation is feeding into your very normal and understandable backbrain which is telling you not to bother with this program.

Your friends are right. Don't stop any plans you currently have based on the possibility that you will get this job in a short timeframe and won't be able to negotiate start dates. I don't think the timeframe you've given is unreasonable.

Also, even if you leave the program early, you will have received the benefit of every day up to that point.

In other words, your lizard-brain that has been operating on C-PTSD is doing its best to convince you that This Job Is Worth Giving Up The Program for. Hello lizard brain, stand down, it's possible to pursue both at once.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:09 PM on January 22, 2020 [14 favorites]

Interview. Do it. Solve this problem if you get the offer.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:20 PM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with everyone else that your friends are right, but I wanted to address this specifically:

I could say that they need me to give a month's notice before I leave - I'd obviously prefer not to disclose to a potential job that I'm under treatment for mental health issues

If it turns out you do need to negotiate a later start date than they prefer, you don't have to give a reason at all. "We'd like you to start on [date X]." "I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to start until [date Y], would that be possible?" They're unlikely to ask your reasons, but if they do you can be vague and say you have "prior obligations" which prevent you from starting earlier.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:26 PM on January 22, 2020 [13 favorites]

I don't know what industry you're in, but in my industry (software development), 8 weeks is nothing. The hiring process alone can take a month, and most companies would not hesitate at a candidate asking for a start date a month in the future. If they like you enough to hire you long-term, waiting a few weeks for you to start probably won't be a big deal.
posted by mekily at 1:33 PM on January 22, 2020 [9 favorites]

Do the interview. If it goes well, even if you can't start with them when they want you to and they have to find someone else for a few weeks, you will still have a positive interaction with them on the books. That way when you get back in touch with them you won't be starting from scratch. "Caring for family" is a good way to extricate yourself without leaving things sour - and it's not a lie because you're your own family.
posted by Mizu at 1:44 PM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Another vote for your friends' advice, and may I say how great it is that you have friends who can give good advice!

Think of it this way: you won't be telling the company to wait 8 weeks because it's going to take time for them to hire you. It'll be 8 weeks minus however long the hiring process is. And after all: it took them a month to get in touch with you, so it's not like their hair is on fire to hire someone yesterday. :)
posted by rhizome at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2020 [15 favorites]

Do the interview; do not mention the DBT program; if asked about when you could start, mention, "Ideal for me would be [date after the DBT program ends], but earlier is possible."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:51 PM on January 22, 2020 [4 favorites]

Echoing the unanimous advice: continue with the interview and go ahead and start the program as originally planned. Hiring processes can take a long time so this may not even be an issue by the time you get to the job offer itself.
posted by aka burlap at 1:53 PM on January 22, 2020

Look at it this way ... never close a door before you absolutely have to. Start the program, go through the interview process, and keep both those doors open until the very last minute that the company will allow you to start. Good luck, this sounds like two really good things happening in your life right now. I'm kinda jealous of that. :)
posted by mccxxiii at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2020 [6 favorites]

I've found the idea of 'future me' very helpful. As in....'That DOES sound like a complicated decision down the road, but that is a problem for future me. Current me just needs to do X and future me will be in charge of what comes next and will be even better prepared to make that decision than I am now.
posted by jeszac at 2:23 PM on January 22, 2020 [17 favorites]

Go through the process. Eventually there will be a point where they say "hey, when can you start if we extend an offer?" and you'll say "I would need to give notice, and I have some travel planned {at some point that would push your start date appropriately along}, so I wouldn't actually be free to start until 3/12" or whatever and they'll probably be like "oh okay, cool".

At worst, they'll be like "oh please please our giant Customer Smorgasbord Event is on 3/3, is there any way you can start before then, here is an offer letter so you can fully evaluate your answer to that question" and you can decide at that point if you need to modify your plans. Which might just mean you come back with "I can work {those two days a week you're already working} the first two weeks of March, would that be an option? I'm really obligated to be gone those other days, but I really do want to work with you so let's see if we can figure this out?"
posted by Lyn Never at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'll be another vote to follow your friends' advice and let Future You make this decision. There's a real chance it will all work out and you'll be able to do both. My current job is great but it took way longer than 8 weeks between contacting me for a phone interview and needing me to show up to start work.

Also can we cheerlead for you a little bit? Because oh my gosh it sounds like you are doing so many things right. I've been following your questions, and I'm so glad that you have so many good things going on - exciting job opportunity, friends who will listen and give you advice, helpful medical professionals, starting this program that sounds like it will be good. So much good stuff! You're doing amazing :)
posted by beandip at 4:54 PM on January 22, 2020 [9 favorites]

Another vote for doing the program. You will learn skills in this program that will be of such help to you both in everyday life and when life, as life does, throws you a curveball. It’s a major major investment in future you.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 5:35 PM on January 22, 2020

Do both.

I have been in an interview process with one company where no fewer than three people have said I’m perfect for what they need, there are just a lot of people to coordinate to make it happen since November.

So they are still in touch and they understand that things in my life are also going on that prevent me from dropping everything to run to them. We get to collaborate on the process, which demonstrates some skills.

I am also in a DBT program but mine is just one group and one individual session each week. It is so helpful for trauma stuff, and I would love to be able to do a more intensive program.
posted by bilabial at 7:00 PM on January 22, 2020

Yeah. What’s the expected lead time on the interview to offer to start date? In my world (academic, admittedly slow) it’s about 9 months from interview to offer to acceptance to start.
posted by u2604ab at 7:11 PM on January 22, 2020

I think you've been convinced to pursue both, but in case it helps to have more voices saying "2 months is not an unreasonable timeframe", I can add some anecdata. In my last 3 interviews:

* In my first interview after applying, I said I'd need ~3 months before I could start. Their answer was "oh, cool, we just wanted to be sure it wasn't going to be October or something."
* I interviewed 1 month after applying, got an offer 2 months after applying, and negotiated a start date 5 months after applying.
* I interviewed ~1 month after applying, got an offer 2-3 months after applying (unofficial / official), and negotiated a start date 6 months after applying.

(These were not all the same industry, but all were engineering of some form.)
posted by Metasyntactic at 8:34 PM on January 22, 2020

You aren't at the point when you need to make a decision between the two paths yet

...and trying to make that decision before you get to that point is one of the standard recipes for cooking up a batch of completely avoidable anxiety.

The general principle worth bearing in mind in this kind of situation is that you don't need to wait for all the traffic lights you can see to turn green before you can go, just the next one ahead of you.
posted by flabdablet at 5:10 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

More anecdata: my husband had 2 interviews for the same job in May and July of last year, no further word after that until January 10, when they called and offered him the job. He is now stuck in the administrative phase with no idea when his actual start date will be. Granted it was a government job, but still.
posted by FormerMermaid at 6:37 AM on January 23, 2020

Another vote for your friends - it could easily take 6 weeks to complete the interview process, by which time you'd be down to a standard 2 weeks notice period.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:54 AM on January 23, 2020

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