Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Where are you and where are you going?
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by unemployable » Fri May 17, 2019 11:01 am

Wow. I would be a lot more careful about bringing up (potential) medical issues, especially if they're not formally diagnosed. Many years ago I played that exact same card, mentioning depression even, at a temporary job. They fired me by the end of the week, although the agency kept me on. The company's customers do not care what kind of mood you're in, they want a deliverable.

I suspect you already see the problems with letting your boss also act as doctor.

I would just be factual with your supervisors -- you have been given more work than you have time to handle, and this is not fair to you. For all we know it is stuff that is beyond your pay grade/level of experience, and you're taking longer to do it than you should or otherwise messing it up. But after a point it is your employer's duty to realize this and give the right work to the right people, including hiring new people if necessary. Be proactive in offering a solution, for example decide which projects you enjoy the most/add the most value to the company/offer the best prospects for better work elsewhere and ask to prioritize those. I'm getting deja vu here.

I agree with others broadly that you should look into jobs with non-exempt (overtime for >40hrs/wk) status, although maybe not necessarily strict blue-collar.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by TopHatFox » Fri May 17, 2019 11:15 am

@unemployable, yeah all of that is true, just didn't know what else to say since I've already expressed that I have too much to do all the time. I suppose now I'll see what happens.

Interestingly, I've started talking to the sister of an ex-partner of mine. The sister is in Massachusetts and has done things like live in a converted bus, hike the PCT, and hike all of New Zealand. And the last few times we talked on the phone were hours of meaningful back and forth. She often reaches out to me, which is great. I think that's a compelling pathway if it develops further. It's not every day (or year) you meet someone to potentially do long adventures with and can spend time with for hours. Getting to 30 with 200K and a beautiful, outdoorsy partner and some great adventures sounds pretty good. I've found life tends to be much more fulfilling when shared with the right partner or partners. If we can do some stupid jobs together over the years, that sounds much nicer than slogging it in office land alone.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by EdithKeeler » Fri May 17, 2019 5:16 pm

Here's some advice from someone who's been a manager for several years, and in the work place for many more:

--Never, EVER volunteer any information that your employer is not entitled to know, or that you wouldn't want them to know. Feel depressed, seek treatment and use the company benefit if you have it, but NEVER EVER TELL YOUR BOSS. One way or another, it could come back to haunt you in the form of office gossip, some future denied promotion/job move ("I don't think we should give THF the job--he gets really stressed and depressed"), a negative reference ("Well, I know he had mental problems when he was here"). Trust me--it's a small, small world. I've seen things that were supposed to be protected and private that have gotten out and been talked about by people who knew better, and people who meant to do it, and people who were kind and nice but just let things slip. Innocuous things easily get blown out of proportion: "I feel depressed today" can come out the other end after several people hear it, like a game of telephone, to "I heard THF tried to slit his wrists in the company washroom."

--Related to the above: HR is NOT YOUR FRIEND. HR's main job is to protect the company, not you. You might potentially get a call from HR based on info from your boss. HR might seem really nice, asking if you need to use the Employee Assistance Program, do you know about benefits under your health plan, etc. It sounds really nice and innocuous.... but I would recommend that you play it off as a misunderstanding and don't volunteer anything to HR. Use the benefits if you need to, absolutely, but don't talk to HR about it. You could say things that could be used to build a file against you if they want to terminate you.

(Please note: this all sounds really negative, and I don't want to imply that this is always what happens. Some employers are great and do great things for their people, and keep confidential stuff confidential. But not all do, and I believe it's best to err on the side of not volunteering stuff that could potentially be used for nefarious purposes).

--If you hate your job, you hate your job. I don't recommend staying in a job you truly hate. But based on some things you've posted here, there are a lot of good things going on with your job, too, not least of which is a free graduate degree. To me, it seems silly not to take advantage of that while you can, even if you never actually want to work in that field. Based on my observations in life, just having an advanced degree, any degree, can open doors that you may never have expected. A free degree is pretty awesome and almost like money in the bank. You may not care much about having a lot of money now... but things can change. It's always a good idea to hedge your bets, just in case.

--I wonder, as a person reading your journal, if one: you're giving your job a fair shake and two: if you might not overreact a little bit to negative things. One thing pretty much all employers value is resilience and emotional intelligence, and both of those things are life skills that you will need in spades from here on out whether in work or just in relationships with other people. If I, as your employer, point out that you're not current on your work, you should take that as an opening to a conversation to learn more things, not as a criticism.

Parsing out the incident, this is what happened: your coworker (NOT your boss) came to you about uncompleted items. You say he was "mad that you hadn't done an assignment." What does that mean? Does that mean he got a complaint call ("Hey, I've been trying to reach THF about this thing that's not done, can you check on it for me?") or is it a situation where you need to do your piece before he can do his ("Hey, THF, have you done part one of the funding report? Because I need your part so I can wrap up my part, and it's due Friday.") You say he was mad--was it "Dammnit, I've asked you 10 times you miserable asshole," or was it "Man, I gotta get this done, I need it tomorrow." Was he right to be mad? Was what he confronted you about any of his business? (I ask all these questions because workplaces and work flows are all different. The details matter. If he's mad and it doesn't have anything to do with him, then let it roll off. Fuck him. But if his work is dependent on yours, then that's a different deal).

I'm going to assume that, since you went to talk to the boss, and you said "WE" had a conversation with the boss, that the coworker and you and the boss conversed all together. What was the nature of the conversation? Did they boss say "You guys need to work things out between yourselves," or what? (See point one: you, your coworker and your boss should not be talking about your use or non-use of anti-depressants. IMHO, your boss was out of line by even talking about it).

You say the conversation was friendly, and that's good. Here is my suggestion: schedule some one-on-one time with your boss. At least an hour initially, and then maybe some follow up sessions, maybe a half hour the following week, and then maybe another half hour two weeks or so after that. I suggest a script something like this: "Boss, I wanted to first of all say thanks for talking to me the other day. I was kind of having a bad day, and I appreciate your personal anecdotes and advice, but I'm good now. But I do want to talk to you about this workload thing, because I don't want to let down you or my team by not getting the work done. I've put together a list of all my pending projects (make sure you do your homework on this, and don't leave anything out), and in addition to this list, I regularly get ad hoc requests from Mary in accounting for TPS reports, and Clay from Marketing is always asking for me to pull some stats at the last minute before he goes on sales calls, and Bobbie June is always wanting me to run a special WENUS for her. I really want to get everything done, but clearly I'm not, and I wanted to talk to you about what the best way is to prioritize everything, because I'm not sure what's most important, and I also wasn't sure if you knew I was getting those specials requests and stuff. Plus, I'm not sure if there are some shortcuts I can be taking that might be able to save me some time and still get everything done. I'd like to go over this stuff and maybe put an action plan together so that I can get everything done, and then maybe we can revisit next week to check in on how it's going, and tweak it as needed."

Of course, you're going to customize this script according to your work. And frankly--I get that this whole job may all be bullshit to you. But I do think that while you work for an employer and they pay you, you owe them the work, you know? And your boss's main job, really, is to make sure the work gets done, and if he's a remotely smart boss, he knows that to get the job done, his employees may need some help and coaching from time to time. So there's no harm in asking for it. He should be coaching you anyway, so you're not asking for anything special here, only that he do his job. And you MIGHT find that even though it's all bullshit, if you get a little help and can do the job better, you might enjoy it more. That's not to say that you can't or won't pursue other work, or other stuff in your spare time, or leave eventually and get another job. All of those things may happen, and that's OK too. But getting better at this job, even if you do something completely different in the future, will still yield knowledge and experience you'll use in other ways.

This may be a hard conversation to have--it's never fun to ask for help or admit you don't know something or can't do something (even if it's not your fault). But if nothing else, this is good practice for the millions of other hard conversations you will have to have in the future in your life. And I will also say that your boss may not realize there's a problem, he may not be fully aware of everything that's going on on your desk--in lots of organizations, people dump stuff on other people that the boss knows nothing about--and he should be happy to be kept in the loop. You should also be regularly informing your boss of the good stuff you do. He's got a lot of stuff on his plate, and he may not be aware of all of your successes. Let him know. I have always appreciated it when my employees told me that they received a compliment from an agent or won a case, etc. and it certainly makes my work come performance review time easier. Keep a file on your good stuff and successes and regularly remind your boss.

But for this situation, you want to approach this conversation with your boss as "How can I do my job better? Please help me be better in my job" and NOT all "Bobbie June has less work than I do, and Billy Clyde is always dumping shit on me, and I think some of the stuff we have to do is pretty stupid anyway." That all may be true--but focus on YOUR WORK, and how YOU can do it better when you talk to your boss. But you can also get other info in, like if Bobbie June is foisting her stuff on you--"OK, great, so I just want to be clear--am I supposed to do the WENUS or is Bobbie June?"

You may totally hate this job, and it's probably not what you'll do for the rest of your life. But it is a place to earn money, have benefits, learn stuff, get a free education, etc. until you decide to make a change. And the fact is, as much you might believe that there is some perfect job out there where you can just do your thing and never have to put up with any bullshit, well.... there's always bullshit, in my experience, so you might as well practice handling it, you know, so you can do even better when you really need it for the job you love.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by niemand » Fri May 17, 2019 10:28 pm

Listen to everything Edith said.

You said you’re depressed. Like in depression-depression? Have you seen a professional? Have you got a diagnosis?

I’m asking because depression is a serious medical condition. It’s not something that will go away by quitting your job, moving town, finding a life partner or becoming a blue collar worker.

I don’t know if what you’re suffering from is depression, but I do get the feeling you’re stuck in a loop. The same issues have been playing out again and again for the last dozen pages of your journal. How can you break free?

Again: it may be good to get some real-life help.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by C40 » Sat May 18, 2019 9:41 am

You better do what Edith said or I'll come find you in Florida, grab you by the shoulders, and shake you.


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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Sat May 18, 2019 1:28 pm

It’s not something that will go away by quitting your job, moving town, finding a life partner or becoming a blue collar worker.
I will respectfully disagree with this point. For some, depression is a chemical imbalance and thought patterns that are not dependent on their environment. For others, including people I've known, depression has a cause and once that problem is resolved the depression resolves. Try a thought experiment. Imagine we select a number of random, non depressed people off the street and throw them in solitary confinement in a prison. We don't tell them why they are there but we do tell them they are never getting out. If we check up on them in a few months, would you be surprised if many of them are depressed? I think many would be. Their body chemistry hasn't changed. None of them were depressed before, but now they are, because of a specific problem with their environment. I know that is an extreme example, but I think once we accept that it is possible for many people to become depressed due to extreme circumstances we also have to accept that some people may become depressed due to lesser circumstances. I agree that making these changes is no guarantee that depression will go away though. (I'm not a psychologist so take all of the above with a grain of salt.)
But it is a place to earn money, have benefits, learn stuff, get a free education, etc. until you decide to make a change.
I agree, but people should beware of becoming trapped in something they don't like by saying "I'll just stick with this until I find something else." If a person lacks the willpower or whatever to try something else now it will only be harder with a spouse and a mortgage.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by OTCW » Sat May 18, 2019 1:44 pm

If you tell them you are depressed as a reason for not getting your work done, I hope you have a doctor's diagnosis to back that up. HR people at big bureaucratic organizations like universities can be 'sticklers' for coloring inside the lines so to speak. They are most definitely not your friend.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by unemployable » Sat May 18, 2019 1:46 pm

You don't want to be tagged as "the guy who gets in funny moods" regardless of whether you have clinical depression. This may have already happened.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Cheepnis » Sat May 18, 2019 1:52 pm

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 1:28 pm
I will respectfully disagree with this point. For some, depression is a chemical imbalance and thought patterns that are not dependent on their environment. For others, including people I've known, depression has a cause and once that problem is resolved the depression resolves.
I have to add my anecdotal experience to this insight. I'm not sure if I ever hit actual diagnosable depression, but the worst long term mental state I have ever in was directly tied to my living situation at the time. Once I moved out and found more compatible roommates my mental health improved tenfold.

That said, based on my cursory knowledge of THF's tribulations, I don't think a change of circumstances will be a golden bullet for him, but it sounds like it could definitely help. At least give the life disruption required to help him develop a healthier mental disposition in general.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Dream of Freedom » Sat May 18, 2019 2:41 pm

You know, you really aren't optimistic enough for us. We should leave you alone for 6 months. :mrgreen:

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by daylen » Sat May 18, 2019 3:07 pm

My posts above may seem like they came out of nowhere without any research or experimental backing. Fox can choose to ignore me or decrease the weight of my comments if he wants. It may seem like I have no feelings and do not care about others, but I can assure you that this is simply not true. I have spent literally thousands of hours trying to figure out how the mind works from hundreds of resources/perspectives; I feel like I know Fox quite well now after years of reading about his struggles.

To me, it is not so much about making "friends", but I will try to help someone if I can. I am not afraid of being hated for making blunt observations and deductions. In no way is this post meant to be condescending. Hopefully, I do not make the situation any worse than it is by intervening like this.

Fox needs to think he is contributing to the well-being of those around him. He is highly susceptible to Ni-Ti cycles of desire and confirmation. Once he decides he wants something, then he will figure out a way to justify and get it. In the process, he spends a great deal of time confirming that what he wants will actually help people. What everyone else thinks is a small input into this equation unless the logic confirms his current perception. His blind spot is the consensus of what others are thinking around him.

He weakly learns from the past unless it hits him like a brick wall (future oriented), so the only way to break the cycle is to actually find a niche where he thinks he is helping the people around him. That is the only way. I do think this will happen eventually, but it will be a volatile process until he has a better understanding of how things work. Once he finds his niche, he will know, but at the moment he does not quite have enough information to see the details of it.

A catalyst to this process is for Fox to be exposed to perspectives that would otherwise not be available or ignored. Fox should try not to discount opinions just because they do not pass his bullshit filter. Instead, he should try to see why the person thinks the way they do. It is not always about what they think, but the process of how they came to think it. People are different and want very different things, so if he cannot help a particular type of person then he should find someone who wants the help he can give.

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