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Have You Had to Start Your Life Over?

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I'm at a place in my life where it's clear to me that I can't go back to the career that I had - the stress and necessity for sleep deprivation is too dangerous. I don't even want to go back; the idea scares me.

I'm in an episode of depression that's lasted for over 2.5 years through various med changes and twice-weekly therapy. I was fortunate to get SSDI without having to appeal, so I have some money coming in (my budget's still in the red for now).

I don't know where to go with my life once I finally get out of this episode of depression. I'm in my mid-thirties, and I did have a good bit of my identity wrapped up in the career I was in. My only real option is to go back to school I think, but I don't know for what, and mood-wise I'm in my position to do that kind of soul searching.

Has anyone else gone through something like this?

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Take the GMAT exam and get a MBA.  Only go to a top 50 school, and network, network, network.  You can also do a concentration in entrepreneurship If you want to be your own boss.  The world is your oyster my friend.

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I've been in your position. You're probably right that going back to school is your best option. If you do, make sure you ease into it. Don't overload your schedule with classes like your work life was overloaded. And study something you love, not something you're going to have to force yourself to do, particularly after you graduate.

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ha. i feel like it's more "has there ever been a time when I wasn't career soul searching?". 
I'm definitely asking my local library to get this in - you might like to get yourself a copy of "designing your life" 
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1101875321/ref=zg_bs_2575_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=AC7YJSP6DYWJV84KVZV1

which is based on the concept of applying design principles that we usually use for designing things, to designing people. I like this concept a whole lot.

there's a whole plethora of people/books/resources - please do message me if you're after more of this sort of thing - happy to dig.

Edited by cipher

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I forgot to mention that the turbulence of my life has led me to become what some would describe as over educated. I disagree with my critics, but that's another story. Also, word of caution about returning to school. You will probably have to accrue student loans.  Many degree programs won't make you competitive on the job market.  I strongly encourage you to find something you enjoy and can handle (as gearhead said) but you can rack up 30+ grand in debt with ease.  Getting away from student loan debt is very difficult. It can make you a slave to your next employer. I do not know your situation in detail, but you may not be able to walk away from your career the next time around.

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At one point, I had things together, it seemed. I was self employed. Then, major depression episode, before I even took meds. Result:  bye bye business. So I researched which jobs had a predicted increase in demand, and made a decent income. I looked at which of the ones I liked I thought I could do when very depressed or stressed. Then I went back to school, and finally picked a job I thought I could like plus do when I wasn't super stable. I chose wisely, and it's worked for me. It's also a field where I get benefits, like insurance, which I need for MI. I think I'm lucky I can work, not everyone can, but it helps that I selected a career that is more suited to me. If you can give some serious thought to what would make you happy plus be possible to do when somewhat symptomatic, you can save some time pursuing something too stressful or difficult. It was a tough transition for me since I'd spent years training for the first career, but no way could I continue doing that work. I'm not happy my life had to be planned around MI issues, but I'm grateful to have been able to start over. 

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This is a little tangential, but has anyone found that a certain type of work or work schedule was helpful for them? Again I'm in no place to do any soul-searching or let alone know have any interests because of the depressive episode, but I'm trying to start thinking about it.

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I have always been able to function more effectively within a structured work day.  Of course things do arise that need attention however if the core of my day has a structure I can keep a lot of the triggers that cause me to struggle mentally at bay.  I have always been told to do something you love (find your passion) and although this may be sage advice sometimes it is the freedom of being inside a structured day that works for me and allows me to expand outside that structure and do good work while staying well.  I dont know if that makes much sense.  

To put it another way: Branford Marsalis (Jazz Musician) once said "there is no freedom in freedom, there is freedom in structure." Of course he was talking creative freedoms within the structure of a song but it always resonated with me.  What some see as a confining schedule I see as the structure that gives me freedom to stay mentally OK.

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My suggestion is to find a job you like, pays enough to keep your bills in check, and gives you adequate benefits to deal with having MI. I don't get paid an awesome salary for my field, but it pays well enough, and the work environment is awesome. So are my insurance benefits and time off. I could pursue a job making more money, but I doubt anything would compare to the rest of my benefits. I can take off the time I need for therapy and doctor visits, as well as to take care of my family, and not lose money, or get harassed by people. I'm lucky enough to have my own office with a door for when I get extremely stressed out, depressed, or just feeling like I need some quiet. Some people prefer having a flexible schedule, or working contract, which I think would be awesome as well. I'm pushing to work from home, which would just be the icing on the cake at this point.

I looked into going back to school to get a graduate degree and hopefully make more money, but I would have to incur significant debt and even then, a new job isn't guaranteed. It would add a lot of stress to my life for a couple of years, and when I look at how much I already have going on, I just don't see myself doing well with a huge increase in stress for 2-3 years. Life is a trade-off, and having MI complicates things. 

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15 minutes ago, dtac said:

My suggestion is to find a job you like, pays enough to keep your bills in check, and gives you adequate benefits to deal with having MI. I don't get paid an awesome salary for my field, but it pays well enough, and the work environment is awesome. So are my insurance benefits and time off. I could pursue a job making more money, but I doubt anything would compare to the rest of my benefits. I can take off the time I need for therapy and doctor visits, as well as to take care of my family, and not lose money, or get harassed by people. I'm lucky enough to have my own office with a door for when I get extremely stressed out, depressed, or just feeling like I need some quiet. Some people prefer having a flexible schedule, or working contract, which I think would be awesome as well. I'm pushing to work from home, which would just be the icing on the cake at this point.

I looked into going back to school to get a graduate degree and hopefully make more money, but I would have to incur significant debt and even then, a new job isn't guaranteed. It would add a lot of stress to my life for a couple of years, and when I look at how much I already have going on, I just don't see myself doing well with a huge increase in stress for 2-3 years. Life is a trade-off, and having MI complicates things. 

What an excellent post. Agreed, having a MI really complicates things. High stress = more problems. The key is to find a career that provides some structure (with flexibility), some social interaction & intellectual stimulation (without too much stress or challenges). Ideally, you can also find time for creative or meaningful pursuits, or family and whatnot. Tough to do.

I also am drawn to the idea of going back to school for another degree, but I cannot afford it financially and a degree does not guarantee any kind of job. I'm also incredibly indecisive towards what I'd like to do.

To the people here that are fairly satisfied with your Career/job: What exactly do you do & what field/industry? I'm trying to brainstorm ideas myself.

Edited by cloudmonger

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17 minutes ago, cloudmonger said:

What an excellent post. Agreed, having a MI really complicates things. High stress = more problems. The key is to find a career that provides some structure (with flexibility), some social interaction & intellectual stimulation (without too much stress or challenges). Ideally, you can also find time for creative pursuits, or family and whatnot. Tough to do.

To the people here that are fairly satisfied with your Career/job: What exactly do you do & what field/industry? I'm trying to brainstorm ideas myself.

Local government IT (staff, not contract.) I do application support, sysadmin, tier 2 help desk, and special projects. Scheduling is rigid, but my work load is variable. I get a good variety of work, I'm not on the phone all day, and much of it can be done with my office door shut. I go socialize with my peers if I have time, and we generally have a good time at work. Only have to take call once every couple of months, and usually only get 1-2 calls in a week.

I can't find another job to match my benefits. I am able to take time off for tdoc and pdoc appointments with zero problems or questions, insurance benefits are incredible, so is med coverage. I work with a group of very supportive people too. I'm so thankful I can get off work for an emergency appointment if I need it, and still maintain bi-weekly tdoc sessions, monthly pdoc sessions, or take the day off if my daughter is sick. It's pretty awesome.

If I did help desk work all day, I'd go crazy. It's 99% the same stuff over and over again, mostly phone calls with irritated people. That's the last thing I want when I'm feeling anxious or depressed. Break/fix gets old real fast without some variation. I love having some fixed aspects of my job, with a lot of flexibility inside of the structure. My annual evals are excellent, I'm happy, my boss is happy, everybody wins.

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1 hour ago, dtac said:

Local government IT (staff, not contract.) I do application support, sysadmin, tier 2 help desk, and special projects. Scheduling is rigid, but my work load is variable. I get a good variety of work, I'm not on the phone all day, and much of it can be done with my office door shut. I go socialize with my peers if I have time, and we generally have a good time at work. Only have to take call once every couple of months, and usually only get 1-2 calls in a week.

Dtac this sounds great! Wish I had the tech-inclination and skills to have a job like this. I also appreciate variable work & having privacy. God I've had so many jobs where I have to be on the phone practically 24/7 and I absolutely hate it!!

Also the workplace trend today in many companies (that I can't stand) are these "open environments" where everyone works along long tables (and nobody has private offices). There are no cubicles or walls separating you from coworkers. It supposedly creates a more "social" interactive workplace. Yuck. it's a nightmare for anyone that has anxiety or depression. Everyone can hear every phone call you make and can read the entire screen of your computer with just a sideway glance.

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41 minutes ago, cloudmonger said:

Dtac this sounds great! Wish I had the tech-inclination and skills to have a job like this. I also appreciate variable work & having privacy. God I've had so many jobs where I have to be on the phone practically 24/7 and I absolutely hate it!!

Also the workplace trend today in many companies (that I can't stand) are these "open environments" where everyone works along long tables (and nobody has private offices). There are no cubicles or walls separating you from coworkers. It supposedly creates a more "social" interactive workplace. Yuck. it's a nightmare for anyone that has anxiety or depression. Everyone can hear every phone call you make and can read the entire screen of your computer with just a sideway glance.

I absolutely can't stand that trend towards open office spaces. Freelancing was like this, and at the last job I had it was like this too. I actually think it makes everyone less productive FWIW.

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I am in the same situation. I, too was lucky enough to get SSDI after struggling with this illness for about 5 years. I had a nervous breakdown at the last job I held, and am scared to death of finding new employment. Not that I hate to work - I am a very good employee. It is just the breakdown has caused me no end of nervousness, not to mention exacerbating my anxiety related problems. I am not a natural "people person."

I have no idea where my life is headed, or where I should even start trying.

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15 hours ago, Poem said:

I have no idea where my life is headed, or where I should even start trying.

 

Exactly... I feel like I need some kind of highly specialized career counselor steering me towards work that's at my level of ability but that won't tend to trigger a mood episode.

At the moment the only ways I see forward are staying on disability or finding a job that's too boring for me to feel good being at, which would certainly be depressing...

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