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Stuck between a job and a hard place


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Disclaimer: No, I'm not having a manic episode just in case you're wondering.. Just need some sage advice.

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I've worked in the same place going on 3 years. I work nearly 70 hours a week and am on call 24hrs/day in a high stress IT environment where I'm responsible for an environment that involves public safety. Needless to say that alone is stressful but stack on top of that a workload that is endless and office politics that interferes with my workflow.

In the last few weeks I've been stabilizing and doing well but the stress continues to counteract the medication and is hurting me. I've talked to my director who is a good friend of mine and knows my situation and is sympathetic but doesn't know how to solve it right now even though he really wants to. He says, "we need you too bad".

I keep telling him that if things continue the way they are going I'm going to pop or have a breakdown and may have to quit. His comment was, "do you really want to walk away from a near-6 figure job because of a little stress?". What he doesn't understand is I sleep 4-5 hours a night because I'm constantly woken up by our staff with random problems. My staff is not doing what they need to do, and I literally work 7 days a week to keep afloat.

I just feel if I keep going like this I'm either going to quit or I'll stay and have a break which might lead me to heavy medication and/or a hospital stay which frightens me.

I could really use an ear and some advice guys.

Thanks in advance!

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I've been where you are and it sucks. Although I wasn't on call, I was also in a high-stress job working insane hours, and the eventual result is that I ended up in a horrible depressive episode that caused me to take off two years of work and ruin my finances (yet again). It was also complicated by the fact that my boss was my friend. It made it hard for him to see that his super-star co-worker really couldn't take all those hours and all that stress, and it made it hard for me to take action to save myself since I knew it would affect our friendship.

If I were you, I'd tune up my resume and start job-hunting. If you're near any type of decent size town or city, you should be able to find another job without too much trouble. IT folks are always in demand and you sound like you're really good at what you do. Based on your other circumstances (kids in school, etc.), I would even consider moving for the right job. Instead of listening to your friend's guilt trip about 'walking away from a near 6 figure a year job', I would frame it as 'walking towards my next 6 figure a year job'. Needless to say, I wouldn't tell my boss any of my plans.

In the meantime, the on-call stuff has to stop right away, even if it means everyone has to resort to telephones, texts, and faxes while the computer system is down. It can't be a negotiable thing. You need to make it understood to your boss and your other co-workers that you won't be available outside of work hours anymore, period. It will probably go over best if you first prepare a brief written plan of the backup procedure when things aren't working as expected, and make sure all affected parties have a copy of it.

Then, to enforce it, you need to unplug your home phone and computer, and turn off your cell phone outside of working hours. Otherwise the temptation to step in and fix things will be too great. Your boss and other staff have to understand that you truly aren't available after hours, and to quit trying to reach you. If you were to get hit by a bus, they'd have to solve things on their own anyways, and although they may not fix things the way you would, or as quickly as you could, they're going to have to muddle through as best they can.

You have to make your stability and health your absoulute highest priority. It's a lot easier to stay well than to get sick and then have to climb all the way back out of the hole, as I'm sure you know.

Good luck in your job hunt. I'm pretty good at resumes so if you want me to have a look at yours, P.M. me and I'd be happy to.

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I agree. Run like Hell. Theres no excuse for that kinda responsibility on one person's shoulders and a kinda clueless boss. The price of sickness will take a higher toll than anyones salary , and in too many ways.

Btw, you don't sound manic at all. You sound rightelously pissed off and worried. You sound fine. Find something better suited to healthy sleep , eat and work schedules and allows you to live outside the 'office'.....unless you're the head of the NSA? You need to get out while the getting is good and find something that isn't so dysfunctional.

Of course if you are the head of the NSA, they may take you out rather than let you leave.........sigh....... :-P

peace

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Forgot to add:

I have an assistant to help me whom I hired 6 months ago. I had worked for him before and I knew it wouldn't work out because of that but did it anyways. He means well but doesn't take direction, ignores my requests, and questions my directives constantly. We recently had several "come to jesus" talks as I'm not big on write-ups but it he's still just doing whatever he wants. So beyond the work environment having a rogue employee who makes very poor decisions and is insubordinate is triggering stress all over the place. I had spoke with my immediate director about replacing him and he started to discuss the "resolution conflict pyramid" with me. I tried to listen to him, being fresh out of MBA school and wanting to use these tools but when a relationship doesn't work the signs are obvious.

I went ahead and changed my cell phone number so now 10 people have it instead of 400 so that should help some and I'm working to make myself less available. But I see the writing on the walls here, I have to put my health first. Money is nice and all but if you can't enjoy it because you're ill what's the point? I'd rather be living in an efficiency, working at McDonalds and totally happy instead of having money and on the verge of cracking.

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I work in IT as well, its really tough on stress. I would think that unless you can get some concessions from your boss just saying youre dealing with 'stress', your next option would be to see your doc and get a letter that says you must limit certain things that are making you worse like the extra hours and on-call. Im not sure about the legal issues involved since Ive never done that. =(

Just be careful in how you do this.. you dont want to lose your job obviously. Might be worth a consultation with a lawyer if you worry about that.

As far as disclosure to people at work, you may not need to say much of anything, even in a doctors letter. Just that stress is causing you some health issues.

I had a really bad few months where my depression got worse and I had pain and fatigue. I snapped on people a couple times and got written up for it. And now recently written up for being 'rude' although I was not being rude at all, just so exhausted I didnt want to talk. MI sucks and people suck too =(

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I went ahead and changed my cell phone number so now 10 people have it instead of 400 so that should help some and I'm working to make myself less available. But I see the writing on the walls here, I have to put my health first. Money is nice and all but if you can't enjoy it because you're ill what's the point? I'd rather be living in an efficiency, working at McDonalds and totally happy instead of having money and on the verge of cracking.

I feel the same way. I had a job that I absolutely loved, until my management forced me to take a "temporary" management position. After a year of being under incredible stress and commuting 12 to 15 hours a day in horrible traffic, I was falling deep into depression, I was gaining tons of weight from overeating, and I was in severe 24-hour pain on my lower right side. Months of doctors' appointments finally determined that my pain was technically from a bad disc, but really being caused by the stress. That was my wake-up call. I quit my job and took a less prestigious job doing similar work. I really miss my friends at the old place, but my stress level has dropped drastically, and my back pain is almost completely gone. My new job hasn't been a great fit for me, but the stress reduction alone has been a huge benefit. Still, I would gladly take a major pay cut from what I'm making now to get a job that I actually enjoy.

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I work in IT as well, its really tough on stress. I would think that unless you can get some concessions from your boss just saying youre dealing with 'stress', your next option would be to see your doc and get a letter that says you must limit certain things that are making you worse like the extra hours and on-call. Im not sure about the legal issues involved since Ive never done that. =(

Just be careful in how you do this.. you dont want to lose your job obviously. Might be worth a consultation with a lawyer if you worry about that.

As far as disclosure to people at work, you may not need to say much of anything, even in a doctors letter. Just that stress is causing you some health issues.

I had a really bad few months where my depression got worse and I had pain and fatigue. I snapped on people a couple times and got written up for it. And now recently written up for being 'rude' although I was not being rude at all, just so exhausted I didnt want to talk. MI sucks and people suck too =(

That's unfortunate and I could see how people would misinterpret that. When I don't feel particularly well I'm super quiet and just keep to myself. They ask me "are you mad?". I just tell them no, not at all just thinking and really busy, sorry. From day one I've been a very blunt and short person so they expect it. I'm very high on the food chain so there's 2 directors above me of which the executive is a good friend of mine that I can be candid with. My direct report, not so much. He's just sort of there and doesn't understand.

When I first began treatment with Lithium I had some bad hypo and needed the week off to adjust and my Pdoc wrote me a note to take to HR and he suggested I disclose so I'm listed under "protected class" for whatever that's worth. When I visited the Pdoc on Friday he said don't give them an ultimatum (which I haven't, of course) but negotiate my terms of employment to reduce the stress and if need be he'll get involved with any paperwork. He said at this time even though I'm stressed, I'm high-functioning and stable for the most part besides some break-through hypo so disability isn't an option at this time.

At this point I wouldn't mind trying to climb down the ladder and working for another division for less pay just to chop the hours and stress but there's not really anywhere for me to go. I may pull out the old resume and start to polish it up and see what's out there soon. Like the problem, the it's not an overnight fix.

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I'd say do what you can right now to continue to start limiting your stress and start job hunting. It's a lot easier to find work when you aren't fired or being completely ill.... Sounds to me like you know what your right course to do here is, you just need a little encouragement doing it.

Jobs that become no fun anymore are not worth the money, honestly. Truly, they aren't. It sounds like you are fortunate enough to have the kind of work where you could find another job fairly quickly, even if that means a slight pay cut.

Anna

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Personally, I think your job can be saved as well as your sanity. You sound stable enough at the moment to make the necessary changes. It's all about managing expectations, and taking ownership. I can't tell if your higher ups demanded that you work like this, or if you created the dependency yourself, but really it doesn't matter how it happened. You need to manage their expectations and provide solutions, using whatever resources are needed to do that, and prove that IT integrity will be maintained and maybe even made better in the process. Don't wait for someone else to provide the solutions for you. Take advantage of your position of power and respect to take your life back. You've already taken some positive steps. Just continue with that frame of mind.

As for the lamo direct report, clearly he needs to go. Period. Getting a good assistant will make the biggest difference for you - and be better for your company, too.

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Personally, I think your job can be saved as well as your sanity. You sound stable enough at the moment to make the necessary changes. It's all about managing expectations, and taking ownership. I can't tell if your higher ups demanded that you work like this, or if you created the dependency yourself, but really it doesn't matter how it happened. You need to manage their expectations and provide solutions, using whatever resources are needed to do that, and prove that IT integrity will be maintained and maybe even made better in the process. Don't wait for someone else to provide the solutions for you. Take advantage of your position of power and respect to take your life back. You've already taken some positive steps. Just continue with that frame of mind.

As for the lamo direct report, clearly he needs to go. Period. Getting a good assistant will make the biggest difference for you - and be better for your company, too.

I definitely don't want to throw away nor lose what I've worked so hard for. It's part of what's kept me in the realm of stability. The environment itself commanded it and the lack of a decent assistant. I'm working on several ways to automate things, rely on vendors, and am shopping for a new assistant. The problem is my immediate director seems to be attached to my employee and keeps blocking me when I attempt to let him go, even with proper documentation. I have a meeting with the 3 main directors tomorrow so hopefully something positive will come of it. If nothing else, I hear Starbucks is hiring :)

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