Work in the Age of Anxiety

Earlier I wrote about getting old and how it seemed to happen without me realizing it.  Something else is happening to me.   I have a problem with work.  I have a good job with benefits and a salary and coworkers that aren’t total asshats.  But . . . I find myself unable to do my work most of the time.  My mind jumps from place to place.  The idea of even getting started on the project I need to work on makes me ill.  Every extension is just another excuse to put it off some more.

Hello, Peter, my old friend.

Hello, Peter, my old friend.

If I go to the doctor, I’ll be back on the medicine-go-round and I’m not too keen on that.  So I have to figure out another way.  But the cards are stacked against me.  The pulmonologist helpfully told me that asthma makes you anxious and anxiety can trigger asthma, oh yay!  So either way I’m screwed. Right now I have nerves hop hop hopping like the freaking Easter Bunny.  Yet I’m sitting here.  Typing out a blog post.  Oh, yes, I can see the exhibit I should be working on, or what crumbs I’ve managed to form together, but I really don’t know what I’m doing on it.  At all.  The idea of even looking at it fill me with dread.  I want to climb up a tree and hide in a hole like, like . . .

I'm baaaaaack!

I’m baaaaaack!

I used to have ambition.  It’s gone.  Did I say this already?  It seems like maybe I already posted this.  Oh, who the hell cares, here it is again.  I think Aussa of Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy said it best.  The years of your job are like the years of high school.  Observe:

“Year 1 at Your New Job (Freshman): You have great hopes for your future, you take notes, show up everyday and are there on time.

Year 2 at Your Job (Sophomore): While you retain a certain semblance of ambition you’ve learned exactly which corners to cut and how little you have to do in order to get by.

Year 3 at Your God Awful Job (Junior): You’re pretty sure that you’re doing everyone a favor by showing up.

Years 4-40 at the hell hole where you’re probably going to die (Senior):  If you can’t find a good enough parking spot, you’re probably going to just go back home and get in bed.”

This is sheer genius here (I’m a senior!) and exactly how I feel about my current job, especially considering how difficult it is to find parking.  So I wonder – is this just a depression / anxiety thing or does everyone feel this way?  Is it a universal thing, like high school?  I mean, it’s not like I have a horrible boss or terrible working conditions or too much of a workload.  In fact, I could do with a little more supervised work because I am freaking terrible about it on my own.  Just look at my house and you can see how well I did at cleaning once my parents quit telling me to do it.

Kind of like this, only all over the entire house.

Kind of like this, only all over the entire house.

So I sit here frozen.  Well frozen except for typing.  Work.  I should really do some work.  In a minute.  Yeah.  I’ll look at it in a minute.  How many minutes till I go home now?  Oh, crap.

So tell me – how many of you like your jobs?  How many of you are bored as heck?  How many of you have anxiety about work yet feel unable to do anything about it? I know I should feel appreciative that I even have a job, and insurance, and all of that but I find myself freaking out more and more and more and I wonder how much longer I can keep this up.  Does anyone else worry about how long they can hang in there?

Let me know in the comments below. You know I’ll be reading them.  Otherwise I’d have to be working.


P.S. Help meeeeeeee.

54 responses

  1. I did, and then I got help. I know you’re not keen on more meds, but would your insurance cover therapy? Specifically DBT? It was developed for those of us with a Borderline Dx, but it’s actually really good for lots of mental stuff. If that’s not an option, email me. I’ve got some suggestions that might help, and at least wouldn’t hurt.

    The most important thing for you to know is that you’re not at all alone in feeling like this, and you can get back to where you’re in control of your life.


      1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy – it’s basically coping skills that many of us didn’t learn when we were younger and are incredibly helpful when dealing with emotional issues.

        1. I might ask my counselor about that. I didn’t really understand the Wikipedia article.

          1. No worries. It’s good stuff really. I did it for 12 months and it helped tons.

  2. I agree with Mental Mama… I’ve heard DBT is very helpful; my sister is doing ti right now for similar problems like hating her job and, in general, hating her life.

    I have been feeling what you’re describing for a while too. Fortunately for me, I am changing things around, but not as planned. I hope it means that things will get better, but I fear that it will just call into the same cycle that you’ve described above.

    1. How are you changing things if you don’t mine my asking? I hope things get better for you too.

      1. Well, I am moving to a new city and starting a residency program. It is really what I want to do, but I wanted to do it here, at home. So there is some change I am happy about and others that I’m not. There is a huge part of me that doesn’t even want to go… like I’d rather stay here and do the same “shit” than move away and move forward. It’s all psychology…

        1. It IS scary to move. I’ve actually never lived more than 15 miles away from where I grew up.

  3. I finally have a job I enjoy again, after 8+ years of working jobs I didn’t like. I guess the blessing and curse of my industry – there is no stability (I’ve had 5 jobs and 6 bosses in those 8 years)… so, if I hate something I won’t be stuck in it long, but … that doesn’t mean the next position will be any better.

    1. ha, yes, four years is the longest I’ve worked at any job. Adding on kids, house, husband, life, and it’s like wait did I care about this at some point? I applied for another job back where I used to work but with higher salary. Not sure if that will solve stuff or make it worse.

      1. Probably neither help nor hurt… will just be different.

  4. I haven’t been a fan of working for the last three years or so.
    But I don’t think of my job as defining who I am, it just gets me the money (and health insurance) to be able to do the things I want to. Takes a lot of the stress out of working.

    1. This is true. I used to be passionate about libraries. I still am to an extent, but not about what I’m doing now. I just want money to buy stupid gadgets, pay bills, and play with my kids. I worry that I’m gonna get in trouble for not doing enough – but I’ve made it 4 years so far and haven’t gotten in trouble yet . . .

  5. A lot of times I don’t even have work to do, which is why I’m able to blog so often…

    1. Lols, I don’t have much, at least none that is due immediately. You never know though. You could be busy with something and this patron shows up out of nowhere and you are on a wild goose chase for some random person or fact in the archives. This only happens when you are, for once, busy with other stuff.

      1. Isn’t that always the way?

        1. Like, damn it patrons, wtf do you want?

  6. I’m done with Year 3, and I’m hanging in between, after knowing God-awful year 3. Applying for jobs for years 4-40 is the hardest thing I can now imagine doing, am positively dreading it.
    What I can say to you is, I have many more years of suffering through work, at a career I’m only now realizing how much I dislike, and I’m already bored and terrified! Maybe you’re better off than me. I really hope you feel better… Madhura.

    1. I’ve had several jobs, and have never worked more than 4 years at one (am a little over 4 years here). I also had some time off in there, time working part time, etc while raising children. I wish I could go back to that, but time at home is not always great either. They expect you to clean and stuff.

  7. I’m supposed to be composing a letter right now. Read between those lines…

    1. I wonder how many people that are supposed to be working round the world are on the internet goofing off?

  8. I love my job…it’s not just the saying. When I don’t care about it, I know something is wrong. So far, it is the only thing I do well.

    1. I’m glad you love your job. I did at first, I really did. But something is up – and I don’t know how much of it is where I am, and how much is how I feel. Or if I feel this way because of where I am . . . etc.

  9. Reading this was similar to reading my own thoughts… I have a job that I know many would be happy to have, but I am bored out of my skull, left unchallenged with no room for growth or creativity. I am grateful that I do not have to worry about paychecks or dental; yet I dread coming to work in the mornings because I feel like I am completely wasting my life… There are so many things I would rather be doing…

    1. No kidding! You know the saying “Live like you were dying”? That is totally unrealistic. I mean, if I did find out I had like 6 months to live you can bet I’d quit my job and get to that bucket list – if I was not too sick to do it. But if you’re going to keep living, you can’t very well do that cause you’re going to have to keep paying bills and all that other nasty stuff. So that whole YOLO thing is crap.

      1. uh yea YOLO and the real world – you know the one where we didn’t inherit a small fortune from some dead relative, so we can do whatever we want every day – don’t really mix. If I was told I had 6 months to a year left, one of the first things I’d do is quit this job!

  10. I have the same problem. Sometimes I’ll force myself to finish something before I allow myself to get distracted. But that doesn’t always work. Then, I’ll start thinking about the song “Working for the Weekend” and next thing you know, I’m reading about the history of Loverboy on Wikipedia.

    1. Hahaha! Oh, that is too, too familiar. Link to the link to the link . . .

  11. This post induced so much laughter, I had tears in my eyes… ! Hysterical, or it would be were you not living it. I think you are gracing them with your mere presence… =)

    In all seriousness, though… it is hard to break out of that mindset and look for reasons to like what you do and derive new meaning and passion from the work… I will not offer advice, because life now that we have kids means working to support our darlings. =) Good luck with it all… and keep watching Office Space, at least you will be laughing !

    1. You should check out Aussa’s blog if you haven’t already – she’s hilarious. That comparison of work to high school was so spot on I had to quote it.

      1. Ooh… thanks for the tip, Alice ! =)

  12. My motivation is in the toilet. I procrastinate as long as I can and then work like mad to meet deadlines. But then, I’m not even remotely well paid and have no benefits, so there’s that.

    1. I’m not paid that well, but the benefits are fairly good which is a good thing since I’m always sick . . . If I’m sick because of the job, then this really is a merry-go-round.

  13. I don’t mean to sound flip but you need a vacation. When was the last time you had two weeks off. Get them batteries recharged.

    Coincidentally (or would this be ironically?) Thursday is my last day at my present job. I start a whole new gig on Monday. Let the honeymoon phase begin.

    1. A vacation would be great, but unfortunately I used up most of my sick and vacation leave being sick so I have to be sparing with it. I actually did submit an application somewhere else, so we’ll see. Good luck to you on your new job!

  14. I can definitely relate to the feeling of burn out and boredom. I’ve been at my job for 3 years and it’s like something just snapped a couple months ago– I find myself doing the same annual tasks and the monotony is making me antsy. I don’t like to complain about my job because it’s actually pretty awesome (and great blog material) and I know I’m lucky but I also think there’s something to be said for moving on and trying new things. Maybe that would help? I like Mental Mama’s comments at the top though– working through different approaches to coping with the anxiety side of it would probably be really helpful.

    1. Yeah, I’m working on it. A job at another library came open, but I haven’t heard back in almost two weeks. Not sure if I should inquire and sound obnoxious or just let it boil in my brain a while longer.

  15. Look at how many people who care about you….awesome. You know how I feel, I went all Mama Merreh on you. ❤

    1. Yes – it’s nice to know there are others out there. 🙂

  16. Right there with you, Alice. I have a great job – kinda slow right now due to the economy (I hate boredom worse than death), and everyday is like spinning my wheels. If it weren’t for the money … definitely would not be doing this. BUT I’m being paid way more than I’m worth and I have time to blog! It ain’t tennis or music, but it’s a living!! ;D

    1. Yeah, that’s true. People are like, why are you complaining that there’s not much to do? Because I think one of these days someone will show up and ask what I’m doing! But not in four years mostly so . . . maybe I’m safe.

  17. I enjoy my job most days…but really I’m just waiting for them to realize that I’m not really qualified for it. Although that’s not quite try I just don’t have the confidence in my abilities with this new-ish role. If it wasn’t for the money I’d consider moving into a different field but then I really don’t know where I’d go or what I’d do. I would consider going back to school to get an RN…but then I’d be bored and want to get a NP…I’m bored most of the time but I don’t dare tell anyone in case they give me more work. Although thankfully my senior counter part has issues with giving up her tasks so she only asks me to do her stuff when she’s out of the office.

    1. I get you with the worrying that people will think you’re not really qualified. I mean, I have the education and all of that, but I don’t actually do much that matters. I’m not actually sure what my job entirely is really.

  18. I don’t have a job, although I’ve been trying for more than two years. But I know of what you speak. I’ve felt that way before when I’ve been a long time in any job. Change usually happens shortly thereafter, although I don’t always know why or how – it just seems to happen. I guess you have to keep your mind open to it and be willing to take the opportunity when it comes. Also, as much as I know you’re not enamoured of the idea, a check up, including blood work, is defnitely in order. I’m a cancer survivor and could have saved my self a lot of grief and a life time of pain had I had it investigated earlier than I did. And I knew there was a problem, a serious problem, before I ended up in emergency.

    Please take care of yourself Alice, we all are rooting for you.

    1. Thank you, Paul. I have had many, many checkups lately, wondering if there is some medical issue behind this, but thus far I’ve discovered I am physically healthy for the most part. The mental ehhh . . . But I appreciate the concern. I hope you find a job if you want one, though it’s hard to route for that when I know what a pain jobs are once you get them . . .

  19. I wish I had some advice for you, but I’ve got myself in quite a work/health/depression pickle.

    1. Sucks, doesn’t it? Hope you are doing okay.

  20. I had that at my old/last job. Although I started to hate it within a few months of being there, tbh. I think there is an element of job satisfaction that each of us needs and we’re all different, and if you find you’re bored most days, then there’s something not right. The behaviour therapy is worth looking into to see if it helps.

    The problem with cycles is that we don’t know where the start is.

    1. True. When did you first feel your calling to do what you’re doing now? And do you still think it is your calling? I think it would be great to be really passionate about what I’m doing again.

      1. 2006 was when I first had the thought about Religious Life, but for as long as I can remember I’ve felt the need to do something that’s to do with my faith. Having been here for just over two years now, I do still feel I’m doing the right thing, even when there are days which are down right boring, or days which are difficult for whatever reason.

        Maybe the way to find your passion again is to find one or two little things which you like doing in your job and make sure you do them each at least once in the morning and then once in the afternoon, and work from there?

  21. It could be worse – imagine if you were self-employed!
    I am and it’s a disaster. I don’t want to know about my career, my business, my field of specialty. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort to make myself do something as simple as sending an invoice, so I don’t even end up getting paid for some jobs.

    I think I earlier recommended self-employment to you as a way to become more energised. That might work, or you might crash and burn like me. Don’t give up your day job 🙂

    1. Right. The one good thing about being employed is that someone else hands you the paycheck. I would never make it self employed – I like to work at nothing all day.

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