8, 8 days until Disney! Ah ha ha!

advice?

I am a regular poster here. I am finally to the point where I simply cannot get the motivation to go to work anymore (nor go outside, for that matter). What do you say to your boss when you just can't go to work anymore and there is no solid reason?

Do I just tell him I'm nuts? That I'm going through some emotional trauma? Should I even be honest?  I do not know the specific reasons for my malaise except that I am probably depressed to some greater extent than usual. I suspect I will be fired soon if I do not come up with something. I have never told anyone I work with that I suffer from depression nor have I ever seen a professional about it. It is just something that never got this bad.
Permalink anon for this 
January 17th, 2006
"I need a break"
Permalink Vineet Reynolds 
January 17th, 2006
I used that excuse for a week of unpaid vacation about three months ago.
Permalink anon for this 
January 17th, 2006
Go to a shrink, they can give you a formal diagnosis and you can tell your boss that.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 17th, 2006
And then they can't fire you!

Seriously though, you need to figure out what serves as your primary motivators... time off, more money, better tasks, etc  and see if those needs can be met.

If it's chemical, a diagnosis can give you the treatment (drugs, diet, staying away from us) that can help.
Permalink KC 
January 17th, 2006
Tell him you just saw Fight Club.
Permalink Flasher T 
January 17th, 2006
I went through a similar thing about 8 years ago, and my solution was to just stop going, and shortly afterwards I had what can best be described as a mini nervous breakdown...

(Ok, so that's not advice per se, but I didn't have anything useful to offer.)
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 17th, 2006
Mat Hall, that is what I am afraid of. I have the feeling no visit to the doctor is going to stop this from happening to me.

I am totally disillusioned and depressed and I am at the end of the rope. I have been hanging on by a thread for months and my boss is probably not going to be sympathetic because he has a business to run (understandably).

I just want to bottom out and get it over with.
Permalink anon for this 
January 17th, 2006
As an aside, not intending to derail, but Matt, when you go through what you call a nervous breakdown, what actually happens? I have no agenda by asking this, I'm just genuinely curious.
Permalink Cool Dad 
January 17th, 2006
Well when I had mine I drove around the neighborhood babbling to myself. Sometimes I drove around my ex-wife's parents' neighborhood, but only after the restraining order expired.
Permalink Generic Error 
January 17th, 2006
And then there were the nightmares about invisible forces blowing the doors and windows to my apartments open in the middle of the night, laughing from nowhere, screaming...

Waking up crying at 3 in the morning and calling my mom and waking her up. Writing letter after letter to my ex (who had moved out months ago) in a composition book until the thing was full.

I also wrote the complete forum software that's currently running on madebymonkeys.net in 5 days one week when I decided that I needed something to distract me, so that was cool...
Permalink Generic Error 
January 17th, 2006
People in that situation often pull up roots and go hiking across America or something. I am not a doctor, and only a doctor should be who you listen to, but a lot of treatment for that sort of malady is "how can you be happy while continuing to do exactly what you're doing"? Yet maybe you'll never be happy doing what you're doing, and it's your mind's way of begging for change.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 17th, 2006
I think the trick is to occasionally call in sick, and go fishing or something.

Rather than let things build up to a crisis, if you take these mini-breaks throughout the year, going to work becomes more palatable.

It's why you get vacation/sick/PTO days.
Permalink example 
January 17th, 2006
No it's not, example! How DARE you suggest that sick days are to be used for anything except DYING!! Not on THIS board, buster!
Permalink Generic Error 
January 17th, 2006
What kind of work do you do? A programmer of some sort? Is there another domain of software development that might interest you (embedded, web apps, etc.)?

It sounds like you're having trouble keeping your depression in check. You may be able to thwart mild depression with exercise, diet, an interesting side project, etc. However, this sounds more serious.

At this point, I recommend seeing a professional. Don't just take the advice of some dude you met on the Internet.

If you do get treatment, and it involves prescription drugs, you may want to tell your HR person (does your company have an Employee Assistance Program of some sort?), or tell your boss if you are comfortable with that. Letting him know you recognize you're slacking, and are taking steps to correct the situation, may buy you some time.

Worst case scenario, you start your own business, and/or lose your mind.
Permalink thinker 
January 17th, 2006
you are either clinically depressed, in which case this is going to happen to you no matter what you are doing, or else you simply hate your job.

I was involved in a job where it was expected that you worked 70-80 hour weeks. After about 18 months of that, I started having severe panic attacks in the middle of the night. Around 3am I would snap out of bed in a cold sweat, and had difficulty breathing. I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, and would often start crying about stuff that didn't even happen. I'd think that my mom and brother had died, and freak out about that, and have to call them to make sure they were alive. Or I'd start cooking something, pass out on the couch, and wake up to the smoke alarm alerting me that the kitchen had filled with smoke. Really weird shit.

What I realized is that:

1. I was working on a bunch of stupid crap that I didn't care about at all. All the time.
2. I had NO social life whatsoever. I would literally go for months at a time not intereacting with anyone outside of people at work.

I took about a year off, fixed both of those problems, and now am fine.
Permalink crazy gus 
January 17th, 2006
Also, what kind of stuff are you putting into your body? I used to drink liters of coffee every day, smoke half a pack, eat crap like buffalo wings, and on weekends drink a couple or five pints a night. I stopped doing all this and it dramatically altered my state of mind (and body).
Permalink crazy gus 
January 17th, 2006
I have taken all the sick days I will be allowed. So that's out.

I eat right, and exercise. I have been doing thaat for years. It is not working anymore. It seems like I have to exercise more and more just to maintain my sanity.

I do not like what I do for a living anymore. Everyone else reaps the profit from my work and ideas. Even if that is not true, it seems to be so in my mind.

I am having trouble leaving the house. For a long long time. I leave the house to go to work, and go to workout, and that is all. I sleep for the whole weekend. I had to downsize my life a few months ago, and things just got worse.

I have tried everything. Nothing is working. I do not want to take medications. I am almost positive that I just need a sabbatical. No work for a few months. I have not made enough money since 2001 to go on a real vacation.

My last real vacation was 1998 when I went to Mexico for a week. Nobody pays me well enough to pay my bills, save, and pay for vacation.

I quit. I am never going back. Ever. I will soon have to eat charity food, but I do not care anymore.
Permalink anon for this 
January 17th, 2006
Something is not chemically right in your brain. If you are really working yourself to the bone as a programmer since 1998 and can't pay your bills, there is something in your brain chemistry that is causing you to stay in this miserable situation and keep messing up. Even people who work 40 hours a week at starbucks can pay their bills. You don't really want to start eating at soup kitchens. I would seek professional help. You don't have to take meds.
Permalink _ 
January 17th, 2006
I can pay my bills. I just can't pay them and have reasonable expenses and go on real vacations without thinking about the impact on my savings.

The problem is my life is fine. There is not reason for this melancholy. I am unhappy still. If I took a vacation I would still be living paycheck to paycheck which is what most people do. Just because some of us have a few thou in the bank doesn't mean we aren't living paycheck to paycheck.

I know this may confuse some of you because you are happy and cannot relate.

Going to a professional is what I need to do but I cannot bring myself to do it. I would go only to have them tell me "make a change" or whatever which is what I know already.

So I am going to get fired.
Permalink anon for this 
January 17th, 2006
"you are either clinically depressed, in which case this is going to happen to you no matter what you are doing, or else you simply hate your job."

I don't see that there needs to be a distinction between the two. Why can't he be both?
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 17th, 2006
How do you know a professional would tell you to "make a change"? I think you ought to make the apointment and find out for yourself. If you are really clinically depressed they would figure that out and find a way to help you feel better.
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 17th, 2006
Read the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Read the whole thing. It ends with this:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Once you figure out what the whole point of your life is, other stuff will fall into place.

"He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8
Permalink nathan 
January 17th, 2006
My nervous breakdown involved a partial loss of memory, two years of manic depression (involving weeks at a time being unable to even contemplate getting out of bed punctuated with periods of unstoppable activity), a couple of unsuccesful suicide attempts, and reaching a low point of living on the streets for a while.

It's not something I'd wish on anyone; I spent a good long while wishing the ground would open up and swallow me, and even after all these years I still sometimes get the feeling that it's all futile and pointless. While I'd always been cynical, I now tend to see the world as various shades of shit, I have a tendency for long stretches of dangerous introspection, and I'm pretty sure that sometimes I'm only a breath away from a total and utter collapse.

The only real advice I can offer is go and see a specialist before it's too late; the mind is a fragile thing, and from my experience once it's broken you can never really mend it...
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 17th, 2006
How much memory loss, Mat? I can't remember 99% of my first marriage. No joke.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 17th, 2006
The advice for the OP is to get some professional help. If he doesn't know which profession, he should discuss the matter frankly with a friend, a trusted fanily member or a religious person.

It's not simply the anhedonia of work, The OP is unable to enjoy himself outside of work too it seems (not getting out of bed all weekend, etc). Since the standard first-order techniques (take a break, exercise, eat healthy) haven't proven effective, he should try getting external guidance. Plus he's sounding rather despondant. The advice is don't let go of your health insurance, you'll need it to get help. It's a lot harder to climb out of this without professional help (from personal experience). Good luck.
Permalink nananon 
January 17th, 2006
I'll mention also the rather grim fact that depression symptoms gets worse as you get older. Each episode is deeper and longer than the preceeding. Treatment (both pharmacalogical and talk) can stop and even reverse the downward spiral. If left untreated, it can become a vicious cycle.
Permalink nananon 
January 17th, 2006
It was an odd kind of memory loss -- some things (where I lived, my phone number, the value of e, etc.) I could remember, other things (my date of birth, my sister's name, most of the previous two weeks, etc.) were a blank, and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what I could remember and what I couldn't. It was quite disconcerting, and then it came back as quickly as it had gone.
Permalink Mat Hall 
January 18th, 2006
Funky chicken. Mine was permanent. I can just about remember what she looked like and that's like, all.
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 18th, 2006
The wife is worried because I haven't been to work yet this week, the boss called, and the next available appointment at the psychiatrist is two weeks from now. The other doctor I tried hasn't called back yet.

Not sure what I should tell the boss. I suppose I am about to be self-employed. Nobody wants to deal with someone like me especially since I have only been at my employer for six months.

On the bright side, I get 20 mental appointments per year through my health insurance.

I have about three months of living expenses saved.
Permalink anon for this 
January 18th, 2006
You might try calling your employer's benefits department and asking if there is any provision for mental health support over the phone (a hotline of sorts). I know someone who did that and it helped them make it until the day of the actual appointment.
Permalink Bob 
January 18th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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