I'm failing, and I don't know what to do

I have Bipolar II, ADD, anxiety, and BPD. I’m failing at my job, and I don’t deserve to have it.

I haven’t written a single line of code since October. It is now April. I worry I will lose my job.

Today, we had a variety of meetings scheduled as a team. I was embarrassed because I haven’t gotten much done on my task, so I decided to skip the first meeting and tell them I was sick but that I would plan to be online later to join the other meetings.

At the end of the first meeting (which I didn’t attend because I was “sick”), I checked my email and the rest of the meetings for the day had been cancelled.

I feel awful. I feel as though they said “hey Logan can’t make it today let’s just cancel every team meeting since they can’t join”. I feel like it is my fault that the meetings were cancelled so last-minute. And I hate myself. I worry my teammates hate me now.

I took IT as a career because it would compensate me enough so that I could pay my student loans off. I live comfortably and have for several years. I’m able to support my partner financially. Yet, I feel ungrateful because I don’t like the job itself. I feel like anybody my age (20s) would kill to live the life I lead.

IT in the insurance industry sucks. I love the people I work with, but I’m not making much of a difference other than improving applications that will save my company money or make my company richer. I’m not benefitting society in a direct and meaningful way.

I’d love to go into pharmacology or drug discovery, but that would require going back to school again, and for a very long time. My student loans are $700 a month. Any job I take given my current level of education that isn’t my current job would undoubtedly be a step down or more in pay.

I just have no idea what to do.


for the feeling of not contributing to society in a meaningful way, here are my humble suggestions:

    • If you have free time on the weekends or evenings you can try volunteering somewhere where they accept volunteers for help eg. park cleaning, elderly sheltetrs, covid-19 related situations.
    • If you do not have the above option available nearby, you can try donating to a nice cause, homeless shelters, animal shelters, orphanages, I am sure animal shelters may accept animal food & toys not only money.

Regarding the meetings, I cannot tell for sure because every sitution is differrent, but probably some of those meetings are pointless sometimes.

If you do not like the IT industry, plan an exit strategy from the development jobs. A relatively money free strategy I try to apply is to switch from development to management or consultancy or agile related roles like scum master, PO. I believe once you have a few years experience, you can apply to management consulting companies with IT branch. However, the number of meetings is also high there too :slight_smile:
Insurance/finance industry is a good start and reference point, so this may give you a little bit of motivation to keep you going on, until you finalise the switch plan.

I have similar thoughts as you do. I work with applications in the financial sector, that I don’t feel are meaningful enough to get my motor started really.

It sometimes helps to start small, find a task that can get completed quickly? It doesn’t always work for me.

I would also like to transition into another career (I’m a lot older than you are). Eventhough I dislike it myself, and haven’t yet found a good way to do it - maybe a way would be to start something on the side, just to see if you like it.

Take a distance course in something related to pharmacology for example. If it’s not possible to do on the side, would it really be possible to do full-time? And if so, why is that? Just some thoughts.

Hi Logan ,

I perfectly undestand you , I´m also working for insurance on as IT Architect but I would prefer to be a developer .

Well , anxiety comes from the uncertainty of your future , so stop worrying too much . Worrying about the future is a way to evade the present . If you start doing a little of improvement in your code everyday I bet you will improve your anxiety .

Your job is pretty meaningful believe me , insurance help people not going bankrupt when a bad thing happens . You can bring a lot of good to the world by coding , I understand you perfectly . I wanted to quit engineering on my last semester and start medicine for the sake of humanity.

You can reach a lot of people and help chemists and doctors by coding doing a lot of things related to genomics and computing .

Don´t worry about the loans , money comes , money goes . Stop complaining about things that you don´t control .

Last but not least , I highly recommend you to read a book called “meditations” is part of the greek stoic philosophy . It helped me a lot when I was depressed undergoing a worst situation than yours (2 dead family members and a break up at the same moment)

Listen to good music , have some beers with your friends and don´t panic

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Hi Logan

Your post struck a bit of a familiar chord. I’m not sure I (or anyone) can advise “what to do”. But I think I can suggest that you try to not worry about “doing” things at all, but instead to give yourself some compassion (because you deserve it, no matter what you think about yourself).

I have had chronic anxiety and bouts of depression since my mid-20s (I’m 52). Over the years I have managed to find ways to lessen the suffering, if not the symptoms themselves. I’ve had good days and bad, good years and bad even. There has even been a few extended periods where I felt mostly so-called “normal”…and then something else may come up (eg chronic fatigue syndrome, which popped up 7 years ago).

Your feelings about your work and your value to it are really familiar to me. I would often wonder to myself if I’m “a fake”…and how can they possibly pay me money for the work I give them etc. I still sometimes feel that way. But a stronger sense is that I didnt get my job out of a cracker jack box (and neither did you). We get to where we are out of some combination or sequence of decisions, interests, motivations etc. So now you are feeling like you are failing. That you are ungrateful. Perhaps you are being too hard on yourself. In your post you are already suggesting that in a way you are grateful for your career. But maybe you are just not “feeling” it? I know that feeling, intimately.

For one thing, you and I…we have an underlying mental condition(s). There is nothing weird or wrong about that…but the fact that we have this, of course we are not going to feel 100% chipper and motivated at times. I look at my struggles with anxiety and the ways I have been able to deal with it (not stop it, but kinda learn to make friends with it and give it space…which helps a lot), and I can get a sense of “pride” from that or of accomplishment. There are many other ways we can feel like we are accomplishing things…dont let the “work life” be the only criteria or indicator.

When I was 25 I thought my career (like you, of the type that many of my friends thought was ideal or cool or they wished could trade places) was defining me. But actually I have changed careers twice since then, in my 30s and again in my 40s. Who knows, it may happen again.

Try not to be too hard on yourself. You know the story about the Buddha and the two arrows? I may be paraphrasing, but essentially the point is that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. The first arrow is the actual bad event, unexpected or unwanted and not of our own “fault”, which will of course cause pain. The second arrow is the suffering. That’s actually optional. The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event.

In my case, anxiety and depression was and is my “bad event”. Included as part of that is lack of motivation towards work (or whatever else), lack of gratitude etc…these are technically not really our “fault”. I mean, if you could choose to not have BPD etc. of course you probably would choose not to have it. But over time I was able to see that the second arrow, how I actually react to it…is more important. So I hope you are able to react to it by being compassionate to yourself and forgiving yourself and not getting too wrapped up in it (more suffering). I hope you can find a way to step back about and be mindful and aware of what your true nature is (whatever it is, I am sure it is not to be this or that occupation…). as the mindfulness meditation folks say, trying to get more into just “being” and not trying to be “doing” things all the time. We may feel like we are lost to the world at times, but the world is not lost to us. If you are in your 20s still I would encourage you to keep your mind open. maybe you cant afford to go back to school now, maybe you have to keep slogging it out at your current job. But I promise you, there will be new opportunities. Perhaps you can look at it as not so urgent a decision, and just try to ride the waves of what you are experience and know that for sure things do change…they always always do. So maybe you can get into drug discovery or anything else at some future time, or figure out a way to handle loans, job and returning to school. Maybe there are longer-term strategies you can plan out. I know it may seem that things are urgent, need resolution NOW at times, but in the long haul it may not matter that much if you changed your career at 28 or 34 or whatever. The career doesnt define us anyway.

Either way, I know the “stuck” feeling and sympathize. At risk of using too many metaphors, I have found that it really is like those chinese finger trap games…where the more you “react” or struggle with it, the more stuck you get. Whereas just being aware of it and willing to experience what you are experiencing, and using one’s innate wisdom and intuition to come up with a “response” (while also finding ways to reduce the unhelpful symptoms of my anxiety/depression…to whatever extent possible), and trying to be patient as well as simply just forgiving myself because its not my “fault” per se…that has helped.

Wish you the best

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