I'm falling apart and i'm scared


#1

I can’t bring myself to dump out my whole story. I’m 41 and I mostly write scala for a division large banking software vendor that was formerly a startup that the big company acquired just after I started there. I’m in trouble over my productivity level. I can’t lose this… but every minute at work I feel like I am fighting my brain and losing. Nothing makes sense any more. The meds seem like they’re not working, my drinking is starting to scare me, and I feel like I’m being tossed helplessly from one catastrophe to another. I feel like I don’t belong in any profession at all, let alone this one. I’m no longer good at much. I’m terrified that I am going to drag my family through this shit AGAIN.


#2

Sounds like you need to see your medication provider. Tell them the meds aren’t working. In the meantime, if you’ve been diagnosed with major depression, panic disorder, or bipolar disorder, you should be eligible for time off under FMLA and/or ADA until you can get back on your feet. At the very least, if you tell HR you’re disabled with X condition, they have to (a) keep it a secret and (b) NOT FIRE YOU.

I’m guessing your inability to code is directly proportional to your rise in symptoms. Your doc might be able to do something as simple as increasing your dosage(s) or adding a small dose of another medication. You’ll get your confidence back once your symptoms are better controlled.

As far as the drinking goes, STOP IT ALTOGETHER if you possibly can. Alcohol is a depressant, period, the end. If you have a problem, bring it up with your doc.

You say you work for a large company. Most large companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) for issues exactly like this. Check your HR intranet.

So my advice is:

  • Schedule with your doctor ASAP and be totally open and honest about your current state, including the drinking.
  • If you have an ADA-qualifying diagnosis, fill out the form to declare yourself disabled.
  • Use whatever resources are available to you, including your doctor, close friends, EAP programs, and community resources (check your local library).

You CAN get better and you CAN save your job. You’re not locked into a downward spiral. You need to put some fight into it, but you CAN climb back up!


#3

This might sound weird but in this case, your self-awareness can be your silver lining. You’re sensing your internal struggles and able to look at your drinking from an outside lens which is HUGE. Not everyone can see those signs.

I agree with books in that you should speak with whomever oversees your medications as one of your primary steps. Perhaps (depending on the details) they could refer you to counselling, tackle the alcohol thing, or make tweaks to your meds that would benefit you.

The feeling that you don’t belong anywhere (professionally or otherwise) is such a difficult one. I really identify with that + the feat of putting your loved ones through “it”. You’re not alone.


#4

I know this feeling. It took a while, but I found my way out…and my meds work much better now as a result.


#5

I know the exact feeling. It seems like you are burnt out and you need to just STOP. You owe your body rest and u need a large chunk of time to do/think about nothing. No amount of medication will make your body not need that. When I get burnt out, I get suicidal, extremely depressed and emotionally unstable. And I sit all day at a computer too. You need to go on medical asap because nothing but rest and relaxation will get you back to yourself. You are not a robot, you are human and we have physical limitations. When I hit my limits I tries to push them too, But they are to be respected. The hardest lesson I learned was when I overdraw on my capabilities, my body WILL collect it’s due whether I like it or not.

You need to steer clear from a computer for several weeks to several months.


#6

My diagnoses at present are major depression and ADHD. Those go back to childhood but I started seeking treatment again about three or four years ago. Maybe some anxiety, I don’t know. I feel like we’re still trying to sort it out and I think I might show signs of BPD. I had things going well for a while, I was less sad and grumpy, my focus was still shit but at least I wasn’t worrying about it so much; I credited a lot of it to the Citalopram. I’m pretty sure I filled out an online form at work some time ago declaring the disability. But as for them keeping it a secret, well I don’t even really keep it a secret myself. When it gets bad, I just start spraying it everywhere, telling everyone at work how scared and worried I am and how crap I think I am at my job. I go from my default mode of trying to hide everything inside, to not caring who knows what anymore, figuring that I don’t relate to anyone I work with so I may as well make sure they feel the same alienation I do. I literally can’t even so I might as well odd.

You don’t have to have a disability to be affected by one. My 7 year old son has developmental problems stemming from a genetic deletion. What comes along with it is autism, ADHD, intellectual disability, and just generally being exhausting to deal with sometimes, usually loud, sometimes violent. Due to a recent bout of encopresis his intestines no longer function and he’s required to be on laxatives and in diapers for the forseeable future. He doesn’t sleep worth a damn and consequently neither does my wife. Sleeping is the one thing I don’t seem to have a problem with, but I suspect it’s only because I’m so exhausted that I don’t so much go to sleep as crash and burn. I go to bed as early as 8pm sometimes because I just decide there’s nothing left in that day for me. My daughter has a medical condition called being two years old :smiley: For these reason I’m not sure if time off is going to help, because being at home with him is stressful too. I took a week off in the middle of June and it was awful. I joke at work sometimes that work isn’t stressful, work is the break from the stress of my life.

I seem to be the only one concerned about the drinking. My wife has seen it much worse in her family and seems to think I’m handling it fine. It’s often situational: I play music on the side because it’s what I really love, and it’s where I can let a lot of what’s inside come out in an honest way that people actually enjoy, but there’s no money in it, I just do it anyway… when I have a gig seems to be when the drinking gets out of control the most often. I get so excited and fired up to be out socializing with people I relate to and doing something I love that I just lose my self-awareness and go overboard. Occasionally though it’s when I’m alone at home. I seldom face consequences beyond a hangover, too much money spent, and my own embarrassment at the fact that I have no idea how I got home or what I said to whom, but if I played a good show and got to talk to people the after-high of that experience often balances it out. One more OWI arrest will probably ruin me though.

What really sent me over the edge yesterday was an email from by boss calling out my poor productivity. I think I’ve made it clear in my reply where my problem lies and from his reply this morning, he seems to be in a mode to understand.

I’ve scheduled with my psychiatrist for Monday. My next appointment was supposed to be January and I called and told them I don’t think I can hold out that long this time. I’ve always found it difficult to be totally honest with them or with the therapist I used to see – I don’t think I ever really opened up there, and she seemed more interested in my practical problems, helping me with what was happening to me from outside rather than was what happening inside. I’ve always been programmed to conform outwardly and not to let too much out. Letting my real personality show was demonstrated to me as a child to be a liability and I learned to close up and I can’t unlearn it except in the contexts where I either just cant hold it in anymore and snap, or I can burn a little bit of it off the top in a performance. I left HR a thoroughly confused voice mail yesterday too.


#7

The feeling that you don’t belong anywhere

It’s huge and it’s lifelong. I just seem to be wired wrong for the society I got born into like a cosmic sadistic joke. The world seems to have decided that someone like me doesn’t deserve to be happy or stable or to be able to make a living without straining really hard to act like something I’m not.


#8

I can’t see several weeks or months being realistic. I have huge doubts that that size a chunk of time can possibly be afforded me. I have maybe three or four days’ PTO built up at most. Even that is better than I’ve managed at past jobs when it seemed like just at the point when I was about to start earning vacation benefits was when I’d end up fired.

How I’m going to steer clear of a computer I don’t know. I have a raging facebook addiction, it angers me so much that such mountains of resources are arrayed against me in the service of serving up an intentionally addictive product that profits from scrambling my attention. I once again decided to take some action earlier this week and uninstalled it from my phone, but I’ve gone down this road before and ended up right back in it.

Chances are if I have time off work, that part of my brain will speak up that pressures me to use free time to catch up on all the technical stuff I think I’m behind on, all the jargon that’s constantly swarming around me at work. I’ll end up making a third attempt at trudging through Learn You A Haskell or some other topic.


#9

Sometimes I just want a darkness to envelop me and block out everything I’m experiencing. One night I lay in bed contemplating taking up a heroin addiction. Last night I thought about whether I should take up whipping myself with a belt daily so I could feel some actual pain instead of this fake-ass despair.


#10

You mentioned having trouble opening up to the therapists in the past – have you considered sending them this thread at all? It’s a start. I’ve found that when I overshare things I think aren’t worth sharing, the sessions go a lot better for me. I’m obviously not a doctor so take this advice for what it’s worth, but in my experience it helps me 1) Get all of the anxiety around the issue off my chest 2) Allows them to ask questions and really dive into why I feel the way I do 3) Allows them to tailor some CBT activities for me 4) Allows them to adjust my meds easier.

Also, as hard as it is, don’t get into self-harm and destructive behaviors. If you’re even considering it that’s something you definitely need to discuss with someone. And don’t sell your pain short – emotional pain is actual/real pain and there’s even a correlation between psychological pain and physical pain. If you’re emotionally unhappy, you can have physical health problems. It’s real, and it’s no less valid than a visible wound.

I agree with others that you probably need some time off, but if you can’t get it, the doctor’s visit will likely alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling about all of this. Best of luck.


#11

I used to be a heavy drinker. Never to the point of becoming an alcoholic, but I used to frequently drink to the point I would black out and wake up later without knowing how I got there. One day, I realized I wasn’t getting anything out of alcohol, and just like that I quit drinking.

Do not fill your emptiness with alcohol, try to fill your life with activities you enjoy. This talk inspired me to quit drinking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66cYcSak6nE


#12

I don’t know email addresses for any of my care providers, I think things in that sector are still catching up to the Internet a bit here in Iowa. But I have considered bringing my concerns in writing. I have a hard time with it verbally/in-person. It’s a bit like that thing where you bump into an old friend and they ask “what have you been up to?” and you suddenly forget every thing you have ever done in your whole life. One time I brought in some notes I’d jotted down and that failed too. I managed to convince myself that everything on my list had been addressed in the first few minutes.

Inspired by this idea though, I have written up a little something, quoting liberally from my words in this thread and restructure into what I hope has some kind of coherence. I reproduce it below, pasting straight out of emacs if you don’t mind, and I welcome feedback. My appointment is tomorrow 1:30 PM CST.

The following I submit in writing because I have failed in speaking thus far. I draw a blank, or I revert to my standard policy of not letting too much out. Letting my real personality show was demonstrated to me as a child, through the relentless ridicule of my peers, to be a liability. I learned to close up, so as to better conform outwardly, and I can’t seem to unlearn it. It’s easier in writing. Or, in other cases, I either just cant hold it in anymore and a bad day leads to terrible life consequences. I can burn a little bit of it off the top in music performances or in dark humor. Even now I look at the parts of this I jotted down last week and feel embarrassed and annoyed at what manipulative drama queen could have spewed this crap. I really hate myself sometimes. I’ve made considerable revisions to arrive at this document. Likewise I don’t think I ever really opened up to the therapist I was seeing in the past, and she seemed more interested in my practical problems, helping me with what was happening to me from outside, rather than was what happening inside.

My diagnoses at present, as far as I remember, are major depression and ADHD. These actually go back to childhood but I was unable to find records of the diagnoses and treatment from back then. I started seeking treatment again about three or four years ago, as you know. I called last week to set up a new appointment rather than wait for my next scheduled one in January because I felt myself at a crisis point. I had been thrown into an emotional tailspin by an email from my boss calling out my poor work performance. I did a lot of crying alone in my basement home-office and ranting to a few co-workers over email and chat, flailing around for some kind of help or sympathy. I left HR a thoroughly confused voice mail, hoping to perhaps be cleared for some medical leave above the three days or so of PTO I currently have available. I’m pretty sure I filled out an online form at work some time ago declaring my diagnoses as a disability so hopefully this will work out. I am terrified that I may lose my job because of poor work productivity that I believe to be tied to my issues. Something new needs to be done.

I had things going well for a while, I was usually, apart from a few setbacks, less sad and grumpy than in the past. My focus was still terrible but at least I wasn’t worrying about it so much; I credited a lot of that to the Citalopram. More recently, however, my outlook has become very dark again. I am continually frustrated and confused and hopeless. The vast majority of the time at work I feel like I am fighting my brain and losing – everyone seems to be sailing ahead in their work while I trudge through it like a muck. There are still so many areas of our company’s technology that are far outside my element and where I can only muddle through. It’s extremely demoralizing. I spend much of my time just feeling like an defective human being. I feel like I don’t belong in any profession at all, let alone this one, and I don’t feel cut out for any of the roles, or more broadly the society, in which I find myself. In my personal life I feel like I’m being tossed helplessly from one catastrophe to another. And now I’m terrified of putting my family through yet another bout of my unemployment. The world seems to have decided that someone like me doesn’t deserve to be happy or stable in a career, at least not without straining really hard to be something I’m not, in a way that I can’t seem to keep up for long.

I’ve made a sincere attempt to practice meditation, and I don’t mean only as a passing thing; I began it about five years ago, well before I resumed seeking psychological treatment, yet have never mentioned it here or to my earlier therapist out of some irrational embarrassment. It’s the kind of thing that would have been considered weirdo shit among my peers when I was younger, after all. I don’t usually manage to do it daily, probably about 50% of days on average; it is especially difficult to break away for it on weekends. So while I’ve been less than consistent, viewed in the long term, I have stuck with it and am quite serious about it, but doubtful that I’ve seen enough benefits that it alone can be a solution.

My drinking is starting to concern me, but so far I’m the only one. My wife has seen it much worse in her family and seems to think I’m handling things fine, but she might not actually be aware of how much I actually drink, especially when I’m not around her. It’s often situational: I play music on the side because it’s what I really love, and it’s where I can let a lot of what’s inside emotionally come out in an honest way that people respond to positively, but there’s no money in it of course. When I have a gig seems to be when the drinking gets out of control the most often. I get so excited and fired up to be out socializing with people I relate to and doing something I love that I just lose my self-awareness and go overboard. Occasionally though it’s when I’m alone at home. I seldom face consequences beyond a hangover, too much money spent, and my own embarrassment at the fact that I have no idea how I got home or what I said to whom; but if I played a good show and got to talk to friends, the after-high of that experience often balances it out. One more OWI arrest will probably ruin me though.

My 7 year old son has developmental problems stemming from a genetic deletion. What comes along with it is autism, ADHD, intellectual disability, and frequent wild, frenetic, loud, occasionally violent and destructive behavior that is exhausting to deal with. Handling him and taxiing him around to various therapies is basically my wife’s full-time job during the week. Since to a recent bout of encopresis his intestines he’s also required to be on laxatives and in diapers for the forseeable future with no bowel control. My daughter is two years old with all that that implies. My son doesn’t sleep worth a damn and consequently neither does my wife nor frequently my daughter, who gets awakened too early and doesn’t have a chance to take a nap in the midst of the busy day. My wife is sometimes so sleep deprived that she too is an emotional wreck and cries over her perceived failures as a mother. So much of what I’m writing about here I keep from here in order not to further burden her. By the end of a weekend at home with my kids I feel drained, and then I have to go back to work. For these reason I’m not sure if time off is going to help, because being at home with him is stressful too. I took a week off in the middle of June and it was awful. I joke at work sometimes that work isn’t stressful, work is the break from the stress of my life, but the truth is I am finding little comfort in either. Sleeping at least seems to be the one thing I don’t have trouble with, though I wonder if it’s only because I’m so exhausted that I don’t so much go to sleep as crash and burn. I go to bed as early as 8pm sometimes because I just decide there’s nothing left in the day for me and I know there’s a fair chance that my son will be up at 5 again anyway.

I’ve been advised by acquaintances on a message board for software developers dealing with depression that I should take several weeks, even several months off and not touch a computer. I can’t realistically see that size a chunk of time being afforded me. As mentioned above, I have three days PTO built up including today; but that is at least better than at past jobs when it’s seemed like just at the point when I was about to start earning vacation benefits was when I’d end up fired. How I would steer clear of a computer I don’t know. I have a raging facebook addiction. I decided to take some action earlier last week and uninstalled it from my phone, but I’ve gone down this road before and ended up right back at it. Facebook is just sort of an automatic thing to do when I’m either bored or too frustrated with my work to be able to see a path forward through it. I find myself there without even thinking about it and unaware of the time that passes on it. I didn’t wake up one day and say to myself, you know what my new goal is, I want to suck at my job. It disgusts me what the Web has become and to think I play a part in this cancer on society. It angers me that such mountains of resources and hundreds of engineers much smarter than I are arrayed in the service of serving up an intentionally addictive product that profits from scrambling my attention. Even if I can manage to control that while taking time off, it seems likely that the part of my mind that pressures me to use free time to catch up on all the technical stuff I think I’m behind on, all the jargon that’s constantly swarming around me at work, will act up and I will find myself trying to read up on any of dozens of technical topics, probably several at once.

Sometimes I just want a darkness to envelop me and block out everything I’m experiencing and let me stop caring about it all. But the question of “have you thought about harming yourself,” as given on the entry questionnaire here, I find to be incredibly loaded and too high-stakes, so I object to it. Everyone is at least aware of suicide. My earliest suicidal ideations manifested around age 8. But even if one thinks about it in the abstract doesn’t mean they are considering it; and I believe most people have at least considered it even if only to decide against it. The only people, in my opinion, who have never thought about harming themselves, would have to be people with very little imagination.

In short, things are pretty bad inside my head right now, and if they get a little bit worse, they’ll get a whole lot worse than that real fast. My present course of treatment is in need of a re-evaluation. I need a change, and I need to be heard out but there is so much I find hard to say in person.


#13

Sounds like you’ve got a ton of stuff on your plate. If you’re comfortable sharing this with your therapist, you should. There’s some good insight here.

I have the same problem when it comes to stuff like this – I get to the doctor’s office and suddenly forget all of the things I wanted to talk about. It’s crappy, and it means I carry around a Post-It pad with random stuff scribbled on it so I don’t forget. I’ve found that writing stuff down (like this) helps me a lot.

Good luck with your appointment! Let us know how it goes.


#14

so, wellbutrin is now added to my celexa. that’s it. ¯\(ツ)

not sure what I expected. Hopefully this helps. Back in a month.

Was also suggested that I look into therapy again, but I haven’t called because my phone is missing.


#15

For what it’s worth, any time I’ve ever been on medication, I’ve needed more than one medication in order to get the full effect. In particular I have problems taking a single SSRI because they tend to make me a zombie. However, an SSRI with another medication (I’ve tried a few) has worked out well for me. The best combo has been an SSRI and dexedrine (though I had some luck on a single SNRI once).

You say “that’s it”, but it’s something. Those combinations are super common[1] so give it some time and see how it goes.

  1. https://www.google.com/search?q=ssri+and+bupropion (it links to actual medical studies not just crap from Wikipedia)

#16

started therapist also, at psychiatrist’s suggestion/referral. 3rd appt. is Thursday
been doing kinda ok since. improving. trying to take it easy on myself but i’m building a negative balance of PTO