Overwhelmed, angry, sad, defeated


#1

Hi everyone,

I found this forum and was hoping to find someone who can relate to the way I feel. I’m a full stack developer with several years of experience, although apparently not enough to be called a senior yet, but I’m certainly not a junior. I’ve developed large and complex features on my own, and come up with clever solutions in the past. I’ve been able to pick up languages and frameworks quickly and adapt really fast.

I’ve been working for the same company for the last couple of years. The company I work for has been doing pretty good, I am well compensated and I can say in general I like their products and the work I do, but lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, and stuck.

Even thought the structure of the company has always been pretty much flat, recently they introduced different levels for developers. Achieving a higher level doesn’t really mean higher hierarchy or that you have any sort of authority over those in a lower level, but it may mean a better pay, more credibility, and recognition inside the organization. The only problem is the requirements to reach the next level are incredibly hard to achieve and depend on opportunities that may or may not come to interact with other teams in the organization. I expressed my desire to climb that ladder some time ago, but now I almost regret it, as I feel that simply expressing that desire has put me in the spot. I feel like everything I do, say or don’t say or do is now being evaluated to determine if I deserve to advance or if I’m not worth it. And the worst is I’m beginning to feel like I’m not worth it, like maybe I’m not smart enough or creative enough or just simply don’t have what it takes.

Maybe it’s just bad timing, I don’t know. I have a child at home that has a mental illness. We didn’t notice until it was too hard for her to cover it, but she suffers from OCD and other behavioral issues. In a few months, life has gone from normal to a real living hell as she resists treatment and is often aggressive towards my spouse and me. Everyday there’s a meltdown and she’s constantly trying to control everything and everyone at home. This leaves me feeling drained and hopeless. We have tried getting help for her, but no clinic will take her in unless she agrees to do the treatment. Meanwhile, the struggle continues and she won’t go to school and we are the ones that have to deal with the problem.

I’m feeling overwhelmed, depressed, defeated, and it’s starting to show at work, because I don’t feel very social or creative, in fact I feel unhappy and sometimes even resentful when I encounter more of an uphill battle to ever grow in level. I have to force myself to go on some days. It’s not that I don’t care. I still like programming, I still like what I do, I’m just not enjoying myself these days, I’m just so tired and sad, and angry and confused.

My boss keeps acting like he means to help, but treats me like I’m suddenly unable to do my job or even make good decisions. Keeps insisting that I take vacation, even though I’ve said many times I don’t need to right now, that I can do my job, plus I’m saving those days for the emergencies derived from dealing with my daughter’s issues. I am a good worker and I’ve proven that time and time again already, but now I feel like I’m losing it.

I am afraid if I go on like this or show too much weakness that I will be perceived as incompetent and that my projects will be given to other developers in the team, until I become irrelevant. I feel like I just keep falling down a spiral and I can’t stop, and I’m constantly afraid of losing my job, which makes everything worse, because then my desperation shows up, and I act paranoid.

I’m not suicidal, but I often think of how much I would like to simply run away from everything and everyone, and not have to deal with life anymore. How much I would like to checkout of life. What can I do? I’m the bread winner of the family so I can’ t be out of a job right now, but I feel like nothing will help and nothing will ever change in my life, that there’s no hope.


#2

I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. You have been through a lot, and it sounds as if you are pushing yourself really hard to get through it. It sounds overwhelming, depressing, and stressful.

It sounds like you’re doing everything that you can to get help for your daughter. What are you doing to get help for yourself?

You’ve earned a break. How about you take that vacation and go do something fun? You could take a week off, then split it up. Part of the time you can spend doing something you enjoy, while your wife holds the fort. Then, you can hold the fort while she goes and does something for herself. Then, you can take a date night together, and finally, all of you do something as a family. In terms of demonstrating that you’re ready for the next level, I think you may be giving yourself too little credit.

Management likes self-directed people. They don’t like to micromanage who is taking time off for what, nor do they want to force people to take the time that they need. If anything, taking the boss’ advice would be an example of you functioning at a level above where you are for two reasons. First, it demonstrates that you will listen and respond accordingly to feedback. Second, it means that you can handle basic needs before they start affecting your productivity. Think about it from their perspective; would you want to manage a team where people take time to recharge when they need it in an orderly fashion, or do you want to manage a team where you’re constantly having to browbeat everyone to take a break because they’re burned out and not performing?

You know, writing all of this has made me realize that I need a break too. I keep telling myself I need one, and I’m doing a disservice to everyone by not taking it. I think I’ll work on getting that scheduled tomorrow.


#3

My honest, humble opinion: you’ve got a ton on your plate, and you’re too hard on yourself.

I have kids, too. While there are some advantages over younger/single people—never feel lonely—there are some serious disadvantages. My kids are somewhat high maintenance (anxiety issues, mostly), but they’re still easier than your situation—there might be issues getting the day started, one kid has trouble sleeping, but they can always make it to school. That being said, having a family is still lots of extra time outside of work; minimally 20 hours/week. It’s a like a second job.

For me, I’m getting by OK, but I have essentially no time for learning on the side. If I were in your boat, I’d have even less time. Also, while my life is probably “easier” than yours, I never feel like I’m doing something for me. Just a weekend alone feels like an ever-unavailable treat.

So…don’t be hard on yourself, keep your head up, and maybe realize that you’re almost certainly doing better than you think you are, and that considering the constraints you face, you’re probably doing an outstanding job.


#4

Have you seen anyone about how you’re feeling?


#5

Thanks. I ended up taking some time off, not a lot or even a whole week. Just enough. I just reached the day when I just couldn’t get out of bed, or stop sobbing, or make myself go to work. I was a scary moment because all I could think of was how much I just wanted to end my life, but I couldn’t, so life seemed like such an impossible place and I didn’t know how I was going to continue to exist, so I took the couple last days of the week off. I ended up with a very long weekend, which gave me time to rest, and that was pretty much all I did that weekend. I usually beat myself up if I don’t do something productive on a weekend, but for some reason it just felt ok this time. I was just numb, then slowly felt more and more like myself.

I still don’t feel like talking to my boss about it. It still feels like weakness and I’m ashamed, so I just said I was sick, but I’m looking for a therapist for myself and reading a few self-help books. I’m no expert, but it does look like depression. My spouse has been supportive, but I know she’s getting frustrated and I feel like I’m selfish or weak because she seems to be handling it a lot better than I do. Yes, she doesn’t have the extra burden of a demanding job, but she’s home all day dealing with our daughter and I mean, she’s not crumbling apart, so what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just take it?

At least, my daughter has finally started her own therapy and I know that’s probably a big part of why things started to look up for me in the last couple days. I’m not naive, I know I still have a long way to go. I just have to figure out how to keep moving on.