Reporting to an unethical, manipulative and deceitful manager

Hi all
TL;DR - I report to a manager who doesn’t care about me or my role, and it’s putting the organization and my health at risk; no one seems capable of doing anything for me and I’m running out of ideas.

Hope you’re having a good day. I just found this community this morning and it’s like a shoe that fits perfectly - you know it’s going to be good for you.
Before I get to my specific problem, a little about me:
I am a self-taught database administrator and data analyst. I’ve been in the workforce for about 20 years, and have worked in both telecommunications and in healthcare. I am a leader in multiple programming languages / applications, and am recognized by institutions all around the world as a “go to” person for support, mentoring, etc.
I have been working in the Healthcare sector now for about 9 years, and have had 6 managers over that time; I worked at a major hospital, then moved to a government position, and am now back at a hospital. I have consistently had managers who a) do not understand technology or databases b) made decisions with little or no understanding of the impact and c) asked me to manipulate / tweak / suppress results. I have been let go from two positions because of my refusal to do so.
In my current role, I am the database admin for an application platform that supports Clinical trials and other medical research. We collect a lot of data on sensitive populations, including women who have experienced violence, people living with HIV, etc. I report to a manager who has no interest in research, and doesn’t believe that the Ethical standards that research needs to adhere to apply to her - she’s made comments like “I’m the application lead, I’m allowed to go look at whatever I want” - and when I try and explain why that’s not the case, she shrugs, smiles and turns away.
I have brought up a number of database-related issues (Upgrades, Security patches, etc.) but she doesn’t care; we’re now more than 5 versions behind the current implementation of the application, and she just could not care less.
She lies, manipulates data, and second-guesses everything I say (for example, I told her that we couldn’t set up email on a test server, she turned around the day after I left for vacation and asked one of my co-workers to try setting it up - brought the test server down for 5 hours).
I have brought this issue up with my director (“She’s the best person for the job”), human resources (“You need to learn more effective communication”) and another director (“My hands are tied”).
I have brought up the risks to the organization, I have taken certification courses (FreeCodeCamp and Udemy), I have been requested to help on projects at other institutions, but nothing makes a difference.
I need to keep this job as I have family stuff going on and I’m the sole income for the next 12-18 months, but I am burnt out, depressed, anxious, and extremely frustrated. As a result of everything I have high blood pressure, weekly migraines, and the little sleep I am getting is restless and often filled with bad dreams. When I am home, I am often stressed, cranky and distracted, which is putting a strain on an already stressful situation.
Any ideas or suggestions on what I can do are appreciated. I document everything, including the “as per our conversation” emails, but my manager will come into my office rather than put anything in writing.
Thanks for your time.

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Welcome @CoffeeChris. That sounds like a really tough situation. You might try a good DBT therapist and group to help learn some relaxation and coping skills. Not that YOU are the problem, clearly you are not, it’s your work environment, but you might learn some techniques on how to just manage what you are able to manage. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head, sorry, but hopefully others here can give you some extra tips on how to proceed.

Good that you’re here and talking about the problem, hopefully that can bring at least a little relief. I think if you scan through the forum, you’ll see other posts by people who also have a lot of job-related stress.

Hi @andy5995 !

Thanks for the reply. To your comment about relaxation, I actually do 3 hours of meditation a day plus yoga 3 - 4 times a week; I really believe that’s what has kept me OK for so long (aside: if anyone wants to talk about meditation, yoga, relaxation or self-hypnosis, feel free to ping me, I’ve been doing them all for >20 years).
I’m really glad I found this community. I’ve downloaded the OSMI books from Leanpub and looking forward to digging into them; I’m also going to be looking for other resources and will post them here if I think they’ll be useful.
It’s Monday morning and I have my coffee and relaxation music going. Trying to muster up the energy to convince myself that my job is worth doing, but it’s hard.
Hope you have a great day and looking forward to chatting soon.

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Hey, that’s cool! I’ve been doing meditation for about 11. :slight_smile: It’s really made a huge difference, I still struggle a lot with MDD, but my anxiety is much better and my moods are much more stable. I’ve also been dealing with chronic pain for some years which is really distracting when I meditate. I think if not for that, I would have had better luck with my depression. But meditation has helped a lot with the physical pain so hopefully I can get the depression reduced later, too.

hi Andy! A friend of mine does focused meditation where she uses her pain as the focal point; she puts all her energy into concentrating on the pain, and she’s been able to get to a semi-comfortable point with this method. I can ask her for more details if you’re interested.
One of the reasons why I love software development and coding is that I can lose myself in it if I need to - I use code as a form of meditation, where I focus absolutely and completely on it. I’ve gone hours not moving from my desk (I call it “Geeking out”) and have written some of my best stuff during that time.
Hoping you have a great day and looking forward to hearing from you soon.

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I do something like a mindfulness body scan, which may be something similar to what your friend does. I can get pretty comfortable during it, but the pain comes back pretty soon. Though overall, it’s been decreasing gradually over the last 12 years. Nice to hear that it’s helpful to other people, too.

I get pretty lost when coding as well, but it makes the pain worse, and also I notice my head gets pretty cluttered and my thoughts speed up; sometimes it takes 2 or 3 days to get back to normal, so I’ve kind of drifted to playing the piano the last few years. The “side effects” aren’t nearly as difficult to manage. The pain doesn’t get as bad because it’s much easier to be mindful of my body when I play, as opposed to typing at a keyboard.

I’d be interested to see your projects though. Are you working on anything noteworthy right now? Are you on GitHub or Gitlab? I’m on LinkedIn if you’d like to connect there.

Did you make it through the week ok? Gonna be able to relax this weekend?

Consider quitting. You don’t actually have to do it.

Yes you say you need the job but by just considering it you can take corrective action you previously haven’t considered. If you wanted to quit how would you do it?

Udemy gives you quick and dirty knowledge, not an industry certification. So it’s probably less useful than say getting a CKNA or somesuch. I would work on becoming more job mobile, and simply quit one day under such circumstances. Before quitting I would reevaluate on a month-to-month basis and do it only to my advantage. One thing I used Udemy for is to get the knowledge for a certification combined with official resources it’s usually the edge I need to get a piece of paper if I want it. Small tweaks like that can get you lots of paper but more importantly the actual skills. Then you can visit other employers and simply quit with sufficient notice.

With hot in demand skills you could be out the door the next day.

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