I recently began a full-time job for the first time in a couple of years and almost immediately suffered from panic attacks, increased stress, and worsened depression. Before this full-time position, I worked on a contract by contract basis, so the regular paycheck was a big reason to jump on the work, but it feels like all my money now goes to shrink appointments and medications to try and level me out enough to deal with a job which I now can’t bear. My time away from work seems to be made up solely of dreading going back to work. I know many people don’t like their jobs, but this is seriously affecting my health and personal life. So, what should I do? Quit the regular paycheck as my friends suggest and return to contract work, or, as my shrink and members of my family advise, just figure out a way to keep on showing up for work.
Slice of Advice:
You’ve connected the expectations of this new job to your mental health symptoms and have reached out to others before throwing in the towel, so my guess is you’re used to pushing yourself beyond your gut feelings in case you’re acting impulsively. This shows a self-awareness you should be proud of. My question would be what are the reasons your psychiatrist recommended you continue with the position? I’m certain they gave them and did so with the positive intentions.
My guess is they know you enough to know that this is an opportunity to work on skills such as grounding to build a resilience to change and coping you may lack. A concern of this is the depression which can easily shift into apathy. If you become numb and indifferent to the position, this is as bad as the depression itself because you’ve cut off the emotions needed, the ones your psychiatrist intended for you to work through. Any bouts of dissociation doesn’t solve mental health issues, it IS a mental health issue, so be sure to mention it to your psychiatrist ASAP in the case it does. The moment the apathy cuts out is a highly emotional one and they can speak to you about handling those feelings as they rush back.
You’re right, most people hate their jobs, so another question would be: Is it the pressures of a full-time job or the routine of showing up to the same place very day doing the same thing—which can be dreadful to someone used to a haphazard routine with some give—or is it the job itself causing the panic and depression?
If it’s the pressures, then you’re right to first try and work through this with your psychiatrist and identify where they stem from. If it’s the job itself, there’s got to be other full-time jobs out there you can explore while you’re getting through your current misadventure so you’re not missing out on a paycheck I’m assuming you need.
One thing I’m going to add is self-care. I know everyone makes it sound like it’s all scented candles and a hot bath, but it’s simpler than this and is tailored to you. Also, journaling or some type of record keeping of your days may be a good idea, so you can look back and see the progress or lack of instead of guessing if things are getting better or not. Recording your mood, something you enjoyed from your day, a scale of 1-10 on how much you hated it, or how much liked it to try and remain positive. It’s also something your psychiatrist might be keen on you doing so you’re taking some control of your healing.
Finding out the loopholes to our thriving through each day is a trait we all seek out when we know we’re in a position we cannot escape. You have control here. Weigh out your psychiatrist’s advice and do everything you can to make it work. If it’s not, go to them with a new plan—Yes, create your own—and see what they think of it BEFORE you execute it so they can judge if your plan was designed to avoid some issues you should be facing or if it’s truly a crap job you need to move on from.
You’ve got this.