Author Topic: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising  (Read 3320 times)


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My boyfriend's job gives him terrible anxiety.  He's been a marketing specialist for the past three months, and our quality of life has gone way, way downhill because neither of us can manage to think about anything else besides him getting out of this position.  Obviously, this has caused a lot of fighting.  Seriously, neither of us workout anymore, socialize, and can barely muster up getting off the couch most nights (this is unlike either of us).  And all I do in my spare time is try to find other jobs for him to apply to.

Prior to this job, he was working as a senior account executive at an ad agency.  He was there for seven years, but they lost his account, thus he found his current job.  While most ad agency jobs would likely give him the same level of anxiety he currently has, he claims he got lucky with his last account, which allowed him to have a good work/life balance and generally coast through the position.  That is not the case with most marketing/advertising jobs.  So, he doesn't want to take the chance of finding something hopefully more tolerable than his current position, but still has the potential to give him so much anxiety. 

I know we're not all the same, but it's hard for me to see past that sometimes.  I was in a similar situation in my field at my first job, except to top it off, my boss was manipulative, verbally abusive, and sexually harassing.  Being my first job out of college, I toughed it out for 2.5 years to get the experience (in hindsight, this was a terrible decision), and am now at my fourth law firm and love it.  I can't imagine leaving if I stay in this field.  Of course, I'd love to go back to school because life is short and you may as well be doing something you love, but I already have $55k left in student loan debt, and I don't feel I have the right to defer those loans for 2-3 years, while paying for another degree that might earn me less money than I earn now haha.  BUT, I digress. I guess I just think he should consider another job in his field, instead of concluding they're all just as bad.

My boyfriend has thought about going back to school, but doesn't really know what for.  He's tossed around the idea of physical therapy or occupational therapy.  He just wants something more focused.  However, from my perspective, those positions, and most positions in general, require a lot of management of people, workflow, multitasking, and the pressure of productivity/billing, etc.  Plus, he loves physical fitness, and helping others get better physically highly appeals to him. 

I want to be supportive of him going back to school, but sometimes it's very difficult.  Knowing it would cut our savings potential over the next few years in half...hurts (aka, I'd be saving all the money and I'm not a high earner).  Also, we're at a point where we're trying to save for a house...we're starting from nothing (we're new to MMM), so saving $30k will take a while...and again, would fall heavily on me if he goes back to school and he pays his way through school.  He'll be 31 in March, and I am 29 today! And lastly, it's tough because if he goes back to school to be say, a physical therapy assistant, he'll be earning the same as he earns now, maybe less, but has to take two years off to get there, since staying in his current position is not an option.  But I'm trying to remain positive in that he'll be happy and that's what matters most. No job is worth our mental health.

As for his background, he has a Bachelor's degree in communication, with a minor in advertising.  He's been in the advertising industry for the past seven years, and earns $55k right now, up from $44k at his last job.  He only has about $3,000 saved, but plans to use some of that soon for an engagement ring (I don't want one, but he insists).  He has about $5,000 in his 401k. He is completely debt free otherwise.  We live in Michigan, in case that has anything to do with his best job prospects.

My questions are:

1. If he does go back to school, what are some non-anxiety inducing jobs he could do in the meantime that earn at least $30k (we picked this salary because it will allow him to pay all his bills and have some money leftover to pay for schooling).

2. Have any of you dealt with such bad anxiety that you had to completely change your field?  If so, what field did you go into?

Thank you all!

EDIT:  I just wanted to add that my boyfriend has thought about seeking treatment for his anxiety.  He's skeptical about medications, and constantly reads about ways to lessen what he feels, but nothing helps.  I am a big supporter of therapy and I try to make sure he knows that's a viable option.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 08:01:46 AM by diggingout »


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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2015, 08:30:30 AM »
Why don't you suggest he post here himself? Perhaps start a journal?  Writing down what he is feeling can help. And he would get direct assistance, not filtered through you.

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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2015, 08:39:48 AM »
Giving a huge recommendation for him to consider meds.  I've had lots of life experience, and seen many people, including myself, benefit GREATLY from the right medication.   He can always try it and stop if he hates it, but the potential for better quality of life is so great, it's a shame to just poo poo the whole idea.

At his age I was skeptical about meds also, and looking back I was wrong, wrong, wrong. 

Hope you all figure it out!

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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2015, 08:51:59 AM »
You've got a slice of cake near in your info box near your name... happy birthday!!

Background: I just quit a soul killing job in advertising (high level, corporate graphic design - horrible deadlines, insane workplace and lots of bullying and terrible/abusive management). So I sympathize with what he's dealing with since I'm kind of familiar with the marketing side of things (not specifically sales, but had many friends in the sales rep/marketing area).

He needs to get into counseling STAT. He also needs to find an outlet for his stress and anxiety - some sort of sports, exercise, boxing, screaming at trees - something healthy that acts as a release to deal with the situation right now. And I'll cosign on the meds; he may not need them, but if the doc says give them a try, he needs to try. He'll feel much better if he DOES something other than wallow in the anxiety. He may find that dealing with this is the true answer to his problems with everything - and start feeling better about his current job.

Second, if counseling/meds haven't worked out after a few months, continue to look for another job, maybe in a smaller company for less pay or something that doesn't have the same level of work demands. I know you want to save tons of money, but burning out for the bigger paycheck is counter-intuitive. If he can find something that is not so crazy and get back to liking what he does and having a better work/life balance, then the less money he's paid is a trade-off you both should be willing to make. There are always ways to cut back on what you spend; enjoying your job (or at least not wanting to cry every day) is priceless.

He does not have the money to go back to school right now. Sure he could run up lots of school loan debt, but right now, he's desperate to get out of the job he is currently in and this looks like a shiny open doorway that will be the answer to all his problems. It may very well be, but likely it will be hard, he'll have to rely on you to pay for everything and you admit here that you have reservations and may even feel resentful. You need to talk about this and hash it all out; and getting into a heated exchange/fight about it isn't going to help. You need to listen to him and he needs to listen to you. If it was me and my husband in the same situation - and we were in very similar circumstances  - the thing that worked for us was getting a less stressful job even though it paid less. And this is actually what my husband did; it worked out pretty well for him. And the nice thing was he got a raise after he'd been there a year that more than made up for the cut in pay he took to go to this job.

Once your boyfriend is not under so much stress and has some breathing room, then is the time to examine whether he wants to go back to school or maybe he will be fine at the new less stressy job... but making sudden decisions like a major career change (and racking up lots of school loans/debt to do so) is a bad move when you're stressed out and anxious in my opinion.

Or maybe he aggressively saves every single dime he can over the next year working his ass off at this place and then quits with a good reference, a year's worth of experience at this place, and enough money to pay for several semesters of school. That is a mature, valid route as well. You can survive anything for short period of time when you know you are able to leave. That is what I did, but I actually FIREd instead of going back to school (I worked at my horrible place for 12 years - but I'm finished forever, and the last year or so when I knew it was my last year? I basically stopped caring so much and it made it MUCH EASIER to ignore the bullshit, and the stress was so much less than what I'd experienced before - I call it the "Peter Effect" based off of the movie Office Space. ;)

Third, why the need to get a house so soon? Save the money, pay down the debts instead. Houses are not good investments in general, and in your situation where one of you is possibly going to go back to school and have a reduced amount of money coming in for the foreseeable future and the amount of debt you currently have, AND the fact that if your boyfriend may get a job far away from where the house is located in the future, buying a house any time in the next 3-5 years seems a bad decision. Wait until you're in MUCH better shape financially: pay aggressively on your debt and build up your savings and start socking away money in investments... those are all way better moves than locking your money into a house. And it should go without saying not to buy a house when you aren't married yet. If you are planning on getting married, just wait a while (if the other stuff isn't enough to keep you from buying one) because trying to untangle shared property like that in the instances that a couple breaks up is beyond awkward and difficult and no one wants to deal with that mess.

Finally, the ring thing jumped out at me. You told him you do not want a ring, but he says you are getting one anyway? That is a big red flag. It's your choice on whether you have to have any symbol and him not taking into account how you feel about it is disturbing. This might seem like a small thing, but translate it to other situations - you want a small place or stay in an apartment, but he insists you have to have a big house because that is what you have to do, he insists you have to live here or there because that is what you're supposed to do...  and you give him his way every time? Bad precedent to set up right now. You have to make decisions that both of you can live with, but compromise is the name of the game. If you don't want an expensive ring or even any ring at all, he needs to listen to you.  Something simple that costs under $50 might be a good compromise; my current ring is lovely and cost me $12 - sterling silver - and it's perfect for me. No one has to know it's not white gold or platinum or what - but I frankly don't care and would tell whomever asked it was silver because we're not hung up on what others think we should have spent on a ring.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2015, 09:07:22 AM »
Can you clarify what exactly is causing anxiety?  Is it deadlines? Does he just feel the stakes are high in case of a mistake or failure? Could it be just the newness of the job (having to learn new people, tasks, etc.)? Hard to make career recommendations without knowing that.

I have, what can feel like, a high pressure, high visibility job at my company.  There is pressure. But I also put a lot of pressure on myself and feel anxiety of my own creation. Pinpointing what is causing anxiety and taking steps to fix it helps the most. For me, anxiety often shows up because I feel "behind" and will work some extra hours at off times to compensate. In reality, I am told I exceed expectations, so that anxiety is mine, not from the job. Keeping perspective is so important.  No one lives or dies based on what I do most days - I am a product manager for a medical device, so maybe some days ;) , but not most days. 

I started in Marketing/advertising and don't want to downplay the stress, but...if he can't keep perspective in a marketing job, changing careers may or may not help. If it is as bad as you say, seeking treatment is likely the best option since the anxious response seems a bit out of proportion to reality. That said, I clearly don't know his day to day, so I may be way off here.

I honestly don't know his day-to-day either because the last thing he wants to do is talk more about it.  I know some things: he feels like he can't keep up; his supervisor and his director are always on different pages so he doesn't know whose expectations to meet and feels like he has to do the opposite of at least what one of them says; he's been asked to do a lot of things outside of his skill set, like create a new operations system for call-centers at dealerships (he works for a large bank holding company dealing with auto dealership financing); and above all, he just doesn't feel like he knows his function.  It's not really the people, because he knows 3 of the 4 people on his team -- they were his previous teammates on the first account he worked on. 

I hear what you're saying and he also knows he's doing a good job.  They had their year-end reviews despite him only being there a few months, and he was told he was doing great and they were glad to have him on board. 

He was told this job was busy while he was there, but that he'd always get to leave by 5:00 p.m.  That has not been the case.  He never gets home before 7:00 p.m. and often continues to work from home at night.  He never feels like he can catch up no matter how much time he puts in to compensate.

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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2015, 07:01:57 AM »
If there was ever a reason to change jovs or careers, the way it has affected you both is it.


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Re: Best options for job-induced anxiety for someone in marketing/advertising
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 08:46:53 AM »
I dislike my career for a number of reasons, but work-related anxiety is definitely a major factor behind my dissatisfaction in my current position. I can definitely relate to what you're saying about the effects of anxiety. I currently work for a corporate veterinary practice located within a petstore. I worked for this company for a few years previously, then left for a couple of years, then returned when the other job wasn't working out (horrendous commute and a boss who was acting like he may fire me). Returning was a huge mistake. My husband had told me when I previously worked for this company that the stress of working for them was destroying our marriage, he didn't think our marriage would have survived if I didn't get out when I did, etc. When I returned, there were a lot of promises made about changes that have happened for the better (and those things really HAD changed, but those changes have since been reversed.... when I came back, I was told that the company had started to emphasize quality over quantity and we only had to see 16-18 patients per day, now it has crept back up to 23/day.. which would be reasonable if not for the minimal staffing we're provided and incredibly inefficient systems/policies that we have to work within). I came back to this job feeling like I had a better perspective that would allow me to be less stressed (not taking a mgmt role, etc), and that has helped to some extent, but it still sucks and I'm still stressed and miserable. I cry before work many mornings, break out in stress-induced hives occasionally while at work, etc. I get it. It sucks.

BUT... I've only decided to leave the veterinary field after trying enough jobs to know that it isn't just this one job. I've been in this field for 9 years and I've worked for 5 different practices. If I had the ability to relocate (not an option due to husband's family/career situation), I'd try a different area of the country, or maybe shelter work or some other field of vet med. Still, I've tried all of the veterinary options available within the limitations that I have, and only now have I finally decided to change careers. Has it been 9 unpleasant years? Sure.... but it has allowed us to get into a financial situation where I have more flexibility and allowed me to be sure that I'm making the right decision.

If the job is that stressful and miserable, he should absolutely change jobs... but it doesn't sound like this is justification for changing careers. At least not yet.

Also, therapy has helped me a little....  I had several appointments with a therapist who helped me develop some strategies for managing the panic that tends to set in during an overbooked day at work where I worry that I'll be responsible for pets dying due to my lack of attention. It definitely hasn't completely solved the problem, but I think it has at least taken the edge off some of the anxiety. I've decided against meds at this time, and my therapist agrees because my anxiety is so situational (only surrounding work).

Just my two cents. Hopefully something in there is helpful.

ETA: Sorry for the incredibly disjointed writing style. Yesterday was an awful day at work (11 hours of running, stress, and hives!), up with a coughing kiddo all night, and now trying to take a few minutes for internet surfing while the kiddo keeps asking for attention. Hope it makes sense!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 08:53:01 AM by startingsmall »