Author Topic: Mental Health and Jobs  (Read 3450 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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Mental Health and Jobs
« on: April 02, 2017, 02:54:55 PM »
Hi all,

I've been a longterm reader of the forum, but have never posted. In the interest of anonymity, I'm going to be vague: I'm mid-20s, have only been in the workforce a few years (at a few different jobs) due to graduate school, and am now working in a field I theoretically love but that doesn't have anything to do with any of my degrees. I have always had generalized anxiety disorder, but previously have been able to use it to fuel getting good grades, going to top schools, etc. My new job teaches me things I absolutely want to learn but in an extremely stressful and high-paced environment. I would like to own my own business someday in a very specific field, and this job is a great place to learn skills I will need. My job is long and unusual hours, and it takes all my emotional energy just to go to work and get through the day. Out of work, I feel absolutely no energy to do things I previously loved, like reading or listening to podcasts or anything involving intellectual energy. I'm basically a zombie and have been since I started this job 6 months ago.

To make matters worse, I work in a very male-dominated field. I have been sexually harassed twice at work; management has handled it the best way I could have asked for, but these incidents have really upset me. The last incident was a few days ago, and I've found myself having horrible panic attacks thinking about a past sexual assault and a very long verbally abusive relationship I was in. I called out of work one day, worked the next day to try to power through it, then had a full blown panic attack at work the following day and had to go home. I asked to take the weekend off to figure things out. Part of me wants to show that these men can't tear me down, but the other part is tired of policing men and forcing them to be decent human beings.

For my age, I am doing okay financially: my job pays very little, but I have an emergency fund and 20k in an IRA. I have the support of my parents, whatever decision I make (both emotional and financial -- I am very very lucky). I am looking for less stressful jobs, and have an interview in my field on Tuesday. I basically have to figure out what I'm doing with regards to my job by tomorrow. I know it's better to look for a job when you have a job, but I am so emotionally depleted and tired. I don't want to feel like a quitter or like I've given up, but I'm struggling right now. I should point out I am in no danger to myself or others and I see a therapist weekly and a psychiatrist every month. I am seeing my therapist tomorrow. Is it ever okay to leave your job for mental health reasons? How do I possibly explain this to future employers? Am I screwing myself over if I leave my job without another lined up? Thank you for your help!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2017, 03:31:48 PM »
I'm sorry you're going through that.

Can you take a mental health leave while you figure things out?


  • Stubble
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2017, 03:37:14 PM »
Sorry to hear that you are in anguish at your current job :( It sounds like you have already made your decision. My situation isn't as bad as you, but it is true you have to either dress up why you want to go, or pick a different reason. So, if someone asks why you want to leave, I'd suggest:

1. I am ready to develop new skills and make new friends.
2. I am looking to find somewhere with more opportunity.
3. I am searching for something that helps more people.
4. I'd like an opportunity to better take advantage of my talents.

In reality:
1. The people at my current job are demeaning sexist jerks.
2. A great opportunity is not being where I work.
3. I'd like to not make my therapist so depressed.
4. Maybe if this job didn't crap on me all day I'd have a chance to do better work.

I hope you get out. I'd have something lined up first before leaving. Maybe it's different as a girl but I get crazy anxiety from not knowing when I'll have a new job. I'd start talking with friends and people (not coworkers). Try to sound upbeat that you're excited to find new places and people. Depending on your situation, you may find a better position with more normal hours.

I recently made the decision it was time to leave my current job. I am still looking, doing tests and interviewing. However, knowing my plan is to leave and I am acting on it has made me happy. If you have vacation or sick leave, you may want to start tapping in on it, especially if you can't take it with you. I'd line something up before leaving. You should keep the thought of you leaving your current job a secret from your employer. You wouldn't want to get crapped on more.

Work shouldn't be you on team women against team men. There's always some tension...but you have value and need a place that will take better advantage of your talents. Hang in there if possible. If not possible do what you must to avoid a mental breakdown.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2017, 04:55:49 PM »
Get the hell out of there. I'm sorry you have to go through all that, your mental health is so not worth any job.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2017, 06:18:18 PM »
This sounds like the emergency that your emergency fund has been waiting for. I hope you get out and find something else soon.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2017, 02:03:04 AM »
It's totally okay to leave a job for ANY reason. We are free people :)     Yours just happens to be one of the most important reasons there are.

With the emergency funds and other support you have in place, no, you're not screwing yourself over by being jobless for a while. Some employers do consider only resumes of currently-employed people, but in my experience, the best employers consider all the best candidates.

How to explain it to a potential employer? Something along the lines of, "I took a sabbatical." " reevaluate my path going forward..." "I funded myself to complete some creative projects" (your creative project being brainstorming your path forward).

Ideally you're able to give two weeks notice, so that your current employer can provide a better reference. But even that's not critical.

During your self-provided sabbatical, you might in fact do such reenvisioning, i.e., what are jobs and conditions that would work well given your needs? For a lot of people with anxiety and a desire to produce excellent results, self-employment, homebased-employment, etc, are ideal. For others, a low-key job that pays less is sustainable. For another, best is a job with high performance demands and little in the way of social demands.

During your time off, you might also enjoy a vocational assessment program. I took one at a pivotal time some years back, and just loved it. It was chock full of passionate, smart, creative people feeling burned out, etc, and needing to find a new way. For me, it was very practically helpful too.


  • Bristles
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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2017, 02:19:46 AM »
Just to reiterate what others are saying, I agree that this is the emergency that you have your emergency fund for.... Nothing is worth continuing to experience what you've been experiencing and I am sorry you're going through this.

Wishing you all the best. Gaps in employment are never as badly thought of as you'll think they'll be, in my experience... Most people have had them at some point... I have. Most important is you and your wellbeing.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Mental Health and Jobs
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2017, 02:50:36 AM »
Take some vacation time. You likely have several days/weeks even. Get your resume in shape, and get the hell out of there ASAP.

And yes, it absolutely is okay to leave a job that causes mental and emotional stress. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

I find it odd that your HR department isn't treating you like a queen and offering you paid time off and firing the crap out of the assholes that were instigating the harassment since they're opening themselves up to a sweet hostile workplace/harassment lawsuit. I know you likely just want to get out of there, but you sound like you could benefit from consulting a lawyer, or at the very least, telling your HR department that you are very upset and deeply troubled at the harassment and hostile work environment and need some mental health time off to deal with things... paid, of course.

You tell future employers that the work situation was not a good fit. And that you're looking for a more professional, dynamic environment.