So, to recap from last season, a shrunken budget dislodged me from the job I loved and separated me from the co-workers that I cared about. I retreated to a co-working lab for a month or two to have a real space to pursue another job and to work on a side project to keep my skills alive.
Then I thought I found the perfect job. When they described the job, I heard: “We work on a large, complicated software application.” I thought I’d finally broken out and was being invited to work with the big boys. I was swooning. I didn’t ask enough questions. I blame my bipolar mania for erasing any caution from my mind (nope, not my fault–I pretend anyway).
What I got was somewhat different. By the third day when I had not been introduced to the code repository or code base, I realized there was no repo and there was no codebase. The large software project that I had imagined existed, but was the property of a vendor. “Working” on the application consisted of writing “if” statements that would do custom validations on records.
They are nice people, but there was no “team” and I went days where the only human I spoke to was the barista in the lobby. I was deeply siloed and had little interaction with the other programmer–nice guy whose laid-back attitude suited his job (he’d been there ten years and was responsible for all of the more complex systems running).
I decided to make the best of what I had and worked hard to reform myself into someone who could do the job and do it well. But I missed coding. I missed coding a lot. That part of my brain started to atrophy. I spiraled into a deep depression (hello, bipolar!) My husband was supportive but also kept nudging me to change my circumstances because what was happening obviously wasn’t working.
With my husband’s support, I quit. I didn’t go in that morning thinking I was going to quit. It was something my husband and I had miscommunicated about for a couple of weeks: he was supportive but in my depression, I twisted his words into an injunction to keep working to help keep the family stable. That was me–my fear and guilt–filtering what he said. Married essentially 21 years at this point, I still have trouble understanding sometimes. (Can’t wait until that period just before we both need hearing aids and literally can’t hear each other.)
Over a lunch hour IM session, my husband and I finally got on the same page. I had something I wanted to build on the side to build my skills which had slid in the fifteen or so months I was in that job that didn’t suit me. My husband finally got it through the haze of my depression that yes, he saw me suffering, couldn’t handle it anymore, and wanted me to quit.
So I wrapped up the last few small requests I had and wrote an email notifying my supervisor of my resignation. She didn’t exactly shed any tears or anything; I think we all knew I wasn’t a good fit for the job. I’m happy now, driving my own boat and reporting to no one while I work full time on my web application and I’m pretty sure they’re happier too after hiring someone more suitable to the job. I like to think that both parties came away all the better for my resignation. I wish them well–nice people, nice place, just not the kind of work that I do.
Why the silence? I couldn’t commit myself to saying anything about my job-related depression. I didn’t want anyone to know while it was happening. Once it’s in the rear-view mirror, it’s important to be honest about it, but while it’s happening, not only are you less motivated to do anything, you’re less open to hearing well-meaning people trying to perk you up and give you advice. The world is full of nice, well-meaning people who, for all their good intentions, can’t break through your depression.