May 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm #125044
doctormikaylaMemberMay 1, 2014 at 7:37 pmPost count: 10
I’ll start this off on a positive note, and say that I was able to quit my job last year without horrible financial consequences since my husband has a good secure job that he excels at and makes enough money to support the family.
That being said, I have worked in various IT Development positions since I graduated college in 2006. However, up until the past couple of years, I was always working under a team lead or a business analyst who told me what needed to be done and I would just work on translating that into code. Junior programmers don’t really have a great deal of responsibility.
My last job is the one that I held the longest, and in the third year I was there there was a major company split and I found myself suddenly working on a much smaller team in a much smaller company. And then they told us all that now we would all have to be “leaders” and take on more responsibility.
That is when I got the opportunity to be the technical lead on a project, and it was about then that things started to unravel. I could hardly keep up with my own tasks much less those of others on the team. I couldn’t keep all the detail of the project straight in my head. All my tasks were slipping terribly and I was taken off the project before it was done (and after it had gone well over the planned deadline.) While some of this was not my fault, honestly I didn’t quite know how to lead a project and I was not picking up on these prized leadership skills the way all my peers were… I still stuck with the job and went through a “Performance Improvement Plan” which (despite what my anxiety told me) was an attempt to actually help me. I got a lot of good coaching from my manager, and after several months they said I had mastered the needed skills and could go off of the PIP. However, the adjustment was clearly not permanent since all the same problems came back as soon as they were not monitoring me so closely. And even though I was performing better externally when under the PIP, my anxiety levels were through the roof–I even discovered that high levels of anxiety can cause temporary chest pains.
It didn’t end with that project. The new small company had project after project lined up, and it was not just me slipping on things but my whole team. I ended up on another PIP largely because one of our internal customers essentially said I’d been rude and talked over them on the phone. Actually all of my meetings were on the phone, and that especially makes it hard to read the non-verbal cues. I would have follow-up meetings with my manager where she would point out all the ways that I completely missed the meaning of what the customer was actually saying. And I’ve never figured out how stay calm and placate a customer who is not happy with results. In fact, all my life just being around someone who is angry or frustrated (even if not directed at me, even if it’s a character on TV!) has made me incredibly tense and irritable. And when I’m anxious I can’t think clearly, then when being pressured to answer I just say the first thing that I think of.
(As an aside, it was this last bit of negative feedback from my manager that finally pushed me to get properly evaluated for ADHD.)
So, I’ve been out of a job since October, and my bit of money I’d saved up is almost gone. I feel really guilty about transferring my bills to my husband though he has been very supportive about the whole thing. But I really want to find a good job again since I like having my own money. But neither my technical skills nor my communication skills are that great (evidenced by previously mentioned experience and feedback) so there is always something in every potential job where I simply do not feel qualified. I would suck it up and just “fake it until I make it” but that is what I tried to do in my last job and it just doesn’t work!
I’m just fine with socializing when I have no performance pressures on me, but dealing with customers and tense situations is a problem. I’ve heard that if you have stellar communication skills you can get in the door of a lot of careers regardless of any specialized technical skills. Does anyone have some tips on how I can improve those communication skills and gain back some self-confidence *before* starting a new job?REPORT ABUSEMay 2, 2014 at 10:23 am #125046
blackdogMemberMay 2, 2014 at 10:23 amPost count: 906
Good for you for quitting. You recognized that it was not a good work environment for you and that your stress level was too high. Staying would have only caused more health problems and probably led to being fired eventually.
I wanted to quit my last job when I was financially able to do so. But everyone freaked out on me when I mentioned it so I stayed. And ended up being fired. And the emotional and psychological scars of working in a poisonous environment where I was belittled and made to feel inferior still haven’t quite healed.
And good for you for feeling guilty about your husband paying the bills. It shows that you are a good person who wants to be responsible and doesn’t want anyone else to have to take on any extra burdens because of you.
But don’t let that guilt start to eat you up. You said your husband is supportive and he doesn’t mind, so it’s okay. There is no point in going back to work just to earn a paycheque and ending up in the same situation again because the job isn’t a good fit or because you haven’t worked out all of your problems yet.
I am in a similar situation right now. I have been out of work since last september and I am not looking to go back any time soon. Probably not until next year. I’m going to get flack for it and be called all sorts of names. But I have made the decision and I am sticking to it. If I go back to work too soon I will only fail and end up right back where I am anyway. I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right now to change course and make something of what’s left of my life before it’s too late and I’m taking it.
That being said, you don’t want to take too long and put too much strain on your finances (and your relationship). But as long as you are able to do it, take the time to answer those questions about yourself and figure out what kind of work may suit you.
You have identified some of the areas that are challenging for you. Organization, leadership, staying on task and on schedule, communication skills and customer service, overwhelm and anxiety. It sounds like you are also empathic, as many of us are, picking up on the moods of others around you and getting stressed because of it.
You would probably do best in a position where you are in a more supportive role and have a lot of structure and guidance to keep you on track. If you are going to take on a leadership role again it needs to be something you work up to gradually, rather than being thrown into it like you were last time.
You need to find a system that works for you to help keep track of all of those little details. Post Its, white boards, colour coding, recording memos and reminders for yourself….. I don’t know what works for you. I don’t even know what works for me. But experiment with different systems until you hit on the right combination.
You need to work on the anxiety. When you are anxious to the point you are getting chest pains, it’s a serious problem. Medication is one option. Relaxation techniques are also helpful. Deep breathing, meditation (if you can stand it), mindfulness (not everyone’s cup of tea but it can work). Visualization can also be helpful, like picturing your hands wrapped tightly around that extremely annoying customers neck……or perhaps a more traditional one, such as going to your “happy place”. (which for me is the place where the customer is not always right and we are allowed to slap them across the face whenever they are rude to us)
Which brings us to customer service. My advice would be avoid it if you can. Find something where you don’t have to deal directly with the customers. If that is not an option….. Try to be conscious of your tone of voice, for starters, especially when meeting with someone over the phone. That will help to avoid being accused of rudeness. Smile, even if they can’t see you. It will help you to make your voice sound more cheery and enthusiastic, which they like. And be overly polite. Even throw in a few sirs or ma’ms if it is appropriate. And don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves when necessary. Just explain it by saying that you want to be sure you’ve got everything right or something like that. And when all else fails, play dumb. Tell them you’re new (unless they know you aren’t), make excuses about how you’re just not feeling well, or you’re having “one of those days”.( I don’t know if that works in your field. I have never had a “real” job myself.)
I am not very good at communicating myself, so I don’t have much to offer. But the main reason those people with “stellar communication skills” get ahead is confidence. That and a fair amount of B.S. You have to have confidence in yourself and go in there with the attitude that they need you, not the other way around. Don’t admit, even to yourself, that you don’t have the technical skills to do the job. But once you do talk your way in, you have to be prepared to learn fast.
And….that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sorry it’s so long but I don’t have time to go back and edit it now. I lost track and I am supposed to be somewhere else right now.REPORT ABUSEMay 2, 2014 at 11:42 am #125048May 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm #125049
Patte RosebankParticipantMay 2, 2014 at 12:17 pmPost count: 1517
@Doctormikayla, you’re not alone.
Many an ADDer is so fantastic at their job that they get promoted to a managerial role, which is such a mismatch for their skills and working methods, that they get overwhelmed and anxious and either get fired or quit.
But it doesn’t have to end up that way. If you take the time to really get to know yourself and your strengths, and recognize which situations are the best match for them, you’ll see there are other options.
Sometimes, it’s to say, “I could make much more of a contribution to this company if I went back to my old position.”
Or, you could say, “I’m spending a lot of time struggling to do ________, and that prevents me from spending more time doing what I do best, which is ___________. If we could pair me with someone who could do that stuff that I struggle with, I could be much more productive.”
Companies are much more receptive to this when it’s presented to them as a way to improve productivity, instead of as “I have this health issue, and I need supports to do my job.”
As @Blackdog says, I’d steer clear of Customer Service jobs. Often, they’re low-pay, high-pressure positions, where the calls just keep flooding in, and most customers are very “testy”. Even so, if you really believe in the product/service, and you’re in the right situation and mindset, you can thrive at Customer Service.
It all comes down to really knowing yourself and how you work best. And having someone to talk you through this process—either a close friend, family member, counsellor, or coach.REPORT ABUSEMay 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm #125050
doctormikaylaMemberMay 2, 2014 at 12:18 pmPost count: 10
I actually do fairly well at planning out tasks and timeframes as long as they are fairly simple tasks and I know exactly how to do them. Planning and estimating for IT Development tasks is generally accepted as something that is hard to do accurately even for neurotypical people. Those things are highly complex and full of unknowns and uncertainty. But if you are an IT Developer it’s something you have to figure out how to do…it’s a requirement on the job, and if you can’t figure it out you get a lot of people upset with you. :-/
About the empath thing, I think there is something to it. I think I have a particular sensitivity to sensory input of all types. I can’t help but think of my poor roommate nearly 10 years ago…he would come in and just start blabbing on about some aspect of his day, and pull me out of my thoughts, and have the TV going at the same time. My attention was like a pinball bouncing around inside my skull, and ended up snapping at him. He didn’t know why I was suddenly so irritable, and honestly neither did I. LOLREPORT ABUSEAugust 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm #125720
OurteamMemberAugust 5, 2014 at 1:47 pmPost count: 1
I told my own college roommate about 20 yrs. ago that I was going to take his Halogen lamp (which he turned on full bright at midnight each night to study) and throw it out the top floor of our dormitory if he turned it on again while I slept. I know now why I said it, but it was like survival man! I couldn’t make it w/o sleep.REPORT ABUSEAugust 5, 2014 at 2:23 pm #125724
ScattybirdParticipantAugust 5, 2014 at 2:23 pmPost count: 1096
DoctorM – sounds like you have had a bad time. Don’t get disheartened. Most line managers are wrong.
I know what you mean about the pinball machine and sensory stuff – I think it’s common with ADHD – I can’t cope with noise and shops with people and loud piped music – aaahhh!!!
Ourteam – did he turn it on again after that and if so, did you throw it out of the window?
You roommate was in the wrong there.
Guess we all say impulsive things – I threw a bucket of dirty water over my nephew many years ago after he’d been teasing me – and I told a woman on a plane once that if I had a knife I’d have to stab her. Not my finest hour – but she moved seats and I got some peace. I don’t think she could speak English so she only got the vibes rather than the words – I think. Anyway, they didn’t kick me off the plane, but there might have been other reasons for that – like being at 30000 feet. The good thing is I realised I needed a diagnosis for something after that and it turned out to be ADHD and I am now on meds and very mellow. 🙂 This is a shameful thing to admit to – but in my defence I had had a week from hell courtesy of two work colleagues who took delight in teasing me in a very condescending manner. Now, I take my meds when I do work trips away and only talk when I need to and it works well.August 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm #125737
Patte RosebankParticipantAugust 6, 2014 at 3:22 pmPost count: 1517
@Scattybird, do you remember a comedy series called “The Baldy Man”?
In one episode, he attended a business conference at a hotel, and was teased by a brown-noser who kept sucking up to the boss. But it worked out well in the end…for Baldy.
It’s the second half of this episode:REPORT ABUSEAugust 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm #125741
ScattybirdParticipantAugust 6, 2014 at 5:25 pmPost count: 1096
@Larynxa – I have never seen The Baldy Man before. I don’t know how I could have missed it. It’s funny – just watched it right through and it gave me a good laugh so thank you!
You got the gist of it I must say – the teasing I referred to was primarily by one person sucking up to another at my expense. There are obviously a lot of people around like that from what I read on a different post. The meds help a great deal because I am less reactive and actually this one person teases me less now because the senior one has seen through the ridiculous one and also I do less to be teased about courtesy of dex. It might have helped that I told him I didn’t think his behaviour was very professional. 🙂
Right……off to find more Baldy Man vids.REPORT ABUSEAugust 7, 2014 at 10:11 am #125747
Patte RosebankParticipantAugust 7, 2014 at 10:11 amPost count: 1517August 7, 2014 at 11:11 am #125748August 7, 2014 at 2:10 pm #125749
blackdogMemberAugust 7, 2014 at 2:10 pmPost count: 906
@ourteam, I hope you really did throw that lamp off the top floor. I have fantasized about taking a sledges hammer to my husband’s computer (which is in the bedroom) many many times. I really should have done something about it. I might still have a job if I had. Though probably not because if he didn’t keep me up I’d stay up on my own.
@Scattybird, if you did that on a plane today you would probably trigger an emergency landing, followed by a SWAT team storming the plane. It happened in Toronto a little while ago. That one was a little more serious because the man did say he wanted to “blow up Canada”, but it was a similar situation. He was just frustrated about something and lost his temper.
I have to confess that my favourite scene in Daredevil is the one on the plane, when the old lady sitting next to Bullseye keeps snoring loudly and he gets annoyed….. I laughed so hard. Then I felt guilty because of what I was laughing about. But the next time I saw it, I still laughed.
It never occurred to me that the people who teased me at work were doing it to suck up to someone else. I always thought they were just mean and never really looked at the motive behind it. Saying as little as possible is a good strategy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut if my life depended on it.
@Larynxa, I’ve never heard of that show. Or at least, I don’t think I have. No time to watch it now though. I’ve already wasted most of the day. I’ll have to try to remember it later. 🙂REPORT ABUSEAugust 10, 2014 at 10:06 am #125766
seabassdMemberAugust 10, 2014 at 10:06 amPost count: 119
I always think it’s important to look at repeating issues. Are we handling the situation in a familiar way. You know, are we trying to solve the problem whether it’s work, relationships, exercise, sleep etc. using the same methods that we’ve used before. Methods that bring us right back around to the same problems, over and over again. I think we have to break the cycle some way. Sometimes it takes us a while to see the pattern (us ADDrs can be a little hard-headed).
For myself I can usually identify a pattern because it is accompanied by some sort of self-flagelation. The most common of which come from my INNER JUDGE i.e. “Work Harder”, “No Breaks for You”, “They Can Do It so Why Can’t You”, “Go to PIP until you get it right, take your lumps for not measuring up”(maybe one of yours), you get the idea.
Medicine, life-hacks, education, meditation, mindfulness, therapist, coaches, are all things we can use to help us get to a better place. They can help us get clarity about our life and offer us the opportunity to come up with new strategies to handle the issues we face. As I’m finding out though it usually doesn’t amount to much without some sort of coarse adjustment that I haven’t made before. Sometimes the coarse adjustment is simply allowing yourself the time to partake in the things mentioned above instead of relegating them to the “when I’ve got time” file.
I guess, just don’t beat yourself up so much and you might be surprised what happens next.
Thanks for sharing. As always I usually walk away from a post feeling a bit guilty for how much I’ve gotten from the others sharing.
Wish you the best. Keep us in-the-know.August 15, 2014 at 8:32 am #125806
BabafredDenandenandaMemberAugust 15, 2014 at 8:32 amPost count: 18
I was unable to stay in the same job for more than 4 years, it seemed. My last job was the one I held the longest – 4 years. I found myself dreading waking up in the morning, though.
Much of my career has been in sales and/or service roles, but as happens with undiagnosed ADHD, lack of focus, interrupting, and all the usual triggers meant it was very difficult to actually do the job. Clashes with managers, customers, and the like usually aren’t conducive to career advancement.
I think it’s an ADHD trait as well to “hang on” to things. I catch myself ruminating on past experiences – negative ones, to be exact. Just this year, well after my diagnosis, I had an extremely bad experience with a group for whom I volunteered. I did nothing wrong, and I will maintain that I did nothing wrong for the rest of my life, but they saw it differently and, unceremoniously dumped me. It was a very rewarding and enjoyable role. I catch myself, almost daily, going over the details, re-hashing the conversations and planning new conversations in my head. (One day, I may decide to tell the full story on my own personal blog, but not today.)
In any event, rumination over negative experiences, or with rude or angry prospects and/or customers is also not very conducive to a sales career.
In any event, I took a leap of faith back in 2012 and quit that job. I took on a part-time job which I still hold to help pay the bills, and I joined a freelancing website and I now write software for people anywhere in the world, from the comfort and freedom of my own home office.
This, I need to stress, is not necessarily the solution for everyone. When things are slow, self-employment can be extremely grinding. Getting started can also be extremely grinding. But I saw it through and I’m building momentum.
The key, and this principle really applies to anyone, with or without ADHD:
Find your hobby. (To find your hobby, what do you hyperfocus on? Watching TV doesn’t count.)
Figure out how to get paid to do it.
Never “work” again.
Now, the risk that you run — and this is what I hit up against — is that whole pesky hyperfocus thing. I get on a role. Code is flowing, my mind is engaged, and everything else is tuned out.
And then I get called to help bring in groceries. Or set the table. Or talk to my child.
GRRRRRRRRR (Does this sound familiar to anyone?)REPORT ABUSEAugust 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm #125846
doctormikaylaMemberAugust 25, 2014 at 1:44 pmPost count: 10
Thanks for your words Baba. That last bit especially is very familiar. XD
I have been considering freelancing myself, and doing some relatively small technical projects on my own for education and entertainment. I find that when I am engaged in something I am interested I do well, and when I don’t I fall into a depression. Better to do anything than to do nothing. My challenge is to actually stay with a project long enough to accomplish things that take more than one or two days to finish.REPORT ABUSE
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