Working is killing me

We all get tired and stressed from work and we all definitely have our bad days and even bad jobs, but I am finding as time goes on I am coping less and less with work.

I have recently moved jobs due to numerous issues at my last place of work, but I am finding that I am constantly run down, fatigued, stressed and just generally feel unwell as a result of working.  I am in my early thirties and I know we slow down and get tired with age, but I feel ill - not just tired.

My mental health is strained, I am suffering with anxiety and possibly depression, GI issues, skin complaints, respiratory problems, migraines, fatigue, muscles cramps/pain, joint pain, general illnesses etc etc.

Packing my job in is not an option as I have bills to pay, but I also want to work and like having purpose and responsibility - I just wish it didn't take so much out of me.

I have been looking at career changes, but at the moment I cannot financially afford the risks and even then I am not really sure what I could do that would alleviate these health issues.

Most people seem to breeze through life (ok slightly over dramatic) and get a weeks work done without a hitch and then make the most of the weekend.  I spend my weekends and evenings a wreck, just trying to recover to start again.  Are other people like this and just hide it better or is it me?

If I have to work until my late 60s until I retire, I am starting to think I won't make it anywhere near retirement at this rate.

  • Hi Moggiecat (love the name!)

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.  I am sorry that you have faced these issues as well and have suffered as a result.  I had a breakdown in my late teens/early twenties, with the latter breakdown being a result of work and some issues at home.  It is not a nice place to be and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  I did the same as you and went to university to study and try and look at a career which would support me financially, but also engage me more than what I was doing at the time.  It was the right thing to do and I am sure it will be for you as well.   At present I suppose I am more disappointed that despite all my hard work and persistence to better myself, I am in a situation where I am on the verge of facing taking a couple of steps back and I am too stubborn to accept that at the moment - and maybe too proud!

    My current role means I have my own office, which has been a god send compared to my last job which was open plan - however, I am dealing with more people and having to multitask much more which I am struggling with.  The struggles are different in this job and maybe not as severe in some ways as my last role, but my health is not great and that is worrying me.  Occupational health did an initial assessment when I started the role, but haven't reviewed my progress since.  This is something I will use as a last resort as my experience with occupational health hasn't been great if I am honest.

    There is also future business developments where the business could go open plan, so if this gets the go ahead I know my days there will be numbered as this will make me ill and has made me ill in the past.

    Keep working hard on your postgraduate studies - it will pay off and there will probably be a few bumps in the road in the future, but it will be worth it.  Am I allowed to ask what you are studying?

  • You need to press the OH team x open plan working and the pressure now of extra responsibilities and that horrible term - flexable working don’t suit us,. It means you’ll be less productive, unhappy and that goes against your needs and those of the business. Xx  

  • Hi Starbuck,

    That all sounds so tricky and I'm sorry. I know the feeling of work making you ill. When I was in work, I felt like I was constantly telling everyone including my partner how depressed I was, but because I'm not good at expressing my emotions, I felt the need to resort to some pretty outlandish things to get people to notice me and for my partner to wholeheartedly support me handing in my notice. 

    I would say it might be worth asking OH for a review if you feel able, and do tell them if you think this could be ASD related. Unfortunately in my experience OH and HR are both on the side of the management structure rather than the individual, and I was lucky to find someone really good in a workplace union, but as I say I left because ultimately the cost was too high to my health and happiness. Also OH kept repeatedly and explicitly denying my symptoms (which later turned out to be diagnosed in rheumatology and neurology) and telling me to just 'suck it up' and cope with my colleagues, who truth be told I felt were sucking my soul. 

    I think open plan would be awful. My partner, Phil, worked in an open plan office for many years and he is very sensitive to that sort of thing. If it comes to it I'm happy to ask him how he managed the situation. 

    I'm studying English but a sub-field called Medical Humanities. I'm particularly focussing on chronic pain narratives (something I struggle with personally) and finishing my MA right now on a rare rheumatoid arthritis narrative in the 50s. My PhD will hopefully start in September. I'm going to be working in a PhD office which will be interesting because I'm currently finding all the lights and sounds on campus so disorientating, but thankfully my department are very accommodating (and let me talk to them about cats all day).

    I hope things start to get better but keep us posted!

  • So true, and yes I think sometimes you really have to frame it in terms of costs to the business to make them realise. Even with me - and I have worked in higher education, which is still underneath it all a profit machine - I had to say to my manager 'I know you want me to achieve X or to work effectively with XYZ so that we can X, but this is something I struggle with. I have thought long and hard and I think if you would let me put XYZ in place we could all work towards our joint goals'. Oh how I wish I could have just screamed at them to all leave me alone though!

  • I am finding as time goes on I am coping less and less with work.

    I am in exactly the same position.

    I am finding that I am constantly run down, fatigued, stressed and just generally feel unwell as a result of working.

    I also feel constantly run down, stressed and often sick as a result of working.

    Packing my job in is not an option as I have bills to pay, but I also want to work and like having purpose and responsibility - I just wish it didn't take so much out of me.

    A very good point. I am thinking exactly about the same issue. I am caged in the workplace that makes my mental health to suffer.

    Are other people like this and just hide it better or is it me?

    I recognize myself in your thread. You and I are in a very similar situation.

  • Unfortunately in my experience OH and HR are both on the side of the management structure rather than the individual

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with this. I have noticed the same thing.

    You were lucky that you could leave and you have a supportive partner.

    I wish so much I could leave. I am only there to keep my budget in balance.

  • Hi I reduced my hours by a day it has helped but I struggle like you mainly with having to constantly interact with others and behave like a 'normal' functioning person which inevitably does lead to a degree of exhaustion at the end of a shift, when I dropped my hours it was the best thing I ever did that extra day off makes such a difference, it is hard earning less but I've had to cut my cloth and it is worth it. Speak to your employer and see what they say.

  • I have never managed working full time. When I did briefly work a full week I had a total meltdown but they were also nasty employers. Better employers made reasonable adjustment for me so that I had a day off midweek. I slept a lot on Wednesdays but I was great at work the rest of the time. I suggest looking into whether hour adjustment for your shifts etc would help to break up your workload.

    Autistic brains overload more quickly, esp when surrounded by people and the strain of normalising interaction. I find that after a day in constant human company I need to retreat to decompress.

    Regardless it is not healthy for you to continue with no change.If you press on you might end up unable to work. Much better to strategise and try to make basic changes before you get to that point.

  • We're not psychic; we don't know if the breezers are actually breezing. Often they're not.

  • I could have written that myself.

    As you've pointed out, lots of people don't enjoy their jobs, or get stressed, but it seems for us aspies, the day to day stuff is what breaks us. 

    I used to work in an office, in an IT department and although I enjoyed the majority of the actual job - working out problems, writing repetitive code etc, the rest of it was awful. Constant interaction with other people, multi tasking, project management and the other general stresses of work.

    I was undiagnosed at the time so it was all the harder. I tended to be the butt of many jokes because I said stuff that wasn't office like, or didn't get/appreciate banter and because I was totally overloaded all the time I made silly mistakes which just made things worse .

    I developed every ailment under the sun. Had hospital admissions, colonoscopies, scans, so many things. It was just my bodies way of screaming for help .

    Then the company went into administration. Brutal loss of income but my wife and I made lots of adjustments and I took some time off work to look after the kids. 

    During that time I was diagnosed and it all made sense. 

    I am now working 2 days a week, night shift, cleaning the spa for a fancy health retreat. It pays ok and I have to deal with at most, 2 other people for a few minutes, over a 9 hour shift. It is wonderful. Repetitive tasks that have a beginning and end, no stress and no people. 

    I'm lucky in that my wife has a good job so is the main bread winner. Maybe you don't have that, maybe you have the option to tighten your belt a bit and downsize your job, maybe you don't. 

    But it does sound like something has to change. Without knowing more, I'd say your current job isn't going to work out, no matter how many changes they make for you. There will still be people to work with, things to manage and stresses to deal with. I firmly believe that we all need to find jobs that work for us, rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and trying to modify a "normal" role .

    I guess this is why so many aspies are out of work :-(