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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Ask a Recruiter: What Do I Do if My Job's Making Me Sick?

woman looking upset
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Dear Recruiter,

For the last two to three months, I have completely lost interest in my job of seven years. Initially, the job was very interesting, and I took a lot of initiative. It helped me grow as a professional. But I just can’t do it anymore. I put a lot of effort into delivering my projects with a lot of passion. I go above and beyond to get things done. But my efforts are not appreciated.

I feel cornered and helpless. I’ve lost all motivation and have stopped interacting with my colleagues as I feel the whole place is eating me alive. I tried speaking to my supervisor, but they don’t seem very interested in listening.

Each day I drag myself to the office with recurring thoughts of quitting my job. I feel sick and depressed. This is affecting my mental and physical health.

I don’t believe that getting another job will ease my situation—hard as it is to start over again.

Cornered and Helpless

Hi Cornered and Helpless,

Thank you for writing in. As a society, we can easily encourage someone’s desire to become physically healthy, but we lack the framework to celebrate and support the desire to become mentally healthy. Let’s change that by talking openly about feelings of depression, anxiety, and physical illness—in particular how they relate to our professional lives.

Work is stressful. The Muse has a whole section dedicated to managing workplace stress for a reason. But there’s a difference between feeling a little bit of anxiety before a big deadline and a feeling of daily hopelessness. When your current job is causing you to experience physical illness and depression, learning to manage your stress simply isn’t enough. It could be that you need to find a new job, but how do we ensure a new opportunity would improve your situation?

Let’s first identify the specific reasons you’ve lost interest in your job. Your letter shares “a lack of appreciation.” I get it: Working hard and never being recognized takes a toll on your sense of self-worth. But I encourage you to dig deeper. What kind of appreciation do you need to feel satisfied in your work? In addition, what changed at your company recently to bring on these negative feelings after seven years? Did your manager change? The team you work on?

Once you’ve identified the specific reasons you’ve lost interest in your current job, it’s time to look for a new opportunity. Starting over is hard, but because your current employer hasn’t been supportive in helping, it’s the best next step. But job hunting is hard and filled with rejection, and it’s especially difficult to undertake when you’re at an emotional low.

I encourage you to build a support network from friends and family and ask them to periodically check in on your mental well-being. You might also really benefit from working with a career coach, who specializes in job hunting to give you the support you need.

If you’re unable to identify specific reasons for the change in your feelings about your job, I have concerns that what you’re experiencing may be more than workplace dissatisfaction. Have you spoken with a licensed mental healthcare provider to explore your depression and physical illness more deeply? This article may help you determine if what you’re feeling is a sign of a bigger problem.

In addition, Mental Health America offers resources from a crisis hotline to finding a provider. Sometimes, its easiest to blame our emotions on something immediate—your job, a recent stress in life, the weather—rather than address the deeper cause. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help to explore what’s going on and to understand what’s at the root of it.

My hope is by examining what’s wrong with your current position, you’ll be able to pinpoint specific items to look for in a new opportunity to bring you future happiness.

But, again, if you can’t pinpoint the causes of your discontent at work, I encourage you to dig deeper with the support of a trained professional. You deserve to feel happy, appreciated, and satisfied in your personal and professional life—never forget that.