Unemployed and Afraid to Find New Work

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    • #39868
      Penny Williams

      This discussion was originally started by user fitnessghurl in ADDitude’s now-retired community. The ADDitude editors have included it here to encourage more discussion.


      I’m 44 years old and just started taking Concerta a few months ago (November).  I’m currently unemployed and have been laid off (really fired) from a great number of my jobs or was very close to being let go before I left on my own.  I need to find work because I don’t have an income coming in at all (I’ve used up my employment insurance benefits) but I am terrified of starting a new job and then being “let go” again.  I don’t think I can handle it again.  There’s only so much one can take.  How can I get over this fear and live a productive life? By the way, I have had about 25 jobs in my life (including part time when I was in high school) and have been “let go” from 9 of them. Any suggestions?  Help?

    • #40974
      Allison Russo

      This reply was originally posted by user fitnessghurl in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      I’m not in sales so the 64% success rate doesn’t apply to me. I don’t get any benefit from being fired…it sucks and makes me more and more depressed every time making me think I am more of a loser and failure than the last time.

      I had to limit question because it only allowed so many characters. I have gotten fired for missing details, forgetting things/deadlines/etc, probably overall generally not being interested or caring. I have always worked in offices…I have found that this probably doesn’t suit me best.

      If i read or hear “find your passion” one more time, I’ll probably scream. My real passion is fitness however making a decent living off that in Canada is near impossible. I have spoken to several fitness professionals and I get the same answer….you will not make a good living off this. So next is, I enjoy people around people and thrive being around them and interacting with them.

      Really, I just want to get on with it….but as I said before, I don’t think I can take one more firing.

    • #40975
      Allison Russo

      This reply was originally posted by user Speechie1962 in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Dear fitnessghurl,

      I am a 54 yr. old female with a masters degree in a healthcare profession (speech-language pathologist) I’ve worked in for almost 30 years. In the last 4 years, I have worked in several settings (home healthcare, skilled nursing facilities, a hospital, outpatient clinics,) both as a direct employee and as a short-term contract temp employee. I’ve quit two jobs & been fired from 4 of the total 9. I have been told I’m a great clinician, but too slow, have poor time mgt & organization skills, can’t keep up with documentation, etc.

      I also worked a temp job as a professional test scorer for a national company. I had trouble being on time consistently at 8:00 a.m., but also was told I was slower than most in learning to score projects and my rate of actual scoring work. I’m currently working part-time for minimum wage in a floral shop helping in general and delivering.

      My points are these:
      1) I coped & compensated effectively for my ADD issues for many years, but no longer seem to be able to do so, even with a firm diagnosis almost 3 yrs ago and various med trials (now on Concerta) & counseling.
      2) I thought maybe I was just burnt out where I was working when I was first fired in 2013 from an 8+ year position.
      3) But, working in different settings didn’t really improve anything. I use multiple alarms but still struggle being consistently on time.
      4) Meds make me feel alert, but not necessarily better focused or able to organize, prioritize, deal with interruptions or changing schedules or demands.

      So, I too have become afraid of applying for another position in my chosen profession, for fear if not being able to be successful and perhaps having my certification and license suspended or revoked. Not for anything illegal or unethical, rather for not completing work/documentation “in a timely manner” (very subjective, right?!).
      Or, because I live in an “at will” state here in the U.S., I can be let go at any time for any reason the employer comes up with, or even no reason at all.

      Could you find part-time work in fitness, then piece together with part-time work in something else? Maybe something you always wanted to explore but haven’t? Or perhaps seek some vocational rehabilitation or retraining services? I’m currently looking into those as well as doing some online assessments to see where my skills & interests are, jobs they relate to, training opportunities, etc.

      There doesn’t seem to much in my area in terms of Doctors, Counselors, ADD Coaches or even Job/Life Coaches who specialize in Adults with ADD & employment issues. Plus, I don’t think I can afford any of the coaches that do phone or online help.

      I figure I need to keep praying, exploring, trying new things and eventually I hope to get to a better place, be successful again and happier.

      Hang in there and keep trying!

    • #40976
      Allison Russo

      This reply was originally posted by user adhdmomma in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      It’s really important to match your strengths to job requirements. That limits the possibilities of mistakes when the job is more suited to your weaknesses than strengths.


      ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #40977
      Allison Russo

      This reply was originally posted by user LakeLife in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Hang tough, Pal… You just have not found your job yet… ADHDMomma speaks the truth: “…important to match your strengths to job requirements.” I will add this to her missive: The job also has to be something you truly love doing.

      I spent 25 years as a Utility Manager, City Manager, Budget Analyst…Among a whole lot of other things when in between jobs. Saying I was miserable is an understatement…Like you, I’ve been through a whole lot of jobs…

      I’m a teacher earning a 1/3 of what I used to. I had to move, literally, halfway around the world to do it…Life now is more than just OK…Am I still an ADHD beast…you betchya.. But I’m a happy ADHD beast who has some modicum of respect where I work. It’s a good feeling and one that lies in front of you. This is not an unusual story here…We just take a little more time to find our professional stride.

      Successful people are those who decided to get up just one more time after being knocked down

      You gotta do it, pal…Stand up just one more time…

      Best to you…

    • #40978
      Allison Russo

      This reply was originally posted by user fitnessghurl in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

      Speechie1962 – I feel your pain and it definitely helps knowing I am not the only one. I am sorry you are struggling as well.

      adhdmomma thank you for the links. I had actually read those articles about a month ago.

      Lake life – your post made me tear up. I have been quite emotional the last few days. Yes as adhdmomma says I definitely need to line up my strengths with work which will then make me successful. And I’m glad to hear you say that it takes us longer to figure things out…

      I made an appointment to see a career coach (referred by the therapist I was seeing). I put it off for quite some time because I felt like I should try to figure it out on my own since I always seem to look at externals for answers (books, other people, etc etc). Thank you for your thoughts and in puts. You all made this seemingly unbearable load a little easier to carry.

    • #43808

      Looks like I’ll be the first “new” reply here, LOL.

      I’d like to address the “find a job you love” or “find your passion” philosophy. I’ve been around a little while–I’m 47. Like many ADHD’ers, I have been through a number of jobs in my life. I recently came across a quote from Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs. A fan had written to him about how to find the “right” job for him. Mike’s reply was spot on, in my view. You can find the fan’s question, and Mike’s response HERE.

      The meat of Mike Rowe’s advice is found in the last couple paragraphs of his response, starting with the words, “Stop looking for the ‘right’ career”.

      I found truth in Mike’s words, long before I was aware of the above quote. At the same time, I also agree with those who say you should do what you can to find work that plays to as many of your strengths as possible–at least so you don’t HATE the job. If you can TOLERATE the job, then it’ll give you a paycheck while you work on yourself and figure out what your next step should be. That is what I’m doing right now. I sort of fell into my current job as a pest control professional, or PCP (called an “exterminator” in many places). I worked there for 7 years–the longest I’ve ever held a job. I left in 2013 for a few years to try my hand at being a real estate agent, which for a number of reasons did not work out (some of those reasons are related to my ADHD). I returned to pest control (same company I worked for previously) in December of 2016. I came to the realization that this particular job fits a number of my strengths and avoids some of my ADHD weaknesses. There are things I don’t like about my job, for sure. But I’m following Mike Rowe’s advice about becoming indispensable to the owner and I’m working on learning all the things I need to learn in order to either start my own pest control company in the future, or go to work for a different company as a manager.

      Anyway, I hope I’ve been helpful.

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by Quinn.
      • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #43812

      Apparently my first attempt to post a response glitched out, and the page wouldn’t let me repost the response because it flagged it as a duplicate post. So, here goes again…

      I’d like to chime in with regard to the philosophy of finding the job that is the “perfect fit” for you, or finding your “dream job”, I tend to agree with what Mike Rowe said to a fan who asked him about finding the right job. Mike’s response can be found HERE. The meat of his response is in the last couple of paragraphs of his reply to the fan, starting with the words, “Stop looking for the ‘right’ career”…

      Before I was aware of what Mike Rowe said to this fan, I was already implementing some of his advice–not because I’m especially smart (far from it!)–but because of life experience, which I have gained a bit of in my 47 years on this earth. Of course, as an ADHD’er, much of my life experience has come from the “school of hard knocks”. As Dave Ramsey says, I have a PhD in D.U.M.B.

      I’ve stopped looking for the “perfect fit” for my ADHD and have been looking for a “good enough” fit–basically a job that, while I might not LOVE it, is at least a job that I don’t HATE.

      I do agree that we ADHD’ers should have the goal of finding work that plays to as many of our strengths and as few of our weaknesses as possible. For instance, I know from experience that I CAN NOT work an office job. I need to be moving around, working with my hands, solving problems, serving others. My current job as a pest control technician for TERMINIX fits that bill pretty well. There are things I don’t like about this job, for sure. But there are enough things I DO like that it keeps me engaged, and I am in the process of “becoming indispensable”, as Mike Rowe advises in the link I posted. My longer term goal is to probably start my own pest control company in another location, once I’ve saved enough money for startup costs.

      Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth.


    • #46477

      I had no idea other people felt like I do. I mean I had a sense that other adults had struggles, but seeing the posts here really let me know I am not alone. I know my current position is not a good fit for my skill set and has too many distractions, but I am concerned about going somewhere else that is more strict about punctuality and that may end up being too hard for me to handle.

      I feel I would be good at a desk job if I didn’t have to handle inbound calls and walk-in customers. I also think I’d be good at dealing with call-in or walk-in customers if I didn’t have to process a lot of information and paperwork. I like helping people by phone like tech support and things of that nature. The interactions are brief, pleasant, and have specific goals for me to reach, which is really motivating for me.

      I think ultimately I have to do my best to look for jobs that will interest me and allow me to use my strengths and then feel out the environment and culture there, then go for it. I have to trust God to take care of me. He hasn’t let me be jobless or destitute so far. 🙂 (I did lose my home once, but I still had a job and lived with family until I got back on my feet.)

      I find it hard to be motivated to get my resume together and the thought of managing phone or in person interviews when I already have a full time job and kids in middle school with practices and events is just crazy to me. I can barely keep up with everything in my head as it is. I know God will guide me thought this. Just have to take it a step at a time. Instead of applying for a bunch of things at once, maybe I do three or so at a time so if everyone responds I don’t get overwhelmed. Any tips? Thanks in advance.

    • #48859

      A bit late to this party, but thought it might help to add my tuppence.

      I was in the same situation recently. I found myself, at the age of 42, unemployed (again) after quitting a job (again) due to ‘communication’ problems (again). I too was terrified to look for work. In fact, I avoided it for a few months until the threat of having my car repo’ed became very real. Once I started looking, I knew I had to eliminate some of the things that weren’t working for me. My background is in marketing and the demands it was putting on me had become unbearable. The attention to detail, the focus on data analysis, the endless meetings, and 8 hours of sitting behind a desk – all enemies of the ADD brain – were the first skills to get axed when I started my job search. This meant I had to go in a completely different direction. In essence, it meant a whole career change had to take place. Instead, I concentrated on taking a couple of part-time jobs that together would make up the 40 hours I need to live. I ended up taking a retail job at the mall and a gallery assistant job. The hours are just under 40 and they pay me less than my marketing jobs do, but what the experience has given me is peace of mind. These jobs, while not as luxurious as some of my previous ones, don’t require an “OBSESSIVE” attention to detail (as one employer expected of me), don’t require me to stare at a computer monitor for hours on end, or sit in mind-numbing meetings. I avoided these jobs at first because I thought they were ‘below me’, but remarkably, I’m actually enjoying them.

      Mind you, this is just a stepping stone for me on the way to finding a new career path, but for now it works. I can pay my bills and relax a little. I would suggest maybe trying something different as well if you’re in the position to do so. Like I said, I’ve taken a huge pay cut, but I’ve also alleviated a lot of stress, and this will allow me to use that energy to pursue other avenues. Focus on the skills you have that you can apply to something other than what you normally do for work, and don’t ignore the useful ADD skills we have, like being gregarious, having energy, and multi-tasking. Think in terms of a temporary solution, so you can get a steady income flow, and that will free your mind up to consider your next career step. You might even discover that you enjoy doing something you wouldn’t have considered before.

      Best of luck!

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by amb1974.
    • #48862

      @amb1974 Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I have been thinking I too need to job search based on what I like doing and where I know I will function well, not based on perception or status.

      I am seriously considering doing two part time jobs, but as a mom I need to be careful about the transition and research health insurance options for myself. I am knocking on 40, so I’m fighting the “old and looking for work” stigma I think will be be hanging over my head. Trying to remind myself to play up my experience and positive attitude.

    • #48877

      Hi! It’s totally understandable that you are nervous about the next step. So I’d suggest taking it in small steps. Could you find an ADD coach that has career coaching experience (or a career coach that is knowledgeable in ADD)? Discussing what works for you, and what doesn’t, with a professional can help to set your priorities in terms of a job, and keep you accountable regarding your next steps.
      Also, the Vocational Rehab in your state offers free services and sometimes can help you with retraining. Also, more and more Voc Rehab agencies are connecting with ADD coaches, and can refer you for some free coaching.
      In the short term, could you do temporary work? short gigs found on Craigslist?? to bring in some cash. Have you ever thought of Merchandising, where you place products in stores like greeting cards? You can do it on your own schedule (within reason, obviously). I also wonder if checking back with your doctor regarding meds can help.
      Get some help with your resume, and if it’s difficult, go to one of the agencies in your area that assists jobseekers for free (in our area they are called “One-Stops”. Your resume should only list the jobs where you had a satisfactory experience, not the jobs where you were let go.
      Lastly, can you talk to some people that you’ve worked for, or worked with, to get their take on your strengths and skills? We ADDers arent’ always very self-observant!!

    • #61959

      39 year old, recently diagnosed. I have been a sterile processor for surgical equipment for about two years now, and have hit a creative wall. At first I was super excited to enter a new field in a fast paced environment, with much to learn and a lot of multitasking. Now, after having pretty much mastered my job and everything started going smoothly, extreme boredom set in and I just started making interpersonal problems in the department. A few impulsive comments and one long open air gripe, have pretty much made me a social outcast in a matter of a week. The atmosphere is extremely tense when I am around, but has created a new dynamic for my brain to work with and stay stimulated by. It won’t last though, and who knows when I’ll be looking for new work. In retrospect, this pattern has plagued me my whole sordid employment history.

    • #66060

      I really relate to Speechie1962. I too am an SLP. I have been unable to meet deadlines & am typically late for work. I have sleep issues and have recently received a diagnosis of PTSD, on top of my depression and other stuff.

      I am a caregiver for my 68 year old mother that has mobility problems and other health concerns. I am always exhausted and have back taxes owed & student loans in default. I am in counseling and been seen at the Free Clinic but not taking any stimulants now. I have started back taking Klonipin, for crying spells, but My mom and I can’t make it on her retirement funds alone, while I feel so guilty about not having applied for jobs, I just fear failure again and letting the people I serve down. I am also letting the family down.

      My counselor told me I have to practice the beginner’s mind & don’t decide what the future will bring, so, I am working on making myself apply for at least one job today. I think reading & sharing will be helpful since my family doesn’t really know I haven’t been able to apply for jobs yet. I did update my resume & I went a head and put it into Indeed, (but, I have to proof-read it).

      I just wrestle with what to ask for, part-time work, more flexible schedule? On top of all those things, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Dec. and our house is so cluttered, it looks like hoarders live here & since I do most of the chores & errands, I’m spent all the time and emotionally spent. I want to clean – yes even me an Adder, but I am usually too tired.

      Maybe the info on the beginner’s mind will help someone else or just knowing that you are not alone in the struggle. 11 jobs, only one ended because I was truly laid off, that the company closed – all the others were due to time management and organizational problems. I will be praying for us all.

    • #84702

      I have similar problems mine are from ADD not ADHD but for me, I’m just starting out. I find jobs that could be a good fit but they don’t really pay that much or are out of state and if not they require a drug test or have a zero-tolerance drug policy and will fire you no questions asked.

    • #84714

      *** UPDATE / PRAISE REPORT ***

      Well, it’s been a year since I last commented on this thread. I was notified of Cohen’s post today and that brought me back here.

      I have a NEW JOB that I really enjoy. I started the last week of March and so far, I think it is going well. I have better pay and benefits, am learning a new imdustry and there are lots of people I this company so I get to know my team, but also see new faces. (i.e. keeps it interesting).

      This job is inbound call center, so they are super strict about logging in on time at the start of your shift and when returning from your scheduled breaks. That is the only thing I strongly dislike. I’ve learned to use strategies to help me stay within my break time such as setting a timer on my phone that is LESS than my allotted time so I return to my computer a few minutes early.

      I look at this as an opportunity to improve my sense of time and my punctuality. I am always telling my kids you have to adjust to what is required of you to achieve your goals or please you supervisor / teacher / boss. Now it’s time for me to exemplify that. I do plan to switch to a different position with more freedom and higher pay, but I see this as a great start.

      As far as how I overcame my fear of handling the job hunt, I first started working on my self image. During one of my counseling sessions, my counselor asked me to write down 20 things I like about myself. As I did that and thought about these qualities and skills I have, I felt better about who I am and what I could do. This made me feel better about my overall situation AND my ability to change it for the better.

      God also blessed me to get encouragement from other people as I shared my aspirations to get a job that was a better fit and paid better. After months of browsing positions on Indeed, I finally applied for a position with an insurance company. Within days they called me for an interview. After the interview a job offer was extended and I gave my 2 weeks’ notice.

      My advice to all is pay attention to your quirks, likes and dislikes, be willing to change as needed to improve yourself and work on other areas of your life so the vocational aspect isn’t overwhelming your psyche.

      Good luck to everybody. I guess I will post another update in a year. ☺

    • #84716


      Are you currently employed?

      When you say the jobs you find don’t pay much, are you comparing the salary to what you currently earn? If not, what are you measuring by?

      As far as the drug test, are you concerned about failing due to your Rx meds? If so, you can submit documentation about that before taking the test. The test results can differentiate between different substances, so if you give the employer a heads up, they can read the results properly.

      I would advise you to consider if the jobs you find are good stepping stones to what youbreally want. Are they at a company where there are regular performance reviews and salary reviews? Are they at a company where you can move up or to a different dept you would enjoy more? Are they jobs that would qualify you for something desirable by giving you needed experience?

      I found that just getting the momentum going by changing to a position that fit my most important criteria has made a huge difference. (Short commute, focus on helping people with an important issue, pays at least what I was already making, has health ins benefits) This position is a step in a lifelong journey. Now that I have made one step, I know I can make another when I need to do so.

      What are your MUST HAVES? Look for jobs that provide those and go for them. One at a time if necessary.

    • #106113

      Hi Everyone!

      I’m so relieved I found this post. I’m in a similar situation as the OP. I was recently fired from a job as a payroll professional for frequently being late (10-45 mins averg) and due to performance issues. It was extremely disappointing as I told my boss in my initial interview that I have ADD and in order for me to be successful I need 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the day to write out my to-do list and be allowed to take short notes on new processes. She said she understood and that wouldn’t be an issue. However by my 2nd week my co-worker (team lead) started to become frustrated and speeding thru instructions for new processes. I tried to remind them numerous times that I have ADHD and to have a little patience with me but that was completely ignored.

      What’s worse is I’ve been in the Accounting profession for over 10 years and in payroll positions for the last 5. I know how to do payroll very well (imo) and I know the payroll software like the back of my hand. My was at my previous job for over 3 years and did pretty well for the most part. My prior manager was very understanding of my ADHD and allowed me to work from home often or come in on my own schedule as long as the work was done. I left because I was frustrated after being with the company and never receiving a single rate increase (neither did the others in our dept. some in over 10 years) meanwhile new employees in other departments were given yearly raises. I left hoping to find a more positive environment and greater pay. The company I was fired from seemed to do a bait and switch from the reasons I was told they hired me for.

      So now I’m going on 2.5 months unemployment and struggling to apply for jobs in fear the same thing will happen. I don’t know if I should let potential employers know about my ADHD. I don’t want them thinking I’m trying to use it as an excuse and want them to understand I’m an extremely hard worker. I’d love to hear any advice on what to do. Right now I’m working on rewriting my resume using professional templates I purchased, reading self help books about ADHD (though it’s been a struggle to complete any due to distractions or boredom). Also, I’m taking Vyvanse which seems to be working best out of previous medications but I’m thinking my dose my be a bit low. Anyway I’m rambling, thank you in advance for your help I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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