“I Was So Worried About Getting Fired That My Anxiety Took Over… and I Got Fired for It”
"In my search for an interesting, important career, I got fired… a lot. I didn’t know it then, but ADHD was quietly sabotaging me — and pointing me in a better direction."
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3 Comments: “I Was So Worried About Getting Fired That My Anxiety Took Over… and I Got Fired for It”
I question the statement that mental health is more important than a paycheck. How do you keep your mental health intact when you are worried about how you are going to pay the rent and buy groceries on a meager unemployment check? To me, that would cause a much worse condition. You will still be broke and unable to buy your meds, thereby sending you into a deeper depression.
And, don’t forget: there is a pandemic going on with millions out of work. If you quit your unsatisfying job, there are thousands of competitors waiting to take your place. You might want to think about that.
The biggest ADHD problem I’ve suffered is job instability, coupled with… well, poverty. It doesn’t help that I’ve had bad luck and timing with my career as well. When I graduated from university, there was a recession, and unemployment was high. I’m part of Gen X, and overall we have tended to fall though the cracks of life and career success. And I’m a woman; the “survival” jobs I’m more likely to get are things like cashier, waitress, office administrator, and data-entry clerk (ugh, I once was hired by Statistics Canada, much to my horror); I have poor attention for detail and I also have dyscalculia, which is a terrible combination for the above jobs. As a small-boned woman, I was never going to work in construction, get hired on a road crew or apprentice in auto-body repair (I don’t have a background in those areas either; my parents were university professors and never did much “hands on” work except make artistic paintings), so I did what I could in low-paying, often first-to-get-eliminated-in-hard-times jobs which I usually didn’t do very well anyway.
Similar to the author of this article, I also became depressed and anxious; I started every new job panicked that I would get fired at the 9-month mark (because that’s usually what happened). After getting fired, I sometimes spent months unemployed, facing more and more debt and desperation.
I also ended up becoming trained as a journalist. I finally thought I had found my perfect niche: I landed a new, exciting job as a TV host with my own show… for a while (9 months!). But it was a cut-throat industry with huge competition, and I was so terrified of getting fired again that I became the ultimate people-pleader; this left me looking weak, vulnerable and I eventually took on so much responsibility that I became overwhelmed (my boss surmised I just didn’t have “it” after my stress levels inevitably started to show). I got fired again, and I was totally in despair; what the hell was wrong with me? How did I lose what I thought was my dream job? Why did I keep failing, no matter how much education I got, or how hard I worked?
Unfortunately I was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety… which I did have; but were side-effects, not causes (I didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until I was nearly 50). My job instability affected my personal life too; my husband literally left me because he was fed-up with a partner who couldn’t bring in a decent paycheque (and who also suffered chronic low-self-esteem; I became convinced I was cursed and would never be able to even support myself. Because he couldn’t convince me otherwise, he ended up just agreeing with me).
I am lucky I didn’t have kids; I didn’t dare when I was such a failure at keeping myself alive. Considering my eventual life path, I would have made a terrible parent.
I’m still struggling with work and finances, and this whole COVID-related economic crisis is pretty scary; again, it’s just more bad luck. But at least I have the peace-of-mind to understand WHY everything has gone so badly! ADHD puts it outside of myself; I now know I am not choosing to be this way (I could rarely afford good therapy, so the “self-sabotage” theory was always the go-to explanation in support groups, which just made me feel worse).
I’m now working on making a documentary about my ADHD (since I have the background and training in film and TV, it’s a good fit). I just received my first two successful grant applications, so things are looking up. But man o’ man, it’s so tough to be a square peg in a world filled with round holes. It’s been very helpful to know that there really are other people who have struggled as much as I have. At least I can forgive myself.
So thanks for continuing the discussion about the pain of job instability, and helping us all open up about how debilitating it can be. I hope one day we will actually get recognition for our strengths (instead of constantly being berated for weaknesses) and even receive accommodations and protections to help us be successful.
As the book title says, I finally know I am not lazy, stupid or crazy. With more of us speaking up about it, maybe one day the rest of the world will too.
Thanks for writing the article. After being WFR’d three times in 15 years from previous employer (I always sold myself back in), one can be constantly looking over shoulder.