HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » What to do if your job ma...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 11:31 AM

What to do if your job makes you sick

I am a paralegal in a small but busy practice. Been in the career @ 25 yrs. 57 years of age now. Did manage to get the "senior" schedule: off on Fridays; work from home (which is 70 miles round-trip from work) on Wednesdays.

I find I can't really keep up the pace any more, without it draining me from my real life - hiking, skiing, horses, canoeing/kayaking, mtn. biking. If I'd known at 20 what I know now, I would have NEVER majored in a mind career, where I sit inside at a computer all day. Very unhealthy lifestyle physically, and for me, psychically. I'm good at it, but it gnaws at me.

For example, I have a humble weekend planned, 2 nights at a cabin 90 minutes into the mountains (my boss's actually) to xc ski with a group of women friends. Yesterday, end of the day at work, all kinds of "emergencies" running around, hustling. On top of readying for the trip - preparing food to bring and packing - I exhausted myself and now have a touch of a cold/sore throat.

Resentful of our modern society's pace, yet grateful for a good job. (Decent wage; contribution to medical; no retirement, however.) Can't afford to retire yet (of course).

Don't know if I am asking more for advice here, or just commiseration! Maybe help me get my head on straight...or just share your coping strategies!

32 replies, 2523 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply What to do if your job makes you sick (Original post)
cilla4progress Feb 2013 OP
murielm99 Feb 2013 #1
Brickbat Feb 2013 #2
Whovian Feb 2013 #3
Viva_La_Revolution Feb 2013 #4
CreekDog Feb 2013 #14
Viva_La_Revolution Feb 2013 #23
CreekDog Feb 2013 #32
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #24
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #5
flamingdem Feb 2013 #9
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #6
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #8
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #11
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #12
JaneyVee Feb 2013 #15
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #25
flamingdem Feb 2013 #7
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #10
Samantha Feb 2013 #17
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #26
flamingdem Feb 2013 #18
TorchTheWitch Feb 2013 #13
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #27
moondust Feb 2013 #16
flamingdem Feb 2013 #19
moondust Feb 2013 #20
Starry Messenger Feb 2013 #21
JustABozoOnThisBus Feb 2013 #22
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #28
Myrina Feb 2013 #29
cilla4progress Feb 2013 #30
redstatebluegirl Feb 2013 #31

Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 12:08 PM

1. I'll commiserate....

with all the people here who are looking for work and can't find it. I'll commiserate with the people who are losing their homes or are already homeless. I will commiserate with those who avoid the doctor because of inadequate or nonexistent health insurance. You should be thankful.

I do hope you find a way to handle your stress. I really mean that. And I do hope and pray for the people here who would practically kill for even a part time job to help them out and make them feel useful again. I will concentrate more on those people than you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 12:13 PM

2. A humble weekend at a getaway cabin in the mountains, eh?

Touch of a cold, eh? Work from home, eh?

Yep, get your head on straight. The fact that other people have it worse doesn't mean that you can't make your life better, obviously. This country absolutely does have a sick relationship with work and a poor concept of what leisure and re-creation should do.

But really. Identify the expectations you feel like your life should have, work toward them, count your blessings and grow up.

ETA: I mean, I opened this up expecting a mesothelioma thread, or something. A touch of a cold in the middle of winter after a busy day at work? Suck it up, cupcake.

ETA, again: I read this aloud to Mr. Brickbat and have since decided that this can't even be for real.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 01:39 PM

4. Some of us haven't had a vacation in decades

and can barely pay the rent, let alone afford a doctor visit.

That is real stress making you sick.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:34 AM

14. stress really does make people sick, unhappy, depressed, why is that so unreal?

does one have to be homeless, uninsured, in poverty to have complaints here?

of course not.

i absolutely decry poverty and the financial struggles and poverty so many Americans go through (a good chunk of those people children and the disabled, prominently).

but to say that people who have a job, but aren't rich, who have some basic, and by other nations' standards, expected benefits of health care and leave time --to say that such a person cannot complain or have any unhappiness, is total bullshit.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CreekDog (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:53 AM

23. oh, they're allowed to complain all they want

and those of us with more to complain about are allowed to say when we think a pity party is not in order.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Viva_La_Revolution (Reply #23)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:28 PM

32. they didn't ask for a pity party --it's a pity you didn't read their post

asking for "commiseration" is assuming that other people have similar problems and that the poster's is not unique.

asking for strategies is not asking for pity.

and saying one is "grateful for a good job" is another thing you overlooked.

what it appears is that you reacted to what you thought the post said and not what it actually did.

i don't know how the poster is at other times, but i can say here, you've misrepresented what they've said to create a caricature of their post.

Resentful of our modern society's pace, yet grateful for a good job. (Decent wage; contribution to medical; no retirement, however.) Can't afford to retire yet (of course).

Don't know if I am asking more for advice here, or just commiseration! Maybe help me get my head on straight...or just share your coping strategies!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CreekDog (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:17 AM

24. Thank you, Creek...

and I honestly didn't mean to be complaining so much as hoping to open a discussion about psychic stress in the workplace and what in the GD hell we have done to ourselves here in the American business world to get to such an insane, meaningless, unethical (I see a LOT of simple dishonesty) etc. etc. place! Is this rampant in other countries /cultures as well? How can we ever hope to address the bigger problems - poverty, climate, war, if we are losing our bearings on really mundane and basic terms?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 11:57 PM

5. Wow, really saddened and disappointed at y'all

but hey, that's your choice. What impels one to comment negatively, instead of simply ignoring? If you can't say anything nice...

Here's the thing: my stress is real. I admitted that I know - am well aware of - my good fortune and the dire conditions of others. That doesn't diminish what I am feeling, experiencing, and likely causing ill health, mental distress. I am 57, almost 58, and struggling to keep up in today's sickeningly fast-paced high stress and often meaningless work world. That was the essence of my post, for anyone who cared or took the time to see beyond the most superficial layer. It wasn't about feeling sorry for me, it was about sharing these observations, and coping strategies. Guess DU is the wrong place for this. Pretty pathetic.

And stress does kill. Too bad you didn't get that. Or maybe you just seek out opportunities to put others down.

So, hey, thanks for the interesting responses, the intellectual discourse, the sharing.

I won't come back here, that's for sure.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:08 AM

9. see my answer below

where I agree that stress is a problem, and after reading this part you wrote even more so thinking that
you would be better off transitioning out to have more control over your hours and this will help your
health. It's no joke having to work a full schedule until 65.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:04 AM

6. Are you able to retire any time soon?

It sounds like you could use a LONG vacation.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JaneyVee (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:07 AM

8. I wish...

does anyone else think the professional / business world is excessively complicated for no good reason, or is this just a function of my advanced age? Because up until a few years ago, there did seem to be some semblance of a rationale underlying everything.

As a paralegal, working in the world (right now) of the big banks, bankruptcy, home foreclosures, all I can see is a house of cards with no foundation. An incredible amount of waste and lies, with no accountability. And a vicious cycle of greed with no end.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:21 AM

11. I too work long hours in an office environment. I know what you're saying.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JaneyVee (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:28 AM

12. I just think we have a really unhealthy work ethic in our country / culture

I spent 4 yrs. working on Indian reservations, and I experienced other cultures viewing what's important and time differently. It was real culture shock coming back into the "mainstream" "dominant culture" work world. So I experienced this dramatic difference right at the same time I hit my middle 50s - I haven't been able to discern the variables. I do perceive it as somehow related to - a cause or effect, perhaps, of - the Wall St. meltdown. Just the lies, the deceit, the greed, the chaos. Either that or simply that I can no longer keep up due to age and energy level. Time to transition, as you suggest. Which I am.

Thanks for some useful and meaningful (to me) conversation on this. Glad to have folks to share this with.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:36 AM

15. Yeah, our culture is work work work, right up until you die. It's truly sickening.

Compared to other countries we're pretty bad in this area. Many other countries get 6 week vacations.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JaneyVee (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:19 AM

25. It does feel like the business world (corporations, industry)

just want to squeeze every bit of profit they can out of workers, without putting anything back.

Like working to disband unions, and bring union workers DOWN to the standards of non-unionized workers, instead of the other way around.

Not to mention privatizing the social safety net, etc. etc.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:05 AM

7. You sound strong for your age, that's great

But we do have to wind down at a certain point and make some choices about energy expenditure.

At your age a lot of people start transitioning if possible if wanted to be their own boss, maybe make
less money but have more time.

You do sound like a kinetic person who might be happier with a variety of tasks that keep you moving.

The good thing is if you jump ACA is there so you will have health insurance.

Sooner is better to start thinking about it.. if you're not the entreprenurial type then earlier retirement
might work ... the key is some kind of sideline income as many here have and living on less money.
It's worth the trade off.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to flamingdem (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:13 AM

10. Thank you SO MUCH flamingdem!

I think it might be time...or at least as soon as I can afford to.

Perhaps I just burned out too soon. I have worked extremely hard in my career...a perfectionist, super detail-oriented, leave no task undone. I just can't keep up that pace anymore without having to sacrifice those personal things that mean so much to me - as you say, make choices about energy expenditure.

I made it through the weekend with only a scratchy throat. Seemed to stave off anything worse which I felt impending.

I do hear you about ACA. Just discussing my friend's 30-something son today who, after incurring pretty significant school loan debt got his first job making $38K / yr. But he gets full benefits. It would be so much better if he had a base-line gov't-provided health care plan, and his employer could pay him the cost of his medical benefits in actual salary or a retirement plan.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:43 AM

17. I certainly understand, having been there myself

I worked over 25 years in the legal field in Washington, D.C. Like any other field, the longer you stay in it, the better you become. Washington, DC has some really successful firms, but the business itself changed over the years I was in it. I worked for extremely successful but difficult people. Each move I made was for more money and better benefits. But a pound of flesh was extracted for each additional dollar I earned.

During the course of these years, I met some fabulously interesting and intelligent people. So looking back on it, I have to say it was overall an amazing experience. But chronic stress over a number of decades does adversely impact the body and challenge having a personal life. Eventually I found the money was not enough to make up for that.

The last job I held was the highest paying job but involved one of the most difficult of attorneys in DC. I will spare you the details, but four years before I got out, I started making plans to change my life. I began building an apartment in the basement of my two story home. It was a long, arduous process, but I figured I could use the rent money to augment my retirement. I also had a small house in West Virginia that I started renting out. In that neck of the woods, rental incomes are modest, but I needed I every penny I could get.

I left earlier than I planned because the last year on this job my blood pressure shot up 50 points. My immediate family members had had a history of heart attacks and sudden death and my doctor knew all about this history. When I had my physical she told me I had to get my blood pressure down, and I was the perfect target for a heart attack or stroke. So I started taking bp medicine, and walked away from that world towards the end of that year. People thought I was crazy for leaving such a good job, but I did not think I would be able to hold onto my health before I literally could retire, so I chose my health over the money. It has been four years now, and I work at an online business from home, collect my two rents and just became eligible for social security. So while it has been tough financially, this year I went off the bp medicine since my reading was only 10 points over what was my normal reading most of my life.

Stress does kill. It was not that long ago experts said stress was the number one killer of all Americans. Prolonged stress is referred to the weakest part of one's anatomy and it triggers major disease. If the weakest part is the heart, one eventually has a heart attack. If it is the stomach, one will develop intestinal difficulties. Fortunately for me, I referred all my stress to my teeth, so no heart attacks or strokes.

About the same time I walked away from the orthodox legal field, I had a class reunion to attend. One of my best friends was a paralegal, and she planned to attend. Approximately, three weeks before the reunion, she went to the Managing Partner of her law firm and told her if things did not change there she would have to leave because the stress was killing her. She described the problems in depth. The Managing Partner agreed to fix them. Two weeks later my friend suffered a stroke. She was 58 at the time. Today, she is okay and she has retired.

What you are thinking is exactly correct. Your body gives you signals when it is time to make a serious change. Listen to those signals and plan accordingly. That is the best advice I can give you. Good luck to you.

Oh, and btw, I am back to playing the piano, doing a lot of writing, picked back up on my drawing and I am spending a lot more quality time with my dog. My quality of life has improved over 2000 percent. I hope one day soon to read a post from you saying that exact same thing about your life!

Sam

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Samantha (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:21 AM

26. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me, Sam!

I begin a new work week feeling inspired and supported by the stories and sharing here...with some new ideas and goals to mull over.

Thanks, all!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:46 AM

18. I'm a tiny tad younger than you

and burned out much sooner. I've tried to revive the engine but it didn't really happen partially because I don't want to lose my health ... and that does happen in stressful jobs, I used to work ridiculous hours. I looked around and so many women I know somehow wiggled out of the full time stress -- even a tad of vanity might push one to take care of the body over having more money. Not just looks even, it's the beauty of being a relaxed fulfilled person rather than an overstressed person.

I've learned from others on fixed income about how to spend very little. I used to spend freely. Wish I had been cheaper but oh well okay I had those years of fun. What I don't like is that my savings look more precious and that is its own stress, but over time it's possible to figure out sources of income without the full time gig.

The main thing I'd say is to give yourself permission. I got that from someone when no one, I mean no one else would give me a break. We're still in this work hard and suffer and be proud to have money culture that leaves little room for backing off and even less for pleasing yourself.

I'd be happy if I were you if you've built up halfway decent social security, what with ACA and if you could be a part timer and thrifty you might be able to spend precious time with your hobbies or even more important giving yourself time to relax!

Remember that transitioning is a years long process and there is still a lot of judgement to pass through, your own and others, who don't really like to see others leaving the rat race.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:31 AM

13. I changed careers

Wish I had quit being a paralegal years earlier. Nothing like working for assholes that blame you for everything that goes wrong, take the credit when anything goes right, expect you to slave 24/7, make you do attorney work because you're better at it than they are, and hey, they gotta golf game, spending so much time at a desk that your whole spine goes to shit so you feel more physically beaten up at the end of the day than the average mountain climber, and have to hold their hands and diaper their butts because they are such total WIMPS that are scared of judges and pretty much anyone connected to the court, etc., etc., etc.

And the pay was SHIT.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:24 AM

27. Oh sistah...I hear you!

Fortunately my current boss is more human than that...mostly because she was a nurse in her first career.

But she is still what a refer to as a "stress monkey." Those folks who seem to get self-value out of over-booked schedules, constant pressure, and the like.

Great to hear from you!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:39 AM

16. Cold/sore throat.

I've had it for several days, worse than ever before. Throat too sore to swallow. Bad cough, sneezing. Never lost my voice before now. Went to the ER yesterday but got no relief, just a diagnosis of viral URI (cold). Miserable for days.

Do whatever you can to avoid it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to moondust (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:51 AM

19. Only silver lining

is that it's not the flu!

Is any old cold called a viral URI or is this a super cold, yikes.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink



Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:04 AM

21. I enjoy my job (teaching ceramics)

but the dust gives me two or three really bad headaches a month.

I have several years to go until retirement, in the meantime I just grit my teeth and keep going.

In my perfect world, work wouldn't wear anyone out, make them sick, cut into enjoyable interests. That's why I'm a socialist.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:30 AM

22. Headaches from dust? Yikes!

Is your workspace vented ok? Do you wear a respirator or protective mask? Dust can do worse than mere headaches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:26 AM

28. Me too (socialist)!

I learned recently of a friend / acquaintance who was made to work in a tiny closet with a bank of servers - computer CPUs, essentially. After 18 months or so she developed cancer and demanded moving out of the space. She is convinced the radiation emanating from the servers led to her cancer. Sounds reasonable to me. Oh - and she was a counselor at a middle school!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:42 AM

29. I feel exactly the same way ....

I tell myself I should be thrilled to have a 'great paying' job (I'm a contractor, so no bene's) and be thankful that I fell into IT even though I have a Liberal Arts degree ... but I hate EVERY.FUCKING.MINUTE of it. I don't think 'geek' and the isolation and data overload (combined with sheer boredom of being in a gray cube for 40 hours/wk) are killing me too.

I miss spending time outdoors with my doggies, hiking, reading by a stream, whatever ... and I don't do anything on weekends because I'm so mentally dead that I just want to vegg with the remote control and try to put off Monday mornings as long as possible.

I continually tell my daughter, who's a senior in college, to pause and think about the life she wants to lead when she's my age (45) ... and track backwards to now to determine what her next steps need to be. She's so anxious to just be done with college and get into a career that she doesn't realize that toughing it out for another 2 years for an MA/MBA and some world travel will make the back-end of her life a hell of alot better than just a BA will.

Sigh. Glad to know I'm not the only one, but then again, it's depressing as hell to see what our culture/society has devolved to. Retirement should be 50-55 and folks should be able to travel, read, garden, tinker ... whatever. Not be chasing paper, data and a paycheck after 40 years in the workforce.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Myrina (Reply #29)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:48 AM

30. and volunteer in socially responsible ways...utopian

I tell my daughter the same thing: think real hard about whether you want a career where all you do all day is sit at a damn computer work station - that's your entire interface.

Of course, even physicians are in this world now. Most of the time I'm in doc appts she is typing into a PC instead of talking to / getting history from me!

Goes back to my original point about how sucky American work world has become.

I should have been a wildlife biologist.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cilla4progress (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:02 AM

31. I can commiserate

I am the same age and can truly relate. Last year after having back surgery I left a very stressful desk job to work from home writing grants. I was blessed to be able to go on my husband's insurance which made it possible but I am truly much more healthy and certainly happier.

We have had to take care of two elderly parents in the past 5 years, and we had to stop going out to dinner and vacations but my husband says it is work it all to "have my wife back". It is worth it to me to have my health back, I feel wonderful.

Is it tough financially, absolutely, it reminds me of what it was like when my husband was in graduate school and I clipped coupons and watched every penny. But what is funny is that was one of our happiest times together.

I know you cannot retire yet, but you might want to look at other options....lots of people do what you do from home, at least the research part of it.

Keep you head up and keep the faith, if other options don't work for you, just keep your eyes and ears open and all will work out.

I keep being reminded of what my Mom said, be careful what you wish for....I got what I wished for and then wanted something else, before I knew it I was 57 years old .

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread