I feel the onset of unemployment related depression

So, I got laid off at the start of November, '09.

I had been laid off for an extended period once before - during the last recession, from Jan '01 to Mar '02. That period (perhaps not coincidentally) occurred at the same time that I bottomed out as an alcoholic/pothead/‘occasional’ meth-user. In the midst of that I lapsed into a severe depression. It got so bad at one point that I spent several days lying in bed - not even sleeping, just lying there inert and only getting up whenever I felt the need to pee, or to go to my neighborhood bar.

Long story short - I eventually got on some anti-depressants, I got sober, I got a job (a better job than the one I lost in fact), I eventually felt well enough to get off the anti-depressants. Happy ending.

When I lost my job this past November, the number one fear of mine was not that I’d be out in the street, or that I’d be broke, it was that I’d end up back in that miserable self-pitying, hopeless place I’d been in before - where I’d “wake up” at 3pm, wake & bake, and look in the mirror and tell myself “You’re nothing but a pathetic loser.” I thought what if I get so depressed I start using again?

Anyway, I tried to put a positive spin on it: I’m sober, have better connections & better work experience. I had actually become bored & restless at the job I was doing and wanted to move on. I had a lot of odd tasks that I’d wanted to do, but never got around to doing (like taking a road test to get my driver’s license back.) I actually did get a very good severance package, so money was not a concern for at least a couple of months. Maybe this could be a good thing. I could use my time off wisely - get a driver’s license, go to the gym regularly, clean house, do some creative writing on a screenplay or novel idea, spend time looking for a job that I wanted to do, as opposed to just taking whatever job came down the pike.

So, now here it is early March, and here it comes again. It’s like watching storm clouds on the horizon approaching. I’m at the end of severance, with few of the big chores I wanted to accomplish done, no real job prospects, and I feel that depression coming on. I am up later each night watching youtube videos, and sleep in later each day. I was for a few months very good about going the gym & AA meetings (if for no other reason than to give myself routine tasks for getting out of the house), but have been going to either far less frequently. In fact, I’ve been getting out of the house less and less. And my apartment, which I normally kept reasonably clean is becoming dirtier. As am I. This morning, it occurred to me that it’s been three days since I’ve even taken a shower.

For all I hear about the economy improving, I haven’t had any leads pan out yet. That is partially due to the field I was in - I worked in magazine publishing, and that entire field of work is rapidly shrinking in the age of the internet. I realize that I might have to change careers, but whenever I try to think about it, my head gets hazy. In fact, lately I’ve noticed that I get severe anxiety any time I try to concentrate on job hunting. I really try to stay focused, but just sitting down to do some work and I suddenly get restless, nervous and distracted. This week, I tried every day to sit down and do serious job searching, and every time I became manically obsessed with anything else but. It’s not about fighting laziness either, because for most of the time I feel restless just staying at home, and hate the idea that I’m just idle & not productive in any way. I want to be working. I just have a particular problem with concentrating on finding work.

I don’t want this to get worse. But fear it might. I’ve spoken about this at meetings, and keep being told “Prayer to your Higher Power, turn it over and trust that it will all work out.” If one more person tells me that, I’m going to stop going to meetings altogether. I also don’t have health insurance coverage (big snafu with my Cobra coverage which is bogged down in red tape), so therapy & anti-depressants aren’t an option. I am not sure what to do next though.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Just had to get that off my chest. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

I don’t want my post to sound glurgy and I apologize in advance if it comes off that way.

Work just gives people a routine–you don’t have one right now. Many people experience what you are going through when they retire. It is the routine that people have a difficult time adjusting to.

My suggestion is that you look at your job as ‘you’ for right now. So that means you get up at the time you did when you had a job, fix yourself breakfast, go to the gym, etc. No staying up late, yes you ‘can’ do that since you don’t have to get up, but I am saying you do have to get up. Taking care of “YOU” right now is your job.

Staying in a routine will help you. Going to the gym will help you–that exercise will keep your mind focused.

I have siblings that work on the government side of unemployment–they all say the same thing. Those people who stick to their routines survive this and eventually find jobs, and those that stay up late, play video games, etc eventually become depressed, etc and stop looking.

Good luck my friend–take care of yourself first

When Mr. brown was out of work, I did most of the job-hunting for him, because I’m better at it. Although he has a job now, I still check out job boards because the habit is so ingrained that it has become automatic for me.

For months there was zilch in his field here in Silicon Valley. But during the past four or five weeks there have been several openings, and direct hires, too, not just with temp agencies. That’s one reason I like to still keep looking at job boards: they’re a good way to judge the health of the economy. Also, this bill just passed in Washington which is purported to give tax breaks to employers who hire the unemployed. I don’t know how that will pan out, but it sounds promising as far as it goes.

And the real property department of my law firm, after months of twiddling our thumbs, has suddenly started to rev back up. I’ve been busier during the past month than I have been for the year before that.

So try not to spiral downward - I think things are starting to rebound.

I feel ya, bro. I’m in the same place. And I think that the loss of the routine coupled with the loss of regular payment are two major stressors that would drive anyone to where we are now.

Have you applied to work with the Census? The pay is not unconsiderable, and it is a foot in the door to government work. Ignore the teabaggers–there’s nothing dishonorable about working for the government. The pay isn’t bad (depending on your definition of bad–$18.25/hr in the Chicago area). And if you catch on, your health insurance problems are over.

Sorry to hear about your predicament :frowning:

Very very proud of you for not only being sober but STAYING sober, and keeping up with the task!!

With regards to your job prospects…have you ever considered moving your skillset towards the Internet? You know, “If you can’t beat 'em, join em!”

In 2001 I graduated with a BS in journalism with a concentration in magazine. It just so happened that while I was in school, I was doing lots of work outside of school learning all about Web design. When I graduated, I started my own Web design/programming/application with a friend and I’ve been in the business ever since.

I can’t say that magazine publishing and Web design are the same thing. Or that I could have started my business without technical knowledge - and a friend who was nothing but technical knowledge. But lots of what I learned in j-school did translate in to useful skills in the world of Internet. My skills in layout, marketing, content and grammar get used every day. While I couldn’t work without the tech, the tech couldn’t work without me.

The Web is full of free resources for learning how to make Web sites and promote them. If you find yourself feeling itchy about what to do next and where to go, perhaps you could start learning skills to make you more marketable to online ventures. Don’t discount Web marketing and SEO. It is a booming business.

Don’t try to just become a Webmaster for profit. Instead, think of fun sites you’d like to build and work on them solely on your own computer. I honestly did about 5 years worth of free, fun projects before I made a dime. Those years I put in doing it as a curiosity surely paid off. And there is so much less stress and more creativity involved in doing something fun for yourself than there would be if you tried to learn on someone else’s dime and realize someone else’s ideas.

Anyway, hopefully that was helpful. Good luck, and keep on keepin’ on!

I applied for the census - got a good score - but they still aren’t hiring in my area - it seems the government is trying to use the census for the cure all of all unemployment - it is all you hear about - tons of people have taken the test and we are all waiting for call backs - and at the most it will be maybe if lucky 8 weeks of work? I have applied for probably 300 jobs in 4 weeks - and even places that were listed on the state employment website were not hiring. It is depressing - no feed back at all - most places act like I am nuts when I go in to apply - cause they are laying off. By the way I have 2 degrees in different study areas and more training in a medical area - and part of my masters degree - so it is not like I am not educated or experienced. I have basically gone through my county phone book twice applying for jobs!