Work's making me a mental wreck

Alright, I’m mostly a lurker here but something’s going on at work that I just need to vent about. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. I work at a call center for one of the three major US cell phone providers. I’ve worked there for over two and a half years now. The center I’m at has two departments. General customer care and retention. There is a huge amount of pressure to move over to retention once you start doing well in general customer care. Most people move over after about 2-3 months. I stayed for 2 years because I know my personality and knew I wouldn’t like retention. However, about four months ago I was strongly ‘encouraged’ to at least give it a try and was told if I wanted to do anything besides just be a rep that I had to go. So I asked a few questions, such as how I would be able to choose my shift and my ability to return to general care should things not work out. I was reassured that the shift wouldn’t be an issue, nor would going back. So I took the plunge.

Three weeks of training and I was on the floor. Before this, I had been working shifts where I got home no later than 6pm each night which worked for me since I’m a single mom. This new position I immediately got put on closing shift. I now don’t get home till after 11pm. I basically get to see my daughter for maybe 10 minutes a day during the week. I hated it right away but was determined to at least give it some time to see if I might feel better once I was more comfortable with my new duties. But it really started wearing on me. Even before this started, I’ve had issues with depression and anxiety but they were manageable. But now…well I’m having panic attacks before work each day. I finally went to them last week and was like, hey I need to go back. I explained it was basically turning me into an emotional and mental wreck. Their answer? Nope. Not an option. You either make it work or you don’t. I told them I was promised I could go back before I even accepted the position. So now I’ve got an appointment to meet with one of the higher ups to see about going back but I’m not holding my breath.

I can’t just quit, obviously for financial reasons and I have to have medical insurance. Both for my mental issues and some physical ones as well. Plus, I’m right at the end of a six month journey to get approved for weight loss surgery and if I lose my insurance, even for a few months while looking/getting a new job, all of that goes out the window. I just feel completely stuck and that after being with them for this long when most people are gone after six months…for them to just basically tell me to stfu or quit isn’t a good feeling. I know things could be worse, and this is mostly just whining about inconsequential things, but when you have anxiety everything just seems like the end of the world.

tldr; My job sucks, it’s turning me into a mental wreck and I’m stuck at it.

Wow - that sounds extremely stressful and completely unfair. I would definitely try and get back to your old position - cite medical issues - because stress/anxiety/future weight loss are valid and important health issues.

Did you document who told you that your shift would be the same and that you could go back to your old position? If so - bring that up too - who said it and when they told you.

I feel for you - because I too have been treated unfairly at a past job (as almost everyone has, I’m sure) - but the sad fact is that these mega corps just want cheap labor and do not care an iota if you are unhappy. They can pay new people at a cheaper rate than staff who have been there a couple years - so they don’t try and retain staff (in fact this might be their way of keeping turnover high).

I hope you can get it worked out.

I have faith that your higher-up will let you go back. You’re no good to them in this new position, and I can’t imagine they would not appreciate someone with 2 years worth of skills in that department that has such high turnover. All that, and you did get an oral assurance that you would be able to switch back.

Hang in there! It will work out! I am proud of you for at least giving it a chance.

Can you hang in there until the surgery? You will need to take time off, which will give you some time to look around for other jobs.

You’re complaint is not an uncommon one. Let’s look at it from their angle. You were good at a job you relatively liked and they had an opening in a job area most people don’t like.

It’s easier to fill positions in less stressful areas. This doesn’t mean they are right by any means, but it’s how they see things.

But you are never powerless. First thing you need to do is sit down and write a bit of a budget with the least amount of money you can live on. Then you need to start fixing up your resume. Then you need to actively look. At least 8 hours per week.

Unfortunately the year end holidays are the worst time to look for anything but seasonal work. Many companies delay hiring till after the first of the year.

But often when you feel helpless you begin to act that way, you can do positive things like updating resumes and actively looking for a job. Even if you get nothing you still feel better psychologically and it may help you appreciate your job more if nothing comes up.

You just keep thinking about that weight loss surgery. That’s something you’ve been working toward, and it’s finally going to happen. At least you have something positive to look forward to.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you that they’ll let you go back to your prior job. Keep your chin up, things normally don’t stay bad for a long time. Something will change.

You might win an unemployment claim under the circumstances.

Even if you do quit, it might be considered just cause.

When will you have your surgery, and how long will the recovery be? Will you be on some sort of paid sick leave while this is going on?

After the way they’ve treated you, I wouldn’t blame you if you stayed there just long enough to get through the surgery and its aftermath, and then quit. If they’re not going to treat you like a human being, why should you owe them any loyalty?

I agree with the others who have said you should start looking for a new job now. You will learn what your options are, and you may feel better just for having taken action.

I spoke with the upper management and was pretty much told the same thing. Deal with it. So…that’s unfortunately what’s going to have to happen. My surgery doesn’t have a date set yet because I have to lose another 15lbs. I’ve already lost 20 but this last bit seems to be taking forever. Once I get the surgery, I’ll get paid leave but I think it’s only like 60%? I’m not sure but I know I get 4 weeks because a coworker had the same thing done recently.

I appreciate the encouragement, it’s really frustrating given how I’ve been (in my opinion) a great employee. My numbers in the other department were great and I was often one of the top in the site, but since coming over they’ve tanked. Which, ironically, is one of the reasons they’re giving me for not moving me. Because I’m a ‘poor performer’ and they don’t want to reward that by giving me what I want. Of course they didn’t say that specifically but it was pretty much that. I’m getting too old for this shit and whatever my next job is, it sure as hell isn’t going to be a call center.

You are focusing on your little patch of ground but you need to be aware of the big picture. The reality is that many low barrier to entry, meat grinder positions like this are up or out where the entry level job feeds the higher stress, more demanding positions. They are designed this way and you hung on to the lower stress “feeder” job way longer than they liked. They need people in retention. Lower stress customer care jobs are easily filled.

You need to be making plans to move on as soon as the surgery is completed. If you are calculating your risk/reward I know it’s not the advice you’re looking for, but if you don’t pick up the pace they are going to fire you and your surgery is a moot issue at that point. Just as a short term scenario if you want to hold onto your medical bennies you might consider being less stubbornly oppositional to the more aggressive attitude required to be successful in retention and drink the Koolaid until your surgery is completed. If you keep going down this path and not performing the decision will be made for you.

Just wanted to send Best Wishes your way.
I have worked many Call Centers/Help Desks in my life.
They are meat grinders that rely on metrics that no normal human can understand unless you are management (even then …???).
Hang in there, look after yourself first and foremost.

I would do one of three things:
1.) look into taking a stress leave;
2.) see if you have any friends who could hook you up on the cheap with an attorney and find out if a well placed letter might grease the wheels a little bit;
3.) if the above two options aren’t options, quit.

I certainly understand the reasons against (see responses above… and I’m sure below), but is keeping your job the best option? Maybe it’s hard to lose the remaining weight because you’re in an awful situation that you would be completely better off without? Seeing my son 10 minutes a day during the week would make it a no-branier for me – and I’m not a single parent. I think you deserve better and you should to. You obviously have skills and ability to stay with a job over a long period. I’d bet you could get a great job elsewhere.