Depression and self-esteem tanking my career ;(

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2007
Depression and self-esteem tanking my career ;(
Mon, 11-14-2011 - 10:24am

First off, thanks to anyone who can offer advice or words or wisdom, and even for taking the time to read this. I don't know where else to turn at this point.

So, where to begin...Well, I'm 29 years old and every waking moment that passes makes me feel like I am gasping for air. Here's some (lengthy) background.

Basically, I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father, a fairly emotionally-unbalanced (hispanic) mother, and a bully for a brother. From memory, things seemed normal until the time I was around 4 or 5 years old, before my father's drinking moved forward at 90mph. After that point, things seemed to change for the worst. My brother stopped loving me as his baby sister and bullied me increasingly from then on. My mother was severely affected by my father's alcoholism in probably more ways than I could know, but she always seemed to take it out on my brother and me. I have always known her to be very detached, especially when it came to feeling any remorse for others. She had her moments of normalcy, but they were always extreamly short lived. She and my father were both extreamly verbally abusive to us kids and were sometimes physically abusive.

Mom raised my brother and me, but never showed us love or affection, never told us she was proud of us, would constantly tell others while we were within an earshot how useless we were, etc. We weren't perfect kids by any means, and spent a lot of time acting out, but our lives and everything we knew was filled with a lot of screaming, name calling, rage, and etc. Something out of a Lifetime movie. In that time, of course I was looking for a soft place to fall, and fell into the first guys arms that were opened up to me. This was my first boyfriend ever, who I dated for several years, who turned out to be abusive and wore me that self esteem down even further. Not surprisingly, I've made major mistakes with the many boyfriends I've had since then, hurting every one of them, then leaving after a couple years.

College came and my father died right my first semester. I've been struggling to understand how I feel about his death, since for most of my life, I never really got to know him, but merely the backside of his head as he passed out in front of the t.v. My mother was there with his until the end of his life, but didn't shed too many tears. I suspect was having an affair before he had died as well. She was not my favorite person to begin with but after my father's death she moved up to the top of my sh*t list. She became a hulk version of herself and everything seemed to just get worse and worse. Mom became extreamly self-entitled, selfish, and really hostile at times. Most recently, she would tell me she was leaving me out of her will, continued to tell her side of the family and people who come by the house that my brother and I are worthless and do nothing for never ended. I had a hard time when growing up even trying to help my mother when she needed it with chores, etc. because she always treated me so badly.

I wasn't in a position financially to move out when I went to college, so I lived at home for all of that time and as an adult, continued to pay the price with the same behavior continuing. I moved out briefly, and things were somewhat better, but even then, I would get nasty phone calls about why I was "too busy to come by" (aka guilt trips), and how it must be because I "hate her so much." I know that this probably has very little to do with me.

Like I said, I haven't been perfect. I've screamed back, called her every name in the book. I realize that I haven't been a great child. I've been a stupid one at times. I've made mistakes fighting back with fire. But the older I get, I can't wrap my mind around how as a parent, she could have done and said all these things to her kids. And more importantly, how she doesn't realize how that's had an affect on her kids. I can count on one hand how many times she's said she's sorry to me in my entire life. I have never seen her be apologetic for any of this. The one time, most recently, that I was able to tell her that what she was saying was offensive to me, she looked at me with a "you've GOT to be kidding me" face and stormed off. I just stood there in disbelief that she could brush me off like that.

A few months later, I was very sick, coughing for hours, and she said something about me shutting up so she could sleep and I just lost it. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I stopped talking to her, made a plan to move out, and left 2 months later. When I left, my current boyfriend helped me move out. He tried to talk to her to see if there was any mending eh could do, and of course it was to no avail. He told her why I was angry with her, and she told him I was crazy like my father, that I was brainwashing him, and stormed off. Nothing seemed to make a difference.

That was almost a year ago. She called for a while and left messages. First the messages were uncharacteristicly nice, and got nastier and meaner with every call, leaving off somewhere with my having demons in my soul. WOW. Who knew!? (insert sarcasm here).

So, let's fast forward to present day.

After I graduated from college, I had an amazing job for a year and a half and was laid off. Emotionally, I couldn't handle the job loss at all, and I just fell apart. I didn't work my final 2 weeks at the job

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2007
Mon, 11-14-2011 - 10:28am
Sorry, I forgot to add one important thing. While my relationship with my mother was awful, I do believe that cutting our relationship off was one of the best things I could do for myself. While my life is still awful, removing this toxic person from my life, as unfortunate as it may be, I feel, gives me the solid ground to stand on to make an attempt to build myself back up, rather than trying to do that while standing on loose shaky ground surrounded by my family.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Wed, 11-16-2011 - 8:22pm
Welcome to the board, and I think you've done the right thing by minimizing contact with your mom. Have you always crumbled under pressure, or did it start to get worse at some particular point in your life? I think being emotional is a good thing; it just means you're human. A lot of people are afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve because they see it as a weakness, but I think it can be a strength if you can accept that what you're feeling at any particular moment is exactly how YOU should be feeling at that moment. Can you give me a couple of situations where you would feel like crumbling, and maybe we can figure out some strategies for dealing with similar ones in the future?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-05-2007
Thu, 11-17-2011 - 5:01am
Thanks for your reply, happy.pants.

I can't really recall when the pressure started to get to me, but I know that it occurred at some point after college. I had worked several retail jobs before college, also some other on-campus jobs, and I'd never felt like this before.

My last semester didn't end well as I got a fantastic job that many of my classmates envied and were very angry about. I lost a lot of friends from the moment I accepted the job, and so the pressure was on for me to succeed and do well. I know it was sort of all self created, but I felt that I needed to prove to them, and myself, that I was worth the position I obtained. I had some personal relationship struggles at the same time as well when a friend came to work at the same company. They turned into an enemy a month later, and we sat next to each other at the office.

That completely took my focus and ability to work away, and it swallowed me emotionally. I would hear banter and rumors around the office about me coming from this person, personal jabs when I was within an earshot, and other people in the office were starting to treat me differently. It made it impossible for me to do good work. Eventually I was laid off a year later. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with it, but I know that the work I was doing took a dive during that time. That wasn't a moment of pressure but rather a difficult pressure-filled span of a year that I struggled to do work, do it well, and keep a poker face on.

At another job, my next job, a couple years later, I had only been working a few months. This is the job I had talked about earlier, the short lived job that paid well.

Basically, it came down to two things: anxiety about the work I wasn't sure how to do, and the lack of self-esteem in myself to trust my gut, just try to come up with some different ways to approach the assignment, and push through it. Instead I would sit at my desk, anxiety ridden, totally overcome with fear, tears filling up in my eyes, unable to produce anything.

I am less skilled than other typical graduates in the area, but I've never been able to adopt the "fake it till you make it' attitude and just TRY something, anything. Instead, I fall flat on my face. :(

I had an additional job from home and the same thing happened, except that i balled my eyes out and ended up resigning from the temporary position.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2006
Mon, 11-21-2011 - 9:07pm
You're welcome. I've been in your shoes before; I think the first few working years are rough for everybody (and anybody who says otherwise is lying). Are you sure that you're less skilled than others in your field? If so, can you think of some steps you could take so you would feel more confident?

So you've got some job-related anxiety. Anxiety is a form of fear; what are you afraid of? Losing your job? Being "found out"? Something else? Something that has helped me with anxiety is journaling- I just write about what's bothering me and try to brainstorm ways to work through it. Do you have a journal or a notebook you could write in?