Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Mental Health & HIV

STRESS LEAVE

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HEB1023:
I am new to this board.  I need to talk about what I am dealing with and really have no one to talk to other than my wife.  My folks are aware, but are pretty clueless in regard. 

I was diagnosed @ 32 and now I am almost 41.  I am married for almost 11 years and have two kids.  My wife is positive as well, but our kids are negative; thank God.  I am classified as having AIDS because in 2009, I was hospitalized with CD4 count in the single digits.  I might add that I wasn't expected to make it out of the hospital.  I was there 2 weeks.  I believe God got me through my pneumonia.  I really wasn't expected to be discharged...but I was. 

With state funded help, I got medication and my CD4/TCell count began to rise.  I dealt with foliculitis on my face (I looked like I had a horrible acne breakout, quite frankly.)  As my numbers increased, it eventually went away.

My numbers topped out at just a smidge under 600.  I was elated.  However, with my last doctors visit, they dropped to around 550.  The drop concerned me because my med intake didn't change;  however, my stress level did.

I am currently in a very stressful job;  I mean EXTREMELY stressful.  I am also a student in online courses.  I will be done with my online courses in Dec 2013 and will have a degree in Information Technology.  That is not really my stress.  In fact, I really enjoy the schooling.  My job is my stress beyond stress. 

In my workplace, one day I am number 1, and the next day I am lower than cow dung by managements ideal.  I held a 'reigning title' of number 1 for three weeks consecutively and then everything went sour.  I don't know what happened I try to not think about it, and I shudder when I try to figure it out. 

My work schedule is always changing.  My job, by the way, is a sales job for a for-profit school.  For the record, I get an extreme tuition reduction by going to their school online.  From the student perspective, it's great;  from the employees perspective, it's beyond horrible.  I worked in the Mortgage Lending industry for nearly 20 years and thought I'd seen it all in the realm of backstabbing...but this industry takes the cake.  And for what it's worth, I'm currently holding a 3.8 GPA.  My education is not something I will sideline...it must get done so I can move on to greener pastures.

Because I don't have a set schedule, my usual exercise routine has fallen by the wayside.  I don't exercise;  I don't have time.  I don't know if I'm going to work an 8 hour day or a 10 hour day.  I don't know if I'm going to work a 5 day week or a 6 day week.  I've gained weight because I can't get back into an exercise regiment.  I guess the fact that I can gain weight is a good thing, in the grand scheme of things, but I have hoards of clothes in my closet that I can't wear because of my 30 lb weight gain.  My Doctor doesn't seem overly concerned, but in the past year, i have put on 20 lbs alone.

I work in a very poor environment, to put it mildly.  Just lastnight, a co-worker of mine came to my desk to help me with something.  This was at my request.  When he returned to his seat, another co-worker said, "Can you just make one call?  Just one call today?"  Our job revolves around extreme telephone use all day long.  He said that he'd just gotten up to help 'someone' (didn't name me).  The quarrel, which was started by the other person, got quite heated and that person said, "I'm gonna tear you from your ears to your asshole!"  So, my friend and co-worker when to our director and told her what happened and what the threat was.  And do you know what the director did? NOTHING!  NADA!  This is the environment in which I work.  An environment where people can threaten you with bodily harm and management does nothing.  I can't handle this.

I drove home in utter silence.  No radio, nothing.  I just don't know what to do anymore.  Oh, I might add that on top of all of that, director told me I'm not cutting the mustard, so to speak, and I need to 'get it together'.  I want to say, "Hello!  Hi.  Yeah, I have AIDS!  Do you know what I deal with day in and day out just on a personal level?"  Alas, I cannot do that. 

I feel like this environment is breaking me down emotionally.  At times, I just want to lay down in a dark room and sleep.  But, being a husband and a father, I cannot do that.  I have a homelife to provide. 

I'm feeling like I need some time away from my workplace for sanity sake.  I don't know if that is something a Doctor can prescribe and I don't know if I would qualify for state disability during my time off.  Financially, my family and I wouldn't survive with me just 'taking time off'...I'd need an income.

I feel like I'm at wits end...I really don't know what to do.  For the record, I woke up three times over the course of the night with thoughts of work...so I am not sleeping well.  And when I did sleep, I was dreaming or having nightmares about my workplace. 

On many levels, I feel like I should just 'suck it up' and keep on truckin'.  But then I realize that "Hey, I am not like everyone else.  I have a 'condition' that can spiral downward and that downward spiral can be brought on by stress." 

Perhaps I'm babbling...maybe my thoughts are cohesive...I don't know.  I just don't know what to do.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

BT65:
Hi Heb
I read your post earlier today but hesitated to respond, the biggest reason was I didn't know how to respond.

I suppose the easiest thing would be to try to find another job.  You could always look online and send resumes?  If it's really causing you that much stress, I would think getting a different one would help immensely. 

Or, since you're going to school through the school you work for, would that mean your tuition, etc., would go up?   I'm just trying to get a clear picture here.  Are you staying at the job so you can continue in school?  Because I would think you could go to another school.  Although I realize most for-profit college's credits won't transfer. 

If that's the case, I would suggest seeing a counselor to get some stress reduction, and maybe exercises that could help with this.  If you don't plan on leaving your job.

That's my two cents.  Someone may come along with better advice.  I feel bad for you, and hope you can get this remedied very soon.

Betty

HEB1023:
Thank you Betty.

I kept this entire thing in prayer today.  I actually decided to update my resume tonight when friend of mine told me they might be hiring at her company.  It would be a longer trek, but I could take the train to alleviate the traffic...and would be able to utilize the to/fro time for studies...take my laptop or iPad or whatever.

The more I've thought about it, the more I realize how extremely unhappy I am at my job.  In companies past, I have been awarded for my work and elected to committees, etc, and so on.  I'm not used to the 'dog eat dog' mentality of the current existence.  From a student standpoint, it's a good school.  From an employees standpoint...it's HORRID. 

My wife and I were victims of the economic crash of 2008.  This happened right after I beat cancer.  Oh yeah, forgot to mention that...was diagnosed with Hogkins Lymphoma on 11/22/06.  So far, I've been 5 years in remission - HALLELUJAH!  Anyway, because of the economic downturn and my cancer, we lost everything.  Thankfully, we didn't own a house, but all credit went bad...because we had to live on credit.

Ok, so that said, if I have to get a loan for the remainder of my tuition, I guess that wouldn't be all that bad.  If I don't qualify for any grants, and I will likely, but if I don't, the loan would probably be about 20K...which really isn't too bad.  I'm halfway through the course now...and so that's water under the bridge.

I thank you for your response.  I come back to this quite refreshed.

THANK YOU! :) :D

OneTampa:
HEB,

Just checking in to post that I hope things improve for you.

Many of the things listed in your original post mirror by own experiences including dealing with work related stress.

Wishing you the best.

mecch:
A year is a long time to suffer.  But it is important you get your degree and thats 14 months away.  I dunno. The loan sounds like a bad idea and anyway who is going to give you a loan if your credit is shot??? 

Maybe you can get more cynical and detached about your work, if possible, and see it as a means to an end.  You see that its a poisonous workplace.  Thus, its not your responsibility that your job sucks.  Nor is it possible to change it.  You can ONLY change your thinking about it..  Easier said than done, of course, but its worth a shot.  Just see it as a carnival of fools and get by, until you get your degree and/or find a better job. 

If you are performing well enough to get through to December 2013, I think it would be better.

But of course, if its unbearable, start looking for a new job already.  Anyway, come next spring and summer, it will be time to start looking for opportunities that are going to be in your ideal career path and with your new degree. 

It is always better to be working when you are looking for a new job or to change careers.  unemployment is often disastrous on many fronts. 

But, if its hideous, then maybe you have no choice.

Also I encourage you to discuss this stress VERY precisely with your doctor so you can get his/her reaction to your idea that you need time off.  See what the doc thinks is possible - if he/she can have any role in that. 

In Switzerland you can get "burn out" leave via a doctor's orders.  But we have very low unemployment and the employer has a little less leverage over employees, than in the USA. 

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