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Symptoms => General Discussion => Topic started by: saylor on April 13, 2019, 07:54:32 PM

Title: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 13, 2019, 07:54:32 PM
I'm wondering whether any of you have encountered such difficulty functioning that you have permanently left the work force "prematurely" (meaning, not of typical retirement age and/or not with an ideal amount saved).
Some days I feel like I can hang on ok enough, and other days, I have so little control over my mind due to various CPTSD symptoms that it's really tough, and adds to my anxiety/depression/exhaustion. Unfortunately, in recent months, those bad days are seeming to be more frequent. So far, I feel I've been doing my rightful amount/quality of work to justify my ongoing employment, but I have this feeling that it's going downhill, and I'm terrified of reaching a point where my performance sinks below the acceptable level and (heaven forbid) I get talked to (or worse). With one possible exception (in a situation that wasn't even a "real" job), I've always received very positive reviews from my employers. I think my strategy has always been to put work absolutely first---saving up all my energy and brainpower to make sure I do well in that realm, even as my personal life languishes or even implodes. But I'm getting this sense that my days of being able to power through and succeed in the work force may soon be coming to an end.
Just wondering whether others have experienced the same, and what you've done about it. Are you (still) working and struggling? Did you quit, and do you regret it? Is your life clearly better now? Anyone go on disability? I do have a formal PTSD diagnosis (I'm in the US, so no CPTSD possible), but I'm not sure I want to go the disability route, for a number of reasons---although I don't have any negative feelings about others doing this kind of thing. Maybe it's something I should look into, but I don't feel very committed to that idea, at least not at this point.
One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people seem to get more crushed by CPTSD as they age, and this seems like it could explain what's happening to me (I mentioned this on another thread, quite awhile back). Interestingly, I ran into an article (see below) that seemed to have an undertone of people reaching a point where they can't work anymore. The reason I got this notion is that in one of the tables, they list several of the study participants (most of whom are under 50) as being a "former <occupation>", which suggests to me (even though the article doesn't elaborate on this particular point) that they couldn't function in the workplace anymore. I'm scared about losing my ability to function. I hate that I may have to make a scary leap eventually. If I change my mind, I think I'm too old now to have an easy time getting back into the work force. I also doubt whether I could muster enough ability to market myself effectively anymore to land a half-decent job.
Here's a link to a page where a pdf of the article can be downloaded, if you're interested:
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 14, 2019, 04:04:41 PM
Great article Saylor, tks - I will add it to our research page. The researchers' conclusions speak to my experience with work also:

The participants did not recognise their symptoms as such and were unaware of their diagnosis for
many years. Nevertheless, they used various resources and were able to develop skills and techniques to deal with their symptoms and to function on a day-to-day basis. Overall, the process of symptom management was
extremely exhausting for the participants and they felt left alone with it.

I left teaching earlier than I probably would have if I was not dealing with Complex PTSD. I struggled before I found out I had CPTSD much like those in the study and then once I did and as I got older, I found better ways to deal with it, but at the same time I didn't have the energy I did when I was younger.   

I finally pulled the pin when a new Dean was appointed to the faculty I was teaching in. She was very much a driven, perfectionistic, Type A personality and I knew things were just going to get much worse for me.  The previous Dean knew about my having CPTSD and was nothing short of positive, encouraging, validating and supportive. It was a big loss in my working life and the final straw, I just didn't have the energy it would have taken to remain in my position. I'm not on disability and I am enjoying retirement although I do feel some regret/anger at not accomplishing the things I wanted to in my career b/c of my CPTSD.  That said, founding and managing this site along with a few other volunteer endeavours are helping with that.

Anyway, I have the impression after 5 yrs here that many of us do struggle more as we get older - possibly b/c we're not as energetic as when we were younger, there are more stressors as our responsibilities mount up (family, mortgage, job, etc) and physical ailments develop. All this is to say whether or not you stay/leave work may depend on the stresses you have in your life and what support you have.   
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Blueberry on April 14, 2019, 05:31:29 PM
Hi saylor,

I left the normal workforce in my 30's, which was pretty premature. As you'll note due to the number of my posts on the Employment board, it's still a huge topic for me.

I do have disability, though not permanent. It gets reassessed now every 3 years. If I weren't still trying, I would likely have permanent status by now. I'm not in the US though so things may well be different.

"I think I'm too old now to have an easy time getting back into the work force. I also doubt whether I could muster enough ability to market myself effectively anymore to land a half-decent job." I think both of those things for myself now too. I've also been out of the normal workforce for so long. Things can and could however take a surprising turn. I do do some work, just not in the 'normal' workforce, including in areas I'm not qualified to work in, but it's OK in my assistant role.

I never could market myself effectively actually. I was crushed by cptsd before I even joined the workforce.

With my case being rather different from yours, my experience may not be too useful. As a young adult in my late 20's, I tried to keep going as long as I could. In my final 2-3 months working, my work started noticealbly slipping. Beforehand I had noticed, but nobody else did.

I'll be interested to read the article you linked, when I have time ;)
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 16, 2019, 06:42:16 PM
Many thanks to both of you for your responses.
I agree that exhaustion after having to function ďnormallyĒ, while burdened with CPTSD for so many years, is a huge factor in feeling like I canít do it much longer. I also seem to be more susceptible to triggers (and have more triggers, period) than ever before. If I do end up taking the plunge, I hope I donít regret it, either. Itís hard not to come down on myself.
Iím really not sure what to do, but Iím starting to feel too tired to care. Thanks, again
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 17, 2019, 03:40:06 PM
 :grouphug:  Saylor, it's a tough decision I know.

My hope is that in the future as Complex PTSD is recognized and understood more, work accommodation rules will include it and short/long term disability will become more available. 

I'm also hopeful that through all of us here talking about issues like having more of a difficult time as we age, younger people will recognize they have Complex PTSD earlier than many of us did, and will seek treatment so that it doesn't pile up over the years and force them to stop working b/c it's all too much. 

Here for you whatever you decide to do  :yes:
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 17, 2019, 07:25:57 PM
Thank you, Kizzie.
I have actually wondered what ďreasonable accommodationĒ would like like for someone with CPTSD.
For me, it would involve many different things (I have a desk job). Hereís a quick (and probably incomplete) list (Iím not sure how much is universal, or just for me personally):
-private office with soundproof walls/door, and low light, and no ambient visual distractions of other peopleís movements (but a window showing nature would be grand)
-frequent opportunities to move my body as needed
-minimal-to-no forced interactions with others
-ability to only have to be in the office and working while my brain is under my control and able to concentrate and focus on the task at hand
-freedom to flee if/whenever I need to to decompress in a place that feels safe
Thereís probably more, but that already sounds like an over-the-top request. I canít imagine I wouldnít be laughed out of the room.
Iíd be interested in hearing about whether folks have discussed this topic with employers (I havenít) and found solutions that are working out for all involved
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 18, 2019, 03:53:42 PM
Unfortunately you're probably right about it being a bit much to ask of employers Saylor, but one thing that might be more reasonable is to work from home part or all of the time. Of course it depends on the job and whether the person can be away from their physical office with the company, but it does seem to be more of an option these days.

I taught online and it really helped  to cut down all the over stimulation of an office environment.  My H currently works remotely and has about 8 people working for him so it can be done effectively.  He works a normal 8 hours day and connects with staff and others via telephone and sometimes Skype or Zoom.  It's not b/c he has CPTSD like I do, but b/c the office is in a really expensive city and they are having difficulty attracting people.

 Anyway this might be a reasonable accommodation for you.  :Idunno:   Is this or could this be an option for you?  The tricky bit is whether your company has clearly laid out its accommodation policies and then abides by them. 
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 18, 2019, 05:03:28 PM
That is a good idea. There are some people who work full-time remotely, so there is a policy that provides for such an arrangement. I may look into it. Iím a bit hesitant about outing myself, mainly because I donít expect to be taken seriously, and am worried they may think Iím making things up (even though I was diagnosed recently). Iím very sensitive to having my injury invalidated. I may get desperate, though...
Thanks, again, for your helpful feedback
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 18, 2019, 08:28:56 PM
I can certainly understand not wanting to out yourself  :yes:  There have been a few people here who asked for accommodations for MH reasons and things did not go well for them.  It might be best to investigate why they allow certain people to work remotely before saying anything.

Good luck!  :grouphug: 
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 19, 2019, 12:16:47 AM
Thatís useful to know (and it sort of confirms my fears). As far as I know, every single one of them left the area to follow their spouse to a new job. I donít believe any of their reasons are medical, and at any rate, theyíre very likely not based on mental health. Given that, I donít believe I will ever bring it up (unless my back is against the wall because of performance issuesówhich would be devastating... I think I prefer to quit before ďlettingĒ that happen, if I see it coming, anyway). Sigh...
Iím so grateful for this board. Itís an incredible resource. I thank you heartily
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 19, 2019, 04:22:02 PM
 Here for you whatever you decide to do or not do  :grouphug:
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: johnram on April 20, 2019, 05:17:09 AM
As someone in my mid 30s, who has just recently taken a break to focus on some healing, this worries me but also puts matter into perspective.  I have been symptom managing for many years, and things had gotten better but i started to feel my body was giving up on me (gut issues, body pains, hair loss, numb hands etc) and that was the impetus to take a break.  Prior to taking the break i discovered and got diagnosed as cPTSD, and its just been a big realisation on a symptom level and my own story.

This has been useful, and i have learnt a lot more, but at this stage i am sometimes stuck between believing i can go back and be pretend "normal" versus accepting matters now and adjusting accordingly.

I feel for you in making this decision, its a tough one, wish there was a way to balance it 

Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Patticake on April 21, 2019, 04:55:50 PM
Hi Saylor

Yes, I prematurely left the work force about 4 years ago. I left due to my inability to go on, one more day, trying to manage my Cptsd symptoms while working in a highly stressed work environment. The work load was unreasonable & many co-workers had also left who did NOT have Cptsd. I wrestled with the decision to leave for many weeks prior to doing so. I waited longer than I should have because I didnít want to feel like a failure. I didnít want to appear weak. I worried what everybody would think of me. I didnít want to give in to Cptsd. 

I knew I had finally reached the point of being unable to continue working. I was exhausted, burnt out & having panic attacks daily. My anxiety level was not sustainable in any work environment.

I left work abruptly & immediately applied for disability. I donít regret it as I had no other choice. I knew my working days were over. I think you will know when youíve had enough.

I now spend my days working on healing. I am slowly feeling better. I am doing the Cptsd recovery work I couldnít do while I was in the work force.

May you have peace in whatever you decide. Wishing you only the best.

Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: LearnToLoveTheRide on April 22, 2019, 08:51:10 AM
Hi Saylor

I also left the workforce prematurely: circa August 2017. I gave overnight notice but it was a tough decision and I'd wrestled with it for a long time. But, after two C-PTSD related visits to the ER, I simply had to accept that I was ill.

I am now opening a teaching studio and working on inner healing. I do what I need to.

Whatever your decision, be well... LTLTR
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on April 23, 2019, 10:32:18 PM
Thanks, everyone for your feedback. It is a drastic, and in many cases, scary decision.
I think a lot of us have moments where we feel like weíre falling apart, but then second-guess whether itís really ďall that muchĒ, and maybe if we ďjust try harderĒ we can power through. I guess thatís the nature of the challenges posed by the Inner Critic. Iím grateful that youíre willing to share about ultimately deciding to ďbow outĒ, so to speak. Sometimes Iím not sure whatís even real. I question whether Iím making too big a deal of my symptoms, but then other times I realize that they really are crushing me. It helps to get perspectives from our forum. It does help
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on April 25, 2019, 01:35:21 PM
I question whether Iím making too big a deal of my symptoms, but then other times I realize that they really are crushing me.

IME unfortunately we don't make nearly enough of our symptoms until they do start to crush us.  It is a big decision so  :grouphug:  for you Saylor.
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Bix on June 26, 2019, 05:35:55 PM
I was struck by your list of accommodations, as I have also put together such a list! 

Have you seen the new workplaces for people on the Autism spectrum??  It looks like HEAVEN.  I would love to work in this kind of work environment.   A past therapist actually "diagnosed" me with Autism, but she was just misreading dissociation and flooding in therapy. 

I do sometimes wonder if there isn't a way I couldn't qualify for workplace disability needs.   There is a young man in my office building (arts related)  that is Autism special needs, and because of that, he has a closed in, sound controlled space.   
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on September 05, 2019, 01:38:23 AM
I figured I might as well bring this full circle and check back in to say that I ended up retiring (at an "early" age) from the workforce. It's because I believe I can't do a good job and be at peace with the demands of a full-time position, with my symptoms raging as they have been for so long. Plus I've started to wonder what the point of working even is, if life is so unbearable. Really, it's impossible to rationalize. Still, it has been a very difficult decision, and I keep wondering if I'll regret it eventually (like when I run out of money), but it has gotten to the point where I'm not sure I even have a choice anymore. So... done deal.
I'm so angry and sad. I hate what has happened to my life. I'm probably going to go out somewhere where no one can hear me and scream bloody murder until I run out of oxygen.
Thanks for listening. This forum continues to help (and I feel guilty about not having participated a lot recently--things have just been  That...  Bad...  )
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: Kizzie on September 05, 2019, 02:09:16 PM
I'm sorry to hear you were more or less forced to leave b/c of your CPTSD symptoms Saylor. I felt like I didn't have much of a choice when I retired either, I just didn't have the energy to deal with CPTSD and work.

I hope you find a lovely private place out in the country somewhere to scream it out and then sit and breath in the fresh air, listen to the birds singing, feel the warm sun on your face ......    :grouphug:
Title: Re: leaving the work force - ?
Post by: saylor on September 05, 2019, 03:56:12 PM
That's beautiful, Kizzie. Thank you