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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Burnout, migration and mid-life crisis

Topic: Burnout, migration and mid-life crisis

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. Daniel_83
    Daniel_83 avatar
    7 posts
    27 February 2018

    Hi all

    Thanks for reading this post.

    Aged 34, I arrived in Australia as a Asian migrant circa 8 months ago and now work in a very good professional firm in Sydney earning more than decent wages. My wife works in early childcare and we manage a decent lifestyle. Certainly nothing lavish, but we are never once in lack anything that's essential and never behind on bills.

    While all's good on the outside, i struggle everyday with depression and anxiety - 90% of it attributable to challenges with my job. Prior to migration I had spent the middle part of my career on 70-80 hour weeks; the intensity I experienced in that period had totally worn me out. However, the will to migrate was so intense that somehow I survived another 2 years (changing a job in between) before finally migrating. I was fortunate to get a job before I had even landed, owing to some really niche skills in an obscure knowledge area. The first few months here were intense, and I was put on the firing line from Day 1. At that time I was already running on an empty tank but paying the bills and getting settled obviously took precedence.

    Then comes the problem. While my skills have proved irreplaceable, the business is fast drying up. The firm is trying to get me to pick up new skill sets, to which I tried picking up a few simple jobs outside my area of expertise. However, the learning curve was extremely steep. No surprise since I was tasked to fly even before I could learn how to walk. This wasn't what I was trained for, and the odds of succeeding was of a magnitude I see as hopelessly against me (given my current state of chronic burnout, I was in no condition to invest 70-80 hours a week to make this succeed). It was like asking a baker to double up as a sous chef and given no time to acquire the skills.

    I have come to a point when chronic burnout, severe job anxiety, and constant bouts of extreme stress had left me wrecked and in a terrible mental state. I am somehow still holding it altogether, but my mind can best be described as yearning to get away from it all. Going to work everyday is a huge challenge and every job assigned to me puts me on tenterhooks. I desparately want to quit this job, but am too afraid of not being able to find another one (especially for Asian migrants). Rent will certainly be a long term problem; my wife's wages cover it, but there won't be much of it left.

    Appreciate if anyone can share their experiences and what they've done to get out of this rut.

    1 person found this helpful
  2. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10934 posts
    27 February 2018 in reply to Daniel_83

    Dear Daniel_83~

    I'd like to welcome you here and assure you that your situation is one many here have faced. Reaching the level of stress where one's employment is in jeopardy is sadly quite common. I went though this and made a huge mistake. Instead of dealing with the problem I simply kept going until I was unable to function, at which time I was out of my occupation, left with anxiety, depression and PTSD in a much harder to treat state. I ended up suicidal.

    So not following in my footsteps would be good:)

    So I would suggest if you have not done so already see your GP and in an extended consultation set out how you are feeling and what has been happening to you. Hopefully this will supply part of the answer maybe with therapy and possibly medication.

    The other part depends of course. Leaving your employment voluntarily is a huge and frightening step. It would of course take the existing pressures away, even if substituting worries over the future and finances. In your current state I would find it would be hard to step back and see what is reasonable.

    On the bright side you do have your partner, not only as someone to help pay day to day expenses, but also as someone you can talk to about this. I'm sure she would have here own views as to what should happen. My own partner was very much a source of reason and perspective, something I did not really appreciate until later.

    I would agree the job market is not ideal for anyone at the moment, however if you reach the stage I did then the problem becomes irrelevant. By the sound of it your existing skills need to be put into new areas which involve training. Perhaps, like myself, you might find formal training (ie Uni) for a set period might do two things. Allow the broadening of your skills in a regulated and proper environment, and provide you with supplementary qualifications to help gain employment later on.

    What do you think?

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Daniel_83
    Daniel_83 avatar
    7 posts
    27 February 2018 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croix,

    Thank you for your well considered reply. It is comforting (in a positive way) to know I'm not alone in feeling the way i'm currently feeling. I have certainly considered further education as one way to step out of the current situation, give myself time to rest and at the same time get proper re-training for another field of work. As a matter of fact I have combed through all the available TAFE courses offered in NSW and filtered a few interesting choices. What's really holding me back are my existing financial commitments - I will really need to secure part time work for this to work, and in this climate even a job at Woolies seems hard to come by.

    I also fear that re-training may not lead to a new career - at 34, I worry most employers will turn me away for entry level roles in favour of younger and fresher candidates (not to mention being linguistically diverse).

    Lastly, I am also struggling to reconcile with the fact that the skills and knowledge I've invested so much time and effort in is turning out to be a massive waste of time.

    I think you are right in that its difficult in my current situation to take a step back and think reasonably. Sometimes in life, you just have to take a leap of faith and hope you land somewhere safe.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10934 posts
    27 February 2018 in reply to Daniel_83

    Dear Daniel_83~

    Thank you for replying. I quite realize the situation is difficult and there does not appear to be an easy way out of it. In my post I tried to point out that things can come to a head surprisingly quickly. One day I was still struggling at work, the next invalided out of my occupation with very poor prospects. So maybe you might consider me an alarmist, as I say perspective can be hard to attain.

    Of course there is nothing to stop you seeking medical help right now, and deciding what to do about your employment afterwards. Thinking in terms of Woolies may be setting your sights a tad low, how about diplomatic translator, or something similar in the corporate or legal worlds? OK, so that might be silly, the point being not to sell yourself short.

    Yes I exactly understand your feelings on all that training and experience. I'd made a career and invested a huge part of myself in it, time, training, travel etc etc. All gone! No, not quite. The experience, self discipline and techniques have stood me in very good stead since. If you look at uni graduates I think around half have employment in areas different from their studies.

    Leaping on faith is all very well, I'm not sure you have to go that far.

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    28 February 2018 in reply to Daniel_83

    Hello Daniel.

    Difficult predicament for sure but I'd say your health and mental and physical well being comes first. These are irreplaceable, whereas jobs come and go. It's only something we do, not who we are. Personally, nowadays I do not anything that I don't enjoy. I don't care how much it pays. And I survive with 20 hours work per week. (And thinking of cutting down more). Look after yourself. Make it a priority. We only have one life and is not a long one. :)

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
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    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    4 March 2018

    We are human beings. Not human doings. We are not born to work endlessly and tireless all our lives then die. Surely there must be more in life and being alive than work and paying bills. We are not machines. We are not robots. Corporations and businesses just look after their own interests and usually profit is their priority not the happiness of their employees.

    We need to take a break. Take a year off. Read, rest, relax. Invest in something totally different. Follow your heart and discover your passions. When we are dead, the companies won’t cry for us. We are all replaceable. And so are the various jobs. So many lives are out of balance as people are deluded by the system who wants you to keep the head down and produce. We are more than just consumers. Sometimes throwing in the towel is the best thing we can ever do. It’s amazing the opportunities that appear and the new paths we create once we remove whatever zaps our energy and snaps our dreams.

    2 people found this helpful
  7. Daniel_83
    Daniel_83 avatar
    7 posts
    5 March 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Croix and Donte

    Apologies its taken a while to get this response out. Fully appreciate all the replies here. After thinking through the past few days I've come to the conclusion that my current depression is a toxic concoction of burnout, externally imposed and self-induced stress. I think my current career is well and truly done - I've made the decision to finally listen to my innner voice, which is to leave it completely behind me and pursue a different direction. Just a couple of weeks ago I attended an interview which was for a lower level position in the same industry, touted as an in-house role with great worklife balance and benefits. I didn't get the job eventually, but throughout the interview my instincts were screaming out really hard against it. Even i did get it, i'll likely get by with very little satisfaction, more of the same stress and may eventually come to regret it a few years later.

    As much as I wished I had taken a different path previously, my current career had allowed me to put in place a investment plan in real estate a couple years ago that would take care of my retirement needs 20-25 years from now (with careful management of mortgage risks), so i would say i'm in a good position to consider pursuing something else less for money and more for the kind of routine / lifestyle I desperately need now.

    I pored through many of the TAFE courses and none have piqued my interest so far, but i think what i really need now is to stick it out for 2-3 more months, save up financially, and then switch to a part-time job that allows me to rest, recover and regain clarity of my thoughts. My only regret is not having done this a year sooner. There is a fair amount of age-related and race-related discrimination in the job market - hopefully i can carve a path out.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    5 March 2018 in reply to Daniel_83

    Hello Daniel_83,

    I'm glad you are tuning in to your inner self and attending your self's needs. Self-love and self-care is a process that lasts throughout our lives. You are your only benchmark and you are aloud to decide whatever is good for you. If your mind, heart and gut feeling is in accordance then you are in the right path. How exciting to be open to new paths yet unknown! Who knows where you'd be this time next year! No regrets for they're useless. We do the best we can at the moment we are doing it. No point looking back and judging the past for it doesn't exist now. Good luck for your amazing future ahead... :)

    2 people found this helpful

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