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gandolfication

Self critical and hopeless

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I'm losing it.  The will and desire to keep living.  My career is in a death spiral.  I am not making nearly enough to pay bills and support my family.  And my relationships with my wife and beautiful children has frayed because of the stress and my poor ability to handle it.  I cannot seem to imagine, much less find a job or career that I am up to the task of succeeding in.

I have been working with doctors and (due to severely limited finances), a quasi-therapist (a case manager who helps coordinate and listens, which is fine with me really).  I've been in a job search for several months, but due to the number of jobs I've held usually for about a year, I am no longer getting very many callbacks, and none for things I actually want and could see myself maybe being able to handle.  (I'm interviewing for but recoil at the thought of another sales job).

I've tried to be accepting, and use the tools I've learned...coping mechanisms...being present...doing what I can one day or one moment at a time, and others.  I haven't been thinking much about sui*ide lately, probably a function of trintellix and determination. 

But I'm just overwhelmed today.  Struggling to concentrate on mind-numbing work that will never be able to keep us in the black.  I don't have any plans.  I'm just feeling desperate and hopeless.  On top of this, my wife has been pushing me hard regarding behaviors of mine that I have to admit aren't very good - short temper, tenancy to be controlling.  Essentially co-dependency.  I've been reading a book she asked me to.  It's good.  Eye opening.  I've been working hard at being more aware, and changing behavior, actually with pretty good success changing a lot of the time in the past few months.  Never seems like enough though, and that has taken a lot of energy.  It also has partly unraveled that one source of security I guess I had.  It has brought me face to face with just how much I engage in constant self-criticism.  And that I suppose translates into criticism of others in various ways too.  That is utterly not who I want to be or ever thought I was.  And yet that which I do not want to do, I do, and what I want to do, I can't seem to do...at least consistently or well enough.

I just feel angry, afraid, alone and without hope.  I do not want to stick around if this is life.  I haven't had a real plan for my life that I am working toward for some time.  Just drifting.  I can't seem to accept that and it spirals into deeper misery with each passing week.

I know I need to get out of my head, gain some perspective, and start again just right now.  Finding that really difficult.  I want so badly to throw in the towel.  I have all the justifications rehearsed.  I just don't have any answer to the fact that I love my kids and don't want to do that to them or my wife.  This way of living is a hell. I try to tell myself my family would ultimately be better off without me.  I've never really believed that but the gap seems to be closing. It does not feel real.  I can't mentally reconcile what I know to be the best of me, with....what I seem to have become.  And I can't see a way forward where I really think I'll be able to recover much or change enough.  I'm really having trouble dealing with the pain.

I realize this isn't very focused or organized.  I just needed somewhere to bleed onto a page as I feel life slipping away.

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Hi Gandolfication !

You are such an interesting person to me that I follow your posts almost religiously.   I think of you as a general commanding an army in a fierce war.  You are one of the most heroic individuals I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  Sadly that can hardly help you or comfort you. Sorry!  You are a fighter and doing "all the right things."  That is quite rare really.  Quite exceptional. 

I read something a long time ago and I don't even know the source anymore.  It was about survivors of concentration camps during the Holocaust.  For me, it offered a desperately needed "insight" that has ever since that time been something that has kept me going although without medication I am not sure it would be enough to keep me going.  I'm sure it will sound eye-rollingly trivial and maybe it wouldn't help you or others at all.

What the survivors of the concentration camps seemed to have in common was a philosophy that was based on the idea that in almost all circumstances and misfortunes:  "It could be worse, but it isn't."  I know this must appear pathetically trite.  But it seems that the royal road to anxiety and depression is the constant oppressive train of thought:  "It could be better and isn't."  "I could be better, but am not."  "They could be better, but they're not."  "This situation could be better but it's not."  Put into categories:  "I could be stronger and braver, but I'm not."  "I could be more ambitious and successful, but I'm not."  "I could be wiser or better than I am morally, but I'm not."  "I could be more normal and healthy than I am, but I'm not."

Somehow the survivors of the concentration camps had an opposite philosophy [not disregarding the role of luck at all here and perhaps there is a genetic component to this way of looking at things!!!!!].  Their "philosophy" was:    Things could be worse than they are, but thankfully they are not."  "These people could be meaner, weaker, more foolish and more cruel, but thank goodness they're not."  "I could be lazier, weaker, more cowardly, less wise and less morally good than I am but I am not:  Bravo!  Hurray!  Thank goodness!"

Since my habitual mindset is deeply, deeply, deeply, profoundly depressogenic and anxiogenic, I keep this "philosophy" of the survivors of the concentration camps written on a paper which I keep on me almost all the time.  I have to read it over and over again throughout the day.  And when titanic disasters strike I have to read it over and over and over again more frequently, because it literally goes against my grain.  But it helps me.

I've got serious serious problems.  Some are not as serious as yours or other here.  But I am not in sub-Saharan Africa dying of starvation and malnutrition and opportunistic deadly illnesses.  If I was abandoned and homeless on the street, I think I could still say:  "things could be worse, but they're not, thank goodness."  Whether the organic disorders of depression and anxiety unresolved by medical means would have a prayer with such a philosophy is a whole different question.  There are serious organic mental illnesses for which philosophy alone, I think, are insufficient.  Depression can be so serious and so severe that the organic component of the pathology makes even the best non-medical interventions powerless.  That is why offering a paradigm shift in philosophy to sufferers of depression can be so cruel and like rubbing salt in a gaping wound.  So nothing I have written, absolutely nothing is "advice."  As usual, perhaps tediously so, I can only offer what has helped me and, and , and . . . we are all so different.

I certainly continue to hope, hope and hope, and hope against hope, that your situation turns around because you really deserve a break from this unrelenting suffering you are undergoing.  I will close now.  Tendinitis in my hands is getting to me.  You are in my thoughts!  - epictetus

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Epic,

Thanks.  I haven't been able to read all of this right now....as I need to try to focus and catch up a little right now at work.  

But I read the top parts.  When I was growing up, my mom read lots of books to us about heroes who survived Nazi Germany and the concentration camps.  And when I was in the hospital I read Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, who was also a psychiatrist.  That was one of his principles.  It could be worse, but it isn't.  The past couple years, I've had that written on a post-it in my wallet.  I only occasionally look at it, but I do remember it sometimes, and you're right.  There is power in that statement of truth.

I'll read and respond more later.  For now, thank you.

-g

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I'm overwhelmed today as well Gandolf. I'm struggling to get any work done. Have been for the past month. Somehow I get some stuff done, just like somehow I manage to propel my body forward to get to the store, the bus stop, the bicycle, etc. I feel for you, I know what it's like to struggle, to be afraid, lonely, angry and without hope. I'm sorry you're experiencing this. Hopefully this is a lower point that you can recognize as having always lifted in the past at least to some degree. I've had the feeling of the fight being out of me before, only to have renewed vigour come back. Just wanted to reinforce to you the cyclical nature of this. Sometimes the cycles don't have very high highs, but they can again.

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I couldn't have put in nearly as well as you, but...yeah, I've been there. Right there.

I'm having an awful time at work. That's nothing new of course. This may sound weird, but I don't think my ego is big enough for what I do. My self-doubt thwarts me on a daily basis.

But this isn't supposed to be about me. I'm sorry you are going through this agony. It's so damned debilitating.

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2 hours ago, morecoffee said:

What's your line of work?

Morecoffee,

The past 18 years (since college graduation) as follows:

Sales executive, mostly to the legal sector

8 years - law school and practice (litigation, general practice, some minor political experience)

back to legal sales exec positions and recruiting - permanent legal and retained executive search.

Lost my job in April, and since then have been working as a legal writing associate (basically a paralegal), which is temporary and pays by the hour and not nearly enough.

yourself?

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Why don't you go back to practicing law?

Also, have you thought about teaching? I work in higher education and we pay some of our contracted instructors $150 an hour. Most of these instructors have day jobs too, it's just a night/weekend gig for them.

Also have you thought about getting into non-profit work? Or becoming a compliance specialist in the public sector?

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6 hours ago, Epictetus said:

Hi Gandolfication !

You are such an interesting person to me that I follow your posts almost religiously.   I think of you as a general commanding an army in a fierce war.  You are one of the most heroic individuals I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  Sadly that can hardly help you or comfort you. Sorry!  You are a fighter and doing "all the right things."  That is quite rare really.  Quite exceptional. 

I read something a long time ago and I don't even know the source anymore.  It was about survivors of concentration camps during the Holocaust.  For me, it offered a desperately needed "insight" that has ever since that time been something that has kept me going although without medication I am not sure it would be enough to keep me going.  I'm sure it will sound eye-rollingly trivial and maybe it wouldn't help you or others at all.

What the survivors of the concentration camps seemed to have in common was a philosophy that was based on the idea that in almost all circumstances and misfortunes:  "It could be worse, but it isn't."  I know this must appear pathetically trite.  But it seems that the royal road to anxiety and depression is the constant oppressive train of thought:  "It could be better and isn't."  "I could be better, but am not."  "They could be better, but they're not."  "This situation could be better but it's not."  Put into categories:  "I could be stronger and braver, but I'm not."  "I could be more ambitious and successful, but I'm not."  "I could be wiser or better than I am morally, but I'm not."  "I could be more normal and healthy than I am, but I'm not."

Somehow the survivors of the concentration camps had an opposite philosophy [not disregarding the role of luck at all here and perhaps there is a genetic component to this way of looking at things!!!!!].  Their "philosophy" was:    Things could be worse than they are, but thankfully they are not."  "These people could be meaner, weaker, more foolish and more cruel, but thank goodness they're not."  "I could be lazier, weaker, more cowardly, less wise and less morally good than I am but I am not:  Bravo!  Hurray!  Thank goodness!"

Since my habitual mindset is deeply, deeply, deeply, profoundly depressogenic and anxiogenic, I keep this "philosophy" of the survivors of the concentration camps written on a paper which I keep on me almost all the time.  I have to read it over and over again throughout the day.  And when titanic disasters strike I have to read it over and over and over again more frequently, because it literally goes against my grain.  But it helps me.

I've got serious serious problems.  Some are not as serious as yours or other here.  But I am not in sub-Saharan Africa dying of starvation and malnutrition and opportunistic deadly illnesses.  If I was abandoned and homeless on the street, I think I could still say:  "things could be worse, but they're not, thank goodness."  Whether the organic disorders of depression and anxiety unresolved by medical means would have a prayer with such a philosophy is a whole different question.  There are serious organic mental illnesses for which philosophy alone, I think, are insufficient.  Depression can be so serious and so severe that the organic component of the pathology makes even the best non-medical interventions powerless.  That is why offering a paradigm shift in philosophy to sufferers of depression can be so cruel and like rubbing salt in a gaping wound.  So nothing I have written, absolutely nothing is "advice."  As usual, perhaps tediously so, I can only offer what has helped me and, and , and . . . we are all so different.

I certainly continue to hope, hope and hope, and hope against hope, that your situation turns around because you really deserve a break from this unrelenting suffering you are undergoing.  I will close now.  Tendinitis in my hands is getting to me.  You are in my thoughts!  - epictetus

Epic,

That was food as usual.  Very good.

Encouraging.  Very kind.  I really needed that today.

Thanks

I hope your piano subsides.

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1 hour ago, morecoffee said:

Why don't you go back to practicing law?

Also, have you thought about teaching? I work in higher education and we pay some of our contracted instructors $150 an hour. Most of these instructors have day jobs too, it's just a night/weekend gig for them.

Also have you thought about getting into non-profit work? Or becoming a compliance specialist in the public sector?

That's interesting.  Yes, I have thought a lot about each of those sectors and applied and pursued them.  

 

With little result.  Academia has become hyper-competitive even for adjuncts it seems to me, especially to break into without teaching experience.

Perhaps more time and persistence is needed.

 

Anyhow good thoughts and suggestions.  Appreciated,

-g

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6 hours ago, felix_a_cat said:

I'm overwhelmed today as well Gandolf. I'm struggling to get any work done. Have been for the past month. Somehow I get some stuff done, just like somehow I manage to propel my body forward to get to the store, the bus stop, the bicycle, etc. I feel for you, I know what it's like to struggle, to be afraid, lonely, angry and without hope. I'm sorry you're experiencing this. Hopefully this is a lower point that you can recognize as having always lifted in the past at least to some degree. I've had the feeling of the fight being out of me before, only to have renewed vigour come back. Just wanted to reinforce to you the cyclical nature of this. Sometimes the cycles don't have very high highs, but they can again.

Felix, you're right I know about things changing....(though I always want to argue that aren't there people for whom life deteriorated to the point of death?  Anyway it's a one off point.  I'm not some people, and my charge is to do all I can as long as I can as well as I can)

I hope things look up for you as well.  Thanks for writing today.

-g

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Hi. I was laid off from my job last year.  I felt bewildered by the experience.  I was not sure what my next job would be. I contacted some people from my church.  They put me on the church prayer list. They also told me about a career networking group that meets at a local coffee shop. I went to several of the network meetings which were very good.  Lots of supportive folks there.  There were many good topical discussions on things like: Communicating Your Strengths, Searching the Hidden Job Market (many jobs are not advertised), How to stay upbeat during your job search (so important!), How to change career paths, etc.  I was able to get job leads and ideas by talking to fellow unemployed members of the group.  I found that I had limited my job search too narrowly.  I found I had tangible skills that applied to many job fields.  I was then able to broaden my career search.  All this support gave me a huge confidence boost!  Thankfully I was able to land a new job that, while not perfect,  meets my financial needs for now.  My advice is to find a job networking group near you.  I found that several local churches had free job networking and support groups.  Prayers that you are able to find a new job that best utilizes your talents and meets your financial needs!  Pray for opportunities to come your way. God Bless! 

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Hello Gandolf

My heart is with you. Have you ever considered changing to computer programming or related? Employers can't find enough people to fill openings and the pay is good. Working in your favor is that you have domain knowledge (in law, etc.) that is highly valued  (and that kids out of school don't have) There are free online courses. A benefit for some people is that some jobs require little interaction with other people.  

I realize that given where you are right now, the idea of trying to learn something new may be overwhelming. I remember not being able to understand the words in a textbook about a topic that I knew well...I knew that it should have been easy, but it was basically impossible. Once I recovered from the worst of that episode it was such a relief to understand!       

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1 hour ago, catch_the_music said:

Hi. I was laid off from my job last year.  I felt bewildered by the experience.  I was not sure what my next job would be. I contacted some people from my church.  They put me on the church prayer list. They also told me about a career networking group that meets at a local coffee shop. I went to several of the network meetings which were very good.  Lots of supportive folks there.  There were many good topical discussions on things like: Communicating Your Strengths, Searching the Hidden Job Market (many jobs are not advertised), How to stay upbeat during your job search (so important!), How to change career paths, etc.  I was able to get job leads and ideas by talking to fellow unemployed members of the group.  I found that I had limited my job search too narrowly.  I found I had tangible skills that applied to many job fields.  I was then able to broaden my career search.  All this support gave me a huge confidence boost!  Thankfully I was able to land a new job that, while not perfect,  meets my financial needs for now.  My advice is to find a job networking group near you.  I found that several local churches had free job networking and support groups.  Prayers that you are able to find a new job that best utilizes your talents and meets your financial needs!  Pray for opportunities to come your way. God Bless! 

Yah, that's a good suggestion.  I have participated in several job networking groups in the past few years at different times.  There is actually a mega church within about half an hour's drive of me, that has a very well developed job networking program.  I've been a few times, when I was unemployed.  Right now, it's hard to make the time, but I should probably go back.  You mention the motivation and encouragement, which is more important than we sometimes realize.

I do know that a majority of jobs are not publicly posted on the internet, or by the time they are, they are effectively filled or have the finalist candidates lined up.  I've coached a lot of other people how to use a simple approach--albeit one that takes time, effort and guts--to find them.  I used to be good at doing this myself and had virtually no fear.  Lately, I've found it difficult to make myself pick up the phone or invite myself in for a meet and greet, I think because my overall self confidence/esteem is so abysmal that consciously or otherwise, I think I have little to no value to offer in today's job market.

I will have to get past this or work through it.  Thanks.

 

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16 hours ago, gandolfication said:

That's interesting.  Yes, I have thought a lot about each of those sectors and applied and pursued them.  

 

With little result.  Academia has become hyper-competitive even for adjuncts it seems to me, especially to break into without teaching experience.

Perhaps more time and persistence is needed.

 

Anyhow good thoughts and suggestions.  Appreciated,

-g

I would highly recommend trying to break into the public sector via a public university. That's what I did...

The administration jobs are not competitive like most public sector jobs, but the benefits are the same.

We work with lots of legal experts like a contracts analyst, procurement officer, compliance specialist...

I agree with catch_the_music, your skills can be applied to other jobs, you just need to do research and be willing to really shift gears.

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1 hour ago, morecoffee said:

I would highly recommend trying to break into the public sector via a public university. That's what I did...

The administration jobs are not competitive like most public sector jobs, but the benefits are the same.

We work with lots of legal experts like a contracts analyst, procurement officer, compliance specialist...

I agree with catch_the_music, your skills can be applied to other jobs, you just need to do research and be willing to really shift gears.

That sounds like a good suggestion. I'll see what I can find to get started.  What does, 'catch the music' mean?

Thanks

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7 hours ago, uncertain1 said:

Hello Gandolf

My heart is with you. Have you ever considered changing to computer programming or related? Employers can't find enough people to fill openings and the pay is good. Working in your favor is that you have domain knowledge (in law, etc.) that is highly valued  (and that kids out of school don't have) There are free online courses. A benefit for some people is that some jobs require little interaction with other people.  

I realize that given where you are right now, the idea of trying to learn something new may be overwhelming. I remember not being able to understand the words in a textbook about a topic that I knew well...I knew that it should have been easy, but it was basically impossible. Once I recovered from the worst of that episode it was such a relief to understand!       

I have thought about going into computer programming or something related.  In the past, that seemed very remote and also not necessarily in line with my strengths or skills.  I used to be good at math.  Law relies in part on logic (and in part on art), so there's some overlap.  But I doubted I could really compete at it or remain focused on it without burning out and being hopelessly bored by it.

lately though, I've been looking at an organization called Code.org, initially to teach my daughters coding.  It offers what appears to be a good, free k-12 curriculum.  I figure if I can teach them, I can teach myself the basics myself...and then start taking classes I need to at a higher level.  Yah, the solitude and perhaps flexibility are desirable.

Studying and learning are things I'm good at especially when I am not feeling so anxious and depressed.  The couple times I had bad depression in college and law school, it was hard to concentrate and retain things, but nonetheless I still managed to get through, get A's, get things done and get passed it.  It was almost as though the activities of being in school helped me beat the depression.

I'm going to give this some more thought and dip my toe in the water by beginning to teach my girls and see where it might lead.

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6 hours ago, morecoffee said:

I would highly recommend trying to break into the public sector via a public university. That's what I did...

The administration jobs are not competitive like most public sector jobs, but the benefits are the same.

We work with lots of legal experts like a contracts analyst, procurement officer, compliance specialist...

I agree with catch_the_music, your skills can be applied to other jobs, you just need to do research and be willing to really shift gears.

I just spent about an hour on Higher Ed Jobs registering, searching, reviewing and saving 4-5 jobs, which I'll apply for this week.  Also applied for 5-6 legal recruiting positions.  It's a start.  Thanks.

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I'm feeling so empty and hopeless.  

Struggling to control emotions.  Medication seems to be offering some help (in that the past 6 weeks or so even while things have not been going well I have thought of ending life less), but getting up and getting going has become extremely difficult again.

I cannot feel or see any light.  Mostly relating to work/career/finances/survival, but it has also made me less patient and more short-tempered at home a lot of the time, which has affected these most important relationships.  I'm having my wife come with me to a quasi-therapy session tomorrow (it's really a case management coordinator, who is nice and I think fairly capable, but also not a native-English speaker, and the best I'm hoping for on this front is that she can refer to someone who actually does marital counseling and can assist on a low-income basis).

Everything just feels like a never-ending cycle and a downward spiral.  Experience and knowledge gained from others (i.e. hopefully wisdom) counsels me that these are feelings more than a permanent state of reality.  But everyone who has suffered long with serious depression will understand how this knowledge feels like blind faith, not something really real.  In other words, if life feels like this most or even a lot of the time, it seems like a very weak case indeed to go on living.  

I exercised and did a lot with the kids this weekend, but I am feeling extremely, oppressively guilty, ashamed/embarrassed, angry/fearful and hopeless about whether I will be able to really take care of them, and then secondarily to provide a good quality of life or stability for them.  Naturally, I do believe (at least in the abstract) that this is a deception or a least a function of the malady of depression.  Unfortunately, this doesn't change the fact that I feel an overwhelming impulse to cease living and just get on with oblivion, which seems so obviously preferable.  

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You owe it to your kids to never give up. I know that sounds trite, but it's true. Call it the curse of having kids (or more appropriately one of the many curses that comes with having kids). Of course we say "totally worth it". Who knows if that's true. But it is what it is.

My husband's father committed suicide at 43 years old and it affected him very badly for many years. To this day, on holidays (especially yesterday), he gets very emotional and angry with his father for "abandoning" the family.

There are always solutions. Sometimes you just need to scrap everything and start over. Maybe leave the legal field completely. What did you study in undergrad?

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15 minutes ago, morecoffee said:

You owe it to your kids to never give up. I know that sounds trite, but it's true. Call it the curse of having kids (or more appropriately one of the many curses that comes with having kids). Of course we say "totally worth it". Who knows if that's true. But it is what it is.

My husband's father committed suicide at 43 years old and it affected him very badly for many years. To this day, on holidays (especially yesterday), he gets very emotional and angry with his father for "abandoning" the family.

There are always solutions. Sometimes you just need to scrap everything and start over. Maybe leave the legal field completely. What did you study in undergrad?

It doesn't sound trite.  Along with my wife, they are what I love most in the world and thus also that tether me most to this life.
I do realize that leaving via su*cide would have enormously negative impact on all of them.  And I care deeply about that.

I would only go through with it if the sheer pain of living exceeded my ability to cope (I feel like that is stating the obvious, but also is missed sometimes).  I don't think of it as a justification or moral or philosophical 'warrant', but nevertheless a simple cause-and-affect reality in the same way a person who carried a heavy and increasing weight on their backs would eventually be physically crushed by it.  We may fault them if we thought they failed to do all they could to remove the weight, but not for the giving out and dying part.

This is not an analogy I thought of; rather I read it in the opening pages of a book on the subject written by a psychiatrist who has long run a su*cide crisis center in a big city.  I thought it was apt though.

 

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3 minutes ago, morecoffee said:

That did make me laugh! Thanks for sharing.  Yah, I like to think I would have been fighting alongside of Aaron Eakins 4,000 years ago (or maybe 10 or 20 some had I gone through with going into ROTC or JAG).  

My undergrad was in business administration.  

I fancy myself a frustrated artist, creative type, writer who doesn't write much these days other than here.  Honestly, although I have been looking with fluctuating intensity over the past 8 years in academia, government, non-profit, and private sector, I am pretty open.  I just feel desperate to find some work environment where I can think and breathe again and everything does not have to be done on pace with ultra highly-caffeinated savants or algorithms.  

I acknowledge that some of the reason I say this is that I spent 4 years in college and 3 in law school, although extremely busy, involved and academically accomplished, within the bounds of class schedules and some leadership positions, I got to run my life and schedule as I saw fit, including taking my time, putting requisite thought into what was important, etc.  I have come to view myself in terms of personality, disposition and what I enjoy, as particularly ill-suited for today's whiplash pace of drinking from a fire-hose of information overload and grinding out repetitive documents (as I presently do) or persuading busy professionals not only to meet with me to but buy whatever service or technology they may have absolutely no need or interest in.

Thanks for letting me vent.  I'm going to laugh about the article again and share it with a friend.

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There are so many nonprofits in your area, I bet you could find something easy. But I'm sure you have a salary minimum and a certain quality of life to uphold. Especially holding a JD, there's a lot you can do with that. There are legislative analysts, policy analysts, communication managers, grant writers, etc. There are also a lot of think tanks there, RAND, Brookings, etc...that may have jobs that you'd find interesting. Again though, nonprofit work isn't really how anyone gets rich. If you wanted to go into academic, you could start small, like at a community college, or even an online for-profit college, just to get some teaching experience. Again, pay wouldn't be great, but at least you might enjoy what you do.

Getting a new job suck,  I know. It especially sucks to be qualified for a super niche field and be a total  beginner in everything else. But try to see ahead to the future, and where you could be in 5, 10 years. It would be worth it to take an initia pay cut to love what you do and make decent money in 5-10 years.

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