Self Care August 5, 2020

Battling Day Job Depression


Hi guys! Just wanted to say this place is amazing, and has given me huge amount of inspiration. My biggest obstacle that I have faced in this journey, is dealing with depression that stems from my day job. I'm only 21 years old, and have worked at 3 different companies as a software engineer. Ive been working professionally for about 2 years now.

I genuinely can't believe how bad it has gotten, but these jobs have sucked the life out of me. I still try to figure out side gigs, and brainstorm ideas every single day. It's safe to say 99% of my time outside of work is thinking about what I can do to escape it.

When I work on my own projects, I feel extremely motivated and useful. I suppose working everyday for a company/project that you could really care less for takes its toll over the long run. In the past, I kept telling myself a new job would solve the problem. Hence the 3 jobs in 2 years. Now I have accepted that I just won't feel content working for a company. Especially considering my current job is full time remote and very fair as far as work goes.

I was hoping to find anyone on here that feels similar. Would love to hear how you take on this feeling. I wish I could be more grateful for what I have, I am truly extremely blessed. But it's just like I can only cover up this feeling so much. Thanks guys, and sincerely wish everyone success.

  1. 3

    For most of us, working for somebody else is simply a means to pay your bills. Keep that perspective and don't let it get in the way of anything else you want to do. Also keep in mind that day jobs are a business transaction, and a business transaction only. If you're not deriving sufficient value from their side of the equation, find one that will.

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    Your story is similar to mine and many other Indie Hackers here. I used to feel like that and the fact that I was battling my day job was having negative impact on my personal life, then one day I changed it forever and now I'm done and dusted with it! Here is how I did it.

    • I quit my job and got a full-time job that pays more and demands less from me, because the new job is kinda easy, I can focus on my own ideas. That was my plan.

    • I started thinking positively about the day job. I think of it as startup that yields good amount of money a month which helps me to build my other startup :) I simply changed my perspective and I don't feel negative about day job anymore.

    • Started a 2-years plan to make myself 100% financially independent from this day-job startup and contributing to the plan EVERY SINGLE DAY :)

    • Constantly reward myself as I'm dedicated to achieve my goal so don't forget to REWARD YOURSELF :)

    All the best my friend and welcome to IH.

    1. 1

      Do you have any more info on the two year plan? Or at least a place to start making my own? Thanks!

      1. 1

        Hey Kirpal

        I haven't shared anything publicly but I have a couple of things in mind:

        • Whatever I do, I should be really passionate about it because if I'm not passionate enough, I will let it go at some point and won't be able to make a living out of it.

        • Whatever I do, I should be really good at it or willing to become really good at it otherwise I won't be able to bring real value to my potential customers and make a living out of it.

        • If I'm not good at something and not willing to become good (just because I'm not interested), I should partner with someone who is really good at that thing that is critical to the success of my venture (sales, marketing etc).

        I sat and thought of things that I'm good at it:

        • Software Engineering (good and passionate)
        • Test Automation (good and passionate)

        I'm currently in process of building a tool that simplifies software test automation.

        Throughout my career, I have worked with a lot of engineers and mentored many juniors. People often tell me I'm a good teacher so I'm going to mix my knowledge of software engineering and my experience with teaching others and do a POC of an idea in form of videos, if that works I might be able to make a Saas.

        I used to work for a realestate startup. While working there, I met a nice guy in sales who's into startups as well and we're thinking of doing something together. He's really good at sales (and got the network) and I'm good at product development and we both trust each other and get along well.

        I'm trying to look at everything from a business point of view, looking for inspirations by consuming more business-related content. Software Ideas and are two of my favourite newsletters and I highly recommend them.

        All the best.

        1. 1

          Wow I really resonate with all of that. Thanks for such an in depth reply!

          Right now I would be going into second year of a CS degree, but I'm taking a semester off in the fall to do an internship. I'm trying to figure out what I really want from my career, because my whole year at school I didn't feel like it was a positive use of my time, so I think I'll try to find a job (in software engineering) instead of going back to school.

          Eventually, I'd like to work full time on a side project, but nothing I've made so far makes enough money 😅. I agree with your last paragraph too, in addition, I also enjoy reading business books and listening to related podcasts (which is how I found indiehackers).

          Best of luck with your projects!

  3. 2

    I was in your position 3 years ago.

    One day I just quit, had like only 3 months of money saved. I was so relieved, but also pressured to get money somehow. The most short-term thing I could think was freelancing, so I went and spent a week just e-mailing people, sending messages on freelance websites, etc, and managed to get work.

    For me, it solved part of the problem, because as a freelancer I could work hard 2 months and then spend 2 months doing something else(like IndieHacking).

    So I definitely can relate, but can't actually recommend the same path as it is really risky.

  4. 2

    I'm in my 40's now but I remember in my early 20's that I wanted career progression too fast. I thought I should be able to get that transfer or promotion in six months, for example. I don't want to wait two years for that!!! I found that I was too impatient which caused job unhappiness. Some things do come with time. My two cents.

  5. 2

    I can relate and I'm sure a lot of people on IH can as well - I've felt this way at a day job and it's pretty normal. I'd suggest a few things.

    1. Find someone you can talk to on a weekly basis about this. Just being able to verbalize regularly will help. Even a remote therapist might be a good idea.
    2. Maybe look to get work off Upwork for awhile - that way it's more project based.
    3. Look to get a job with an early stage company so you can be more aligned with the Founder. Check out for job postings.
  6. 1

    It takes a long time to get used to being an employee and keeping a regular schedule. I'm not sure if that is at the expense of entrepreneurial urges or whatever, but for me it was about having the work not be too easy or too difficult, and the company itself providing a meaningful service. I have been doing this for 10 years. I think 2 is not enough to make a generalization, especially if you have never stayed at a job over 10 months.

    When things are going well, I can say to myself that I'll stay at a company at least a couple more years. Anything less, and it's probably time to get out as soon as you can.

    Even when you are experienced, I think the first 3 months can be considered ramp-up time. The first year you can pretty much work on small-scoped things and expand your scope over time. Personally, I think I learn fast, but it takes me longer than you have ever worked on one thing to feel comfortable doing invasive changes across a new-to-me complex codebase.

    So maybe it gets better.

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    Hi @mrich6347

    Seeing the title of your post, I knew exactly what the post would say. The only surprise was your young age.

    I've been struggling with depression for the exact same reason. In fact, except for your age and years of experience, I could have written your post to the letter.

    Just like you, I dream of starting a side-business.

    What's your area of specialty? Mine are backend programming and mathematical analysis.

  8. 1

    I think the problem is to care just enough, but not more, about your day job. This is actually harder than it sounds. Only a minority of us is naturally at ease with a mercenary mindset.

    The first step is to be clear what it means for you to invest a lot in your job, or to just work 'good enough' in your workplace context. Maybe your current company has an 'up or out' culture, and working 'just enough' is not really an option.

    More likely, your current company is actually happy if you stay long enough and work good enough, and is relieved to have at least someone who will not ask for career progression constantly but just be happy doing his job. In my experience of manager in a large companies, such people are really a relief and easy to manage. They seem more happy too.

    Then, you need to accept the consequences of a good-enough engagement level yourself. You are clearly there to pay the bill, but you will not find tremendous career progress here.

    The final step is probably to explain in the appropriate way to your company what your engagement choice is. The common 'propaganda' of anyone having a great career and maximum engagement exists almost everywhere. However, many managers understand they do not need only 'alpha' profiles to have a stable work environment, as not everybody will get the best opportunities.

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    I feel your pain. I’ve been there. This is my story.

    Graduated school and couldn’t find a job for 4 months. Finally got a job in SEO/Online Marketing, kept it for a year and then left to try my luck at building a Zoom meets Netflix startup. I gave up 3 months in, found another job.

    Second job in payment processing, was there for a year. Left for my dream job working at EA, and told myself “if this doesn’t work out, I’ll need to work for myself moving forward”. Turned out I loved it, never wanted to leave. But... They ended up closing the studio 8 months after I joined.

    Luckily, ended up at a small mobile gaming startup that wanted to open up an office in Montreal. Took the job and it changed my life.

    7 years later, I’m now starting to think about independence again. And IH is helping immensely with this.

    TLDR, you have two options. Change fields/industries until you find your groove or do your own thing. Both have pros and cons. Weigh them.

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    Hey man, thanks for being candid.

    I'm a full time teacher and part time freelance writer. Right now, we are planning for our students in a total mist...spending hours a day not knowing what school's really gonna look like in a couple of weeks. Concerns over safety.

    Here's some random thoughts / things that help me...

    1. Not being in front of the screen the whole day. Taking breaks to hang with my family, going for a walk, or doing random push-ups.
    2. Right now during the Pandemic where stress is high, making HUGE changes is not the best idea unless necessary. If you can shift into a more positive work environment for certain, then maybe it may help.
    3. Deep down, we have great needs in our souls. Things our work and success can never really offer us. I wrote on this a few months ago when the pandemic hit hard:
      I hope it brings some encouragement.
    4. Rest and talk with people. Reach out to others. Feel free to DM some of us IH peeps. You can get me @ScriptureSauce or @jordanjhopkins on Twitter.
    5. Think long game. Work is stressful, even under the best employers. I have two really cool jobs (teaching and writing), but there are days when I want to run from them too. Finding ways to make small positive changes each day will help. I find when I think only about the bad things, my days tend to suck more. :-D

    Thanks again for sharing!

    His joy,

  11. 1

    Something that might help you is thinking more deeply about why you are depressed at your job. It sounds like you think your job is fair so the reasons are likely to be more intrinsic. But here are some reasons you can think about:

    • Are you not motivated by the day-to-day work that you're doing? Is it boring for you? Are you not learning enough?
    • Do you not believe in the mission of the company? With COVID-19 I think a lot of us are re-evaluating what really matters in life. Is the company mission not really that impactful or fulfilling to you?
    • Do you not like working with your co-workers? Are you unhappy with your manager?

    Those are just a few examples, but depending on your answers, I think you'll find more clarity in what your next steps are -- whether that's finding a new job, working on a side project along your full-time job, or quitting your job to pursue your own projects after accumulating enough savings.

  12. 1

    A lot of people will relate to you here. I posted something similar the other month and it got a lot of responses.

    It seems that it isn't just that you were working under too much pressure, or in a bad environment, at least not in your latest role, but just that you are not motivated to do the job.

    I have always had that same feeling when being an employee, seeing it as other people getting rich off of the back on my work. But I haven't exactly made strides to go about changing that so I cannot really complain.

    I'm getting very fed up of my developer role I've been in for 12 months exactly (today's the anniversary I just realised) and I thought it was maybe just that I had been on poor projects and things would get better, but they all seemingly go the same way.

    Been actively looking for a new role, and who knows how hard it will be in the coming months to find new work with all the uncertainty of the covid fallout. But I think I know, deep down, that even if I found a new role and the atmosphere was better and the projects run smoother, I will still not be truly content until I am working purely for my own gain and not for somebody else.

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      mind if I ask, is it that you don't want others to be successful based on your efforts, or you think you could make yourself more successful in your own direction?

      What's different about an employer vs a client when you are working for yourself?

      1. 1

        Oh not at all, I don't begrudge people running companies.
        It is about knowing that I could be using my skills and efforts and get the maximum rewards.

        I think there's quite a big difference between employer and clients, and of course each comes with its own stresses and headaches.

        In a SaaS world you need to please and retain clients, but ultimately you're in control of how you go about it, day to day. What you're going to implement, how you develop. You don't need permission to take the day off if you're not feeling it.

        I've no problem working 10-12 hours of the day if I was doing it for myself. In work I don't intend to work a minute beyond my 9-5:30 hours. Although lately I have been doing more, due to pressure of deadlines, and ultimately I have a boss to appease.

  13. 1

    If you are unhappy, why are you working full time?

    1. 2

      Because it is my only source of income, and bills.

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