That prolonged job search you are in right now might be doing serious damage to your psychological process; how you view the world, your self-ego and overall mental fitness. Of this you may already be aware, but I suspect no matter how much you think you have the whole picture, there is much more going on you are unaware of.
Just as a wonderful end result often has many small steps and one thing builds on another until you ultimately reach the prize at the end, so too is the slide that can result in full-blown depression, serious mental illness and social anxiety. My hope is that you recognize enough in yourself where things aren’t healthy and you will seek out professional help.
Everyone generally concedes that looking for work can be stressful. If you have a job, there is security in knowing you have a source of income while you look for another position, but you have the internal conflict of continuing to physically work with a company that you’ve mentally already left. When you make the decision to look for a job somewhere else or sometimes even another position with the same employer, you can’t help but contract some of your full-blown enthusiasm for the job you have at the moment. You’re just not 100% invested in any long-term objectives the way you would if you were in for the long haul.
So it’s no wonder that your energy is divided now between your current job responsibilities and all the things associated with finding new employment. Scouring websites, writing cover letters, modifying resumes, sending emails, making phone calls, setting up meetings: are you doing these on company time with your employers permission, on company time without their knowledge or consent, or maybe trying to do all of this outside of work on your lunch and after hours? Energy divided when you only have the same amount of energy to begin with means your work is not at its high level of excellence.
Of course, if you are entirely unemployed you don’t have the problem of dividing your energy between a job you have and looking for a new one. However, without discipline you have the stress of being easily distracted from the ‘work’ of looking for a job and the relative pleasure of reading a book, lazing on a beach or lounging around the house. Your available energy is also finite and if you allow your focus to drift in other areas, your psyche can be damaged through guilt because you aren’t looking intently on top of your unemployment.
Even the best of us who should know better can find ourselves side-tracked into doing other activities when we know we should be job searching; we justify it at the time using some perverted logic and then later feel the guilt of knowingly having put off what we needed to be doing if our situation is going to change.
One feeling you might be having is that the world is continuing to turn, the clock still ticks with every single second, the world in fact seems to be functioning very nicely whether you are part of it or not (with respect to having work and contributing). All of a sudden, you might feel displaced, invisible, not needed or even missed.
If you are lucky, you’ll realize that only you are 100% invested in your eventual future employment, and only you can really do all the things you need to change your unemployed status and so you shake things off and find both the motivation and energy to get down to work. If you are less fortunate, this isolation and lack of seemingly even being missed can trick you into possible self-pity, hopelessness, isolating yourself and justifying it saying things like, “Nobody misses me anyhow.”
This latter response is dangerous to your psyche; how you see the world can become so distorted you might rationalize in an unbalanced state that the world wouldn’t miss you if you physically checked out in addition to having socially checked out – and thoughts of ending it all start becoming more common.
Unfortunately mental fitness isn’t as easily detected as physical fitness. We can look and see someone who is obese, sneezing, sluggish, frequently missing time due to physical illness etc. Less obvious are the signs of mental illness, especially in the early stages where someone might be going out of their way to appear upbeat, ‘normal’ etc. So where someone might downplay a cold or a headache, someone else might smile more to compensate for mild anxiety or stress.
Getting help from a Mental Health professional (and I’m not one of them so no self-promoting here) is not only a good idea, it’s downright critical. You might as I said earlier not even be entirely aware yourself that you aren’t your normal self. The extent to which your normal balance is off due to your stressors, might have you thinking that your 10 degree shift on the old balance meter is actually your ‘normal’ setting – but it isn’t.
Getting in touch with a Mental Health agency can be a boost to your self-image and self-esteem. You’re taking a step to get a mental health check-up if nothing else. If there is a problem, you’re on the way to addressing it before it gains momentum and becomes a bigger problem. That’s not a weakness my friend, that’s wisdom.