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Working Stiff: Living (and Dyin’) For a Buck

I will always remember that nauseous feeling.

Working at a high-profile (and high pressure) news publication, I was tasked with covering the day’s judicial decisions. The job was relentless; I wrote 5000 words per day on First Amendment complexities. Most days (although not all), I scraped by–escaping my boss’s venomous wrath.

But not this day.

“Matt, where the hell is your section?” my bullying boss shrieked at me.

My face reddened before I stammered, “Well, we lost wi-fi for about 15 minutes during the computer malfunction. Give me another 10-15 minutes and I’ll have it for you.”

Reid stomped off, muttering a torrent of “goddamns.” And, like clockwork, I then received a disparaging email questioning my timeliness, writing ability, and general competence.

Good times.

One more anecdote (because, well, I can): I remember sitting eye level with the toilet one pressure-packed morning. Beseeching God to just let me get through the day, I strongly debated resigning right then and there. From the verbal abuse to the inexorable pressure to meet the daily 11:30 AM deadline, the work environment had completely depleted me. At the end of that day (and countless others), I shuffled home–a sad mixture of resignation and resentment.

I lasted nine months at the news publication–and consider this one of my prouder career accomplishments. Survive and advance (to the next day), indeed.

More than recounting my daily misery with Hurricane Reid, this article intends to illuminate how anxiety and depression complicate workin’ life.

All of us have had disparaging bosses–the type of sneering headmen that make you dread Sunday night. For me, Reid invoked Sunday night dread (and Monday morning panic). I still cringe at his wild-eyed tirades.

But, truthfully, the job wasn’t the right fit. While the news publication oozed prestige (“Matt–you work there. Wow.”), it also oozed stress. In my unfurnished DC apartment, I rued the day I ever accepted the prestigious job offer.

The lesson learned (other than politics is a dirty game): Find a job where you can thrive–mental health warts and all.

As mental health consumers, we require uniquely tailored positions–jobs reflective of our employment strengths (and weaknesses). In my case, I need a job that offers collegiality, scheduling flexibility, and independence. A reality–and one that, at times, I still struggle to accept: I can’t do every job out there–even if I desperately want to be a sharp-tongued courtroom lawyer or hard-hitting political reporter.

Mental illness forces us to confront our truth–however uncomfortable. Yes, we need to take mood altering medication(s). Yes, we need to schedule a(nother) counseling session. And, yes, we need to adjust–even adapt–our employment expectations.

Here’s the thing: For as bad as Hurricane Reid (or insert name of your own disparaging boss) can be, know that you have already weathered something more volatile–and sinister–than your boss’s mood swings. And that, my friend, is more impressive than any nine to five–however high-profile (and, yes, high pressure).

Working Stiff: Living (and Dyin’) For a Buck

Matthew Loeb

Matthew Loeb is a recovering attorney, part-time graduate student, and full-time mental health advocate. He shares stories and strategies about living--and thriving (at least some days)--with OCD.

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APA Reference
Loeb, M. (2019). Working Stiff: Living (and Dyin’) For a Buck. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Feb 2019
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