2 more reader updates

Here are our two final reader updates from this batch.

1. The reader whose manager was overly confrontational with other departments (#1 at the link)

I talked with my manager about the meeting, and told him I didn’t see evidence of a lot of the problems he had with the department. For example, he felt one of the staff members was always defensive about her work, but she didn’t come across as defensive that day. I think I got him to cede a little ground, but he still maintained his aggressive attitude towards the other department.

In the end it didn’t matter, since a month later, the new VP of our department fired my boss and restructured. She wasn’t in the meeting where he was a jerk, but I think she fired him mostly for personality reasons. We’re still hiring his replacement and I’ve taken on a lot of stretch projects in his absence. When I joined projects with the other department, they were totally thrilled to have me on board.

My new VP is doing strategic planning with my department, and during a SWOT, I mentioned the tension between the two departments and that it’s impacted my work in that I’ve felt like I’ve needed to apologized for our department. With the new VP, that aggressive attitude towards the other department has largely dissolved. My old VP encouraged that attitude towards the other department, and I think my old manager and other department managers played into that to get on her good side. My new VP is much more collaborative and easier to work for than my old VP, and it’s like our whole department is recovering from workplace PTSD.

I’ve really tried to take your “awesome hard-ass” mantra to heart and be a total rock star in my work. I’m relatively new in my career, and so far it’s been a productive example to follow. My new VP thinks I’m doing great work and just gave me a 26% raise, which is absolutely unheard of in my nonprofit. I thought it was funny that last year when my old boss gave me a 10% raise, he talked up how 10% is a huge raise in our nonprofit.

Thanks for all your advice, specifically for this question as well as generally!

2. The reader wondering about whether to disclose depression to a manager (#3 at the link)

First, I want to thank you and your readers for the kind and thoughtful comments! Some of the stories and information shared were very helpful, and I still refer to them months later. The comment from “The Editor” (May 21, 9:55 AM) meant a lot to me, especially being in a male-dominated field, so I hope he is reading this and knows how much I appreciated it!

As an update, I’m approaching a year since my initial breakdown and have come a long way. Therapy and antidepressants are helping, but it was also a huge step to follow your advice and tell my manager what was happening. She was very understanding, helped me get my workload back under control, and even told me about a close family member who had a similar problem. Saying it was a huge relief is an understatement! Since then I’ve gotten some additional responsibilities with visibility to senior leadership, a great review with a salary increase, and my confidence is more or less restored. My work life is going very well, even if my personal life still needs some work.

As a side note, at the holidays I wanted to do something to show my manager how grateful I was for everything she’s done, but she follows your philosophy of gifts only flowing downward (Woohoo!) So I gave her a card with a note thanking her for everything, with specific examples… and it seemed like she really appreciated it! So here is another vote for not giving extravagant gifts to managers.

{ 10 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for this*

    #2. OP, I’m so glad you have such a kind and understanding manager! And good for you for not only keeping up with your treatment, but for showing your appreciation for your manager through that card. The depression and anxiety is a long road (9 years of varying difficulty for me), but when I’m consistent with meds, doctors, exercise, diet, work and as much as I can, that’s when I feel the best. Good luck to you.

  2. The Editor*


    Well thanks!!! I’m glad life is looking up. As I’ve battled my own depression, I’ve learned so very much about me, who I am, and how I function. Looking back, I’m sure I’ll see everything I went through as some of the stormiest moments of my life, but it is also a time rich with blessings and personal growth. It’s so hard to see that some times, and I’ve asked my wife to help point that out to me.

    Here’s to continued growth and happiness for us both!

  3. Alsome*

    Been there with depression and anxiety, it’s rough. I’m glad things are better for you now OP!

  4. Anon*

    I am so glad this worked out for OP 2. I am also a depression sufferer but choose not to share this at work except with one coworker who is also a friend. My supervisor is great about health stuff: when I met with him after being out for a full week (right after a Christmas trip that I couldn’t cancel or shorten, and was barely healthy enough to go on), he stopped me and told me I never needed to tell him about my health. Even though it was pretty clear that that illness was just the flu/bronchitis, nothing personal or private.

    Other people in my office sometimes ask how I’m doing when I am gone for a day or clearly out of it. I know I don’t have to tell them, but I also know they are just expressing concern, so I go with “headaches”. This pretty much covers the concentration problems and seeming generally down, and the problem I had of being out sick for one day and then back the next day appearing physically healthy. There’s also no gross-out factor and it’s not very interesting for people to keep talking to you about. Stress headaches are common with depression too, so very often it’s the truth. Just a thought for those who feel they can’t share.

  5. Arbynka*

    I agree with everyone on #2 and like to say that it looks like things have improved for #1 since the new VP took charge.

  6. Cube Ninja*

    For OP #1, I’d just like to offer congratulations not just on things getting better, but on the huge raise. Make no mistake, a 10% raise in most professional settings is very significant (and uncommon in my experience). A 26% raise is pretty well unheard of for anyone outside the executive level. :)

  7. Anon*

    I’m glad that things worked out for OP #2. I have had a long struggle with depression and bipolar and have had very bad luck when it comes to telling employers about it. I, unfortunately, have gotten to the point where I don’t feel comfortable talking about it in the workplace. In my experience, that has been the quickest way for a job to ask you to leave or take your responsibilities away to make you want to leave, regardless of what they ADA actually says about it. While many employers may be understanding about it, I have discovered many more that simply don’t want to deal with the perceived “baggage”.

    1. Leigh*

      I didn’t see the OP’s question at the time or I would have spoken up then, but like you my husband suffers with depression and the only time he disclosed it to an employer, he was fired a week later. We filed a claim with the EEOC but they couldn’t gather enough evidence to do anything about it; but thankfully he was able to file for and receive unemployment.

      I’d advise anyone thinking of disclosing something like this to be very, very careful. My husband thought his boss was kind and understanding, and he turned out to be quite the opposite.

  8. FRRibs*

    Glad to hear things are doing well #2. I was completely worthless for three months after I had a major life change, but thankfully management didn’t kick me out the door and now I’m only mostly worthless.

    Keep plugging away!

  9. LabRatnomore*

    #1, Wow a 26% raise that is unheard of. My wife got a 17% raise at a fortune 500 company and that had to be approved by the second in command!

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