I can’t seem to stop being late to meetings

A reader writes:

With COVID still in full force and us working from home for months now, I’ve had a recurring issue with me constantly being late to meetings. At the beginning of this year and again in June, I told my manager I was burnt out due to constantly being overlooked at work, not having coworkers on my team willing to guide me and advocate for me, dealing with toxic coworkers, and also being non-binary and in the closet, which in turn has forced me to have my guard up 24/7. As someone who has dealt with insomnia and ADHD since I was a little kid, and with it worsening due to home confinement and stress as a result of feeling left out, undermined, and disempowered at this job, honestly I think the reason I am late to meetings is because a) there really isn’t any point to them when I give the same updates and no pertinent information is divulged, and b) they are WAY too early (8 am), on account of us having members of the team who in Asia (although I’ve also sometimes been late to 9:30 meetings), and I often get four or five hours of sleep or oversleep.

I don’t know what to do anymore, because I was recently told by my manager that I should take some sort of personal leave for my health, but I feel it is disingenuous to put the onus on me in this way. I feel horrible about constantly being late, but I also feel like my calls to address problems like toxic coworkers and toxic team dynamics have fallen on deaf ears and don’t seem to be as big of a problem as my punctuality to meetings. I have also felt my boss has used my calls for him to be more present in our process as a way to police me and my punctuality instead of being concerned with what the team is working on.

In addition, the fact that my boss has disclosed information about my personal life to the team without my consent, made fun of my hobbies, refused to compromise when I offered suggestions as to how I could be on time to meetings (like offering to push meetings back 30 minutes, or starting work at 8:45 instead of 8:30), seen my coming out as “unrelated” to my punctuality and my ability to work with others, and has kept pushing back the time he expects me to be in the office makes me feel like nothing I have said has been taken into consideration, which makes me more burnt out, which in turn makes me late and sleep deprived.

It sounds like you’re having a really tough time, and I’m sorry you’re struggling!

Here’s the thing though: Most bosses are going to treat you being on time for meetings as a totally separate issue from things like toxic coworkers. And that’s not unreasonable. You can’t really say “I don’t think I should have to do Work Requirement X because you haven’t dealt with Unrelated Problem Y.” You can certainly think to yourself, privately, that your boss has weird priorities! But you won’t get much traction arguing that you should be given a pass on lateness because other problems haven’t been unaddressed. Most managers are still going to hold you to the core expectations of your job.

And of course, it’s possible that your boss doesn’t share your perspective on the problems or has decided other things are more important to focus on right now. Or maybe he’s a wimp or a bad manager who doesn’t know how to address the problems you’re flagged. Whatever’s going on there, though, he does still have standing to ask you to be on time to meetings.

So, where does that leave you?

If being on time for those meetings isn’t essential to your job responsibilities, you could look into getting a formal medical accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which could give you some breathing room. At this point, if you don’t think you realistically can do what your boss is asking, that’s likely the way to go.

But if this is less about medical needs and more about feeling there’s no point to the meetings … you’ve got to show up for them anyway. Your employer gets to require you to be on time to meetings, even pointless meetings. If you think they’re unnecessary, you can make your case for that — but if your boss overrules you, you need to show up for the meetings.

So if a medical accommodation isn’t an option, then I think you’ve got to look at the facts as they exist: Your boss hasn’t shown he plans to address the toxicity you see on your team, despite your explicit requests, so let’s assume that’s not going to change for the foreseeable future. You can’t make him see those things differently; you’ve tried, and he’s not coming round. He still expects you to be on time to meetings and, whether or not you think that’s reasonable, it’s a call he gets to make.

But perhaps most importantly, you sound really, really done with this job. You’re burned out, you feel overlooked and undermined, you have serious concerns about your coworkers, and you feel on-guard 24-7.

Given all that … is this a job you want to stay in? It sounds like you’re miserable, and like the things that are making you miserable aren’t going to change, and that you’re being held to requirements you don’t feel you can meet. I would be looking at other options. I know that’s easier said than done, but I don’t think this is a battle you’re going to win.

{ 584 comments… read them below }

  1. Steveo*

    One of the reasons co-workers may not be willing to advocate for you or guide you could be that you are missing required meetings – ones that they are attending. I know that I would not go out of my way to help a teammate who was not being part of the team by missing calls or being late to them. Whatever the internal reasons are, externally it appears selfish.

    1. singularity*

      Yeah, that’s definitely something that could be contributing to it. If it were *me* I’d be afraid of offering unsolicited advice or help. Some people get really insulted by that and jump to conclusions.

    2. Mama Bear*

      I also wonder why there is this expectation. If OP is young, they may not be accustomed to working independently (or with ADHD really need some strict guidance) or advocating for themselves. It’s hard to say without any specifics why OP expects coworkers to mentor them in this way. I will train someone in a new role, but there is a point at which they are expected to know the job. It sounds like OP is well past training and this job just isn’t a good fit.

      1. Steveo*

        100% – This job isn’t a good fit and in reality the reputation (fair or not) is pretty firm at this point. The OP is missing meetings and wondering why he/she is overlooked – it’s because everyone figures you aren’t going to show up to calls or do required work! Frankly the OP sounds pretty petulant – complaining about being policed on punctuality – showing up on time for team calls is table stakes of being an adult with an adult job.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Side note: OP is nonbinary, so while they did not specify their pronouns, “they” is a decent guess and probably more accurate than he or she.

        2. Jill of All Trades*

          Calling them “petulant” and saying that these are the stakes of being an adult with an adult job doesn’t seem like it’s very helpful for OP.

          OP may not fit well into this environment, regardless of why. I think Alison’s advice is sound.

          1. Mrs_helm*

            Petulant is pretty spot on for “I shouldn’t have to be on time for meetings if boss doesn’t have to do (thing I asked about)”. It may not be kind, but they may need to hear that.

            1. SatsumaWolf*

              I seem to have read this letter differently than some people – I interpreted the issue stated as “people are toxic, this (along with other things) is affecting my mental health, which in turn is affecting my punctuality”. I think what they are looking for is the manager to address things that are affecting their mental health so they can perform better not that they’re expecting a quid pro quo.
              OP says they think taking time off for to help adress mental health needs places the onus on them and, while well yeah, your mental health IS your concern and you dk need to take care of it, its hard to say that it’s all the OPs fault when workplace toxicity is allowed to run rampant (if this is what’s happening)

                1. valentine*

                  I interpreted the issue stated as “people are toxic, this (along with other things) is affecting my mental health, which in turn is affecting my punctuality”.
                  I thought this as well, but OP does not name the environment as a reason for their lateness.

                  OP, how can your colleagues changing their behavior have a domino effect on lateness you ascribe to, first, surprisingly, the uselessness (to you) of the meetings, and only second to the time/lifelong insomnia. It also doesn’t make sense to insist on the time as a problem or to ask to start work later when you’ve been late to 9:30 meetings.

                  (As a night person, all pre-noon hours are abominable, noon is also often untenable, and there are zero good reasons for much work to begin before 2 pm. When I think about having to start work at 9, it seems like a medieval torture. It’s easier to go to bed then. The US has an egregious obsession with getting up early just for the sake of it and treats sleep as a forbidden luxury.)

                  You told your boss far too much personal information and expected confidentiality they possibly could not provide. I think you’ll be better off in a job with afternoon/evening hours and possibly a split shift, to accommodate a siesta (which you will reveal to no one). Don’t say you’re burned out or tired or can’t sleep or are upset. Say the hours have a positive effect on your work (maybe they improve your focus and production), and colleagues (not) doing xyz has a negative effect (compromising deadlines).

                  I would work with a therapist specializing in ADHD to investigate whether that is the root of the time troubles, and seek a sleep study for the insomnia.

              1. M2*

                From what the OP says it doesn’t sound like the coworkers are toxic. The OP wants them to advocate and guide them. That isn’t the job of your coworkers. Once you are trained yes you need to work with coworkers and be a team and sometimes you will get assistance and coaching, but it isn’t your coworkers job to do your job for you. You need to advocate for yourself and get your work done.

                I also think the LW getting upset because the manager won’t push meetings as a bit selfish. There are people on the calls in Asia! Because you can’t get up for a Zoom call at 8 am (which is a reasonable time) you want your coworkers in Asia who are working 12 or more hours ahead of you to now go to meetings even later after their working hours. This is a reasonable request. I don’t think this job is a good fit, but this type of thing is required at most jobs. It is important to speak with your doctor to get your insomnia and ADHD under control because at most jobs these are requirements you will have to do. I had insomnia for years and I had to get on a strict regime to get it under control. I got in a spiral where I thought it could never change, but in my case I was the main contributor to my insomnia. I spoke with my doctor but getting outside and taking time for myself really helped.

                This letter makes me question OPs judgement and I think it’s a good idea to take some personal time, speak with your doctor, and try and find a better fit elsewhere. And based on what the OP is saying about their manager I think the manager is handling it well. I think the OP taking time off is a good idea. It’s a tough time for everyone and it’s important to take care of yourself. Good luck.

                1. Indigo a la mode*

                  Regarding your first point – while guiding and advocating isn’t your coworkers’ job, it sure is nice to have a team that does those things. I work in a very, very supportive team right now (and personally am willing to go to bat for each of my coworkers), and I think I would be disappointed if my next team wasn’t. I wouldn’t call coworkers who were more “everyone for themselves” toxic, but it would definitely impact my enjoyment of work, and I think that’s fair.

                  But all that is just to confirm your read: This just isn’t a good fit.

                  Also, I totally agree that asking to push meetings that only OP is late for is…pretty self-serving and thoughtless of everyone else’s schedules. As is being tardy to all those meetings.

                2. joss*

                  Just to add one comment to what M2 said. If the people in Asia are 12 hours ahead that would mean they are already eating into their evening to attend this meeting as it will be 8PM over there when these meetings starts. As a real night owl I am not much of a fan of 8am meetings either but I can’t expect someone else to give up even more of their evening just because I consider an 8AM meeting too early. Tslk about having expectations that are “not fair”

                3. Something Clever*

                  ITA. The OP sounds very young and inexperienced with professional norms. Within the first few lines of the post, I thought the OP should be fired. OP blames everyone but themself for OP’s problems and expects the entire team to shift to accommodate OP and then gets mad when coworkers won’t “advocate” and mentor OP.

              2. Alanna*

                “For is the manager to address things that are affecting their mental health so they can perform better” — what you’re describing here kind of is a quid pro quo, though. It’s not reasonable to say, well, all these issues on the team are aggravating my mental health issues and there’s no way I can be on time until you solve them.

                As someone who has ADHD, I also recognize a little bit of my own magical thinking in how OP frames this problem. “I am struggling with punctuality, [other thing] is a problem in my workplace, therefore [other thing] is what’s holding me back from being punctual.” Unfortunately, sometimes problems have been solved at work and what I learn is… they weren’t what was holding me back. Struggling with punctuality is a brain chemistry issue for me, and even though liking my boss, enjoying my job, etc make me more motivated to do a bunch of extra work to try to be on time more than 50% of the time, it’s never going to come easily to me, and I can do that work whether I’m motivated or not.

                1. lailaaaaah*

                  Same here. How I feel about my work definitely affects my mental health and sleeping habits, which do have a knock on effect on punctuality and work quality- but that’s generally my job to work with and fix, not my boss’.

              3. EventPlannerGal*

                I see where you’re coming from, but I think what is disconcerting to me is that OP is sort of bundling up a really large number of issues, some of which are quite vague (what exactly are the colleagues doing that is ‘toxic’?) and some of which are very personal and beyond the remit of colleagues to address, and tossing all of that at the boss in response to the single request that they turn up to meetings on time. There are so many issues here that it almost feels like an attempt at evasion (I don’t think that is what it is, to be clear, but it comes across like that a little) – like, what, OP can’t turn up to meetings on time until their manager ensures they can smoothly come out as non-binary? I think that’s where the manager is coming from by saying that their coming out and their punctuality is unrelated – to use that particular example, whatever long-term things the manager does to create a safe environment for OP to come out, if they have a meeting at 8am tomorrow the manager needs to know OP will show up.

                1. Joielle*

                  This! The OP clearly thinks of “toxic coworkers and toxic team dynamics” as connected to their problems with lateness, but it’s… a high-level connection at best. Yes, if the OP was overall happier in life and at work, they might find it easier to get up on time for meetings. But the most immediate and straightforward of the problems is the lateness.

                  OP, if you make an effort to improve your punctuality, your coworkers may be more inclined to support you and your boss may take your complaints more seriously. People won’t go out of their way to help someone who’s making their life harder.

                2. AllerDerm*

                  The fact that OP didn’t give any examples as to what their coworkers are doing that is considered toxic, I’m a lot less inclined to think that there’s any legitimate toxicity going on. It sounds to me that OP is just stretching to find something to blame their punctuality issue on. Reminds me of a few people in my personal life that really are quite toxic and when you call them out on it they try to turn the tables and gaslight everyone else and say that everyone else is toxic because it certainly can’t be their own fault. And then if you ask them to elaborate on these new complaints they really can’t give you any specifics because there aren’t any.

                3. Mondestrucken*

                  I think you have captured what for me was my feeling about this letter. I’m sorry, OP, that you are struggling, but this is business, and you are failing to meet a fairly common standard: being on time. Do you really expect an international team to change how they do things for your needs? That is not going to happen.

                4. Amaranth*

                  I think OP needs to talk to a therapist and drill down to why they feel overlooked and disempowered at work. The meetings are important so everyone touches base and is connected while WFH, but it sounds like OP resents being required to do anything as part of a team, but then is upset about being closed out of the group as well. I’m also confused as to why OP went from being stressed about being in the closet to stressed about being out. Are they saying the manager outed them?

              4. microgirl*

                This is 100% how I read it too, though admittedly that is because this letter could honest to God have been written by me. I was forced to take extended personal/medical leave a couple of years ago ostensibly because of my “mental health” but also because of productivity issues – issues that were highly impacted by my mental health (turns out I’m autistic and have ADHD, and have a lifetime of anxiety, depression cripplingly low self-belief and low-grade chronic emotional trauma not helped by not knowing I was neurodivergent and thus not getting appropriate support and developing unhelpful coping mechanisms instead, like avoidance).

                My time off work has made me realise that I felt constantly undermined and unsupported; my expertise dismissed because I didn’t hold a senior position (senior positions being far more management, organisation and administration-based and a lot less bench science-based and thus the opposite of my strengths; but I still feel 15 years experience and expertise in that specific field should count for a heck of a lot more than 1 or 2 years experience) and that largely I continued to be tardy, to have self-doubt and crises of confidence and belief in my ability to do my job – which led to be not being able to do all of it because I was afraid to make decisions – because of my anxiety and the messages I was constantly getting that I wasn’t good enough. My decisions would be dismissed or second-guessed or I’d be flat out told after the event that I had made the wrong decision (where my decision was scientific rigour but the “right” decision would have been whatever took less time to get results, even if those results weren’t as thorough). I’d get so anxious about being late that I’d be scared to leave the house and would thus, of course, be late.

                And I’m still trying to learn that the job not suiting me is not because I’m not good enough, but because I am unwilling or unable to sacrifice certain requirements that I hold to be vital in science in order to service a high-throughput patient diagnostic laboratory where genuinely a “good enough” result in a shorter time frame is better than a precise, accurate and exact result that takes so long the patient has deteriorated.

            2. JessaB*

              I am however wondering if the other issues are making it hard for the OP to go. If subconsciously they’ve internalised “they’re not helping me,these meetings, I have no spoons left because bosses are not dealing with x.” that’s an issue that may need to be discussed with a boss.

        3. MissThing*

          Oh boy, do I agree. If you’re an adult, and you have a job with a meeting that starts at 8:00AM, and you roll in at 8:10AM, it’s not that you CAN’T be in on time, it’s that you won’t be in on time because you’re acting like a child not an adult. If you’re getting 5 hours of sleep, get 10 mins less of it and snooze that alarm one less time like a grown up. I would fire this person if I managed them. If I had a meeting where I addressed their tardiness and they had the gall to say they aren’t on time for meetings because of a “toxic” environment, I’d fire them faster.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            That is incredibly dismissive of people with ADHD and other conditions that affect their ability to be on time. Arriving on time may be a legitimate job requirement in your field, and you may genuinely be unable to accommodate employees whose disabilities make sticking to a schedule more difficult. You may have to fire them if they can’t manage a critical job function. That’s fine.

            Calling people childish for it is not okay.

            I agree that OP needs to work on management for their ADHD and insomnia. They probably need professional help, a lot of time, and possibly medication in order to get this under control. None of that will be quick even if they put in 100% effort starting immediately. If you’re so sleep deprived you sleep through any alarm you try, if you’re struggling with time-blindness or hyperfocus that keeps you from being aware that you’re approaching the meeting time, if you lack the executive functioning ability to organize your morning routine so you’ll be able to arrive on schedule, then until you find mechanisms to cope with the underlying problems it IS that you CAN’T be on time, not that you WON’T.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            This is not reflective of reality. There are quite a lot of number of things that can make it genuinely difficult to get out of bed early in the morning, and more and more research shows that the “early bird vs night owl” thing is very real and many of us are night owls who are trying to force ourselves on an early bird schedule because that’s the way the world is designed. So maybe you should take a minute to appreciate that you are lucky to apparently have no problem waking up early in the morning and functioning in the world as it is designed rather than dismissing everyone whose brain and body work differently than yours as “acting like children.”

      2. Amtelope*

        Yes, if OP is young and this is a first post-college job, or a very early-career job: one thing that can be hard to adjust to after school is that co-workers are not there to “guide and advocate for you.” No one is your teacher, no one is there to educate you or try to make things easier specifically for you. Past an initial training stage, you’re there to do your share of the work, and you’re expected to shoulder your part of the load.

        1. MH rn*

          Yeah I’m lucky to have a very supportive team environment but there are still a few coworkers I’ve had who struggled and insisted that if someone would just mentor them a bit more they’d become a good fit. But truthfully it just wasn’t a job they were ever going to be comfortable in/excel at and attempts to provide guidance were usually rebuffed. I’m sure they would describe us as toxic, but really just nothing was a good fit for anyone.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            I have been this employee! I had one job that was particularly a bad fit and I failed miserably – but I liked my co-workers and the job itself and just kept on thinking and saying to anyone who would listen – “If I had more support from my manager I’d be better at this”…when the reality was I was never, ever going to be good at it.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      Exactly this. The meetings are at 8:00 am to accommodate teams elsewhere on the planet who are working after or well before normal business hours. Requesting a later start for your benefit, when the meetings are already scheduled for your benefit by being during your normal working day, is extremely tone deaf.

      I don’t want to sound mean, but if the OP thinks that moving the meetings is a realistic accommodation, I’m questioning OP’s judgment on their interactions with their coworkers as well.

      1. EmbracesTrees*

        I was thinking this exactly. I could be wrong but OP sounds like a young person who hasn’t yet internalized office norms … like starting work at 8am, or — even if they don’t typically start that early — sometimes needing to work outside typical hours in order to accommodate others.
        OP’s anxiety about this is palpable and I feel for them — and I found myself not fully sympathetic. I think it’s because of what I said above — they appear to want to be accommodated but are not willing to do that for their job or for others they work with.

        1. Annony*

          I got the same impression. Expecting a compromise on when the meeting starts when the reason it is so early is to accommodate other time zones and the reason to move it is that OP oversleeps seems a little out of touch.

          There is obviously a lot that is going on both at work and in the OPs life that doesn’t fit in the letter. And this is information that even the OP’s coworkers may not have (and shouldn’t have). But it may be helpful for the OP to try to take a step back and try to see how they appear to their coworkers and boss. Being consistently late to meetings and complaining about coworkers may be contributing to the problems. If the only solutions they propose involve other people changing to accommodate them, then it isn’t a surprise that their coworkers keep a distance or that their manager sees the tardiness as a bigger issue than the coworkers attitude.

          When you are deeply unhappy about work it can be hard to be objective. I have been guilty of that as well. But if the OP wants their manager to work with them on fixing things they have to be willing to take on some the work as well.

        2. Don’t shoot the manager*

          Yeah… I just keep thinking, if the other team came back and said “hey this is completely out our our workday, can we move it half an hour earlier to accommodate our entire team” what OPs reaction would be.

        3. Joielle*

          Yeah – needing to work outside typical hours because of time zone issues is such a common thing, I’m not surprised that the OP’s boss wasn’t open to moving meetings later as a “compromise.” Over the past few weeks, my husband has been working with teams in Europe and Asia, so he’ll sometimes have days with 6 am and 8 pm meetings. It’s not ideal, and his boss recognizes and appreciates how hard he works (and this particular project won’t go on forever), but as part of a global company, sometimes everyone has to work outside their preferred hours because there just aren’t that many waking hours that overlap. “I have a hard time getting up early” is just… not an acceptable reason to push back on these kinds of things.

          And, 8 am is objectively a pretty normal meeting time, not “WAY too early” by general business standards. I’m not sure if OP has told their boss they think the meetings are too early, but I’d advise against it – it would sound really out of touch.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Agreed. 8 am is ridiculously early when you’re in college and staying up late to socialize or work a night job. But it’s a standard start time at most offices. If OP can’t do mornings, then perhaps they need to consider a different career. Or at least working remotely for a company a couple time zones behind where OP lives.

            1. PVR*

              But… even that isn’t exactly true. While 8 am classes weren’t my favorite back then, they still existed and didn’t seem out of the realm of normal hours. (My high school hours were 8 to 3). Sometimes it was hard to make it to class on time if I’d stayed out late, but I was always aware that was a ME problem and not a school or teacher problem.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  I still remember Zoology at 7:30. It was Not Fun. But I was there! (never worked harder for a C in my life, but it was good for me to do so as a freshman, to reset my brain from cruising through HS with straight A’s).

                2. allathian*

                  First lectures started at 8 for me. I worked 2nd and 3rd shift at a 24/7 hamburger place, and the 3rd shift ended at 7. I’d shower and change at work (I’m so, so grateful they had showers for employees!), get some breakfast and head to college three blocks away. No way I could do that now, but I was a lot more resilient in my late teens and early twenties…

                3. Free Meerkats*

                  Marching Band Practice at 0630. Then first class (band, so sometimes it was “Stay out on the field until after 8) at 0730.

                  Now I start at 0730 every day.

                  I’ve ended a romantic relationship over the other person’s inability to be on time – for anything.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              In experience, the best professors wanted to teach at 8:00 am so they could get it out of their way and get on to their research. 8:00 am lectures were my jam.

              1. Charred Samurai*

                Yep – but we, the faculty, also know that the worst, least determined students (generally speaking) will self-select out of 8am and 9am classes. This gets you smaller class sizes and higher-quality students.

                1. Rosalind Franklin*

                  Unless you get the football team taking a class en masse at 7am before (after?) practice.

                  As a student, that’s how you know it’s smooth sailing: walk in to the first day lecture and see the entire back 2 rows taken up by extremely large men in matching sweatsuits.

            3. Paperdill*

              Furthermore, and this is pure speculation, if getting to an 8am meeting is too hard because if insomnia/ADHD/toxic coworkers…I feel that an extra 30-45 minutes is going to make zero difference. A 2pm meeting, possibly, but that tiny and increment…no. OP, I think you will have the same problem and be asking for a 9am meeting before too long.

          2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            I’m trying to imagine asking my boss to start a meeting, even an internal one, late because I had a hard time waking up in the mornings…I just can’t fathom that ever being appropriate in a professional workplace. It’s one of those lessons you learn early in your career and can be a harsh reality after the flexibility of youth and college.

            1. Charred Samurai*

              This ask to shift the team meetings is extremely inappropriate and tone-deaf. My sense is that the letter author is the toxic member of the team themselves and needs a wake-up call to get out of magical reality they constructed.

              1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                Someone else said it upthread, but it bears repeating: if everyone you know is toxic, maybe the problem is you. It’s like the old saying: “Meet one asshole in the morning, they’re an asshole. Meet nothing but assholes all day, you’re the asshole”

                1. Heffalump*

                  I’m reminded of a story that was in the 1960 edition of the Boy Scouts of America handbook.

                  A guy left his village and went off to seek his fortune. After a few days he arrived at a city, spotted a man, and asked, “What are the people here like?”

                  “What were the people like in your village?”

                  “Great people, had your back, always willing to help.”

                  “The people here are exactly the same.”

                  A couple of years later the guy’s younger brother became old enough to seek his fortune. He got to the city and asked a local, , “What are the people here like?”

                  “What were the people like in your village?”

                  “Bunch of jerks, a waste of space, you can have them.”

                  “The people here are exactly the same.”

                  Naturally this made me think about my answer to that question, and I came up with, “98% of people are OK. but a few are jerks.” So I don’t think I’m toxic.

            2. yala*

              yeeeeah, like, I genuinely feel for OP, because ADHD can really mess with your mind in ways that just compound–small mistakes seem so BIG, which makes you really want to find a way for them Not To Be Mistakes. Small comments seem so mean, etc etc.

              And Time Blindness is legit a thing. It’s something I struggle with, and I was able to get a Reasonable Accommodation of a few minutes grace period in the mornings.

              But I have missed meetings before (not from over-sleeping, just from not being diligent about checking my calendar) and while it’s generally because of issues created by ADHD, it’s not really an excuse.

              Our regular meeting recently got moved from 9 to 8, which to me is just…ungodly early. (Like, I’m in the office by then, but if someone comes up and starts asking me stuff, I’m still a little pre-verbal.) But I don’t think it would be a good look for me to ask “Hey, can we put it back at nine, I’m not quite awake for 8” because part of my job IS to be awake for 8.

              I think OP is young, I think they’re struggling with A Lot right now, and what they REALLY REALLY want is for the World To Be Fair. Which…most people want, but I think ADHD folks kind of get hung up on without actually realizing that’s the issue.

              I think OP definitely needs to look into getting a counselor, preferably someone knowledgeable about ADHD. Folks are saying “This Job May Not Be For You” and maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not. A lot of the issues OP is describing really need to be managed to get along at all, and it’s ok to need some outside help. A counselor can help them try and put their thoughts in order, see what’s connected, what’s not, what they can change, and what they have to learn to work around or work with.

              For Time Blindness, I know Black Girl Lost Keys on Twitter has a workbook specifically about it. I’ve bought it…but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, lol. I hear Good Things tho.

              1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

                I think you’re so right about wanting the world to be fair. I work with college students (despite not being much older than them) and I think this generation has such a deep understanding of the need for equity that when one’s needs aren’t being met it’s natural to turn to others to make it right. In college, especially small colleges that build their reputation on a strong community, it IS the responsibility of the professor or student affairs staff to notice when a student is struggling and to do whatever needs to be done to accommodate them (even without formal “accommodations”). But as soon as you cross that graduation stage, those rules don’t apply anymore and young people aren’t being adequately prepared to recognize a) how to identify and access appropriate resources, and b) the level of their own responsibility to meet the requirements of their job/training program/service program/etc.

            3. r*

              It’s also the kind of thing where you can see someone who either not socially aware or who hates their job and colleagues being annoyed or frustrated because it’s the kind of thing you can sometimes accomodate in some circumstances depending on your reputation. Eg: at my old job we were working a long project with the east coast office and trying to set up a weekly meeting. My boss asked me what the earliest I could come in was & I said 7 but that if we could push it to 7:30 or 8, I’d prefer it. We got 7:45 and my boss joked it was so we could sleep in. (The other difference is that I already had a reputation for being reliable and accommodating). So then you could fixate on the difference in flexibility there vs for a call like this – especially when they feel (and probably aren’t wholly wrong) that their lateness is at least in part a medical issue. It seems like they already feel their concerns are devalued so even though there is a good reason for this meeting to be set in stone, it probably reinforces their other issues at work and is where they lash out. Like, ‘of course it’s the meeting that’s hard for ME that we can’t move’ – it can be easy to get stuck in a work-related hate-spiral…

              1. lailaaaaah*

                Yeah, I feel like OP would potentially get a bit more sympathy if they’d been there a while and had previously shown good punctuality. There was a point when my personal life crashed and burned and I had to change my working hours for a month or two, and my manager was willing to work with me on that because I’d kept her whole department together for a year at that point. I don’t think she’d have offered if I’d only been there a short while.

              2. Hats Are Great*

                Yeah, I’ve worked the crappiest shift at my workplace for five years with zero problems or complaints — I honestly prefer it, it’s quiet and I’m a night owl — but I worked until 2 a.m. and nobody else wants to do it. Generally I’d go to bed at 2:30, get up with my kids at 6:30, and then go back to bed after they left for school. When quarantine and distance learning started, and I could no longer take a midday nap, I started crashing really hard. My small team of 10 was able to shift our hours back so I end at midnight, which means one of my European colleagues now starts at 6 a.m. his time, but he was very gracious about it and said, “You’ve been doing us all a solid for five years. I get up that early most days to go jogging, so I’ll just jog after work until your kids are back in school.”

                But I had 5 years of solid work, where I voluntarily took the shift everyone else hated, and also provided lots of coverage for colleagues in various timezones when they had appointments etc (because I was awake but NOT usually working in US afternoons). So people were willing to do a bit of a lift to accommodate me.

            4. allathian*

              Yeah, this wouldn’t fly. It would be like me, a pronounced morning person (WFH I’m often at my desk by 6:30 or even earlier, working away), asking to have our weekly team meeting at 9 rather than 10 because it’s either 90 minutes or 2 hours and I want to get my lunch at 11 sharp… Needless to say, it wouldn’t even occur to me to do so. I’ll grab a coffee and a snack before the meeting and take a later lunch than I otherwise would. We do have a lot of flexibility in determining when we work, but the expectation is that if there’s a meeting scheduled and we’ve accepted the invitation, we’ll be there on time. There’s some flexibility if someone on the team has back-to-back meetings and needs a bio break before the next one, but they’ll IM the meeting organizer to say they’ll be a few minutes late and there’s usually no problem. It’s also understood that if a meeting runs overtime, it’s OK to announce in chat that you’re going to the next meeting.

          3. Alanna*

            I agree with you, but I want to stay away from saying “8 am should be totally doable!” to OP, because one thing I struggle with, as a person with ADHD, is the idea that something can still be hard for me even if it’s easy for other people. Thinking that I should just be able to be on time, because people everywhere do it, stops me from actively planning and organizing my life to be on time.

            A daily 8 am meeting would be a REAL challenge for me. In the pre-Covid times, I struggled with making it to the office for 9:30 meetings. But for a year I started at work at 7:30 am successfully, because I knew it was going to be really hard and planned accordingly: I set three alarms. I knew exactly when I needed to leave and I left; if it meant skipping a shower, so be it. I shifted my day earlier (medication, workout schedule, etc) to optimize for getting more sleep. I accepted that I was just going to sleep less during the week than I wanted to. I did all the sleep hygiene stuff and it didn’t totally solve my insomnia, but it did help.

            OP, act like making it to this meeting every day *is* your job (because it is!). What would you do in that case that you’re not doing? And if you honestly can’t think of anything, it’s time to get professional help if you can.

            1. Wintermute*

              You hit the nail on the head, I also suffer from bad ADD (my college GPA literally tripled when I became medicated my junior year, from academic probation to dean’s list)

              I set FIVE alarms each morning, at intervals that a snooze button won’t interfere with (so if I snooze one the next will still ring), I take showers in the evening. YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO COPE. Somehow, or you need to find a job where it doesn’t matter– but there aren’t many that are conducive to both no ability to be on time AND executive dysfunction, so you have to decide the lesser of two evils.

              I have a bad problem with what the Japanese call “sleep procrastination revenge” where I stay up late because I don’t want to go to work in the morning, so I build my schedule around managing that, and I set ALL the alarms, I build evening naptime into my days, I rearrange my weekends so I don’t need to do chores on worknights except the occasional load of laundry.

              At a certain point yes you can ask for accommodation but you still need to be able to perform the “core job duties” and “showing up for work” is as core and essential as it gets.

              1. emmelemm*

                Ooooh, I love the term “sleep procrastination revenge”. I, too, have had the “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow, work sucks, so I’ll stay up late and do things I *like* to do”. Then, of course, you’re tired as heck at work the next morning, and however bad and unmanageable work is on its own, it’s twice as much so when you’re tired out of your mind.

                I really try to manage that now by realizing how much better I can mitigate work if I get eight hours of sleep. I’m not perfect, though.

                1. Paperdill*

                  I’m beginning to wonder if that’s what I do. I’m mostly a SAHM, and I don’t “hate my job” (I love it on non-school days), but it’s flipping hard sometimes and the thought of the repeated motion every day of “get up, hang up washing, unpack dishwasher, get breakfast for everyone, battle to get out the door and to school on time” with everyone arguing the whole way does tend to lead to me staying up late to avoid getting to that bit quicker.

                2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

                  Replying to Paperdill but ran out of nesting — I hear that! I’m a WFH mom, as so many of us are these days, and even though I am really lucky in terms of my kids’ ages and dispositions and our family’s resources, it’s hard. Those late-night hours are sometimes my only opportunity to do something just for fun, even if it’s only some mindless scrolling or trash TV. When you know you’ve got another challenging day ahead, it’s natural to want to squeeze in a couple of hours of downtime, even when my rational self knows that I’d be better off getting some sleep!

              2. yala*

                “I have a bad problem with what the Japanese call “sleep procrastination revenge” where I stay up late because I don’t want to go to work in the morning”

                That’s…that’s a THING?

                Because that was LITERALLY me at my last job. It was SO BAD. I wouldn’t even “go to bed” most nights–I’d just happen to fall asleep with the lights on, still fully clothed.
                The regular insomnia took a long time to fade, even after I got a better job, and it still rears its head, especially when I’m stressed or dreading things.

                I keep TRYING to arrange myself to succeed, but tbh, this year just shot a lot of progress out from under me.

              3. Starbuck*

                “sleep procrastination revenge”

                I’ve been doing something that sounds similar for years – it’s not that I don’t like my job, I actually enjoy the work quite a bit, but it takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, and then when I get home I have to make food and do chores. By the time I’m done with all that, I’d have like, 2 hours left in the evening for myself (assuming 8 hours of sleep) and that is just NOT enough time, so I stay up late almost every night….

            2. sb51*

              Yeah. OP: this is way, way harder for you than it is for most people. That stinks. And in an ideal world, your boss would at least acknowledge that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any more negotiable.

              To anyone who doesn’t understand why it’s harder: look up time blindness (which someone mentioned above) and delayed sleep phase syndrome, both super-duper common with ADHD.

              I have both. I also have a 7:30 am meeting with colleagues in Asia tomorrow, and do not expect to have any difficulty making it, although I’ll be drinking reheated coffee from this morning because I know I won’t get up in time to put a fresh pot on, so I saved some. Weird coping mechanisms, yay! During non-COVID times, I switched to taking public transit, because the adrenaline of you’ll-miss-your-bus-go-go-go will get me moving when nothing else was, plus I don’t have to be awake enough to drive safely when I leave the house. And my first destination is the good coffeehouse near the station downtown, not actually work, so I can focus on “paaaaaaaastry” until I’m actually awake and fed and by that point I’m rocking up to work ready to go.

          4. BTDT*

            Yeah, I used to work with someone who had to be in the office for a daily 7 AM Eastern Time meeting. We are in Pacific Time. It worked for her, to start her work day at 4 in the morning, and she knew it was a crucial part of her job (our primary manufacturer was in New York and the meeting was a check-in with managers at the plant post-shift-start) going into it, but I … honestly, sometimes you just get stuck with the crappy meeting time, and there isn’t really a way to push back on that, particularly when you’re working remotely and could presumably roll out of bed at 7:55. And when your desired accommodation is to move it half an hour later, it just doesn’t give me the sense that this meeting is really onerous.

            Plus, OP, I promise you, ADD will make it so that even if you DID get the meeting moved, and even if you DID make that meeting regularly, as soon as you let your unhappiness with the job beat the satisfaction of getting everyone else to accommodate you, you would be late to the 8:30 meeting too. I have not met anyone with ADD who does not take out their unhappiness with a given situation on everyone else by being absolutely unable to be punctual, and that includes myself. We seek to compensate for feeling out of control by controlling ANYTHING WE CAN, at all, no matter how reasonable it is. You are controlling your unhappiness by being in control of when you show up to a meeting, which is late, because you hate everyone in it. Been there, done that, got fired for it. I’m not sad about it, but hating your coworkers will, eventually, get you fired because you will do something to make it very obvious you are not part of the team and you think the team is dumb. Probably a lot of somethings. That’s within your control. Whether your boss is a jerk or moving a meeting to accommodate your anger is not, at least not by anything short of quitting and getting a new boss and new meetings. My advice to you is to focus on what you can actually, meaningfully control, and it’s not the time of this meeting.

            1. lailaaaaah*

              Also, it’s striking to me that OP is discussing ‘toxic’ behaviour from coworkers and also their own issues around punctuality. As someone else with ADHD who behaved similarly in my first couple of jobs, I’d be willing to bet the coworkers would be much more helpful if OP took initiative and showed they were willing to put effort in first.

          5. Abf*

            I’m in Asia. 3 days of the week I have meetings from 8PM – 12 AM Because…I’m a manager on a global team. We do occasionally switch times.

            But I’ve had so many experiences where I’m on at 10 PM and someone in the US is 15 minutes late because it’s “so early.”

            I can tell one thing for sure. Those individuals are at the absolute bottom on my “who would I like to mentor” list.

        4. Richard Hershberger*

          Also, let’s get real: 8:00 a.m. is not outrageous, especially when you are working from home. Absent a very short commute, you would need to be up and running by 8:00 to get to the office at 9:00. This also suggests inexperience. Yes, in college we considered an 8:00 class to be a war crime, but this isn’t college we are talking about here.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            This is when I wish there was a like button here. I made it through three years of college before I had an 8 a.m. class.

            I am NOT a morning person, but an 8 a.m. meeting from home versus having to commute to an 8 a.m. meeting is night and day difference. (We’re East Coast, so a 9 a.m. start is more standard here, thank goodness, but we’ve got two people in the house with 7/7:30 work and school start times, which would absolutely kill me without mainlining coffee.)

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              I wondered if this was a coastal difference – I’m on the West Coast and it seems people here tend to have a much earlier workday than back East – I know way more people who start at 6 or 7 than even 9:30 or 10! I would say 8 is standard and 9 is relaxed.

              1. Turanga Leela*

                There’s definitely a coastal difference (maybe in part because of these time zones issues). East coast is much more likely to start at 9 or later and to work into the evening. Further west, people start earlier and are more likely to leave at 5.

                1. Cool and the Gang*

                  Although in the East, and especially DC, people work EARLY, so they don’t have to sit in traffic for a million hours later. They are trying to work around the traffic.

                  But still, 8am, is not that early. I sometimes have to catch a 5:30am flight. Ok, not the most fun thing, but I make sure I’m up and there.

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  You only get traffic-avoidant flex time in DC if you work for the federal government or some industry that doesn’t require presence during core hours and you’re not beholden to a school schedule (my youngest doesn’t even start school until 9 a.m.). Most people in my office work some timeframe between 8:30 and 6:30 because of the nature of what we do. My spouse works 7:30 to 3 because the fed allows it. That would be a tough sell in legal, consulting, or lobbying.

              2. Dumpster Fire*

                Funny you mention that – many years ago, when I was consulting, I was on a project in Seattle; moved there temporarily from my home near Boston. We started work in Seattle around 7 AM, which was perfect, since the developers supporting us often rolled into the Massachusetts office right around 10 AM! (Sometimes we actually had to wait for them to arrive…)

              3. AP.*

                In places with horrendous commutes, e.g. NYC, Boston, DC, later start times are more usual. But even then, meetings at 8 AM and earlier were not uncommon, especially when having to connect with colleagues in Europe and Asia.

                I’m retired now, but I imagine that people who are working from home are starting their day even earlier these days.

              4. Gumby*

                Huh. I have had the opposite experience. I’m West Coast and start times are flexible but it is not uncommon for me to work a roughly 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. day. I started my career being ready to work an earlier shift but when the rest of the company stays until 7 or 8 at night, you adjust.
                Possibly that is because I work in tech.

                Our current East Coast collaborators all seem to leave the office at 5 p.m. on the dot if not earlier. (They are mostly gov. though so maybe that is why?)

              5. Trout 'Waver*

                Don’t ignore the middle of the country! 8:00 am is mid-morning to us Midwesterners. We’re used to everything being East Coast based, so we just make do with the same hours, for the most part.

            2. MassMatt*

              Not showing up on time for Zoom meetings or phone calls when working remotely is a major sign that something is wrong. I’m not surprised LW’s manager and coworkers are not taking their issues very seriously.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                My fifth grader on the spectrum manages it. My wife is a teacher, working from home and therefore unavailable for non-emergency parenting duties. I still go into the office (where I am the only one). So I get the kid up and logged in in the morning then go to work. The kid has an extended lunch break before her afternoon classes. She would be off in her own world without outside stimulus, so I set an alarm clock for one minute before her afternoon classes start. It works just fine. I asked her if she needed it or should I stop setting it. She told me she would never got logged onto class without it. But as accommodations go, setting an alarm is pretty darned easy.

                1. Starbuck*

                  I don’t see how this sort of comment is helpful for OP. I’m sure they know about the concept of setting an alarm.

                2. bubba*

                  You would think the OP would know how to set an alarm, but my husband with ADHD used his magical thinking to decide he woke up on time every day without an alarm. We would get in huge arguments where he insisted I was not waking him up and he was getting up by himself. Whenever I wouldn’t wake him up, he would say it was a one-time thing. It actually took marriage counseling to get him to see that he wasn’t waking himself up magically. It actually may be helpful.

                3. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Starbuck, OP knows the concept, yes. But have they considered putting it to use that way to manage their ADD? Most folks only set an alarm to wake up. But having a 5 minute warning alarm before the 8 am meeting might be just what OP needs.
                  Especially for those of us with ADD/ADHD, time management and procrastination are a huge problem. Especially when it’s something we dislike, and even more so when we’re tired or not yet fully awake. I don’t have time in the morning to do much more than the essential getting ready stuff. But occasionally, I’ll get distracted by something, and next thing I know, I’m late. Having a 5-minute warning alarm before I have to do something time sensitive (like head out the door, or log in for a meeting) helps me stay on track, and gives me a chance to mentally transition from whatever I was doing into office mode without having to dwell on that transition all morning or try to do it once the meeting has already started.
                  So Richard’s comment is not only germane, it’s very helpful. Sometimes, we ignore the simplest fixes, because we just don’t realize the answer is allowed to be that easy. It’s okay to eat your food like a lunchable when you’re too tired to make a sandwich. It’s okay turn off your camera during a meeting if seeing your face on the screen bothers you (or even if you just don’t like being watched). And it’s okay to set an alarm to remind you to sign in to your meeting on time.

          2. BenAdminGeek*

            I was lucky enough that the history chair at my college had narcolepsy and preferred 8am classes, so I left college pre-trained for an 8am start. Though workplaces tended to frown on me arriving at 7:59 with my shoes untied and sloshing coffee everywhere, so the adjustment was still there.

          3. Anon for the Day*

            I was a bio major in college and a lot of my core science classes started at 8:00, so I was pretty used to getting up in the morning to be ready for the day. So much so that I resented an Art History class I needed to graduate being an evening class.

          4. 10Isee*

            And for some people (like me), an 8am start simply doesn’t work. I tried modified schedules and alarms and reward systems etc.. nope.. The solution to that is to find a situation with flexible or late hours. I know it’s not easy, because I’ve done it, and it was a struggle to find jobs. But if you simply can’t do early mornings you’ve got to get in a situation where those early mornings aren’t part of the job

            1. AGD*

              Yep. People with delayed sleep phase disorder or sleep fragmentation aren’t going to be able to hop out of bed even with supposedly good sleep hygiene.

              1. Zella*

                Yup – I have sleep issues like this, and if I try to be functional at 8am, it just. doesn’t. work. As in, I literally cannot stand up, I’ll get brain zaps, fall over again, and only be able to talk in slurred speech. Years and years of working on this has made me able to manage 9am, but that is the absolute limit. Sometimes bodies just have weird limitations. (And yes, I’ve been to a sleep doctor about this!)

                But I have a job where this isn’t an issue – I typically work 10-6ish, but have a flexible schedule and sometimes do 11-7 or take meetings at 9, and I’m extremely accommodating about evening meetings when time zones come up. On the rare occasions where an early morning meeting is crucial, I’ll either not sleep or set an alarm 3 hours ahead and take stimulants. I also recognize that my sleep issues are a me problem – I don’t think 8am meetings are weird or unacceptable, they’re just something my body won’t let me do.

        5. Ross*

          What was also puzzling for me is tying this to COVID-related WFH. Making an 8 AM meeting in the office would be very challenging for me (and I only have 20 minute commute!) but it is zero problem working remotely. I’d probably ask to join a meeting like the remotely in a normal environment and come in later, but right now I wouldn’t even have to make that ask. It sounds like there are larger issues at play which have nothing to do with the start time of the meetings. Regardless of what happens, it is important that the OP join meetings on time and then work on the rest of the issues.

        6. Ping*

          Honestly, I think it’s more personality and immaturity rather than just straight up youth. When I was 21, I had a job where once a week I had to go in and set up for a multi-department meeting my bosses had stupid early in the morning — the meetings started at like 7, which meant I had to be around at 6 to grab prepped materials and set up everything from catering to hand-outs, which meant I had to be on literally the first bus of the morning at like 5:15 to get to work on time, which meant waking up at 5:00 or so at the latest if I was ok looking a bit of a mess.

          I still did it. That was completely insane, but it was my job.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        Ok, so I reread that and I’m coming across as negative. One reasonable accommodation: Ask your boss if you can take the meetings from home. That way you don’t have to perform your morning rituals before jumping on the meeting. After the meeting, get ready and head into the office.

        Keep in mind, there probably won’t be second chances if you get this accommodation.

        1. Natalie*

          OP says the team has all been working from home so I think these are all virtual meetings and OP is already at home.

      3. Yorick*

        OP really needs to reframe here. For example, 8am isn’t “way too early” for a meeting. It’s a time that most people have started work. Sure, we’d all prefer to have meetings a little later, but that is not a crazy time to have a meeting if you work from home.

        1. NaN*

          Especially if you work with people different time zones. 8 AM is not “way too early” to meet with people who are working until 7:30 pm or later to meet with you. They’ve shifted their entire work and personal schedules in order to get a couple hours of overlap with US time zones.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Exactly this. I used to work for a company that did quite a bit of international business. My boss got up in the middle of the night pretty regularly to have phone calls with people in Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Spain, etc. He was the owner, so he took it upon himself to that task and never asked his employees to do something so outside of normal working hours. All the employees (such as myself) would communicate with international vendors via email, which took days and days because you only got a reply every 12 hours! If it was time-sensitive, he set an alarm for 2am or whatever need be.

            Expecting someone else to stay late in their work day because you think 8am is too early is HIGHLY unreasonable. You need to have the same consideration for them and they’re having for you.

            That’s not to say that there aren’t other issues that need to be addressed, but I agree with Alison’s advice that the OP should show up for meetings they’re expected to attend, and show up on time!

          2. TL -*

            China is a full 12 hours ahead of EST so there’s a really good chance they’re meeting with their Chinese colleagues between 5-8 pm – after normal working hours.

            We have meetings with Chinese collaborators and believe me, that is a difficult time difference to manage. There’s no good time (and our international collaborators have been willing to meet with us at very extreme hours, from 10 pm to an Australian one who did a 3 am presentation very voluntarily!)

          3. DarnTheMan*

            +100. I have a standing monthly meeting with a few other country offices and my login time swings from 7 AM to 7 PM from month to month because there’s no “good” time for every office on the call, so they’ve just structured it so once every three months you get a midday meeting, regardless of your time zone and the rest of the time we make due.

        2. Ms.Vader*

          As well, working from home makes it much easier to make those meeting times. This really isn’t unreasonable.

          1. Grace Poole*

            Exactly. I’ve found myself to be much more of a morning person now that I don’t have to fight traffic to make an 8am call.

            1. Quill*

              OP: I think you should look into some resources for fixing your sleep schedule. The reality of the job seems to be that meetings are scheduled at a time called “this sucks for everyone but is not actually during the night,” and sleep schedule problems can be caused by ADD. And honestly, being able to tell your boss “I know that my lateness is causing a problem and I’m taking steps to fix it” is probably going to benefit you in the long run. You will probably have to leave this job eventually, because it seems like it is a terrible fit for you, but saying “I am trying to fix the problem” can get you a better reference when you do, and also make any other jobs where you might need an 8 AM start more manageable.

              (Or perhaps you’ll learn enough about your sleep schedule that you can turn up to your next job with documented accomodations based on your natural circadian rhythm.)

        3. GammaGirl1908*

          Frankly, that goes double for meetings with an international team.

          8 AM is REALLY REALLY REALLY early for me as well, but meetings aren’t at 8 to annoy and inconvenience and embarrass the LW; they are at 8 to accommodate the largest number of people on the team. 8 is on the early side to me for two people in the same office when one of them isn’t a morning person, but it’s very reasonable for a team with members in Asia and members in the US. It’s certainly well within working hours in the US.

          The pointlessness of the meetings notwithstanding, LW is not being super realistic to expect the meeting timing to shift for their convenience and preferences.

          1. Le Sigh*

            I try my hardest to avoid meetings before 10 (our workday starts at 9) since I like that first hour to sip coffee and send emails, etc. But sometimes early meetings need to happen and it is what it is. If my boss schedules something at 9, it’s usually because it’s the only time that works for everyone, so I just make it a point to be ready to go.

        4. Lurker*

          I disagree that most people have started work by 8am. I think that is very dependent on industry. I have never had a job (six in 20+ years) that started at 8am. The earliest was 9am, a few at 9:30am and a couple at 10am. I am in non-profits (arts & culture). An 8 o’clock start time would be a deal breaker for me. I have a 9 o’clock meeting this week (an hour earlier than our normal business hours) and I am dreading it. BUT I will be there — tired but on time and prepared.

          1. Anon for the Day*

            It is very dependent on industry. We have flex schedules and quite a few people like the 6am shift so they have their afternoons free.

            1. heatherbelles*

              I work in Heritage. When most of the office staff was site based, our hrs in the building were between 8am and 5pm (chucked out by about quarter to 5).

              I’m not an early starter if I don’t have to be, but my old boss (now retired), liked an 8am start – so he’d come in for that, go at 4. I’d been in at 9am and be the senior staff member till 5…

              9am is not a dealbreaker for meetings – esp now when we’re all mostly WFH . I might still be yawning and drinking the first coffee of the day, but it’s dooable.

              8am starts, I’ve done when necessary – normally if things to prep, or a day out of the office requiring a late start….

              8am in order to faciliate team members on a different continent, I’d managed. (and hey, finish earlier that day to set the hrs back :) )

            2. allathian*

              Yeah, this. I’m much more productive 7-9 am than 2-4 pm. If I start at 6:30 I usually stop working at 4, before then if there’s nothing urgent on my to-do list. I need the adrenaline of a tight deadline to be able to work productively after 2 pm. Thankfully, I don’t need to deal with other timezones in my job.

          2. lailaaaaah*

            I wouldn’t say most people start work at 8, but of the jobs I’ve had so far, at least half started at 7/8am.

          3. yala*

            I mean, there’s a reason Dolly sang about 9-5

            (I say this as someone who does start much earlier, but most of my jobs have been 9 at the earliest)

        5. Essess*

          Agreed. I’ve been working in professional offices for 30+ years and 8am meetings are pretty normal. I can’t recall any job that I’ve had in that time that didn’t have regular 8am meetings each week. Now that I can roll out of bed to attend them is so much nicer. There’s really no excuse at this point to be late unless you are also working all night.

      4. President Porpoise*

        I feel for OP, I really do. This sounds like a hard position to be in, and I do not envy them.

        I don’t want to be mean here, but I think this does require a bit of bluntness: if every relationship you have at work is not working, there’s only one common denominator – you. If everyone you come into contact with at work is toxic, well, perhaps something you are doing in driving that. I don’t know what; I’m not in your shoes after all. But I think maybe this job is beyond saving, and maybe on the next one you should work on your own self awareness. It is a vital skill that isn’t advocated enough.

        1. President Porpoise*

          And, to clarify – I do not mean just ruminate on what in your life is making things hard for you; you seem to be pretty good at pinpointing your own personal pain points. I mean being aware of how your actions and interactions impact others and how YOU can change them to make your work experience operate more smoothly. This does seem to be lacking from what I read here.

          1. topscallop*

            This was my take, too – LW is going through a tough time, and I can sympathize that they feel unheard/unsupported by team and manager. That said, I saw no personal responsibility taken in the letter at all. There are certain expectations of us all at work, and it’s our responsibility to meet them in order to be taken seriously as professionals. Being on time for meetings is one of the most basic of these.

        2. The Starsong Princess*

          The manager is recommending that OP take a personal leave for their mental health. I’ve been in that position when I have told someone to do and it only happens if you think the person is really struggling. OP should listen to their manager and take some time to rest, reflect and regroup, maybe decide if this is the job for them. They sound very burnt out.

          My person got treatment during her leave and came back. She’s been productive and happy for 10 years now.

          1. lailaaaaah*

            Agreed. I know OP feels like it’s ‘putting the onus on them’, but honestly…it sounds like it’s very much needed, if their mental health is this bad rn? They need some time to sort their sleep schedule + ideally get some counselling for work-related anxiety, plus ADHD treatments if they can access them. Sometimes the problem is you, and that’s not a criticism- I’ve been there before, and I’m doing much better now after taking an extended leave of absence.

        3. Job Carousel*


          I also wanted to comment on how refreshing it is that most everyone here is providing constructive yet kind and empathetic feedback to the OP (especially starting from Alison’s initial response). This could have easily devolved into a critical piling-on type of post that would have probably made the OP feel horrible, and I’m so glad it’s not.

      5. IT Relationship Manager*

        I agreed with this too. 8AM is the standard start time for most places. Something like 5AM calls would feel to be way too early. I have had some calls that had to start at 7AM and 6AM to accommodate other time zones and it’s annoying but not regular. 8am is not unreasonable to start a meeting. (I just came from one today on a Monday of all days!)

        Seems like OP also struggling with basic office life in addition their other problems. Maybe a change of job would be beneficial for them, something more flexible and accommodating even without having to pull in ADA type accommodations.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I keep seeing this “8am is standard at most places” but that’s not really my experience. A lot of places, sure, but in 15 years the earliest I’ve had is 8:30 (job) and most were 9-9:30 (all the other jobs). Meetings often don’t even start up til 10. I think it’s really industry-dependent.

          And I say that in part for OP’s benefit, because I agree a change of job and event industry might be necessary. It sounds like maybe they’re going through something–way more than just lateness issues–and need some help getting through it. But for future job searching, there are lots of industries with later start times and it’s important to pay attention to those details when looking for the right fit.

      6. itsmorethanjustbeingtired*

        I have to agree that in this context it’s a tough sell for an accommodation. I have narcolepsy and at a previous job, I requested an accommodation to have a 30 minute grace period in the mornings as long as there were no external client meetings or events that required my attendance. I was having trouble getting to the office for 8:30 every Monday for our weekly staff meeting. Asking for the whole staff meeting to be moved for just me wasn’t ever something that even came to mind.

        However, even with my serious sleep disorder, when I’m working from home I can get to an 8am meeting without an issue regardless of whether I’ve taken medication. I just set a series of alarms and I have an alarm clock that you slip into a pillow and it vibrates to wake you up. If all you have to do is roll over and dial in, there really isn’t a good excuse to have an issue with chronic lateness to virtual meetings. You can even prep all your notes and files the night before so you’re all set for the morning. I hope the OP finds a better fit for themselves as it’s clear they’re having a really hard time.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes, you may be coming across as unrealistic if you’ve expressed your boss that you find 8 AM outrageous and that you think it’s reasonable to suggest moving the meeting instead of either getting help if you have a sleep disorder or just going to bed earlier. 8 AM is extremely thoroughly normal, so unless you have a tangible reason you would not be able to make the meeting, you kind of just need to make it work.

    4. Ali G*

      Yes and coupled with them bringing the boss into the meetings so he can be more involved, when no one else thought there was a problem before, probably isn’t going over well with the coworkers. Basically they show up late and then when things aren’t going well (we don’t know why), they bring the boss in to…do what? They sound not suited to this environment and I think everyone would be better off if OP starts looking for a job that better fits their working style.

    5. Elle by the sea*

      Well, it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Or the chicken and egg problem, if you will. Your colleagues are hostile and not willing to advocate for you, which causes reasonable discomfort for you, therefore you stop meeting requirements. Or was it you who triggered their lack of sympathy somehow? It’s easy to say that we are not supporting our colleague because they don’t meet requirements. But it’s hard to prove otherwise, that’s why the onus is on the struggling employee in most of the cases, sometimes unjustly so.

      1. Mrs_helm*

        Disagree. If I choose to stop meeting requirements, that is always 100% on me. Regardless of what my coworkers do or don’t do…unless they aren’t providing data/materials I need, then I have to escalate that issue to boss, of course. But that isn’t what is happening here.

        1. Elle by the sea*

          I don’t wish to justify or condone showing up late or not meeting requirements. However, I can tell you that it’s not always 100% in one’s control. I’ve seen people go through this – that’s when discussions on mental health should come into the picture.

          1. Ellllle*

            Sort of agree with both of you. It may be somewhat out of OP’s control, but they are misplacing the “blame” onto their co-workers and workplace environment. It’s not OP’s fault for struggling with mental health, these things happen and I wish they had more support. But the meeting being at 8, and the coworkers being awful, aren’t actually the cause of their lateness. Its in OPs best interest to stop identifying those things as the issue, when really it is their mental health and actions that are the source in this particular instance. That said I hope they can also be kind to themselves as the work on strategies to get back on track, and I am rooting for them.

            And like many others have said, maybe this role/company just isn’t a good fit.

            (also same name @ Elle by the sea :) !)

            1. Elle by the sea*

              Haha @Elllllle, high five for the same name. I’m not quite the high-fiving type, but couldn’t come up with anything more original.

              Yeah, although I’m not a huge fan of leaving jobs immediately when there are some problems (there will be, in any job), I would say that’s probably the best option on this case. No job is more important than your physical and mental health, and frankly, disclosing personal info to the team without the OP’s consent and making fun of their hobbies doesn’t signal a high level of maturity to me.

              So yeah, I don’t know the details and therefore cannot judge who is at fault (for want of a better word), but it certainly doesn’t seem like a good fit for OP, and that’s an understatement.

            2. Alice's Rabbit*

              You make an excellent point. Correctly identifying the source of the problem is the first step. Also, identifying which things OP can actually control. Op cannot control their coworkers or manager in any way, and needs to accept that. I think they’ll be much happier once they do so, too.
              Instead, focusing on what is within OP’s control, like tardiness, is a more productive use of energy. So how can we help OP be on time?
              Perhaps, like many people with ADD/ADHD, OP needs to set a warning alarm shortly before the meeting starts, to give them time to stop whatever they’re doing and transition into work mode.
              Perhaps OP needs to get up earlier. Which also means getting to bed earlier. And not resenting that. Late nights are my most productive time, and I often find myself frustrated when I have to give them up because I have to be awake early. Which makes it harder to get to sleep in the first place, or to sleep well.
              Also, sleep hygiene is important. Both having a routine before bed ,and ensuring that anything preventing sleep is dealt with.
              And streamlining the morning routine helps, too. Maybe OP needs to start showering in the evening, instead of first thing, and just wash their face to wake up in the morning (not saying OP doesn’t do that, just giving a generic example).

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’m a little confused by the whole “coworkers not advocating for me” thing, too – probably because I’m having trouble coming up with an example of what that should look like. Is it agreeing with OP to ask for new meeting times? Stepping in when the boss makes fun of their hobbies? I just don’t know, and I can’t really think of times I’d consider that I’d advocated for my peers at work. I like to send praise to people’s bosses when they did something excellent for my team, I’ve spoken directly with people when I felt they were being unprofessional or counterproductive, I recommend career advancement and training opportunities for folks on my team who are doing well, I share or redirect praise for team efforts or things actually done by other people, but I wouldn’t really consider any of those “advocacy”.

        1. Tupac Coachella*

          I’d actually call all of those examples advocacy! You took time and spent capital for the benefit of the colleague outside of the requirements of your own work. I’m not clear on whether OP is defining it the same way, though. I’m also curious about what they mean by advocacy and why it seems to be an expectation rather than a hope.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I guess I don’t see most of those as outside my own work, since I’m their manager – it IS my job. I do those for people on my team because that’s just part of managing, but I don’t do it so much for my peers (except the thanks-to-the-boss thing), which seems more analogous to what OP is looking for.

        2. Paulina*

          The OP mentions “constantly being overlooked”, which would likely lead to them feeling disconnected from their coworkers and in need of some advocacy or at least friendly support. But while it’s great to get that sort of support, it’s quite common not to. Also, chronically missing meetings isn’t going to help remedy that at all; it would just encourage their coworkers to further dismiss their opinions since, to the coworkers’ view, the OP isn’t bothering to stay connected. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s on the one who wants it broken to break it. And while being suggested to take mental health leave may mean that the toxic team dynamics aren’t going to be addressed, it’s going to be very difficult for the OP to break the cycle, or consider seriously what their options are, while they’re still worn down by those dynamics and by insomnia.

          1. Pennyworth*

            When I read that part of OP’s letter I wondered if she meant she wasn’t getting the support she needs to do her job effectively. That would certainly be de-motivating. In relation to her mental health, I was reminded of the total pointlessness of everything I felt when I had a bout of severe depression. I’m certainly not diagnosing from afar, but a medical checkup might be helpful.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Yes, this. I also have to be at the meeting, also at 8am. A person who is consistently late or missing would irritate me to no end, regardless of a reason.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        It doesn’t. It’s a victim card OP is trying to play for distraction and sympathy. But it has zero bearing on any of the issues in the letter. Honestly, OP’s ADHD is more of a factor, as that can cause issues with punctuality even under the best of circumstances.

        1. Annony*

          That’s unkind. I don’t think that they are deliberately trying to distract or gain sympathy. They are unhappy and under a lot of stress. While I agree that it is irrelevant here, I think that everything is probably all jumbled together for them right now. They need to pick apart the different issues and address them separately.

        2. nonbinary friend*

          I disagree with this and think this is an unkind reading. It can be very wearing for nonbinary people if they are surrounded by coworkers they don’t trust to respect their gender identity, and adds to the psychological load OP is describing, possibly feeding the insomnia.

          1. jolene*

            I imagine it’s also extremely wearing to be on time for 8am meetings and have your nonbinary co-worker say that they can’t do what you’re doing partly because of their gender identity concerns at work, which have nothing to do with getting to a meeting on time. Partly blaming the co-workers for this would certainly add to their psychological load, which we all of course have.

            1. BBA*

              Well, it sounds like the nonbinary coworker isn’t telling their coworkers that, unless it’s something the boss leaked, because OP says they’re in the closet. It doesn’t sound like OP is showing up late and then citing gender identity to anyone at work.

              Does having a consistently late coworker add to the coworker’s psychological load? Sure, probably, maybe. It doesn’t negate that OP is dealing with, and vice versa. They can both be true, with varying impacts.

              And we really just don’t know whether OP’s coworkers are run-of-the-mill pretty decent employees who the OP mis-perceives as being toxic or if they do in fact engage in toxic behaviors that legitimately obstruct OP’s ability to perform their work. It could be one, it could be the other, it could be some of both. OP doesn’t go into detail, so we don’t know.

              In any case… OP, I hope things get better for you.

        3. iliketoknit*

          I agree with the two comments above mine, this seems a really uncharitable reading. I agree that there isn’t a direct causal relationship between gender identity and punctuality, but if the OP is in a bad headspace (as they appear to be) and part of that is grappling with their gender identity, it’s an issue contributing to being late. (I agree that pushing meetings back isn’t an appropriate way to deal with it, though.)

        4. Batgirl*

          I don’t think OP means deliberately to play a victim card; just that they are overly focusing on what they need to be at 100 percent; supportive colleagues.
          Which is kind of adorably clueless as to how ‘irrelevant’ that angle is (as the boss said). Yes, you need to be punctual even when you’re at 2 percent. You had two hours sleep and had to set ten alarms in inventive places. If that’s what you have to do to meet a super basic requirement, then…do it. Deal with other stuff when youre own side of the street is in order.

        5. char*

          It’s quite rude to accuse the OP of “playing the victim card”. Being constantly misgendered is incredibly stressful and depressing. I think can follow their line of thinking: the stress of being misgendered adds to their anxiety, which increases their insomnia, which makes it hard to be awake on time for morning meetings.

        6. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoa, no, it’s not a victim card; it’s context to explain how the situation is affecting their mental health. (As a general rule, let’s not assume any mentions of marginalized identities are “victim cards.” Frankly, that term would be better confined to things with nothing to do with race, sex, disability, gender identity, etc.)

          1. Felix*

            Alison, I appreciate that you stepped in to shut down the ‘victim card’ BS, but I just wanted to point out that you referred to the LW as ‘her’ there. (Unless they told you that they use those pronouns, in which case please ignore me.)

        7. Wanderer*

          “Playing the victim card” is a term thrown at people whose problems are habitually misunderstood, not addressed, and underplayed, so I agree that this is not kind or helpful. I think we can offer the OP practical advice without doing the same sorts of things that make life harder. A lot of people who have any kind of ‘difference’ have exacerbated mental health issues not because of themselves but because they are living in a with a world that is often not safe or kind. I agree that I think OP has much in their own perspective and behavior that they could change to improve things, but we don’t help by not acknowledging the legitimacy of their struggles.

        8. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          In context, the connection is that being queer & not feeling safe to be out is stressful, which is one of several factors meaning they’re not in tip-top mental health. “Victim card” is unnecessarily judgemental.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            (oops, should’ve reloaded before posting! as I see now that others including Alison have addressed that comment.)

        9. LizM*

          I’m not sure that’s fair. People have limited abilities to cope. If OP normally can meet the demands of their position, but are also struggling with something in their personal life, it may be that they simply lack the bandwidth at work.

        10. Quill*

          It probably contributes to OP’s perception of not being supported by their coworkers. Most queer people have experienced some form of schroedinger’s shunning based on their gender or sexuality: the kind of exclusion where you can’t tell if people are shutting you out because they sense you’re different from them in some way, or if they just don’t like you.

          For that matter, most neurodivergent people have experienced the same, so OP probably got double barrels of it at some point.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        It’s not a straight line, but I can see how the OP is connecting the two. Knowing something important and life altering about yourself that you can’t share with the people in your life can put you at a higher baseline level of stress than people who aren’t dealing with that. For a lot of us, if you take away the work stresses, normal life stress is pretty manageable. But for a person with very high base levels of stress, adding more work stress on top of it can make the whole Jenga tower that is mental health come crashing down.

      3. SaffyTaffy*

        CR, if I may play armchair psychologist for a moment, it’s not uncommon for people to lose some control over their “executive function” when under stress, after trauma, depressed, or generally not doing well. When your executive function is compromised, it means you can’t make yourself do the stuff you should. When people say things like “I couldn’t get out of bed for three days,” or “I know I needed to mail that package months ago, but I just can’t seem to do it.”

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. And in this case it’s compounded by the LW’s ADHD, which certainly affects executive function.

  2. Nicotene*

    It also sounds like a counseling would be very valuable to you, LW, to help sort out all these frustrations. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. One symptom of depression can be feeling easily overwhelmed / like nothing matters. I’ve heard the video sessions are still helpful for many.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yes, the OP sounds depressed and like they are struggling a lot. Which is totally understandable. If an EAP is available that can be a good start for a few sessions.

      1. Elsie*

        Yes, I agree with the above- I’ve had times in my life where I’ve gone through things that have affected my job performance and counseling was helpful for me to deal with the underlying issues. But ultimately dealing with those issues is your responsibility. My other suggestion is to see a doctor about your insomnia. I’ve recently learned that there are options like cognitive behavioral therapy and other treatments that a doctor could help with. I also struggle with insomnia and have had frustrations and lack of motivation in the past so I understand this can be tough. OP, I strongly recommend counseling and seeing a doctor- things can be better for you then they are now. Best wishes to you.

      2. PVR*

        I think this is why the manager has suggested taking some time for OP to manage their mental health. That actually doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

        1. allathian*

          I agree. The manager doesn’t sound toxic based on this, although I do think that making fun of someone’s hobbies is inappropriate, even if it was a joke that misfired.

          1. yala*

            It does make me wonder how the suggestion was delivered. I remember a toxic coworker inquiring about how my insomnia was in a way that really implied she thought it was funny/stupid.

    2. Jessica Fletcher*

      I agree. It sounds like the lateness is new since WFH due to the pandemic, so depression or something else could be making it worse.

      OP, check with your insurance. My health insurance is waiving all copays for telehealth right now due to the pandemic. This includes therapy via telehealth!

    3. Code Monkey, the SQL*


      OP, you’ve got a hard hand you’re playing with right now. That’s unequivocally true, and you deserve some support for managing that hand. But I have a strong suspicion if your boss moved those meetings, you’d still wind up late to almost all of them. They aren’t going to get more fun, or more engaging, or less tiring for anyone by doing that. So support for you needs to look different than “Please reschedule.” I think it needs to look like counseling, taking that health leave, and possibly looking for a job that doesn’t feel so out of sync with who you are.

  3. SaffyTaffy*

    OP sounds like me when I really want out of a job, relationship, or activity but I think “I have to stay here” and start losing perspective. Take Alison’s advice.

      1. Jaydee*

        It’s not that easy, I agree. But there is something very freeing about acknowledging that you have some agency in the situation and can look for a new job, even if it doesn’t result in success right away.

        1. SaffyTaffy*

          Yes, acknowledging one’s agency is vital. When you’re suffering it can feel like bad strategy, like “I need help so I’m going to emphasize that,” but if you’re able to acknowledge your own agency, everything starts looking a lot less grim.

      2. Georgina Fredricka*

        it’s definitely not easy, but honestly it sounds like the company is getting ready to make that choice for OP. I’d rather at least try to leave before getting fired…

      3. DrSalty*

        No, but it can’t hurt to look and see what’s out there when you already have a position. The best time to look for a job is while you’re still employed.

      4. biobotb*

        No one suggested it was, but that doesn’t mean that the LW shouldn’t look. No one else can do it for them.

      5. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        It’s not an easy time to be job hunting, and a prolonged, drawn out search can be demoralizing (ask me how I know!), but if you don’t start… you won’t know what’s out there.

      6. XManager*

        It’s better to look for a job now than when you’ve already been fired for missing mandatory meetings, however.

    1. Mockingjay*

      While this isn’t an easy time to job hunt, just starting to look can relieve feelings of frustration. “Hey, this job isn’t going to be forever. I can tolerate meetings and coworkers’ attitudes while looking.”

      Set small workable goals, for example: “in the next two weeks, I’ll work on my resume. After that, I’ll set a goal of applying for one position a week.” Etc. Whatever works for you, OP.

      Read through Alison’s archives about how to find the right culture or work environment that suits you best. My last job was a major cultural mismatch and I was miserable. AAM advice was invaluable in helping me pick a company that provides the stringent structure that I need and crave. The job hunt took awhile, but I learned to say no to jobs that weren’t a better fit than the one I was in.

    2. Beth*

      Yeah, this is what it sounds like to me.

      OP, I know this is a hard time to be job hunting. But you don’t like the people here, you don’t like the management style, you don’t like the culture/level of support coworkers offer each other, the work hours are hard for you and causing issues with your health, you’re struggling with burnout…this is straight up a bad fit.

      Some of the things you’re suggesting are just not that feasible. (For example, adjusting a meeting time that’s scheduled in such wildly far-apart time zones because of one attendee’s preference? I’m sorry, I also deeply struggle with morning meetings, but that doesn’t happen. Not unless that attendee is the company president or something. Short of that, the person scheduling is definitely juggling enough hard-set conflicts that preferences don’t come into play.) Others are unlikely. (Your team’s culture doesn’t involve a ton of concrete support between coworkers, it sounds like. That sucks when you want a more interactive, supportive group…but team culture is really hard to change once established, it takes a lot of work over a long period of time to even make a dent. Unless it’s causing concretely poor business outcomes, your boss is unlikely to think that’s a priority right now.) The things you’re struggling with here are unlikely to change.

      Given that, your options are to either find a way to work within this climate, or change jobs and find a climate that works better for you. I think the latter will be better for your health and happiness. Even if the market is rough right now, you can still start looking–you never know what might pop up!

  4. singularity*

    I mean, the manager *does* seem to notice that something is up because they suggested a medical leave of absence. Maybe I’m not understanding how that is putting the onus on OP? It sounds like they *do* have health issues that need to be dealt with, mental health issues surrounding coming out as non-binary and not feeling supported + the insomnia and ADHD, and having some time off to do that might help.

    Perhaps OP would benefit from working a job with more flexible hours, something that allows them to adjust accordingly for mornings since that appears to be a bad time for them.

    1. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Yes, I wondered the same thing. If I had as much going on as the OP, I think I’d welcome the chance to take some time to sort out what can be sorted out and step away from the rest of it (toxicity at work) and come back in a better space, mentally, to deal with the things that maybe aren’t going to change. I don’t see it as a punishment, but a chance to deal with what I CAN deal with. Either way, I hope the OP can sort things out and get some peace.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes – I get the feeling OP is seeing the medical leave idea as punishment, or is interpreting it as the boss saying ‘you must go away and fix all of your problems’, when the boss probably means it as ‘you’ve told me you’re struggling; please take some medical leave if you need to’. Insomnia is awful, but at the end of the day ‘sorry, I overslept again’ isn’t really good enough if you know you’re required to be in a meeting at 8am, and ‘well can’t you move the meeting’ also isn’t really a workable solution given the fact that the meeting has specifically been set up to accommodate people in different time zones. If *everyone* was having a problem with the meeting time, you might have some leeway to ask collectively whether a better time could be worked out, but if it’s just one person then I’m afraid that person is going to have to deal with the fact that there’s a meeting at 8am (unless, as Alison says, they can get a medical exemption).

        1. Alex*

          As someone with insomnia and pre-7:30 am fieldwork, I agree. Sometimes you need to take medical leave to stop things for snowballing with your body, and that’s not a punishment, it’s practicability. I take leave sometimes when sleep is really off-track. But part of my job is being timely so the team isn’t waiting on me, and that means I do it even when it sucks. OP, it sounds like medical leave could help you a lot! Your health issues are interfering with the function of daily life, it’s ok to take this time.

      2. LunaLena*

        I’m wondering if OP was raised in a household or culture where illness is seen as a weakness or excuse, and therefore being told to take medical leave is sort of like blaming them for being weak or forcing them to publicly admit they are having problems. OP mentioned team members in Asia, which makes me wonder if this company is Asian or at least has an Asian culture. I’m Asian-American and lived in Asia for part of my childhood, and there was a definite mentality that you have to “prove” how dedicated you are by powering through illness, and coming in to work/school when you’re sick was seen as a virtue (if you were dead or dying, skipping was acceptable). Mental health issues were merely seen as weakness, and unless you had a complete breakdown (like my old friend who was institutionalized for a year after she broke down studying for college entrance exams), asking for help was a huge stigma because you were acknowledging there was something wrong with you and you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to deal with it yourself. Plus, what would the neighbors think.

        I’m not saying that only Asian cultures are like that or the company being Asian is the only explanation, but it’s definitely a very prevalent mindset there and it would make a lot of sense to me if they are. It took me a long time to realize how harmful it was to think that way and I still have to actively resist it now.

        1. Don’t shoot the manager*

          Yeah, I do think the delivery of the option for leave matters. I know that if I was offering it to an employee it would be a genuine “hey do you need to take some time to sort this all out, I don’t want you to get sicker” where as if my boss offered it it would probably come across as “well if you’re so weak you can’t handle something basic like this, maybe you need to go for a while” especially if he didn’t know the employee well.

      3. Not Me*

        It’s most likely an unpaid leave. Not everyone can financially afford an unpaid leave to deal with stress and it’s symptoms.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’m not seeing anything in the letter that indicates the boss telling OP to take unpaid time off. It sounds like they are working an office job, and it’s not that unlikely that OP has at least some PTO, particularly since they mention that the issue is that they see this as their boss pushing something onto them versus needing to work for the money or not being able to afford the time off. This certainly could be the case, but I don’t think it helps to assume or speculate that the problem is something that the OP didn’t actually mention.

        2. Cool and the Gang*

          Sounds like a decently sized company with customers in other countries. If it is mental health issues, the psychiatrist can fill out the forms for medical leave, which most large companies, and “business” type companies provide.

    2. Specks*

      Agreed! OP, it sounds like you’re really suffering, and I hope you do consider a medical leave for a month or two (and also use that time to look for a new job). I just got laid off a few months ago from a job I absolutely loved, and while that has been devastating, this has given me time to deal with health issues that had gone unaddressed for ages, and it’s made a huge difference. Time off can be such a boon.

    3. TootsNYC*

      also, when you are a grownup, the onus IS on you for taking care of your health, both mental and physical.

      That’s what the leave is for–to give you time to be the grownup in your life and get yourself some medical assistance–therapy, counseling, a check of your thyroid levels, etc.

      It’s fair to say to a parent, “I’m struggling in school, and you aren’t helping me get counseling to help me deal with the issues that are derailing me.” You can sometimes say that to a teacher or school authority. That’s not something you say to a boss.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Yes. This. It is OP’s responsibility to see to their own needs, including health, both mental and physical. The onus really is on them, and their boss isn’t the one putting it there. That’s just part of being an adult. They can lean on their personal support structure (friends, family, significant other) to a degree, but the responsibility is fully their own.
        The tone of the letter also has me questioning how toxic their office really is. After one’s training is complete, coworkers aren’t really responsible for mentoring or overseeing OP’s work. If OP has a question, yes, they need to be able to get an answer. But coworkers have their own jobs to do. They don’t have time to coddle OP.

        1. biobotb*

          Yeah, I do wonder how much of the toxicity the OP sees is coming from skewed expectations about how much hand-holding coworkers and bosses should do. They clearly know they need some mental health support, but are offended when the boss suggests taking dedicated time to address their needs–it kind of seems like they’re primed to take a lot of interactions way too personally (and read them very negatively).

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Right. I don’t understand why OP thinks the onus for addressing their mental and physical health should be on their boss or coworkers?

    4. I edit everything*

      Right. It’s not OP’s boss’s job to manage OP’s depression and acedia. A couple weeks or a month off to get some rest and mental space, polish a resume, and work on finding a therapist sounds like a gift to me. It’s a chance for OP to get their head above water and fill their lungs.

    5. TeapotPicker*

      I wonder if the OP interprets the suggestion of taking leave as the boss implying there are no real problems (team dynamics etc) and that the problem is the OP and their mindset? I don’t share that interpretation (I think a leave of absence is a reasonable solution and a good first step) but coming at it from the OP’s perspective I’m wondering if they’re receiving the suggestion as one that negates their issues and the work problems they’re experiencing.

      1. Wintergreen*

        I think the manager is hinting that LW is the one causing problems, manager knows LW is struggling but they need to get control of their issues or it will no longer be a company problem.

        1. lailaaaaah*

          I think if that were the case, the manager would be looking at disciplinary/capability action, not medical leave.

          1. Name Required*

            Or maybe they are afraid the OP will bring legal action against them, and is offering all of the other options available to them first as a CYA. If I had an employee who performing poorly and blaming other employees for their inability to get up in the morning, and also making me aware of their mental health issues and non-binary gender identity, I would be more comprehensive in my approach than in my approach with an employee who was not possibly part of a protected class and also not meeting minimum job requirements, even if I personally believed the issues were just a matter of bad fit and the employee needed to be terminated.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree, and, frankly, referring for medical leave (for which PTO – generous where I work – can be used) or to the employee assistance program would be the first steps. Managers are not counselors, and I don’t think HR would recommend that any of them dive into an employee’s personal issues but rather refer them, ensure they’re aware of offered benefits/programs, and coordinate coverage for any absences.

    7. Generic Name*

      Yes. OP, of I were you, I’d take your manager up on the offer for medical leave. At least so you can get some mental space for you to evaluate your options. You sound miserable, and as a adult, the onus actually is on you to figure your own stuff out. Maybe this job isn’t for you, or maybe you just need a break and figure out how to be okay with the workplace as it is now. It’s not everyone else’s responsibility to change set meeting times that accommodate workers across time zones or to mentor you out of a funk. Hang in there, OP.

    8. it's been a rough time, hasn't it?*

      Right, I think by suggesting a medical leave of absence, the manager is saying that they’ve noticed the LW is struggling and that they as a manager can’t manage the LW through some of these issues. I understand LW is really frustrated because some of the issues *are* things the manager could or should be managing better, like making sure LW has the resources and guidance they need, making sure the work environment is comfortable and actively good for non-binary people, etc. But there are some major issues the LW is experiencing that, unfortunately, aren’t reasonable for the manager to fix. 8am not a wildly unreasonable hour and it seems like it’s necessary to accommodate teammates in different timezones. It also sounds like it isn’t just that the hour is too early and that LW has been late to later meetings too.

      I think the LW should take the time off– I don’t think time off is a magic cure-all, but I think some distance will help LW’s perspective. I recognize a lot of myself and what I was going through a few months ago in this post. I don’t want to say this will necessarily be the answer for the LW, but I was definitely depressed. I took two weeks off to adjust to new medication and get started with therapy. I’m not 100% yet and maybe I’ll never be, but I’m definitely in a much better place than I was a few months ago. There was a lot of real pain in what I was going through (only Black person on my team in Minneapolis trying to reckon with the murder of George Floyd), but how my depression manifested, it made me react inappropriately to things that are pretty standard work requirements. I’m really lucky to have a manager who recognized I was having a hard time and advocated for me to take paid time off rather than firing me. In my time off, I got a better sense of what was reasonable for my company to ask of me and what wasn’t.

      It may be that LW realizes that they can’t work at this company anymore, but I would highly recommend taking a step back (and time off) before making a big decision like that.

    9. SaffyTaffy*

      I was literally like “what do I have to do to get my boss to suggest a leave of absence, I would die of happiness if that happened.”

      1. Quill*

        Order half a dozen of the wrong documents and throw half your routine out of whack?

        My boss had that talk with me a month ago. “Hey, this is major, what happened?”
        Me: I cannot concentrate to save my life. I would usually have made 200 checks on the status of this but because my brain literally refuses to get with the program every single one of them came up without problems making themselves known. The fact that my hometown was on fire probably didn’t help.
        My boss: You have GOT to take a day off.

    10. SC Mill*

      Even jobs with flexible hours expect you to show up on time for meetings. And do I understand that the OP is WFH? And just needs to roll out of bed? If you worked for me, I’d be writing you up.

      As an aside, I had a long period of depression and anxiety where I worked all hours of the day and night and traveled. Sometimes the panic attacks had me getting off planes. It was hard to get through that, so I can sympathize to a point. But get out of bed.

      1. lailaaaaah*

        Doesn’t even need to roll out of bed, theoretically- I’ve had coworkers who’ll just grab their laptop off the bedside table/floor and keep the camera off.

    11. Jayn*

      It sounds like they’re attributing all their issues to a bad working environment, so it’s probably landing “take some time to fix the problems we’re causing you”.

  5. Mama Bear*

    Being on time, even if the meetings are relatively pointless to you, is a basic thing. I used to have reoccurring meetings with my team and a client and it was really embarrassing to have the PM be consistently late, even by 5 minutes. The client was understandably annoyed. If there is really no update on your end (and nothing you can glean from others’ reports) perhaps ask to be removed from this meeting, give a report, etc. But if the boss says no, then you need to be there, even if you have nothing to say.

    Aside from that, I also agree that it’s time to look for a new job. Maybe take the manager up on that personal leave and use that time to reassess and regroup and apply for new jobs. Also, see if the insomnia can be helped – do you maybe have a sleep disorder that’s making it worse? Or would a therapist help you through all the highly emotional things in your life? It won’t make those things necessarily disappear, but it can help you navigate the challenges and sort through your options. Are you being treated for your ADHD? Does that treatment work? Do you need to try something else? Etc. Regardless of this job, sounds like you need some self-care. Good luck.

    1. c-*

      In addition to Mama Bear’s very valid points: COVID and lockdowns are really wreaking havoc on most people’s mental health this year. My partner’s ADHD really spiked up during our lockdown to the point his normally effective coping mechanisms weren’t nearly enough, and my insomnia really acted up due to stress.

      So even if you had a previously functional treatment, you may need to step it up, however that may look for you: higher dose of meds? More strict meal and sleep routines? Therapy? Introducing weekly work outs or (virtual?) time with loved ones? Sticky notes everywhere? How To ADHD may be a useful resource during this time.

      1. designbot*

        Agreed. I only even *discovered* my adhd after covid, when all my usual coping mechanisms broke down. OP I’d really advocate sharing this with your mental health provider so you can talk about what coping mechanisms and treatments are working or not working for you to address this issue, which is one that many of us with ADHD struggle with.
        The rest of it sounds tough, and I am sensitive to how frustrating it might be to hear all these people saying how it’s not related, when for you of course it is (because rhyzomic thinking, not linear thinking!). Unfortunately I think the message that leaves us with it real though, that others won’t see this connection and trying to insist on it probably won’t be helpful.

      2. Alanna*

        Chiming in with another data point here. I have what I considered pretty well controlled ADHD and sorta iffy sleep habits, and during the first few months of lockdown they both went totally haywire. I had never realized how much my success was tied to my routines.

        It’s somewhat better now — for me what worked was a LOT of physical activity (mostly walking), including during the workday when I can, yoga/meditation before bed, being strict about meds before 10 am (since otherwise I don’t sleep until 2 and the cycle resumes). I’m finally at the point where I can start to come up with new organizational routines to keep track of tasks, to-dos, follow-ups, etc. It took six months! A lot of us are in this place right now.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          A very good point! This lockdown has been rough on everyone, but non-neurotypical folks don’t have access to their normal coping mechanisms. One of my friends was only keeping her depression under control with daily visits to her gym. Yeah, that wasn’t allowed for months, and she spiraled out of control. She tried multiple kinds of antidepressants, but couldn’t find one that worked for her (to be fair, it’s a tricky and delicate process at the best of times).
          Feeling like a prisoner in her own home isn’t helping, and she can’t do any of the fun things that normally cheer her up on rough days.
          I admire her bravery in still fighting through this. One of our other friends recently lost his fight with depression. We’re all devastated, especially his wife. For those out there who are struggling, please reach out. We’re here.

      3. DarnTheMan*

        I have an anxiety disorder and as of last summer (2019) was officially a therapy graduate but I’ve started seeing my therapist again for intermittent check-ins because there were certain things about COVID and WFH that were wreaking havoc on my anxiety but that I knew I wasn’t equipped to try and deal with on my own, and that reasonably no one else in my life should be having to help me cope with either because they all have their own things going on too.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I was functional before Covid. Now I’ve got a long break in my employment history and am on a lot more meds because my brain collapsed right from under me. Grief over losing people to this, stress from unemployment, worry for my loved ones, fear the world was destroyed.. yeah, psychiatric team had a field day with me.

        But…I also ignored the signs of imminent breakdown because I thought that it was a normal reaction to the situation. It wasn’t. Maybe if I’d got help sooner I’d be in a better place.

    2. Office culturally illiterate*

      Ok, I’ve googled it and come up with nothing, but what is a PM? Is it primary moderator?

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    I was on the other side of this (although, unlike OP, my employee never disclosed the nature of whatever it was he was dealing with to me, beyond occasionally saying he hadn’t been sleeping well). I had to fire that employee.

    I’m not surprised your boss hasn’t accepted “I could start later” as a solution for “I’m not ready to start work at 8 AM.” It sounds like other people besides you and your boss are involved — people on other time zones, for whom waiting for when it’s a more convenient time for you to start wouldn’t work for *them*. This was my issue with my employee — I had to scramble to find coverage at a moment’s notice if he didn’t show up to work, because other departments didn’t want to wait to start *their* project work until he was ready to join them. (My employee also complained that they should just wait for him. Nope.)

    My employee would also complain to me and want me to fix the team dynamic…because he would lose his temper, not apologize, and then wonder why no one wanted to work with him. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your assessment of the team dynamic is correct…but even so, it’s still unrelated to whether or not you can be present when you’re asked to be.

    In the end, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with a lot, but I also sympathize with your boss. Making sure that you can do your job in the way that’s most convenient for you is not your boss’s job. It’s nice if he can, but I don’t think what he’s asking is unreasonable. I also hate 8 AM, but the reality of working with people across time zones is that 8 AM is going to happen. Sometimes a lot. You have to decide whether or not it’s something you’re willing to live with, not try to get your company to conform with what you want.

    1. Steveo*

      As someone who has 7am calls with Asia two or three times a week – and also has trouble sleeping sometimes, I do understand the pain. But the entire company cannot move meetings and adjust how time works just for me. I am working on the sleep side of things on my side, rather than asking people in Asia to work at 10pm.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Pretty much this. 8:00 am in New York is 8:00 pm in Beijing. A 1-hour meeting is already making them work until 9:00 pm. Asking to push it later is inconsiderate to your Asia-based colleagues just not realistic.

        Flip the script: I’ve hopped on late calls with my Australian colleagues before. Their 8:00 am is my yesterday at 6:00 pm. If they pushed the meeting later because they had trouble getting up in the morning, I’d be very annoyed. If they were still late for the pushed time, I’d decline the meeting and e-mail my boss, their boss, and anyone else in the meeting explaining why I declined the meeting. 6:30 pm is when I’m eating dinner with my family. I’m making a much bigger sacrifice than the person who can’t get up on time for their job.

        1. Temporarily not an expat in Asia*

          You are also being unrealistic. If you work in international business you can’t easily say you’re knocking off work at 6.30 pm. I work in several Eurasian countries and am routinely on the phone at 11pm or later. Next week I have to do a phone call at 2am, which is 10am in London.

          I would tell the author to look for a job that has fewer international operations.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            What? Where did I saw I was knocking off work at 6:30 pm?

            I’m saying that if I’m giving up dinner with my family, I’m probably unwilling to move the meeting even further back because someone can’t be arsed to get out of bed.

    2. Mel_05*

      Yeah, I think people underestimate how much punctuality matters in an office.

      I tend to do work where it doesn’t matter *much*, but I was still shocked at how much praise I got on my review the year I started coming in 15 minutes early (it was just more convenient for me). I knew that my other coworkers often rolled in 10-20 minutes late, but I had no idea how stressful that was for our boss.

      1. Steveo*

        I would note that if your boss was stressed out that coworkers rolled in 10-2o minutes late for an *entire year* before mentioning it – that is a failure of your boss.

        1. Mazzy*

          I get this low level anxiety too. I technically don’t need people there exactly at nine so don’t enforce it, but I know that if there is a lot going on or if I want to have an informal conversation with someone, I do get a low level anxiety, wondering when they’re finally showing up so we can talk and I can focus on what I need to focus on, knowing I’m not going to get interrupted a bunch of times

        2. Mel_05*

          I have no idea what her conversations were with them. She didn’t tell me about any issues with my coworkers. She just told me how wonderful it was to have me coming in early and I knew that they came in late.

        3. KateM*

          If boss kept mentioning to *one of their employees* about other employees being late, surely that would be even a bigger failure?

          1. Mel_05*

            Yeah, that would have been strange. My boss never mentioned my coworkers lateness at all. I know they were late because we worked together.

      2. ThatGirl*

        At my job, the exact minute we roll in doesn’t matter as much, but there’s definitely an expectation that we’ll be there (or, now, online) by 8 unless something unavoidable has come up. At my last company, it was much more flexible on the exact when — people set their own start time between 6:30 and 10 am — but it was still expected you’d be in at roughly the same time every day.

        But in either case, regularly missing meetings would be a big red flag for my boss for sure.

      3. Arvolin*

        In my last job, nobody cared at all when I got my stuff done, but being late to meetings inconveniences your co-workers, and I avoided that.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That hasn’t happened here. Anticipating it when it’s not happening feels a bit pot-stirry and I’d rather you not.

            (And people disagree with LWs all the time without it imploding things. The comment seemed totally reasonable to me, and it looks like to others.)

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I also worked with/partially managed someone like this and I agree. This person identified a lot of valid problems with our workplace, but was unable to pick her battles and was constantly fighting something with someone. She also had a ton of personal and family stressors that were really draining on her emotional reserve and left her fried and unprepared to work.

      It ultimately ended up making a stressful work situation even worse, because not only did we have to deal with working around the many Ferguses our Director would not deal with, we were now dealing with the drama of managing her constantly fluctuating emotions, buffering whatever pet peeve she was crusading against, and mitigating whatever passive aggressive resistance battle she was launching (ex: not showing to a permanently recurring Monday meeting because the calendar invite expired, instead of asking the organizer if the meeting was canceled.)

      Effectively, she became the most toxic coworker, and she would have been fired had we not been massively short-staffed.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I work with someone like this, who I think would have been let go a long time ago did they not have a very critical, niche, hard to find/develop expertise because they are so difficult to work with. No doubt there are issues that we are actively dealing with, but she makes them worse by picking at everyone about every little mistake, and not in a collaborative, “let’s talk about this so it goes better next time” kind of way, all the while speaking to all of us (and I’m her boss) like we are idiots for not understanding every nuance of this highly specialized area (which, if I did, I would not need her and her constant drama).

        She is also totally unwilling to work on any solution that is not exactly what she wants. We can say, “Solution X is not an option, so we’ll need to work together to come up with Solution Y together,” and she will spend 30 minutes on why we are all idiots for thinking Solution Y will work and, when asked for an alternative, suggests Solution X (expensive AND something we’ve tried before repeatedly without success).

    4. Dinoweeds*

      Yeah, I agree with AdAgencyChick on this one. I also had to fire an employee due to tardiness across the board, even after multiple one on one’s, performance based warnings, friendly chats, etc. She was still surprised when I let her go. Allison is correct in saying that it is well within your boss’s wheelhouse to expect you to be on time to meetings, regardless of everything else going on around you. It sounds like you’re going through a really rough spot in life right now and I’m sorry for that, but maybe the best thing to do is start looking for another job or take your boss up on that personal leave offer.

    5. Ellena*

      Thank you. I was thinking the exact same thing as you describe from the other side perspective. Labeling someone or a group as “toxic” has become so modern these days, it seems we are all victims of this omnipresent and undefeated toxicity of “the others”. It is much harder to look at the own behavior. I also agree the OP should reasses their situation and if this is really a job – with the conditions it is designed with – they want to keep.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Also, when you’re sleeping through 9:30 meetings, suggesting pushing your start time from 8:30 to 8:45 is super tone deaf.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Yep. I think it also shows that OP really doesn’t have a handle on what is at the root of their distress. I also suffer from insomnia and spent years trying to get a handle on punctuality in the morning. It was a terrible problem that almost lost me several jobs. Shifting their start time by 15 minutes? When they are already at the point of being late for meetings starting a full hour into their work day? That is not going to fix it, and the manager can probably see that.

        There are so many issues bundled together in this letter – medical, mental health, interpersonal, workplace – and it seems like OP is stuck on trying to haggle with their manager over increments of 15-30 non-negotiable minutes. I’m not sure whether they believe that if their manager would only give in and let them be late then that would restore their mental health, or if they believe that if only their manager would sort out this enormous tangle of peronal issues then they would magically start being on time.

    7. NW Mossy*

      I can understand why the boss didn’t take up the proposal too. I don’t think the OP intended it this way, but it probably sounds a bit to the boss like “I’m not meeting your expectations, so my solution is for you to lower your expectations.”

      As Alison notes, this tactic is rarely effective in winning the battle. A boss that sets unreasonable expectations isn’t going to be moved by an appeal like this, and a boss that sets reasonable expectations is going to wonder why you’re taking this route rather than try to raise your performance to where the bar already is.

      And even if you strike lucky and succeed in getting the bar adjusted, it’s very likely to be a tiny patch on a dam that’s about to burst. The root issue isn’t the boss’s expectations – it’s about all the other Big Life Stuff doing on that needs to be addressed.

    8. dear liza dear liza*

      So much this. When I first read the letter, I thought, your poor boss. My next thought was more humane: you sound miserable. But in my experience, people who get righteous about their workplaces, and especially those who think they are somehow ‘teaching’ their workplaces a lesson, don’t get what they want. Your workplace will never change because you acted out. Rule #1 for emotional happiness is accepting that the only thing you control is yourself. AAM was incredibly gracious in her answer and I hope it leads you to better things.

    9. Batgirl*

      “Making sure that you can do your job in the way that’s most convenient for you is not your boss’s job.”
      I couldn’t agree more. The whole time I was reading this I kept getting the impression the OP wanted the intense school-level type of accommodations for their condition. With ADHD students and their peers I’ll do a lot of hand holding making sure everyone gets along and there’s a supportive atmosphere for people of all needs to learn in because I have a duty of care. In the business world no one is going to care about the group support level being given to an unpunctual employee; even if it’s for a good health reason, it’s not the group’s problem. There’s a lot more independence expected and business considerations (like time zones and punctuality) are going to trump accommodations. You can still have accommodations, but they should be things which help you to operate independently. I’d take the generous offer of leave to figure this one out.

      1. Wintermute*

        That’s one reason, despite the fact I’;ve benefitted from them immensely, I’ve come to oppose how much accommodation we do in education. Not only is it incredibly resource-consuming, it sets a wildly unrealistic expectation of how the world works. It serves people particularly poorly when they internalize that attitude like we’re kind of seeing here.

    10. MassMatt*

      Chronic tardiness is usually an issue with time management and priorities, not early rising. I’ve worked several jobs with staggered start times, the people that were chronically late were generally late whether the start time was 8AM or noon.

      After long experience dealing with tardy employees (in jobs where punctuality mattered) I would generally assume someone that continues the pattern after a couple of warnings was not going to last and start looking for a replacement. A manager’s time is valuable, it’s ridiculous to be spending it on Mickey Mouse stuff like tardiness.

    11. Krakatoa*

      Yeah, I’ll say that when they said they had teammates in Asia and they were requesting a meeting change to accommodate them, my eyebrows went up. I don’t know where all this takes place, but if the LW is on the east coast, then most likely their coworkers are anywhere between the end of their work day or are well into the night already with an 8 am time. If I was ready to come home, the last thing I’d want to do is stay an extra 30 minutes to start a meeting because of one person. That’s asking a lot of other people to accommodate you.

      I’m sorry, LW, but there are times when accommodations don’t really work for a situation, and this would be one of them to me. I do hope you have a job that works better for you.

    12. SunshineOH*

      Coming from the boss’s perspective, it’s also highly possible that she IS working to address the toxicity on the team, in some way that isn’t visible to the OP. For all we know, they’re all on coaching plans, etc. OPs behavior will only create (more) resentment.

      1. jolene*

        Oh, I doubt there’s any “toxicity” on the team. I would assume they’re fed up of OP’s blaming being late for meetings on their lack of wokeness surrounding OP’s “gender identity”.

        1. Beth*

          This is an unnecessarily hostile comment. First of all, we don’t know the team. It does sound like OP isn’t handling the job well themselves, but that doesn’t mean there are no other issues; it’s very possible that the team might have some culture issues AND that OP’s insomnia makes them a bad fit for a job requiring a lot of international meetings like this. (It’s also possible that they’re fine and OP is the only issue, but I don’t see any reason to assume that.)

          And putting “gender identity” in quotes here makes me think that you’re interpreting OP being nonbinary as being somehow not-real, ‘special snowflake’-y, or otherwise BS. If that is the case, that’s pretty gross on your part. Various nonbinary identities have existed in various cultures around the globe for millennia; they’re not a recent invention or made-up (any more than gender as a concept is made up). OP’s gender identity is valid and real, and their dismay at not feeling safe in being open about it is legitimate.

  7. learnedthehardway*

    I would suggest that being late for meetings is you being passive aggressive about the fact that you are not happy in your current work situation, and this is the only real outlet you’ve found for expressing your displeasure in a way that affects anyone else in your company. ie. you’re trying to impose consequences on other people, over whom you have no authority. It’s possible that you’re also saying, “I Just DO NOT care, anymore!” with your behaviour.

    The problem, however, is that this hurts you more than it hurts anyone else. You get the reputation for being unreliable, uncommitted, disorganized, and possibly selfish. Meanwhile, your manager and other people learn to work around you (eg. continue to work on other things until you show up for the meeting online, etc.)

    It certainly could relate to you being depressed and needing a break from work for a while. That might be a good opportunity for you to concentrate on a job search, which sounds sorely needed.

    If that’s not something you want to do, I would find a way to be on time, while doing a job search. Find a way to reward yourself and find another way to either express your annoyance with the situation more productively or more privately. (Bullshit bingo exists for a reason.)

    1. Sleepy*

      Yeah, bullshit meetings are part of every job. I actually like my job most of the time and I still find that I need to find a mindless online game to play during Zoom meetings. It might sound bad but these games actually help me stay engaged by lowering my aggravation level. If OP doesn’t want to leave their job, they need similar coping strategies.

      1. EnfysNest*

        Yeah, even in my most annoying meeting where 80% of the time is spent reviewing what was discussed last meeting and reminding them time after time why a certain decision was made… I’m still getting paid to be at that meeting. It’s annoying and frustrating, but it’s still what I’m being paid to do it, so I do it.

        OP, if you haven’t thought of it this way, you could check your hourly rate and note to yourself how much you are getting paid for the length of that meeting. Sure, the meeting may be dull, but your employer has decided to pay you $X per meeting to arrive on time and just sit there. Is $X enough to you to tolerate the meetings and their start time? Of course, it’s more complex than just the hourly rate, since your attendance is tied up with your job security and promotion potential, etc., but it’s hard to quantify the larger picture of how this accumulates and impacts whereas for some people having a hard dollar amount in mind might make it easier to tolerate (or it might make it even more clear to you that that amount isn’t worth it and you need to move on). I think it would be a worthwhile thought experiment to go through, at least.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Lol. I used to do this at my temp job. It kept my butt in the seat thinking that I get a dollar for every 5 minutes I’m just sitting here. I would also then convert that into $1 tacos. A 30 minute meeting meant 6 tacos that I could afford for dinner.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Just make sure whatever you’re actually doing doesn’t get reflected in your glasses or any mirrors or windows in the background!

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Definitely. If I can play armchair therapist for a minute, OP has a LOT going on right now, and probably feels like most of it is out of their control! So they’ve latched on to one thing they *can* control, which is showing up on time for meetings. It’s kind of like “everything else in the world is terrible, so I’m going to start coming late to meetings, haha!”

      It’s not logical or productive, and it may not even be deliberate, but it’s certainly very common in my experience. I’ve done it myself when things felt out of control.

      On the other hand, it’s also not very good for your career! Your boss is annoyed about it, and it sounds like your colleagues are annoyed about it too. Especially if they’re all getting up for 8:00 am meetings with your colleagues in Asia – they’re not going to have a lot of sympathy if you don’t make the same effort.

      Honestly, OP, I hope you have the ability to take the medical leave as your boss suggested. You have so, so much going on right now, not to mention the world is a dumpster fire of coronavirus and climate change and facism, and it sounds like you really need a break. It’s not intended as a punishment – it’s meant to be a way of removing at least one of the pressures from your life, so you can get some breathing space and focus on the others.

      Sending internet hugs, and kittens and warm blankets, or whatever makes you happiest. Please take care of yourself.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        This is the same reasoning that causes numerous self-destructive behaviors, including some cases of anorexia. When one feels completely out of control, it’s common to latch onto the few things one can decide for themselves, in an unhealthy way. With anorexia, it’s food. In this case, it’s the tardiness.
        This pandemic, with its enforced isolation and disruption of standard coping mechanisms, has been awful for anyone who is struggling to stay afloat. And so, without their normal coping mechanisms, OP is latching onto whatever they can grasp. Recognizing that is the first step toward fixing it.

    3. Granger*

      Agree! I detest meetings, but it’s part of the job.

      Also, being late – even once (unless for a truly exceptional reason) – is so disrespectful to everyone including yourself.

    4. TL -*

      Yup. I’m looped into our weekly admin/ops meeting and 90% of the stuff they talk about has nothing to do with me or any impact on my work, but that’s the team I’m on, so I organize my files or do some other mindless tasks. My boss thinks the more information we have about everything the better, and I’m like, my brain is overflowing as it is, and this information doesn’t impact my job at all, so…pass.

  8. Anononon*

    not having coworkers on my team willing to guide me and advocate for me

    This line in particular stuck out to me. From the overall content of the letter, it sounds like OP is having an extremely tough time, but I wonder if that is causing them to expect more from their coworkers than what they should. However, OP needs to realize that this is absolutely not the coworkers’ job, and nor should it be. And expecting it and continuing it to not get it will just cause the stress and anxiety and hurt to build and build and build (ask me how I know, hah).

    1. singularity*

      In addition to this, how much help as the employee asked for from co-workers? How are they interpreting those requests? After a certain point, they might be wondering why OP is unable to do parts of their job with assistance from a peer. Or are they expecting help without ever having asked for any? Or they could’ve asked for help for one thing and then expected additional support beyond that without specifically addressing that issue either. I know I’m speculating now, but it couldn’t hurt OP to think about how they ask for help, how often they ask, who they ask and what they want help with.

    2. Minocho*

      This line stuck out to me too – in part because I am often the default member of the team to train new employees and try to keep an eye out for oncoming issues and help team members – especially new team members – work around them.

      I have been *really* burning out on this aspect of the job. I think it’s a combination of increased text communication / decreased in person communication, and my flagging emotional bandwidth as this all drags on. Also, I feel unappreciated or taken advantage of more and more lately.

      I find text communication often comes across much more negatively to me than in person communication. I find text communication either condescending or demanding much more often than I do in person communication. This eats through my reserves quickly, as I have to spend effort to recognize when this is happening and forestall myself from reacting to it. I am also feeling the weight of all this stuff, especially six months of nearly total isolation (I live alone), very heavily right now. Add in feeling taken for granted for my help or expected to drop all my tasks to help everyone else at the drop of a hat, and it’s a recipe for burnout.

      I think the takeaway here is *many* people are feeling overloaded right now. People who might have been willing to step up don’t have as much bandwidth available to guide or advocate. If you need something, now is the time to ask for it directly rather than hoping for someone to recognize your need for it. Now is also the time to be as forgiving and lenient as you can with everyone – including yourself. It’s rough out there.

      Taking a break, seeking help and emotional support, indulging in activities that restore your energy instead of draining it, and minimizing the things that stress you out right now all seem like steps to take. Everyone, take care of yourselves!

      1. 7.12*

        oh what a good point – you’re so right that even people without ‘extra’ issues like health, childcare, etc. are struggling right now, and so folks might be naturally pulling back a little bit during this time.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          Even introverts are hurting from the lack of socialization at this point. Humans are not meant to be alone. We’re social creatures, which is why removal from society (prison, banishment, solitary confinement, etc.) is a standard punishment.
          Whether we prefer to party, to talk all day, or just sit quietly with a few close friends or similarly quiet coworkers, we need human interaction. This quarantine has wrecked the mental health of even relatively stable individuals. Those who were already having trouble keeping their balance? It’s been rough. A few friends have lost the fight completely. They are missed.

          1. allathian*

            Look up acedia, I did thanks to a post above, read an article on The Conversation, and it seemed so obvious.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, that one got me too.

      OP, I have all the sympathy for what you’re going through, but I’ve never felt it was my responsibility to *advocate* for a coworker. Of course I’ve guided some newbies, and I’ve stuck my neck out a couple of times when I thought someone was getting a raw deal, but that’s an occasional and temporary thing. We’d have to have a *very* good work relationship for me to want to go to bat for the person who is showing up late to meetings–and I wouldn’t do it for my own sibling if advocacy was in the form of “Well, can’t the team in China start at 9pm their time so my coworker can sleep in?” The advocacy I’d be going for is pretty much in line with what the manager offered.

      And as a manager, I can’t simply balance one somewhat nebulous problem with a more concrete one. “I’ll be able to come in on time once I feel like you’ve made an environment I feel comfortable in” is a nonstarter, even if I agree there’s toxicity and am working to address it.

        1. biobotb*

          It certainly made me wonder if a lot of their job stress comes from a clash of the LW’s unreasonable expectations with the coworkers’/boss’s more standard expectations.

      1. Lorac*

        One of my coworkers had a tendency to get into petty disagreements with others while expecting me to back them up and advocate for them. And yes, sometimes they were *technically* correct, but it’s one of those social norms things where you have to pick your battles and let some small things go. It’s not always worth it to get into a grudge match and burn your social capital on something inconsequential. And if I tried to suggest they tone it down, they would take offense, so I figured they weren’t interested in mentoring from others either.

        Over time their attitude ended up rubbing a lot of people the wrong way, so more and more people would pull back. No one is going to stick their neck out for the office pariah. No one is going to voluntarily spend extra time and effort mentoring someone who’s so out of touch.

    4. 7.12*

      i’m curious about this as well! i started thinking about what *i* do to ‘advocate’ for my coworkers, and it’s things like trying to be consistently reliable and helpful, or if they’re stressed offer to take something off their plate, or thanking them sincerely when they’ve done something for me/done a good job, and not emailing them when they’re on vacation. (i’m extremely junior so there’s limits to what i can do lol.) i could be wrong but it sounds like OP might expect more than that level of involvement from their coworkers? like inquiring about why they’re stressed or whether they’re OK? my team is very friendly and we all pitch in on things like what i just listed, but even though i know for a fact several of them have been struggling with various health/life issues during covid, i wouldn’t be comfortable prying beyond offering to help with work related things, and i likewise wouldn’t want them to ask why i look tired (because i couldn’t sleep until 5am b/c of anxiety, or something). idk. just my two cents!

      1. 7.12*

        by the way, i am also nonbinary and even though i have my pronouns in my email signature, no one has ever used them (people typically use my name/avoid using pronouns altogether since i put them in, i’ve noticed, if they don’t use ‘she’) so i COMPLETELY sympathise with that. it sucks and there’s no way around that. i personally don’t have the mental energy to fight it right now, so i’m just dealing with it. i’m sorry you are also having difficulties with this.

        1. allathian*

          I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with people acknowledging and using your preferred pronouns. I hope that they will be more accommodating at some point in the future. It’s a shame that basic consideration for others often seems to fall by the wayside when we’re stressed. At this time, I expect most people are stressed at least on some level, either due to too much work, not enough work, financial insecurity, family issues, feelings of isolation, existing or new mental health issues, the general state of the world, or any combination of the above.

          1. foxinabox*

            Okay I sat on this response a bit, but I think it’s important: it’s overly generous to say that people misgender their coworkers because they’re “stressed.” Are they also chronically misgendering their cis coworkers, because they are stressed? I suspect that they’re not. Is stress an acceptable reason to consistently disrespect another person in any way? I know that it’s not.

            Using the right words for anything, especially people, isn’t a hardship and “it’s hard for me” is a familiar and ugly excuse cis people use to disrespect and quietly pressure with transphobia the trans and nonbinary people around them. And, you know, the trans and nonbinary people they’re being flagrantly disrespectful of also live in this stressful time and place, with (one might add) considerably more risk. Does that mean that, in the name of fairness, there is a jerk thing they’re allowed to persistently do to their cis coworkers?

            I prefer to think you didn’t mean ill, but I also don’t think someone else’s transphobic coworkers are hurting for your sympathy and support. People who persistently mis-name and misgender others aren’t doing it because they’re having a lousy day; they’re doing, on purpose, a lousy thing.

    5. Esmeralda*

      OP, if you had a mentor or trainer when you first started at the job, you can go to that person and ask for some guidance.

      Or you can identify someone among your colleagues who seems friendly and knowledgeable, and ask if you can pick their brain about [whatever topic / work thing you want to know about]. Unless you have a formal mentor-mentee structure at your place of employment, this is not going to just happen. First of all, because folks who have been around awhile know that just offering can be a negative experinece for THEM (younger/newer person gets offended, younger/newer person’s manger gets offended, they get seen as busybodies or overstepping…). Second, because it’s a real commitment of time and thought and energy. Third, because you are late so often , people are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will figure you will be late to or miss meetings with them, won’t follow up on their suggestions, etc. So if you do want someone to serve as a mentor or guide, you should ask, and ALSO, AT THE SAME TIME, acknowledge your past unreliability, apologize for it, do NOT explain or excuse, and promise that you will be completely reliable working with them.

      Good luck, OP. It sounds like you are very burned out! I hope you are able to turn it around at work, or to find another job if that is better for you.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I wondered this, too. What are the expectations here?

      Also, while it’s a completely legitimate and stressful problem to be nonbinary and closeted . . . it’s not their coworkers’ responsibility to manage that. If this is also the kind of workplace where the OP can’t safely be out, that’s another case for looking for a different job.

      I feel like there is an awful lot going on here and the OP is maybe using the job as a scapegoat for a lot of legitimate personal issues that aren’t getting addressed appropriately. The medical leave seems like a reasonable and actually fairly compassionate suggestion.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, this is an insightful point. The OP has a lot going on, and they’ve sort of wrapped it all up together in their mind. It’s really tempting to look at a host of problems and go “THIS ONE, this is the problem, if this could get solved everything would be better.” But it’s almost never true, and focusing on a big, complicated, difficult problem is a distraction from working on the things you CAN control.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          It reminds me of the video from several years back with the woman with the nail in her head who was complaining about her headache. The other person kept saying “But there’s a nail right there in your head, I can see it” all while the woman is saying “Will you just listen to me, I have this headache and nothing is fixing it… it just hurts all the time…”

    7. Ms.Vader*

      This so so stood out to me. It isn’t your coworkers job to advocate for you and especially as it appears the boss sees their lack of punctuality as a performance issue that could actually look bad for them.

    8. SomebodyElse*

      I’m with the others who head scratched at this one. I don’t even know what that would look like or be? And it’s leading me to unusual advice for me to give.

      I think my best advice for the OP is to really sit down and try to gain some perspective about their job, work environment, and coworkers.

      I have to be honest and I’m not sure what the OP is expecting from all of the above. I generally am not in the “Find a new job” camp, but I’m leaning in that direction with one huge caveat… I think the OP needs to find that perspective before looking for a new job because this has the earmark of unrealistic expectations written all over it.

      To be fair, I’m guessing here a bit because there weren’t a lot of details given. But it seems that the meetings is how the symptoms are manifesting and not the real problem.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Good point. I’m sure there are some issues at this workplace but I can’t tell how pervasively toxic it is vs. just not what the OP wants/not the right place for the OP to get the kind of support they need. Changing jobs if part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding or mis-expectation of what one should get out of a job won’t solve this.

    9. Granger*

      I agree, @Anononon. The entire post reads as though OP doesn’t understand several kinds of office / work norms – and we know that misery is found where expectations and reality diverge and that seems to be exactly where OP is right now in several areas.

    10. Joielle*

      Yeah, the specific word choices of “guide” and “advocate” stuck out to me too. Those are both pretty active words, and I think they’re significantly outside the scope of what a coworker would do in a normal, healthy workplace (unless there’s some kind of extenuating circumstance, and there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that).

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      I mentioned this above, too, and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in wondering what sort of advocacy is expected from one’s coworkers. I can’t tell if OP is expecting too much or if I’m just out of touch with modern usage.

    12. Madame X*

      I start work at 8:00 am, however, I HATE 8:00 meetings because that is the time that i usually am easing into the work day. For that reason i consider 8:00 meetings to be very early. I would also add that it is easier to attend early morning meetings in which I am a passive participant instead of the main presenter.

      That said, i have colleagues in Europe and Asia, so 8:00 am meetings do happen and I always attend them on time if my presence is required. What’s considered an early morning meeting really depends on the work culture.

    13. DarnTheMan*

      The only part I could really see is the OP feeling that people need to advocate for their preferred pronouns/non-binary status more; myself and some other co-workers did that at old!job (largely because the boss was a nonce who went out of his way to deliberately misgender a staffer who’d come out as nonbinary), if someone misgendered them we’d just casually say “oh Rolls actually uses they/them pronouns.” But that’s something you sometimes have to ask for, instead of just expecting your co-workers to do naturally.

  9. Mel_05*

    I’ve been at miserable offices like this. Punctuality has never been an issue for me, but it did affect my work performance in other ways that were a little easier to hide, but didn’t go completely unnoticed either.

    I know it might feel impossible to look for another job or like that one will also be bad (my next one was!), but just getting out can give you the energy to deal with problems that you couldn’t deal with when you were weighed down by the toxic coworkers.

    For me, I moved from a bad job to another bad job (in different ways), but that bad job lead to a job I *love* with an office environment that is just right for me. So I would say it’s worth it to move on and try working somewhere else.

  10. Lark*

    An 8am meeting is not WAY too early. It’s a pretty normal time to start the work day and your colleagues in Asia are likely working late in order to participate in those calls.

    1. Oh Snap*

      I am continually amused by people thinking 8am is early! This is very office culture dependant, and an office that works with Asia is always going to trend earlier. But 8 isn’t even early- when I worked with Asia it was more like 6 or 6:30 am.

      This is sooooooo not the hill I would die on. And as a manager I would seriously question anyone who couldn’t show up to an 8 am meeting who took a regular day job (obviously if you are such a night person that you can’t handle morning meetings you shouldn’t have to…. But don’t expect a typical day job to change to accommodate that).

      1. TootsNYC*

        My mom and her colleagues rolled their eyes at the title of the movie “9 to 5,” because they didn’t know anyone who started that late. This was Iowa, and things just always started at 8:00 or 8:30.

        1. allathian*

          Same here. I’m in the Nordics and the standard has always been 8 to 4. For me it’s more like 7 to 3 because my job offers that flexibility and I’m a morning person. That said, I will work later when necessary.

      2. Nonny*

        Came here to say the exact same things. In my last position, which I will be completely up front about–I hated 100% and was a soul-sucking two years of my life as a PM, we had quarterly 6 AM meetings with our team in Asia. I had to be there a half an hour early to get the conference room set up and running, and I lived an hour away…. Which meant waking up at 3:30 AM and leaving home by 4:30 AM at the very latest and chugging caffeine on an empty highway so I wasn’t completely groggy by the time I arrived. Those nights I would be lucky to get 3-4 hours of sleep, and it wasn’t fun. I hated every minute of it and I didn’t want to be there… **But I didn’t for one second think it was optional or the responsibility of my boss or coworkers to start later on my account, no matter how much I hated it.** That’s not how workplaces work, and I hope that OP can find a better fit moving forward.

      3. Grace*

        Came here to say the same thing. 8am is a normal start time!
        My fiance has 3am meetings because his European coworkers refuse to move their 9am meeting to later in their day. He is the only one from the US in this meeting so he sets his alarm for 2:58am and joins the meeting from bed. If he’s lucky, he can fall back alseep for a few hours before getting up for his regular workday. I feel so bad for him those days.

        1. allathian*

          An advantage of WFH, for sure. After meetings at completely insane hours you can go back to bed. That said, I think his European coworkers are unreasonable, because there’s overlap in working hours later in the day.

        2. Merida*

          Unless there is a really critical business reason they can’t move the meeting, your fiance’s European coworkers sound awful! I’m so sorry this is a regular thing for him. I’m based in the UK and work with European and US-based teams, we just have the US meetings in our afternoons, it’s not hard.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Yeah, this was my reaction. My team meetings are almost always at 8 am, because that’s when the work day starts.

      1. allathian*

        Ugh, I would hate to start my workday with a team meeting. Luckily it’s unlikely for me, because I start earlier than all but one of my teammates.

    3. GrumbleBunny*

      Honestly, especially when working from home. An 8:00 Zoom meeting is the equivalent of a 9:00 in-office meeting.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I start work at 7 right now (for various reasons) but my in-office start time was 7:30. Most of my coworkers started at 8.

      Even then, an 8 a.m. meeting is considered pretty early, because it’s accepted that you need time to ease into the workday, and needing to call colleagues in China is basically the only reason we’d have one then. (Thankfully, my department doesn’t need to talk to our China team very often.)

    5. TootsNYC*

      especially when you’re working at home.

      Set the computer up before bedtime, join the meeting (if you can), turn the volume up so you’ll hear when anyone else arrives, and set your alarm for 7am.

      That should give you time to wake up, pee, and put a shirt on.

    6. Kalystia*

      I think this is one of those cultural things depending on the job/office/industry. I’ve had jobs where no one would think to schedule a meeting before 9:30 but would also schedule 5pm meetings, and I’ve had jobs where 8am was an hour after everyone got to the office but you couldn’t schedule meetings after 3:30 and even then there better be a good reason. I definitely ask about office hours in my “tell me about a typical day” question in interviews now (cause I’m not a morning person so being in the office by 7 just cause “that’s what production does so we have to do it” is not fun).

      OP may want to consider some questions to get this information in interviews as this can be a huge culture issue and can definitely affect how you feel about work. I know when I would walk in at 7:15am knowing I was going to be staying in the office till 6 that night and had the night before as well, I was not happy to hear snarky comments about how late I was that day. Definitely not a good fit for me.

      1. TootsNYC*

        except our OP says they are late to 9:30am meetings too. This is not a time-of-day issue, I don’t think.

    7. MissGirl*

      I just looked it up and Hong Kong and Eastern Time are exactly 12 hours apart. An 8 am meeting is way more convenient for people than an 8 pm. The OP isn’t going to earn any points with coworkers wanting to push this back.

    8. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed. I start work at 8am every single day, which in practice means arriving at 7.45. I also struggle with insomnia and appreciate that it may feel early for OP, but is is not objectively too early to do business and plenty of people do it all the time. I would guess it’s also a lot closer to standard business hours than whatever time it is for OPs colleagues in Asia. Do not continue to push this line of argument, OP, it does not make you look good.

    9. Engineer Woman*

      Yep, this is just one of things that stood out to me too. 8am is not too early. If you were asking to do standing 7am or 7:30 meetings, then yes – that’s too early. It also doesn’t sound like there’s really an issue with the time, for example: we are still going into work and traffic is so bad in our area that I need to leave my home at 6am just to make it to the pointless 8am meeting. I hope these comments help you, OP, to re-set your frame of mind about this.

      That said – I can completely understand the mental aspect of your post. I too have been struggling due to COVID and find myself demotivated not only in work but in life. Your boss’s suggestion to take time off is really a good suggestion to allow you to focus on your health. As someone who suffered from insomnia for a period of time, taking a break and righting your sleep cycle is of paramount importance. Similar to you, the less I slept the worse I suffered during the day and led to poorer sleep at night. I had to break the cycle. You might find a short break to help. I wonder if your boss’s other issues are colouring everything he’s doing and hence why you’re reluctant to take a break.

      I wish you best of luck in dealing with this. But do take all these comments to mind – joining meetings on-time is a basic requirement of jobs and 8am is not too early in a general sense.

    10. Job Carousel*

      I’m a night owl, but for most of my professional career, the workdays have started at 8 AM, if not earlier (in medical school I would arrive at 5:30 or 6 AM on certain rotations to pre-round on my assigned patients, and in grad school, I worked for a morning person advisor and would usually arrive by 6:30 or 7 AM). In residency my workdays started at 8 AM, but what made that really hard was disrupted sleep while on call, and not getting a pass at our daily 8 AM meetings when I had been up all night, driving back and forth to the hospital. Our 8 AM meetings had a 10-minute grace period for attendance, but after that, you were considered absent, and if you missed more than a few daily 8 AM meetings, you got penalized with more call, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

      (To this day, I still don’t like starting the day with an early morning meeting (since it feels unproductive to be sitting and listening when I could be spending my early morning energy getting things set up and doing focused work), but that’s not my choice to make.)

      So I do empathize with the OP, but like other posters, I do think it’s their responsibility to be able to be on time and reasonably cheerful for early morning meetings.

      It can be hard as a night owl, especially in regions of time zones where the sun sets late and rises late. In grad school and med school I got myself into a schedule where I went to bed by 9-10 PM and woke up at 5 AM, 7 days a week (including my off days), with few exceptions. I also started the day with exercise, which I generally look forward to. In residency, disrupted sleep was my biggest issue, and largely out of my control, since I could not turn my pager off and ignore calls. I bought an alarm clock with a 30-minute sunrise simulation (these are available at a variety of price points), and my cats trained themselves to start trying to wake me up when the simulation starts, so those things helped.

    11. Granger*

      AND late to the 9:30 am meetings, too. We had an employee who was always late no matter what her start time was – it’s clearly a person issue, not a time of day issue.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      Yeah, it’s not my favorite (I am an owl), but it’s a pretty standard starting time, especially working from home.
      Plus I work for a business that has to be open during “regular business hours”, meaning 8 to 5, and people have to be actually available.

    13. Coalea*

      LW, I’m very sorry to hear that you are going through such a tough time, but I think your expectations about what constitutes an early meeting are off base.
      I live in the US Central time zone but my company’s main office is on the East Coast. Their start time is 8:30 AM, so mine is 7:30 AM. It is also not unusual for there to be meetings at 7:00 AM my time. Occasionally there will be a meeting that starts at 6:00 AM my time. I would argue that is “WAY too early” … but I still join and am on time.
      I hope you’re able to find some strategies to improve your mental health and make your job more pleasant!

    14. Employee #24601*

      I was going to point this out myself. I’ve also struggled with mental health issues during coronavirus, but I still make it to 4am meetings and after being on calls until midnight the night before. It happens when your clients are mainly in the Middle East and Australia. You just have to turn up…but also definitely get the mental health help you need.

  11. 8AM is Early?*

    Maybe I’ve just been working trades too long to think 8AM as early. I mean, I’m at work at 6:30AM to accommodate overseas people on certain days.
    Anyway, sounds like OP could benefit from realizing that being on time is an essential job function. If the manager is not addressing other issues, that’s another problem, but the best way to get coworkers on your side is to do your job and show up on time. When people don’t show up on time, it tells me “their time is more valuable than mine.” Maybe that’s why the coworkers are frustrated.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Since I left retail, I’ve never had a job start later than 8am. 9-5 is the cliche but in my experience, every job starts at 8 and ends at 4 or 5. And I’m not in trades, I work in offices.

      Then again, I spent a year working a food services job that was 5 am to 10 am and even though that was a decade ago, sleeping in until 6 has felt like a luxury ever since. xD

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I hear you. I worked at a hotel for their catering service and had to fill in at breakfast pretty often. 5am shift start to have the continental breakfast out by 6am was pretty brutal. It was a pretty snazzy hotel with a full breakfast buffet, so the kitchen staff were there even earlier than me!

        Since I was in catering, there were times I would work a wedding the night before and go home at 11pm, only to get up and get to work again by 5am because they were short-staffed at breakfast. It was rough…and luckily they were pretty lenient with me about rolling in a few minutes late. Having a full week of evening shifts and no early starts felt like such a luxury! It’s all about perspective!

    2. Smithy*

      Pre-Covid, I knew a couple coworkers where getting to the office before 10/10:30am was truly painful. In one person’s case, it was part of larger medical issues and dissatisfaction with the workplace (she did ultimately get FMLA/left the job). The other person often stayed very late into the evening and never missed an assigned earlier meeting – but she just was not going to show up by 9 regularly, let alone before. She’s still at the job years later.

      If the 8am meeting were truly the only issue at play, this letter and the OP’s conversation with their boss would likely be very different. When it’s part of these larger other issues, the exact time of a meeting starting ends up being more salt in the wound vs the specific issue, in my experience.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        People have all kinds of needs when it comes to start time. I had a coworker who had to catch a bus and two trains to make it to work during rush hour. To get in at 9am, they’d have to leave the house by 7:15, but to get in at 10, they didn’t have to leave until 9. They worked 10-6 or 11-7 most days, but our job was flexible and didn’t require punctuality.

        Start time can be flexible, but I think you’re right: punctuality has gotten tangled up in a lot of different issues for this letter writer. With everything else going on, punctuality might feel like a low priority to LW, but it’s pretty clear their boss feels like it’s a much, much bigger problem.

        1. Smithy*

          Exactly – for the “no issues late arrival” colleague, she could easily drive into/out of downtown with almost no rush hour issues if she arrived left her house around 9:30 and left the office around 8pm.

          I do think that overall when it feels like “attitude” is the issue, it can be easier for a manager to focus on issues like punctuality when the larger issue just may be “it’s become difficult for me as your manager and your team members to work with you.”

          My assumption – that may be very wrong – is that the OP may be a more junior employee who has grown out of the role but due to “reasons” has not received promotion or other avenues for advancement. If that is part of the issue in addition to other mental health factors – please please please get out.

          Due to other “it’s hard to get a new job” reasons, I stuck around in one job for far too long and left as someone largely considered to have a bad attitude. I did good work, I could have done more senior work there. But there weren’t the job openings , and my the only way to get that advancement was to leave. It ended up feeling very personal and no matter how toxic the workplace was (which it was) – the reality was there was no room to grow. I ended up being super lucky that I had one manager for 6 months who’s remained a reference – but my longest running manager, I burnt that opportunity.

    3. Jaybeetee*

      I empathize as ADHD often leads to a messed up circadian rhythm (there’s an actual name for this that I can’t remember right now #ADHD). Essentially, a lot of people with ADHD have a natural schedule of like, sleeping from 2am to 10am, and not being fully “with it” until about noon, and going through life with essentially constant jet lag/sleep deprivation from trying to force themselves onto a more conventional schedule. For me, a 630am start tine would be a circle of hell.

      … but if I have to, I have to. I empathize with the LW in that I have similar sleep issues, but if the job has a hard start time, you have to make it happen somehow.

      1. Tabby*

        Jaybeetee — this sounds a lot like me! I can function as early as 6 am IF I MUST, with the added incentive of lots and lots of coffee to provide “fake-wakey” juice to run on, but I much prefer to never start work before 11 am if at all possible. Fortunately, I work in an industry where later shifts are available (vet assistant, tech, dog daycares) for the taking, and dogwalking is rarely required before noon at the earliest. I remember as far back as 8th grade, really struggling with the early mornings, though I suspect it’s always been like that, and I just don’t remember it. The more people discuss ADD/ADHD, the more I wonder if I ought to get myself tested for it. I’m female, so it’s very likely that I just flew under the radar for decades, but SERIOUSLY. I was nodding along, here.

    4. Ray Gillette*

      I start at 6am every day so I can sync with a colleague in Europe. It sucks (I also have ADHD and insomnia, so I feel OP’s pain here), but short of asking my colleague to work very late, there’s no other way to make it happen. We’ve all had those meetings that could have been emails, but we still have to show up. A big part of office dynamics is being present when you’re expected, even if you don’t have anything new to contribute. That also sucks, but them’s the breaks.

      OP, take the medical leave. Even if all you do is use the time to start searching for a new job, this isn’t sustainable.

    5. Spearmint*

      I think this varies a lot between industries and even companies. Many white collar workers can work 9-5 or even 10-6, and industries provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to working hours.

      One thing to keep in mind is people with ADHD often have a harder time getting up in the morning than neurotypical people do. Also, people’s internal sleep clocks vary, and so for some it’s easy to be ready for work at 8am but for others they are usually groggy and unfocused until 10am.

      Finally, I think there’s a difference between starting work at 8am and being alert and ready for an important meeting at 8am. Speaking personally, I can answer emails and fiddle with spreadsheets at 8am if I need to, but I’m not going to be focused and on point for an important meeting at that time.

    6. Bee*

      I would absolutely not be able to do a job where I needed to be in meetings at 8AM on a regular basis. I would be miserable all the time. I can wake up before 7 once in a blue moon, when necessary for the occasional breakfast meeting or travel plans, but doing it every day would fully mess me up. But that’s why I’m in an office that works 10-6 (and where my boss typically comes in 11-7)!

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’m with you. I simply don’t take jobs/projects that require regular 8am starts and have negotiated later starts in every desk job I’ve taken. I realize 8a is normal, even late to many, but my body doesn’t agree. And here on the west coast in a creative industry, most of my peers are the same. 9a is the earliest, 10a is better if you want people to be mentally engaged.

        However, I do have clients on the east coast. We work out core hours where we generally don’t have to meet before 9 and they don’t have to go past 5. It does get a lot harder for international or larger groups, and I absolutely make exceptions for key meetings that require earlier/later. (For Asia, I’d rather do an evening meeting my time than get up early.) As hard as it is, I do show up on time and without complaining — that’s required! And will frankly be annoyed if others are late. If I have to drag my butt into a meeting hours before my regular start time, I’m going to be very upset if it gets delayed or cancelled.

      2. allathian*

        I’m the opposite. I pretty much flatline at around 2 or 3 pm and unless I’m working to a tight deadline and I’m full of adrenaline as a consequence, I can only do boring routine stuff after that. I save the creative parts of my job for early mornings. But because I start early, I can also stop early. There’s no way I could start as late as 10, it would waste my most productive hours. I’m glad you’ve found an office with working hours that suit you.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      My workplace opens at 8:00 but my hours are unofficially 7:30-4:30 (employees stagger times). But if I were meeting with international clients I wouldn’t bat an eye at having an earlier meeting–after all, it’s probably well after their closing time, right? I can split the difference on the inconvenience. I’ve worked shifts before that went from 6:00-3:00, so there’s that.

      But it’s not early.

      1. Mae*

        8 am to me might as well be 4 am, but I recognize that’s a me problem, not a problem with a workplace with perfectly good reasons to have 8 am meetings. If I don’t like it then I need to do what I need to do to get myself in a different job/field so that I can work a schedule that works for me.

    8. Madeleine Matilda*

      My office has flexible work times. Pre-COVID some co-workers arrived before 6 am to avoid awful commutes and others arrived at 9:30 because that better suited them. But occasionally we would have a meeting after 2:30 pm or before 9:30 am and they would flex their hours. I used to work 6:00-2:30 or 6:30-3:00 but recently changed to a later schedule (all work from home). I’m still not sure if I like it or not. I enjoy not getting up at 5 am but the afternoon hours after 3 pm are really dragging for me.

    9. BookishMiss*

      Yeah, I’m a technical trainer, and I have to be ready to train groups of people by 8. I usually start my work day at 7 to make sure I’m all ready to go, including caffeine and food. If I told my boss that 8 was too early for me, I would quickly be moved back to my previous role.

      Do I hate mornings with a fiery passion that consumes my soul? Oh my, yes. But my job requires the early start, so I deal with it and sleep like a koala on weekends.

      If my trainees are late, it puts the whole class behind for the day. Managers jump right on tardiness, mostly because of the cascading effects on other people.

  12. Blaise*

    Why not take the medical leave and use that time to look for a new job?? It’s pretty obvious that the lateness isn’t the core issue here, and the numerous core issues that do exist are never going to go away at this company.

    1. Teapot Tía*

      yeah, this is my take. Whatever all the factors involved, this job isn’t working and likely isn’t going to change. Take the offered time off, spend a couple days on an at-home vacation, start looking for a better fit.

    2. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I was going to suggest the same thing. Taking personal leave could still be beneficial …. It won’t fix your toxic job, but taking time off could either give you the time to kickstart your job search OR give you a break and a chance to refocus so you’re able to enter the job market in a better mental space.

  13. Becca M*

    I also think it may be helpful to talk to someone outside work (a trusted friend, maybe a therapist/doctor) about what’s going on. These are issues that are having an impact on your personal life as well as your work life and I think it’s worth exploring everything you’ve been dealing with.
    Also, if you have the energy and time, I do agree with Alison that starting a job search is a good idea.

    1. TootsNYC*

      and make that person be someone who’s been working for at least 5 years. You don’t want a 60yo like me, because you’ll think my advice is tainted by my Baby Boomer category (and it might be). Or tainted by the fact that I’m a parent.

      But you don’t want to ask advice of your close friends the same age with the same work-experience level as you.
      I say this because I know where my daughter gets her expectations and standards from, and it’s not me.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        Polling broadly and getting a range of responses is always helpful. I got the (maybe mistaken) impression that LW is pretty young, and bringing the kind of expectations they had about college classrooms, professors, and group work to their professional job.

        LW: Work and school function VERY differently, so it’s a great idea to get perspectives from people with more than a few years of work experience. People in your peer group might also be bringing their college/school expectations to the workplace, so it’s worth listening to those outside of your usual sphere.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I had exactly that same impression; my daughter is 26, and I can absolutely hear those things come out of her mouth.

          I’m glad our OP wrote in to Alison, and I’m glad Alison found a good tone to tell the OP those points.

      2. lailaaaaah*

        Definitely this. I’ve been in the workforce for ~5 years now, and already my ideas of what to expect from any given job are wildly different compared to those of our new interns or my friends who are still students.

  14. Master Bean Counter*

    To be honest you are expecting people change, that you have no power over to make them change. It’s frustrating and at time demoralizing. Your boss is not wrong in thinking you need time to help yourself. You need to take the time to come to terms with the fact that this job is a bad fit for you. You also could take a little time to focus on finding a better situation or at least finding a way to cope with the things you can not change at this job.

    At this point you are not being you at work, no matter if the reasons are valid or not, and that’s compounding all of your other frustrations with your job.

  15. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    Please leave. You are at the point where “civil disobedience” meets “insubordination.”
    You are not doing your best work. You say that it is because you can’t sleep and have ADHD.
    You are not doing your best to be a good employee in other ways. You say this is because your boss and coworkers are toxic.
    Because you are exhausted and unhappy, you are late to or miss meetings. Your boss calls you out on it. You double down on this well, pretty bad move, being late, by telling boss that you overslept but these meetings don’t really matter anyway, that everyone else is crap, that the whole place has issues.
    You are seriously hurting yourself and your reputation at this point. You need to get out before this apathy/antipathy feeling about THIS job become your feelings about ANY job.

    1. TootsNYC*

      also get out while you still have any kind of reputation that would let you use this manager as a reference a little ways down the road.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Yes, OP, hear this. You need to leave this place AND you need them to support your doing that.
        Your manager is not going to get into office politics to explain that you were not a great fit and as a result, you were not vested in attending standing meetings when your next potential employer calls.
        He is going to say that you do good work, when you get to it, but punctuality is an issue.

  16. Smithy*

    OP – absolutely all of your perspectives about the faults in the work environment can be 100% correct, and it can still be time to leave the job.

    A huge reality about where many of us work is that there are pain points, but that line between when we can try to change them vs when it’s time to leave is how it impacts our ability to do basic tasks. Change work dynamics or structures is a huge task – and one that often is not listened to as much when it comes from junior staff. Trying to tackle that means having a huge personal bandwidth for how slow it will be and how if you’re looking to change 5 things, the end results may only touch on 1 or 2. And all of that still requires an ability to do your generic job.

    You can be entirely overlooked and underappreciated, but once that bad attitude label hits – and very often the “bad attitude” label is applied disproportionately to women or marginalized communities – it’s really hard to shake. I had a coworker in this place, who did get approved for a medical accommodation that saved her from being able to arrive in the office when she was expected to. But she basically used that reprieve as breathing room to find a new job.

  17. Don’t shoot the manager*

    OP your situation reminds me a lot of one of the situations a direct report was in in the past. Having been on the other side of this, let me try to give you some perspective from that end (please know that I’m saying all of this with respect and with kindness)

    I would sit down and think about what you need in order to do your job, and think about whether it’s a reasonable accommodation, and if you’re willing to make the changes on your end to accommodate those accommodations. My team member was dealing with some health issues that were causing him to go on medication, that was then exacerbating the problem and causing him to oversleep and be late. I said we could switch his hours accordingly, but at first he didn’t want to do that… but he was still constantly late. This was not an option and we ended up having to change his work hours eventually which he was not happy about.

    We had to give this employee paperwork to bring to his doctor about accommodation, after he said it was health related multiple times but didn’t want to provide any information to HR (please be aware that I stressed that he did not need to give me any medical information, but that if he was asking for medical accommodation he needed to go through HR and I would only know what accommodations I needed to provide for him).

    Mental health is so so important, and as someone who also suffers from mental health issues, I need to say that one of the best things that you can do is take a look at what you need and advocate for that. At the end of the day beyond actual accommodations your manager cannot treat you differently than your other colleagues, and they can’t make those accommodations if you don’t go through the proper channels. I wanted to do so much to help this employee but they didn’t do what they needed to until it was a disciplinary situation, and by then they’d burned a lot of bridges with people.

  18. Homebody*

    OP, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to ‘diagnose’ you or give you unsolicited advice (comment sections in a nutshell lol), but I would strongly suggest you seek counseling to help you out with this. From your letter it sounds like you are dealing with a LOT and having someone to help you take things apart step by step and find healing might be what you need.

    I would take Alisons advice too, and really think about if this job is worth staying at. I wish you the best of luck OP. I hope things get better for you soon.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I agree. OP, I think you are seeking help. In the place where you invest the most time and energy. You want your workplace to adjust to you. It’s just not going to happen.
      The difference between accommodating v. changing the office is important here.
      Think about what you are really asking and if it something they should really be doing.

  19. C in the Hood*

    OP, if I were you, I would take advantage of that leave of absence. Get some counseling and work on some coping strategies. (And actually, yes, your mental health *is* your responsibility; no one can tend to it for you.) Once you are mentally stronger, re-evaluate whether you want to stay with this company or not and take steps to either leave or find ways to make it work.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Yes, this IS the office trying to help you. Giving you time to decide for yourself what you need to do to be content in your job. That’s really a good thing. Please use it.

  20. Michelle*

    I don’t like that your boss disclosed personal info and made fun of your hobby, but other than that I don’t see that they have done anything wrong. You expect them to compromise on the meeting time, but what you are really asking for is for everyone else to adjust their schedules to accommodate that fact that you oversleep. As for your coworkers, you mention toxicity but only specifically say that they don’t guide or advocate for you. If these are your peers, that’s not really their job. I’m sorry you are having a hard time of it, but I would take the leave and get your stuff sorted out.

  21. Roscoe*

    OP, it sounds like you are going through a lot. And I feel for you. but you really are conflating a lot of different issues here. You want him to change the meeting time for EVERYONE because you can’t be on time. I also, based on the fact that you are also late to 930 meetings, if the later time would really make a difference.

    Also, while I’m going to believe that you feel its toxic, you provided no real examples, so its hard to say if you are right that the boss is ignoring them, or that you are overreacting to things.

    It doesn’t sound like you want to be there anymore.

  22. Me*

    I’m so sorry OP is having such a difficult time. They sound completely exhausted mentally and emotionally.

    Here’s the thing that you have to remember through all the other bs you see/fee/think is going on at work – and that is we can only control ourselves. You are in control of what you are in control over and nothing else – not your boss, not your coworkers, not the time meetings are being scheduled and not what the meetings are about.

    Separate the stuff you can’t control from what you can. You can control getting to meetings on time – set extra alarms, take that medical leave to get some counseling, talk to a doctor about your difficulty sleeping – whatever you can under your control so you can take ownership of what’s in your power.

    And when you have some headspace seriously start looking for other jobs. You’re miserable and I don’t think it’s in your control to make the things making you miserable any better.

    Hang in there.

  23. Ginger*

    OP I mean this kindly and I hope reading it in b/w doesn’t come across as too harsh.

    Your letter sounds to me like you are placing blame on your coworkers for your actions. “They are toxic to me, so I’m late”. When it is more like, “They are toxic. I am late”.

    8am is not unreasonable and even more so when you are working from home because there’s no commute to account for. Lumping that into everything else can devalue all of your issues. From the other side, it starts to sound like a laundry list of gripes when in fact some are far worse (toxic coworkers, not receiving the support you need to do your job).

    Being late to mandatory meetings because they are “too early” and the same information is repeated starts to cross the line into you are the problem, not the others. And no one wants to help the coworker who isn’t a team player and who doesn’t help themselves first.

    Again, I say all this in the spirit of giving you an outsiders view with the limited info shared. You really should take the time off to focus on your health.

    1. allathian*

      I don’t think the OP’s teammates are necessarily toxic. I don’t like the way the manager made fun of the OP’s hobby and shared personal information without the OP’s consent, but with the coworkers, I’m not seeing any toxic behavior in the letter. They’re not bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of a coworker they probably find a bit too needy, but that’s not toxic behavior. The one data point I’m missing here is how long the OP has been doing their current job, and if they were hired pre-COVID, how things went at the office. OP needs to find a job they can do without constant hand-holding by peers.

  24. Lemon Curdle*

    OP you really need to start taking responsibility for yourself. I don’t mean I’m blaming you for things – but this is YOUR life and YOUR job and you’re basically wanting to complain and have everyone else fix things without having to do anything on your end. Sorry but that’s how you get fired.

    1. Granger*

      I was trying to figure out how to say this ^^ without sounding too harsh. Even if everything OP writes here is objectively true, OP is looking at themself as a victim of their life circumstances, boss, co-workers, and office schedules and norms. This pattern would be worth exploring with a professional for OP’s own benefit.

    2. J. Swanson*

      There’s a saying I heard and then saw in a book on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. LW, it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility.

    3. Courageous cat*

      Yeah… ultimately I don’t have a lot of empathy here. The reasons come off as OP excusing their actions when they’re completely unrelated. Time to look inward on this one.

  25. Meetkat*

    Sorry but I think the OP is not seeing the actual picture here. If a meeting is mandatory you need to show up be prepared and be engaged. That’s your job. As well as having co-workers advocating for the OP? Sorry but they too have their lives and they too are probably going through some personal stuff. The difference is they know and u sweat and that they must separate the Personal from the professional. While I am sorry the letter writer is
    Going through stress, their personal issues do not over ride others

  26. Context on the Boss*

    What did the boss say about your hobby? Was it directed AT you or did he make a passing, generalized comment like, “Wow, Harry Potter fans are weird.”

    1. CatWoman*

      Good question! OP, you hobbies are your own; you don’t need anyone else’s approval for doing what you enjoy. Same goes for your non-binary status. You are who you are and approval is not required, especially from your boss and/or co-workers.
      PS – my hobbies are reading gory horror novels, holding full conversations with cats and plants, and playing jacks and Yahtzee alone…Whee!
      PPS – I am over 50 years old.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        I get teased about some of my hobbies by managers and co-workers. They mean it in good fun, and I tease them back about theirs. It could be the office is far more relaxed about that than OP is, and OP is misreading comfortable teasing as something worse.

    2. Hats Are Great*

      Also in my culture you’re allowed to tease people about things they’re proud of/good at, but it’s STRICTLY off-limits to tease someone about something they’re self-conscious about or struggle with. So we all tease the marathoner about running, or the huge Harry Potter fan about Harry Potter. Because direct expressions of praise in my culture are awkward/difficult, so teasing is the way you call attention to someone’s strengths/interests without engaging in the weirdness of direct praise. (It’s a tiny bit like how in some cultures complementing a baby/child is inviting the evil eye?)

      So someone could be like, “Hey Bob, can I get an Accio assist with this box over here?” and that wouldn’t be “ha ha, Harry Potter is weird!” but “I appreciate your enthusiasm and have gone out of my way to reference it because I like you.” Or “We’re going to start the meeting 15 minutes late because the client’s running behind — which should give Jane enough time for six or seven laps around the building” which means “GOSH YOU ARE GOOD AT RUNNING JANE AND WE ADMIRE IT, congrats on beating your mile PR this weekend!”

      “Teasing” or “making fun” is soooooooo culturally specific, it’s really hard to tell what’s happening without specifics.

    1. ThatGirl*

      No, they sound depressed and very stressed out. I agree that they might not be coming off well to their coworkers, but it costs you nothing to be kind.

    2. Jaybeetee*

      Let’s not do that. She sounds unhappy and overwhelmed, and like she’s not dealing well. She needs help, not scolding.

  27. Sleepy*

    I’ve worked with a few people who were chronically late. We moved meetings to accommodate them. They were still late. We worked from home so the long bus ride would no longer be an issue. They were still late. One of these people ended up being fired, one is still working with us because is very good at her core tasks. But I’ve honestly yet to work with someone for whom the time of the meeting or external circumstances was causing them to be chronically late. It was their own time management that was the issue.

    1. I edit everything*

      Yeah, asking to move a meeting time when the LW is also late to later-in-the-day meetings makes them seem not a little bit oblivious.

    2. Lark*

      OP even mentions that they are sometimes late for 9:30 meetings, so I don’t think the time of the meetings is the problem here.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, I’m on a project currently with a guy who is 15 minutes late to every meeting. We’ve progressively moved them later in the morning — from 9 to 9:30 to 10 to 10:30 — and he’s still late. It’s not the time that’s the problem.

        1. allathian*

          This is so annoying. Granted that in some cultures, higher-ups show their status by arriving late at a meeting even if they were just sitting in their offices twiddling their thumbs when the meeting officially started (unlikely with busy executives but not impossible), but in most Western cultures, being constantly late is either a matter of laziness or a lack of commitment, or a mental condition that makes it impossible to keep track of time because they have no internal clock (AFAIK that’s often connected to ADHD and some forms of autism). The accommodation is not to allow them to be late. Just start the meeting without them and don’t recap for their benefit when they do show up. They can read the minutes later. This is a performance issue.

    3. jenkins the first*

      Yeah – in my experience this is hardly ever an issue with a specific time, it’s an issue with the area of functioning that allows a person to be on time. If you set the time an hour later, the chronically late person goes through exactly the same process an hour later than they usually would, and still doesn’t make the meeting.

      1. Alanna*

        Yep. I have ADHD and am not a morning person, but I actually used to be more reliable at very early meetings than 9:30/10 am ones. Why? Because I KNEW I would really struggle to make it to a 7 or 8 am meeting and so I was forced to set up routines and systems to make damn well I could make it.

        Whereas 10 am I think, oh, 10 am, that’s easy, and then my natural time blindness/optimistic estimation of how long it will take me to finish something/poor executive function take over and whoops, I’m 10 minutes late for the meeting.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I had a coworker that was also chronically late, even for afternoon meetings. Their lateness starting to affect everyone on the team, which made us all resent that person and have no compassion for them. One of the other coworkers had to get up and leave the meetings early a couple of times because she was working part time and was supposed to leave by 2:45 to get her kids from school. It was very stressful for her to cut it so close every time when the meetings were supposed to start at 1:00, but couldn’t start until 1:30 because of Latey McLaterson!

      1. allathian*

        I’m sorry, but delaying the start of the meeting because someone is late is just enabling that behavior. I would have no compassion for that late person either, and my heart goes out to the part-timer who had to leave your meetings early. I don’t really care what the reason for the lateness is, it’s still disrespectful of everyone else’s time. If they miss the meeting, or are late to it, they should face the consequences for that. Why should the chronically late person’s contribution be more valued than the part-timer’s? Of course, if it’s someone who’s holding a presentation leading the meeting, that’s obviously a tougher thing to deal with, but if it’s just team members going over what they’ve been doing and what’s scheduled next, it should be possible to start the meeting on time. If the late person misses something, that’s on them, and if the meeting is minuted, they can always read the minutes later.

  28. RagingADHD*

    As one ADHDer to another, take the medical leave. Your brain is screwing with you right now, and you need the break. You are in one of those magical-thinking spirals where you can’t see the lines between your feelings and other people’s responsibilities.

    Also as one ADHDer to another, your boss is being really, really, really understanding and supportive by suggesting medical leave instead of already canning your ass. You may not like everything they are doing, and I daresay there is a lot of nonsense on the team that they should be dealing with better.

    But they are not being “disingenuous”. Not entirely sure how that word even applies. Perhaps you meant unfair? They are telling you that your sleep issues, your stress level, and your identity issues are not problems they can solve. It would be wildly inappropriate for them to try to get up in your emotional/medical business about them.

    It is also wildly inappropriate for you to expect your boss or anyone else on your team to solve your time management or executive function issues for you. Take the leave. Call your doctor. Find a therapist if you don’t have one. Get your sleep and your head straightened out.

    I hope things turn around for you soon.

  29. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Saying this from a place of real kindness: please, please take time off, get medical help etc if you at all feel like you’re burning out. It sounds like everything is getting on top of you at the moment and some of what you wrote sounds like me the start of this year.

    I ended up in a psychiatric ward with a nervous breakdown. Yes, that is a worse case scenario, I’m not suggesting you will, just that everyone being against you, being overwhelmed, not being able to see a way out is rather familiar. Also like to reassure you, and anyone else, that it is possible to come back from taking time off to get your brain/body/life one help.

    And yep, I’ve walked out of firms that I realised were destroying my mental health. Here’s no shame in doing that either.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Also, I had major sleeping issues. So bad they were starting to trigger off other conditions. The doctors have fixed that too.

  30. Specks*

    OP, here’s the thing with meetings: try to look at it from the perspective of your colleagues. If you’re in Asia and the call is at 8am EST, that’s somewhere between 7 and 9 pm for you. You’re missing out on time with your family, possibly staying in the office until then, to make this call. And there you are, on time, despite that’s and here is someone who then shows up late, even though for them it’s at a perfectly normal work start time of 8am. How would you feel? I totally feel for you – I’m not a morning person either, and I get bad migraines at night, so sleeping is often an issue – but what you’re doing is disrespectful to your colleagues. I know firsthand – I work with Africa and Asia all the time, and have had to show up for 6am calls, 11pm calls, you name it… and the most annoying thing is when you do that, and the other person, whose work time you tried to accommodate by getting online super late or super early doesn’t show up on time. It felt like a slap in the face, and made me a whole lot less likely to be accommodating to them again, let alone to go out of my way to be helpful or supportive. And if that colleague did that several times, and the requested we move the meeting to even later in the evening for me so they didn’t have to get up at a reasonable time… well, that wouldn’t go over well. So you might be right that the office is just toxic, but what you’re doing is also kind of inconsiderate and disrespectful, and will just beget you more toxicity. It sounds like you might just not be in the right job and something where there is more flexibility in start times would help your health a lot more.

  31. Solitary Daughter*

    Letter Writer, there are some things about this job that you will find in every job, but I think your sadness and frustration is skewing things, and blowing some parts out of proportion. Being on time to meetings is…expected of literally everybody. Advocating for your coworkers is…not exactly a thing? Holding meetings at a bad time when your company is international, maybe that’s the problem. A team that doesn’t display the collaborative, supportive culture you want? That’s bad fit.

    It does ultimately sound like it’s a bad fit on many levels, but that your emotions are feeding the beasts that don’t need feeding. It’s fine to have those emotions — they’re not bad. What you wind up doing with them, though, is what’s going to make the difference in your life. I feel for you — right now it just seems like everything is hard and bad. Don’t feel like it’s copping out to take a medical leave of absence. (And your boss can’t go to the doctor and get FMLA paperwork filled out FOR you, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it “onus being put back on you”. If you’re getting permission/blessing/go-ahead to take a break, then take it.)

  32. Amp2140*

    Honestly, LW seems unwilling to take an ounce of ownership. Really? Making a huge stink over meetings starting 8:30, and a whole 15 min would be life changing? 15 min is not going to make the difference if you’re not sleeping enough. Asking to not have early calls the morning after late calls is an organized and reasonable argument to make. Simply not showing to meetings on time is not an appropriate response.

    Given this is the level of frustration over something pretty normal, I suspect you like the throw the words “toxic” a little too frequently. You don’t need to love the people you work with and they don’t need to love you. You all need to be polite and professional. Generally you don’t need “consent” to talk about a hobby someone shares. Sometimes it’s the ice breaker fact we give to others to try and improve dynamics.

    1. Analysis Paralysis*

      I think you got mixed up in your last paragraph. OP doesn’t say the boss talked about their hobbies without their consent.

      They say that boss mocked their hobbies, and also disclosed information about their personal life without their consent. I‘m reading “personal life” as something that might need to be disclosed to the boss in their role as manager, but the team doesn’t need to know about (medical problem, family/relationship issue, court date, etc.). In this situation, where OP is closeted and non-binary, I can see why a loose-lipped boss would be especially concerning.

  33. Amtelope*

    This boss is probably not ever going to fix the reasons why you hate this job or move meetings to a later time or make it any easier for you to come out as nonbinary. It’s your responsibility to manage your stress about those things in a way that still allows you to be on time for work and do a reasonably good job. If you can’t do that, you should look for another job or take the offer of the leave of absence, because the alternative is that you are likely to be fired.

  34. Jennifer in FL*

    I’m with the boss here- the OP coming out is not related to their ability to be punctual. If they said that to me, they would lose most of their credibility.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I assumed there were a couple of missing links in that statement. Something like “coming out -> stress -> trouble sleeping -> inability to get to meetings on time.”

        Which is still a problem, regardless of how OP is describing it. Hopefully they have access to an EAP or other therapy, to help untangle all this. And either way, it’s still totally reasonable of the boss to say something like “people of every gender are expected to be on time for meetings.”

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, I think the idea was that being on edge about their gender identity is adding to the stress load they’re under.

          I sympathize to a degree – I don’t relate to the gender identity part, but there was a point in my life where I was managing my stress VERY poorly. Work was not great on its own, and I had a lot going on in my personal life too. It wasn’t all bad, but it was all stressful, and it came out in my work. I made big mistakes and my judgment was not up to snuff. I lost that job. And while it all worked out in the long run, I do wish I had gotten a better handle on my personal life stress so that I could have better handled the work stress.

        2. Alanna*

          I read it that way too, and it makes sense that the boss brought up the idea of a medical leave — it seems sensible and compassionate. And I’m not sure what else you ca suggest when an employee brings up the whole kitchen sink of emotional/psychological/life issues in response to “You really have to be on time to these 8 am meetings.”

          1. miro*

            Totally agree with this. It seems to be like about what you could/would hope for from a boss–it’s not his job to get deep into personal issues, and given OP’s discomfort with their workplace, I can’t imagine they’d want him to anyway!

        3. Paulina*

          I think there’s also “coworkers treat me like I don’t matter” -> “my involvement in the meeting is pointless”, as well. But going to meetings that you’re not motivated for can unfortunately be a common part of work.

    1. Catabodua*

      I would also be very confused how the two connected, and honestly they’d lose all credibility with me for that.

    2. Ryn*

      I’m nonbinary and came out at work this year, and I can see it in the realm of “being in the closet is anxiety-inducing, and an increase in anxiety can cause a decrease in executive dysfunction.” But just like the ADHD, that is so so not the responsibility of the job to fix, and saying that being in the closet is causing lateness is… honestly ridiculous and (sorry but) kind of makes nonbinary people look bad.

    3. mf*

      I get the stress of OP coming is impacting their mental health, which could also be impacting their ability to be punctual. But regardless, it’s not your boss or coworker’s jobs to help you handle your mental health or stress around coming out. They’re only obligation is to be professional when you come out (“Oh you’re nonbinary? Ok, I’ll call you by your preferred pronouns from now”).

      Beyond that, it’s on you to manage that stress in a way that minimize the impact on your work performance. In this case, that may mean the OP needs to take medical leave.

  35. jenkins the first*

    OP, there’s an awful lot going on here. I fully believe you that your workplace feels toxic and unfriendly, and that this is contributing to your problems with getting enough sleep and timekeeping. But it’s not the whole of those problems, and I wonder if you’re edging into some very black-and-white thinking here – that if only your boss would act on what you’ve said, your coworkers would be better and you wouldn’t be stressed and you’d be on time for everything, therefore it’s THEIR fault that you’re late in the first place, therefore you can’t be expected to do anything about it at your end. But even if your workplace is terrible, the onus *is* on you to be on time to meetings, and 8 am isn’t horribly unreasonable when working across time zones. I’ve been there with the burnout and the insomnia/oversleeping, I do understand! But since you cannot control what your boss and your coworkers do, maybe taking that leave would help you recover from the constant overload and get back into a more functional sleep schedule if nothing else. You sound to me like you need a break to recharge and regroup.

    1. jenkins the first*

      (I also think that some of your expectations may be slightly wonky. A workplace should feel reasonably safe and supportive, but I’m not sure what you mean by wanting your coworkers to advocate for you? Or why advocating for one another would be more of a reasonable requirement than being on time for meetings?)

  36. oh hello*

    The LW phrases it as “can’t be on time to meetings” but they really mean “can’t get out of bed”. Their pain, stress, and exhaustion is really obvious and I’m so sorry. If I were in your scenario, I’d also try to completely remove the job from this problem (though it does sound miserable and I agree that you should look for a new one) and solve how you can be an adult who can get out of bed by 8am, because that expectation will likely always exist for you. And having a job you love won’t necessarily make getting up in the morning easy if you still have other unresolved health issues. Counseling seems like a good place to start. I’d look at all your other habits too… I’ve been in horribly toxic work environments and I know that can bleed into the rest of your life, but really do your best to focus on yourself with any energy you have left at the end of each day. Are you exercising? Drinking water? Making yourself healthy meals? Talking to friends? Getting fresh air? Reading/drawing/watching funny shows/whatever it is that you find relaxing? Shutting down the computer at the end of the day and putting it out of sight? COVID has been such a rough time and I’ve gone through waves myself where I am just simply not taking care of myself, but everything else including work will only unravel if you don’t prioritize you and your health. I don’t mean to oversimplify or imply these things will fix your current situation, but when I’ve been in horrible work environments, it’s hard to remember that there are still things in your control, and I think prioritizing those personal goals would make life not seem so unbearable right now. I hope things get better for you and you’re able to find a better job soon.

  37. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

    I would be deeply annoyed if I were the Asia team and someone was asking that I stay up even later at night for a meeting because they don’t like waking up early for meetings at 8 am.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Having worked in Asia, and the States, and Europe.. I feel this. I knew people who were sleeping in their offices to make meetings..it gave me a better perspective!

    2. AuroraLight37*

      Yeah, this is not going to go well if the boss did ask, and really, I think the boss would be making a big mistake to do so. There’s no way that conversation will end happily, and the boss would take a hit in the process.

  38. Aggretsuko*

    Overall, OP needs to take care of themselves and not expect this boss, office, or other employees to help, care about, or take care of them in any way. I don’t know on personal leave, but OP has tried asking for what they want and they are getting no’s on all of it. At this point it’s on OP to take care of OP as best they can, whether that’s medical leave, sucking it up or quitting. You are here to support the office, not the other way around.

    And well, offices aren’t designed for night owls. 8 a.m. is a requirement in all jobs. It honestly sounds like OP is rebelling a bit in addition to sleep issues. And I say this as someone who gets in trouble for looking tired in the 8 a.m. meetings: there’s no getting around it. Adults have to have 8 a.m. meetings. That’s adult life.

    1. KateM*

      Obviously, international calls are designed for night owls in Asia. Maybe OP should move to Asia and have these same meetings at 8 p.m instead. ;) (Unless someone in USA says it’s way too early and requests them to start at 9.30 p.m.)

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Those poor folks in Asia are probably still getting to work at 8 am THEN having to stay until 9 pm. There’s a reason Japan is famous for suicide among office workers.

        1. jolene*

          I’d flip the first comment, actually: OP needs to learn to take care of other people. It would do them a great deal of good – in fact, it’s vital for their growth towards full maturity – to sit down and think about what they’re asking for from their colleagues in Asia and in their office, and whether they are offering anything in return.

    2. Lisa Babs*

      I just wanted to add that 8am is not a requirement for ALL jobs. A lot of offices are 9-5 and others have swing shifts or other schedules. I currently work an office job 10am-6pm.

      So if a later start is something the OP needs in their next job (depending on their field of course) it is something they can look for.

      BUT it doesn’t change the fact that 8am is a requirement for OP’s current job. So the OP does need to look for ways to meet that.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah, not *all* jobs. I live in the Central time zone and work a lot with people in the Pacific time zone, which is 2 hours behind. 8 AM for me would be 6 AM for them, so I am pretty safe from anyone wanting to do that. :-) It depends on the field too–some are just early-rising fields.

  39. Jaybeetee*

    LW, fellow ADHDer and insomniac here. I’m not sure how long ago you received your dx, but I will say from experience… moving a meeting slightly later won’t actually help (even aside from the havoc it would wreak on other people’s schedules. 8am for you likely means 8pm for your Asian colleagues).

    My mornings are rough. I’m always late in the mornings. I’ve had long commutes, short commutes, different start times, etc. I’d need a job to start around noon for me to easily get there on time. And that’s the experience of a lot of people with ADHD, who try to address lateness by pushing their start time back like 30 minutes… and then end up late for the new start time. In the end, you either need a swing shift job, or a truly flexible job where no one cares, or… you need to find a way to be there on time.

    Honestly, I agree that time off may be good here, and I doubt your boss is suggesting that lightly. Just getting solid sleep for a week would probably help you immensely right now. Our culture tends to downplay the importance of sleep (and people with ADHD in particular end up developing a weird pride in burning the candle both ways)… but the insomnia is probably affecting everything right now.

    1. RagingADHD*

      OP said they were dx in childhood.

      Problem is, approaches for helping kids with ADHD succeed in school tend to rely on a lot of external structure and assistance from parents & teachers.

      Adults with ADHD have to build those structures and teams for ourselves. And asking bosses or coworkers to do that work is asking them for a lot of favors. Even with formal accommodations, expecting them to “guide & advocate” is unreasonable.

      OP needs to get their support team together, outside the workplace. And a medical leave woukd be a great way to do that.

      OP, if you haven’t looked at the Job Accommodation Network, they have some useful ideas about getting appropriate help with time management. And the #askingadhd hashtag on Twitter has a nice community of ND folks who share ideas.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        “Problem is, approaches for helping kids with ADHD succeed in school tend to rely on a lot of external structure and assistance from parents & teachers”
        So true! And when the ADHD person first leaves that overly supportive environment, the shock can be overwhelming. They have very unhealthy expectations of everyone around them, because they have spent years – possibly the majority of their life – relying on accommodations from others in order to function. Now, they’re facing a world that doesn’t, and can’t, conform to them, and they don’t know how to adjust.
        A young child requires more support, yes, but that needs to be weaned off as they grow older, and substituted for personal responsibility and reasonable accommodations. Like letting them do something with their hands in a meeting so they can focus, or an exercise ball instead of a normal chair at their desk. Or letting them walk around while taking calls, instead of sitting still. Those are all reasonable accommodations.
        Putting the onus on their coworkers and manager to change their work just because OP is struggling with business norms is not appropriate. Their manager is not their mother, and coworkers are not their school teachers. They are colleagues with their own duties and their own problems. And they are not responsible for managing OP’s mental health.

  40. Amber Rose*

    Much of my job feels like pointless nonsense. I still do it, because that’s what they’re paying me for. A job is a business transaction. They give you money, you give them the services they request. Obviously there’s room for pushing back on certain things and requesting changes, but for the most part there are always going to be parts of your job that you have to do even if you don’t want to. Being punctual is yours.

    Your boss has made it clear that your options are to shape up with your punctuality, or if you can’t then take time off to get healthy so you can, or to leave your job. Those are the three options you have to work with right now, so instead of trying to find more, try to figure out which one will work best for you.

    The burnout is REAL. For a lot of us, even most of us. I empathize so strongly that I’m half inclined to badmouth your employer just for the solidarity. But the reality is, the burnout is yours to deal with and nobody else’s. Step one for you is going to be letting go of the complaints about your surroundings and focusing on yourself.

  41. Lemon Curdle*

    OP I really hope you do actually read these comments. I know you want things for be different, if we have the world we have, not the one we perhaps want.

    As someone who has dealt with insomnia and ADHD since I was a little kid, and with it worsening due to home confinement and stress as a result of feeling left out, undermined, and disempowered at this job

    Are you taking any steps to deal with any of this? For example seeing a doctor to therapist, getting exercise to help tire you out, or keeping a good routine? All far more annoying than just having other people do things differently, but also worth doing to improve things for yourself.

    I don’t think starting meetings 30 minutes later is a realistic compromise, especially in a job where you work across time zones. I also don’t understand why starting 15 minutes late would make that much difference?

    Aside from the punctuality, how are YOU as a colleague? You’re expecting a lot from other people – but you sound really uncooperative and difficult to work with, which probably isn’t helping.

  42. On a pale mouse*

    OP, something else to consider (in addition to what Alison said, which I agree with and she said it so much better than I would have). A couple things in this letter remind me of me at my previous job, from which I was fired for performance reasons. When they told me, in my head I was about 30% “getting fired, this sucks” and 70% “THANK GOD I NEVER HAVE TO COME BACK HERE AGAIN.” Later I wondered if I was subconsciously trying to get fired. Maybe you should be wondering that too. I second the suggestion for therapy if you can swing it, and this is something that could be good to bring up there.

  43. boop the first*

    This all sounds awful and relatable. People talk about the BEC stage in human relationships, but I definitely think there’s a BEC stage in jobs themselves. At that point, it only gets worse.

    I also don’t really think you’d get far on the 8am meeting thing. A lot of people have jobs that require us to be ready and working at 6am which means getting up at 4:30am after, well, 4 or 5 hours of sleep every night. It’s really damn hard and unnatural, but I could go back to my old restaurant job that doesn’t start until 9 if being on time was impossible for me. Or retail, if 11-7 was any better. I sure as heck wouldn’t apply to a graveyard shift, personally, but that’s also an option.
    I don’t mean to sound flippant, and most people wouldn’t think those were real options because those jobs treat you like garbage, but you’re competing with millions of people who think showing up at 8am is easy as heck. It would be a hard battle to win.

  44. 2cents*

    OP, you should definitely take that leave.

    I used to work in an extremely toxic environment, with a manager who piled things up on me until I was in 8-9 hours of meetings a day and received over 200 emails in that same period. She did that so that I would look bad and in turn, she thought she would look good. I developed a chronic illness which meant I worked for hours in such pain I couldn’t stand up. When things started to look bad for her, she bailed and in turn I got a great manager who had previously been my client, but it was too late. I was completely burned out and handed her my resignation letter. This new manager stepped in, asked me to wait for a couple of weeks; then she offered me a 1-week leave (no papers signed, no records, I just left) and when I came back she was working to move me to another role where I could work from home. She saved me and my career. But also during that week I made my first (of many) visits to a psychiatrist and started to get my life sorted out. Today, that old manager could never pull that move on me.

    This is on you. You may have some help along the way, but you need to be willing to help yourself as well. I hope you do.

    1. Des*

      Just dropping in to say that that’s a lovely story about your new manager! A good human being right there.

        1. Sylvan*

          It’s really not where I live, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ what I’m saying is 8 and earlier are manageable. Not fun, but it can be done.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      It really is if you’re not a morning person. I would never accept a job that required me to do anything at 8 AM on a regular basis. Yikes, I’m shuddering at the thought.

      But, as noted by several above, the fact is that THIS job requires LW to do something at 8 regularly, and whether or not that’s considered early, it’s not an unreasonable expectation of this particular job, which has a global team (after all, there are overnight jobs or jobs that require you to do something at midnight or 5 AM. Like it or not, that’s the job). It’s unfortunate that LW is struggling at that hour — as I would be as well — but it sounds like that requirement of the job can’t move just for LW’s preferences.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m not a morning person, but I’m one of those people that once they are awake (whether 4am or my natural 11am) I’m instantly and all the way awake, so functionally it’s the same. 8am is generally the at the very beginning of any day shift day. Even if you happen to be starting at 6am, it’s still in the first 1/4 of the day. Nobody really likes 8am meetings as far as I can tell, anymore than they like late Friday afternoon meetings.

      But this really isn’t a time of day issue. Being on time is a time management issue, not a morning/night person issue.

    3. Tabby*

      Oh, but it is, Cheeky. So very, obnoxiously early. However, most people DO manage to deal with it, even if it feels like being forced to wade through sharp knives….

      Or, in my case, 4 hours of furry, barking hell (the morning shift at dog daycares is… a lot; the dogs are super energetic, they’re loud, and trust me, one can get to hate the sight of 30 bouncing, raring-to-go dogs. lol). But I still managed it when I had to.

      1. cheeky*

        Do any of you work in a normal office? I’m not a morning person at all, and yet, I’m at work at 8 am, ready to go.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Lots of “normal” offices start at 9 or even 10 or give people flex schedules. It’s 2020; there’s a lot of variation on this. If you’ve literally never encountered it, it may be your industry or your region but it’s really not unusual.

        2. londonedit*

          ‘Normal’ office hours in the UK are something like 9-5, or 9-5.30, or 9.30-5.30. I think we generally tend to have shorter working weeks than in the US (37.5 hours is standard) but 8am would be an unusually early start if it was the entire company that was starting at 8am. Of course, plenty of workplaces offer flexible hours now – where I work we have core hours, and you can work any pattern from 7am-3.30pm to 10am-6.30pm. That needs to be agreed with your manager and you need to work the same pattern every day (though no one minds about the odd late start/early finish if you have an appointment or whatever) but many companies are flexible about working hours at least to some extent. A standard set company-wide start time of 8am would seem very early to most people here.

  45. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP: Start the process of getting on disability, and you might feel a bit safer as you edge your way out of the job. I also push back so much internally against anything I perceive as a waste of my time. I feel like it’s rude to me and I kind of get fixated on that. I was raised by an incredibly successful engineer to seek efficiency in all things, even though I’m in a completely unrelated field.

    Additionally, as someone who has finally been able to get my depression under control, I can’t emphasize how much everything seems POSSIBLE once you have the help of medication, therapy, and a support structure. Your reality changes completely, and all the factors that used to drive me bonkers just don’t matter anymore because I feel secure in myself and in my ability to get things done and set good priorities. It sounds like you’re stuck in a loop of self-defeat, and so many of us have been there. Its up to you to reach out and get the help you need, your boss can’t do that for you. We’re cheering for you!

    1. MassMatt*

      If you are referring to Social Security disability, that will be extremely difficult to get. SS Disability is intended only for those that cannot work–AT ALL; whether jobs that the applicant could do are in line with their training or even actually available where they live is irrelevant. It’s not for people that can’t handle dialing into an 8AM Zoom meeting. Disability pay is also extremely low.

      1. Kella*

        And the average amount of time it takes to be approved for disability (in the US) is two years, during which time, you cannot be working, and you it almost always requires getting denied once before getting it, if you manage to at all.

      2. Anon Accountant*

        Thank you. My friend has a life altering heart condition, had multiple heart surgeries and is fighting hard through a lawyer to get social security disability. She wants to work but is unable to. The system has a lot of red tape.

  46. Nonbinarian*

    Oof! This could have been written by me early career so hard. I feel for you OP. And it sucks to hear “sometimes you have to be the one to compromise if no one else will” or “it could help to be more positive in the work environment” but I found it helped me! You know what also helped me? Therapy and depression/anxiety medication. I found it much easier to deal with little irritants once I didn’t constantly have to battle my brain to stay alive. I don’t know if that’s you, obviously, but therapy can help, even if it’s just for an impartial human to vent to about work! I hope you have some resources to tap into and I hope you can find a job that you can at least feel safe and care about a bit! <3

  47. BRR*

    Going by your two reasons: Insomnia, with 8 am meetings I think should look at what methods people use when they have a hard time getting up (multiple alarms, place the clock across the room etc). The thing is, you say you’re also late sometimes to later meetings so I’m not sure pushing the time back is going to solve it. It sounds like he HAS taken what you’ve said under consideration but the time is staying the same.

    The second which I’m going to call overall engagement. It’s clear you’re 100% over this job which is likely making it hard to find motivation to join the meetings. The thing is, basically every job has meetings that are pointless. And even if your work makes your presence not actually required, it’s still expected you be there. Most times when there’s a meeting you don’t need to be at, you can push back on attending a little. But if the response is as clear as your manager’s, you kind of have to just suck it up and do it (which I hate to give that advice but everything from your letter about the meetings leads me to think it’s going to come back to you’re basically going to have to suck it up and figure out how to be on time).

    Going back to you being 100% over this job. I was in the same place at my last job. Hated basically everything about it. From everything you’ve said, I don’t think it’s going to change though. These last two sentences are going to be rough. There is a lot in your letter that is placing blame on others. While others are doing things wrong, I don’t think it’s going to help your situation to be continue to bring up the time of the meeting or your coworkers.

  48. Paris Geller*

    I think mostly everything’s already been said, but OP, if you’re reading these comments, I highly recommend this letter at Captain Awkward about how to tighten up your game when you’re depressed: https://captainawkward.com/2013/02/16/450-how-to-tighten-up-your-game-at-work-when-youre-depressed/

    It sounds like you’re dealing with a lot, and that’s unfortunate. However, while it does not sound like this work situation is tenable for you in the long run, I think you really need to mentally separate the issue you’re facing from the issues you’re having with everyone else. It sounds very much like yes, you might be dealing with toxic coworkers, but you cannot control them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t bring these issues up to your boss, just that the only thing you can control is yourself. It sounds like you’re really struggling, and I think taking medical leave IS probably a good option for your–please do not see it as a failure or a punishment! If you’re struggling to make it to meetings on time because you’re not sleeping well and having trouble waking up, that is absolutely a medical issue and you should talk to someone about it. It sounds like you could really benefit from the time.

    1. Paris Geller*

      I want to add, OP, that in the link I shared, one of the first action steps is to show up on time. I know that’s part of what you’re struggling with right now, but I think even if that continues to be a struggle, perhaps some of the other suggestions will help you present better to your coworkers. Right now, it’s not surprising that your coworkers aren’t standing up for you–they’re not privy to your physical and mental health, and while I have a lot of sympathy for you right now because you’ve laid out the story here for us, if one of my coworkers was routinely late for meetings and their suggestion was for everyone to move the time to accommodate them, I wouldn’t be in any rush to help them out. You don’t have to share everything with your coworkers, especially if your workplace is toxic, as you said, but if this is a struggle for you, being on the ball with other things may help temporarily while you work on your health issues.

  49. Ellie*

    8 am has been “the norm” for a long time, but in a lot of industries, there’s no need for it to be and I wish people would stop framing it as “completely reasonable” when really it’s just “what we’ve been doing”.

    At my workplace, different departments have different norms, and it’s based off a combination of their work needs + their preferences. One departments is almost all early risers, so a 5 pm meeting is “way too late” for them. One department is half-half, so we have meetings primarily between 10 and 4pm, aka “core working hours”.

    As someone who feels physically ill all day when I have to get up for an 8 am meeting, I want other people to reframe: what if someone asked you to attend a 5 am meeting? How would that make you feel, physically and mentally?

    For people with sleep disorders (like LW) or other medical issues, 8 am can feel like 5 am does for people who have 8am as their “normal”.

    For coworkers in Asia, depending on your timezone and type of work, there ARE reasonable accommodations:
    – Having the meeting early in Asia sometimes. East Coast US is 12 hours off, so you’re swapping who has early AM and who has late PM. West coast US gives you 8am in most of Asia and 5pm.
    – Designating a point person (and possibly rotating it) so the whole team doesn’t have to stay late/early
    – Recording presentations

    That said, if it’s necessary that the whole team be present at all these meetings, they can’t be recorded, and LW is the only one who would want to swap late/early, then they may simply not be a good fit.

    I say this because arriving on time to meetings IS important. I manage to get to my occasional 8 am meetings on time, but it ruins my day and productivity. If they were a required, regular thing (weekly), I would look for a different role.

    One final meeting thought: are cameras required? If not, LW, can you keep your camera off for a while? I turn my camera on at 8:30 or 9. I tend to eat breakfast, look sleepy, and not sit at my desk for my 8 am meetings. This is a compromise that allows me to be on time, though it’s only useful for working from home. It lets my brain put all it’s power into attending the meeting, by removing the need to visibly looking professional and attentive.

    1. Amtelope*

      I mean, I’ve had to get up at 5 AM for work. You deal with it, because it’s part of the job. Or you look for another job. You don’t ask everyone else to rearrange the schedule around you.

      1. Ellie*

        I understand that; I used 8 am because that’s the context of this letter and many replies.

        My point is to question why “8am is normal *in office work*” should be maintained in cases where it’s NOT necessary, and for people in that industry to examine their expectations.

        In particular, it’s treated as unprofessional and/or lazy to simply prefer a later start time — but why?

        I know there are plenty of jobs without this flexibility: retail, service industry, show biz, supply chain, medical care, teaching, manufacturing etc. where there are shifts and some shifts suck. I know office admins, building staff, etc. have shifts too.

        For those situations, if you have a regular 5 am shift that you agreed to, it’s reasonable to be upset when switched to an earlier or much later shift. It doesn’t mean you are lazy if you feel upset; what matters is how you handle it.

        I think it IS unprofessional and rude to be late, regardless of your start time, and you need to try to find a job that has expectations you can meet. If there’s room for negotiation, why not negotiate? If you don’t want to take the 2 am shift, you might propose to take the noon shift.

        I have gotten up at 5 for work as well, including this job, but do my best to avoid positions that required frequent 5 am (or 8 am) attendance. It’s like someone who can type quickly avoiding a job where that’s a daily requirement.

    2. Ellie*

      I *am* concerned by LW’s framing of the suggestion for personal leave.

      “I was recently told by my manager that I should take some sort of personal leave for my health, but I feel it is disingenuous to put the onus on me in this way. ”

      It sounds like you DO need personal leave for your health, so what made you feel like it was disingenuous? If 9:30 am meetings also don’t work, it sounds like it’s more than getting up for an 8 am meeting and you are really burned out and exhausted.

      Many years ago, I asked for an accommodation that others had received, and was told “no, sorry. Have you tried FMLA?” and it frustrated me because I wouldn’t *need* leave if I could have this accommodation. That was reinforced by the fact that, about a year later (after continuing through burnout which was the wrong decision), I received that accommodation and was able to continue without taking medical leave for several years.

      Later time, I was again recommended to take FMLA (I didn’t ask for an accommodation; I was just really struggling), I chose to do it intermittently, and it was absolutely the right move. Another co-worker experienced the same.

      So, LW, why not take leave?

    3. KR*

      Your last point I agree with and I would encourage OP to explore if it works for their situation, especially since they note they don’t have a lot to contribute during these meetings. We have a daily call at 7:15am which is 15 mins before my already early start time (early for me). I’m usually doing my makeup while I’m in the meeting, but cameras are off so no one knows the difference.

    4. Lark*

      It sounds like OP is the only one struggling with 8am calls though. Rotating the calls seems like a lot effort to accommodate one person, especially a person who is also sometimes late to 9:30 calls.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This. It’s not reasonable to expect the entire meeting schedule to be changed to suit somebody who a) is apparently not the most important person in the meeting and ) has not demonstrated that changing the schedule will help them get there on time, either. The LW doesn’t have the standing to expect this.

    5. Muffins*

      I really appreciate this comment- I’m seeing a lot of folks say that 8 am isn’t early, when what they mean is that 8 am is common in a lot of workplaces. My workplace is really disability inclusive and works to make meetings start after noon whenever possible. When I worked starting at 9 am, it broke my brain. People’s brains need different things and maybe vary on how well they can adapt to capitalist demands.

      Getting to meetings on time is important, and that should probably be a goal for LW if they choose to stay in this job, but maybe the first step of that is releasing themselves from the shame that comes with feeling like they should just be able to show up with no problem.

      1. miro*

        Oof. I’m glad the afternoon meetings work for you, but for me and the nature of my (physical) disability that would be hellish–I try to have all my meetings/work early if possible.

        I bring this up just because I’ve seen some people throughout the comments suggesting that early meetings are inherently less accessible, and I think it’s important to keep in mind that that’s going to vary wildly for different people/different disabilities.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yes, plus there are other things that can make pre-noon meetings preferable, including commutes, child/elder care, etc.

          If possible, workplaces should be flexible, but no one meeting time is going to be perfect for everyone. Sometimes you end up with the time that’s not ideal for you, and that’s rough. But the meeting time you think is perfect is the inconvenient time for someone else.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I can’t work past 5pm due to my disabilities (or, the meds for them to be exact). After about 4pm I’m not good. So, I don’t ask companies to not schedule meetings at 6pm and make them mandatory, I just look for jobs that allow me to start extra early and finish around 3.30, 4pm.

          (One firm insisted I come into a meeting at 7pm. They not only had to pay for the taxi (I can’t drive on my evening meds) but had to deal with a really rather spaced out techie. I did warn them..)

          Bottom line is, there’s never going to be a time that’s best for everyone. Some are night owls, some are morning people, some like regular working hours, some have medical issues about a time of day…the best any manager can do with a large attendance is make it accessible to most.

      2. Ellie*

        “I’m seeing a lot of folks say that 8 am isn’t early, when what they mean is that 8 am is common in a lot of workplaces”


        “8am is early for some people” is not in contradiction with “8 am is common”.

    6. KateM*

      ” – Having the meeting early in Asia sometimes. East Coast US is 12 hours off, so you’re swapping who has early AM and who has late PM. West coast US gives you 8am in most of Asia and 5pm.”

      Unless there are also some team members, who are in Europe or Africa. You can’t expect them to start meetings at 1am, can you?

      1. miro*

        Yes, this. Not to mention, if it’s a team big enough to span multiple continents, I wouldn’t be surprised if moving meeting times takes more effort/negotiation than it might at a small, local team

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yeah. I live in the US. For about 2 years, my group had twice-weekly meetings with another group in Israel. The meeting had been carefully, delicately negotiated over time to be 8:30 Central US Time/4:30 Israeli time. That was the only time slot after the Americans had gotten their kids to school but before the Israeli workday ended. A newbie coming in and saying, “that doesn’t work for me, let’s do 9” without even asking about the context would not have been popular. Especially when there’s not a specific reason, like they have a dialysis appointment that they can’t change or miss.

          I don’t even know how I would broach the conversation with my counterparts in Israel if I did want to. “Hey, can you all, uh, work late, twice weekly, forever? Our new hire isn’t a morning person, so…”

        2. Paulina*

          Also, there are people who can adjust to an early or late schedule, but will have a lot of problems switching back & forth.

      2. Ellie*

        Hence why I said “depending on your time zone” and the list of a few different approaches. I used actual examples from my workplace that work well for us. It may be that none are options.

        I am I veering off from “advice useful LW” into commentary about the “8 am shouldn’t be hard; deal with it” attitude and general alternatives.

        I do agree with some comments I’ve seen that LW is going to have a hard time with “can we start later” if they are also late to other meetings.

        I also agree that moving, say, 12 people’s schedules to accommodate one is not good. I don’t have enough info to make targeted recommendations or to conclude this really is the time the meeting must happen. Size of meeting, number of timezones inconvenience to others, frequency of meeting, and role at meeting all matter here.

        You do need to be punctual if your job calls for it.

        But I hate that “punctuality is important” gets conflated with “and 8 am is Normal Time” so people are put down for having a hard time with 8 am meetings, regardless of how well they cope.

    7. Black Horse Dancing*

      I’ve gone in early before 5 am at places and stayed late. It’s what the job requires. Night owls can be trained to come in early and early risers can be trained to work late. It depends on the job.

      1. Ellie*

        A “night owl” is not the same as “has a sleep disorder”. And yes, it is often possible for people to adapt their sleep schedule over time, and do so for work.

        But how does that invalidate my points?

        The point isn’t “a job never requires getting there at 8am and tardiness should always be forgiven”

        It’s simply:
        1) For some people, getting up at 8 much harder
        2) “8 isn’t early” is dismissive and shuts downs conversations unnecessarily.

        If the answer is “8 is necessary every day because you took the 8:15 am phone shift”, fine. But “8 is fine because it’s not early…”? Why?

        I’m trying to use up at 5am as a comparison point for people who find 8 “normal” to help convey what it feels like, but maybe I need a different analogy.

        Btw, I was an “early bird” for 2/3rds of my life, and can successfully shift my sleep schedule when I’m healthy — when I’m healthy being the key phrase.

        Sleep disorders are real, as are conditions like depression that can severely impact your ability to function. Why is this so hard to acknowledge?

        Just like some people aren’t capable of doing a job that requires heavy manual labor, some are not capable of working well in the mornings, and while it sucks that not everyone can choose a job that fits their needs well, it doesn’t make those needs go away or make them stupid needs.

        Some people can go 8 hours with little food; others will literally faint. Some people can tolerate 100F weather; others can tolerate 20F. Some people can go hours without a bathroom break; others can’t go 1 hour. And so on.

        Sleep is a need, not a want, and needs vary.

  50. Sylvan*

    I empathize with you – I’m having a hard time right now, too. But I want to add to the good advice already here by noting something:

    I don’t know what to do anymore, because I was recently told by my manager that I should take some sort of personal leave for my health, but I feel it is disingenuous to put the onus on me in this way.

    Your health is your responsibility, and you’re actually the person best equipped to take action. You know your physical or mental health. You know the resources available and how they might fit (or not fit) your schedule and budget. You have the power to do this.

    1. mf*

      Yes, strong agree. When you’re in school, your health (mental and physical) is the responsibility of the adults around you. As you become an adult and transition to the working world, your health becomes your responsibility.

      Your employer is required to offer you accommodations and leave under the ADA and FMLA so that you can take care of your own health. They are not required to help you deal with you health by resolving issues around stress or sorting out any toxicity you are experiencing with coworkers. (A good employer will want to create an environment where you can thrive, but they are by no means required to do that.)

  51. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    OP, I feel for you. It sounds like you’re in a pretty bad place and the pandemic is only making things worse. First of all, please take care of yourself as well as you can – perhaps look into outlets like therapy or exercise?

    But I have to say, it sounds like you’re expecting your boss/workplace to take care of a lot of things that you have to be ultimately responsible for. Your boss should be managing the workplace in general and ideally would be clamping down on the toxicity among coworkers, but you have to take some steps here too. Your boss is right, if your insomnia or perhaps some mental health challenges are preventing you from being on time, that is a medical situation that you should either look into treatment for or perhaps look into medical leave. I have to say, 8 am is a perfectly reasonable time for a morning meeting (especially since you don’t have to worry about a commute right now). It’s not reasonable to ask the entire team to move a meeting so you can sleep in. It also sounds from your letter like you are putting the onus of your mental health on your coworkers, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to manage your feelings and attitude. We all have to take care of ourselves and our own mental health, whether that’s through therapy or a healthy outlet or finding a new workplace with a healthier environment.

    I hope things get better for you!

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I re-read the letter and have a couple additional thoughts:

      1. I think you need to rethink your stance on the “pointlessness” of these meetings. If you are delivering updates, that *is* the point. Group meetings may or may not be the most efficient way to deliver updates, but if that’s what works for this team/boss, so be it. It’s annoying to be in a meeting to only give information and never learn anything, but them’s the brakes sometimes.

      2. I’m sorry to say that I agree with your boss, that your coming out is not related to your willingness to be punctual. I can’t speak to what it must be like to have an experience of being minimized and othered, but in a professional environment you need to find a way to meet the requirements of the job despite those feelings and experiences. A good boss and good coworkers would make you feel valued and celebrated regardless of your sexuality, but unless they are discriminating or harassing you on the basis of sexuality (even subtly), you can’t dictate how they treat you. The only thing you can control is how you respond in the face of adversity.

  52. Lauren Mohr*

    First, I agreed that attending meetings on time is a basic work requirement. And if for some reason, one is a few minutes late, slip into the “Zoom” meeting quietly.

    That being said, I’ve found that when working from the peace and quiet of home, I could get very focused on a task and time would slip by. So I solved this problem for me by reviewing meeting times first thing in the morning and last thing before I closed for the day — and set an actual alarm for 5 minutes before meeting time on my phone. No excuses then — I was reminded to stop what I was doing and sign into the meeting.

    While the letter writer seems to have a completely different issue for missing meetings — the alarm trick could also work.

    1. Ahsley*

      If this were about just being on time for meetings I think there are many tricks like this. Depending on the importance of the meeting and type of meeting I will do 1/2 hour before and a 5 or 10 minute warning to get the software open. And for morning meetings I would have a zoom top ready, caffeine nearby etc. There are ways to do short term function with insomnia usually and that would be what I would work towards. But given all the other stuff going on I think this is a small piece of a larger issue.
      Also with bosses and other co-workers, a safe statement is never share anything personal that you don’t want spread unless you have a conversation about confidentiality first (and trust the person). Sharing someone’s hobby is innocent enough to most people that you not wanting it shared would be strange if you didn’t explicit state that. I just resort to neutral topics when I don’t want co-workers in my business.
      Best of luck with all you have happening!

  53. KR*

    Hey OP, I have a hard time being on time for meetings too. One time I do is set a lot of reminders. I have a 30 minutes till and a 5 minutes till, and sometimes an extra 10 or 15 minutes reminder. The hardest part is once that 10 or 5 minute reminder happens I have to make myself stop and sit there until the meeting. If I go to the bathroom or go to do something really quick then I’ll miss the meeting or be late to it. You could probably take 15 minutes on Monday mornings or the Friday afternoon before your next week and set all the reminders for the upcoming week. I bet it would help.

    1. Granger*

      I’m on Team-Multiple-Timers-For-Meetings, too!

      I’m interrupted constantly throughout the day and it takes just “one quick” thing / call / visitor to cause me to forget a meeting. The best pattern for me has been 20,5,0 minutes prior to meeting starting for recurring meetings that are part of my routine, and 30,15,10,5,0 minutes prior for meetings that aren’t regularly scheduled.

    2. Sylvan*

      This helps me, too. I also have an analogue alarm clock as backup for my phone. ($10-15 on Amazon, plays pretty music.)

  54. RussianInTexas*

    I am sorry, 8am is not at all early for a meeting when you work from home. Especially when you have colleagues in such drastically different time zones as in Asia.
    My boyfriend sometimes has to get on call at 7am or 9pm to get with his team in India.
    And yes. Even if you have nothing to say at a meeting, if they are required, you have to be there, and you have to be there on time. That’s life.

    1. Lemon Curdle*

      I would’ve thought working from home would make it easier as you don’t have to get up and travel in before attending the meeting.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Right. If I have to get on call at 8am in the office, I actually have to get up at 6:30 at the latest, but probably earlier than that to make sure I am not late due to unexpected traffic delays.
        If I have to do it at home, I can get up at 7:45.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Especially since often office hours are 8am-5pm. So when we’re commuting to the office, we’re getting up around 6 or 7 to make it to the office at 8.

      But I think that with the OP, the issue really isn’t it’s “early” but it’s the first thing they must do. So they don’t have anything to wake-up and try to shake the sleep-fog. It’s easy to over-sleep when you don’t have to leave the house and just walk yourself from bed to computer.

      If the meetings are moved to 9am, most folks with chronic late-ness will have the same issues though. No amount of time shifting will get them there at the start of the day. They’ll always need a 15-30 minute adjustment period.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Yes, this, I don’t think moving the time will do anything to help, not really.
        Plus, if it’s 9am where I am (if we were to move the meetings), it’s 7:30pm in Pune, India, where my colleagues from my previous job were. Is it fair to them to ask to be on call in the evening? When you work across multiple time zones you have to really work to get to some kind of middle ground, which usually ends up inconvenient for everyone.

      2. aiya*

        I agree that pushing the 8am meeting back is not a realistic solution, because as you all pointed out, it would be unfair to the colleagues in Asia. More importantly, even OP themselves admitted that they have been late to meetings at later times like at 9:30am.

        If OP can’t be on time even for meetings that are within regular 9-5 office hours, then it’s clear that the earliness of the meeting isn’t the issue here. The issue here is that OP can’t hold themselves accountable to being on time.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          And it is also obvious that in this particular job punctuality matters. It matters to the manager at least. You have to figure out for yourself if this kind of a job is for you.
          In addition, it is not responsibility of a manager OR your colleagues to make sure you are not late.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think there’s something in that.

        When I was a student, I often had 9am classes. On days when that was the first thing of the day, I’d struggle to get there, maybe skip it and just about make the 10am (attendance wasn’t mandatory). But on days where I had a rowing outing with “hands on” at 6am, my brain and body were fully awake by 9am. Same human, same bedtime, same week, but drastically different experience of the clock.

        I wonder if there’s any way LW can trick their body into finding 8am later, eg with a sunrise alarm or by scheduling in a personal task before the meeting, even just walking round the block.

    3. Alice's Rabbit*

      My husband was regularly receiving midnight calls when his company first opened an office in India. He was the only one who knew how to do certain things, and they were at a standstill until he answered.
      It was annoying. It disrupted both our sleep schedules. But it was necessary, and we dealt with it.
      Compared to being woken up mid-REM cycle several times a week, a regular 8 am video conference is doable. It’s just perspective.

  55. Missa*

    I am a person with ADHD who generally only gets about 5ish hours of sleep a night, usually because of my own poor planning. I still make it to meetings on time, because I set an alarm and know what time I have to log on. ADHD, anxiety, and lack of sleep makes so many things hard but getting to work on time is very very doable, especially when you work from home.

    1. Batgirl*

      Another ADHD person here who struggled with punctuality for years; I’m going to guess it’s not the logistics stopping OP. I’d agree with you that it’s hard but doable to get online at 8am (or 9.30!) after a sleepless night. I think OP’s real hurdle is not the clock, but one of motivation and understanding. OP wants to be motivated and noticed at work, before they do something hard and they misunderstand this as being a reasonable expectation; it’s not.

      1. designbot*

        Oh thank you! Your last sentence helped me connect the dots on that one in a way I’ve been struggling to. I have ADHD too and I know I generally have a tendency to see everything as connected in ways that others don’t, but I still couldn’t quite make that leap.

        1. Batgirl*

          It Will be connected for you; your habits, your routines, your general environment will all tie together and help you. But it’s for us to deal with that. We can’t expect other people to be that level of involved.

  56. Green Tea for Me*

    One thing I do want to mention- OP, you’ve said repeatedly that your job and coworkers are ‘toxic’. And I fully believe you! But when you’re talking to your boss about them, have you pointed out specific behaviors?

    ‘Anne in accounting doesn’t get me the YYZ reports on time and when I ask for them she ignores me, and when she does get them to me late she just tells me to deal with it’ is actionable. ‘Anne is toxic’ is not.

    1. jolene*

      That’s not toxic. That’s Anne being a rude and inefficient colleague. “Toxic” is a very big and negative word.

  57. Arctic*

    I have ADHD and insomnia in a very mainstream, professional 8:30-5:30 type of job. It’s hard but there are some points to be made here.

    1) The ADA does put the onus partially on us to solve our own issues in an employment context. The focus is on a facilitated conversation. Meaning both sides have to be reasonable and come up with accommodations that work for us and for the organization. Your manager is doing this. He offered a leave. You can come back with something that works better for you. But, yes, this is partially on you.

    2) It’s easy to have all of these issues entangled and combined in our over-active minds. It’s really helpful to sit down and detangle them. Maybe literally on a piece of paper. Issue #1 Have to be on-time for meetings. Issue #2- feeling unsupported at work. Seeing it visually like that can really help. You want to address the issues separately and I think your manager will respond well to assisting you with one if he sees you make great progress in another area (like timeliness.)

    2 1/2) As a subset of this it’s helpful to sit down and unpack what you mean by toxic. Your boss needs something actionable. For instance, you point to co-workers unwilling to advocate for you but that’s not really their role.

    3) Remember you can’t be unreasonable. This isn’t a value judgment. I’m not calling you an unreasonable person or insulting you. Under the law you can’t ask for accommodations that are inherently unreasonable. Perhaps moving a meeting a half an hour isn’t a terrible burden but it will severely impact those in Asia. And any more than that is just unreasonable under the circumstances of needing to accommodate global divisions. You not you’ve missed meetings that start at 9:30. Will 8:30 really help? It’s not just you. It’s typical for us with ADHD to avoid and put off preparing for unpleasant tasks, as these meetings are for you.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think your last sentence is key. The OP is expecting to try all sorts of strategies and fail; so it’s easier to shift focus on to others. However I think the boss would rather the OP keep the focus on themselves even if it’s just a willingness to try and fail.

  58. Georgina Fredricka*

    good luck OP, seems like you got a lot of solid advice. If you stick with this job, I recommend getting up WAY earlier than you currently do (and really sticking to a bed time).

    IMO it’s way easier to be read for 8am if I’m up at 6:30am, rather than rolling out of bed at 7:400 am.

    I also know a lot of people who don’t like giving themselves bedtimes. It’s really, really hard for some people to go to bed when they don’t feel naturally “sleepy” but most advice is true – don’t watch tv until midnight. Turn it off at 9 and give yourself an hour to do “sleepy tasks” like tidying your room, putting out an outfit for the morning, brushing your teeth, etc.

  59. Anonforthis*

    Oh OP, I’m so sorry you’re having such a tough time. It took me five years at the start of my career to learn that it’s hard to get energy from your work place. Stuff like what you’re describing at work will always be there – I had to develop other aspects of my life, and habits for me personally, to build resilience. Many things you mention at work are out of control, and it helped me to start looking at what was in my control. Yes, had to be at meetings on time, yes I had to work with colleagues I didn’t particularly like, but that’s life. I’d let work be, and focus on other aspects of your life that you do control – are you seeing someone to get your insomnia worked through? Sleep is so critical to EVERYTHING. there are medications that can help in the short term, and terrific behavior modification stuff you can do to get yourself sleeping more regularly. What relationships (outside of work) in your life – support – are you getting energy from? Are there things you can do to adjust your diet, go for walks more, etc. to take good care of yourself. Put together a self care plan with your doctor and a therapist, and start working it. Sending you good vibes!

    1. Batgirl*

      “I had to develop other aspects of my life, and habits for me personally, to build resilience.”
      I think you’ve found the crux of the matter with this really good advice. I was quite alarmed that OP expects emotional support from work because a) they won’t and b) that’s a really important thing for them to get; its bigger than a job.

  60. LaDidDa*

    I understand you are having a hard time, your manager has said you need to take some time off to get yourself better. You need to do this or you are going to lose your job. Please seek out medication for depression, anxiety, or ADHD, whatever it is you need.
    I have a a very hard time with “I feel it is disingenuous to put the onus on me in this way.” Getting to a meeting on time is 100% your responsibility and no one else’s. It doesn’t matter if your manager pushes the meeting, you say you are late no matter what time they are. We all have to sit in on meetings that may not seem 100% relevant, but we still have to be there. You are at home, set the reminder, log in and sit there. It takes very little effort. If you can’t make even that small of on effort it isn’t surprising you don’t have a good relationship with your coworkers. Also “coming out” has nothing to do with your punctuality or your inability to work with other people.
    I strongly encourage you to seek out medical help and therapy. There seems to be a real lack of ownership and self-awareness that is negatively going to impact your relationship inside and outside of work.
    Good luck.

    1. Tabby*

      THIS — I have a lot of things going on — including an elderly parent with mobility issues. I don’t sleep well a lot, I’m trying to figure out some other things with my health, etc — but I am rarely late to work. Most often, I’m there as early as an hour. In fact, the first time I was “late” (I got there half an hour early as opposed to an hour), my supervisor called me, worried that I’d been hit by a car, or was otherwise ill or hurt. Now, I’ve lately shifted it so I’m usually 1/2 an hour to 15 mins early, but they know I’m punctual. And this happens because I set the time to leave my house at 1 1/2 hour earlier than I have to be there, because I know I am very frazzled and not very organized. I know I will want to stop at the store for snacks/water/whatever, I will want to sit at the bus stop for a bit, or any number of distracting things. I have to do that, or I won’t be able to concentrate at work properly. These are things I have had to do to cope with my own high distractability factor. These things are my responsibility, not my job’s.

      And I consistently get ‘exceeds expectations’ for being easygoing and friendly when I come in — even at the dreaded 8 am shift I sometimes have to take these days. I take it as my responsibility to find ways to cope with anxiety and everything else.

  61. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    I’ve been in a similar situation where my personal life, depression, crappy job, and insomnia made me late almost every day and near suicidal. I too felt that the source of many of my problems was the job situation but I realised at some point that I needed outside help. My manager offered an intermittent FMLA type deal (I have forgotten the details) which allowed me to keep my job at least part time while I went to counselling and looked for another job. I ended up going to graduate school a year later and changing fields entirely. I went from being someone who had trouble getting to work before noon to someone who now routinely starts work at 8am, and the only times I’ve been late is because I was on public transportation that had a problem.

    OP, if I’m understanding the boss correctly they are offering the chance to take time off without jeopardising your job, at least for now. I can’t imagine why you would turn that down. It sounds like you are too stressed out to realise that you are trashing your reputation and might be in danger of being fired. Your colleagues might suck but it sounds like they are also offering you a lifeline. If I were you I’d take it.

  62. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I can feel the depression wafting off your letter, OP. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling with these things right now.

    As bosses, we can’t do much when it comes to your health issues, other than be supportive of you taking medical leave when you feel it’s necessary. We aren’t doctors, we aren’t legally allowed to do much other than try to protect your job security so you can seek professional assistance.

    From one depressed, struggling human to another, you have to find a way to keep showing up. Despite it feeling unnecessary and a waste of time, it’s a requirement. Slipping and fighting with your boss over it’s importance is self sabotaging. You can be fired with cause if you keep being late and missing meetings. That won’t help your mental state at all.

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      Agree with this 100%. Your manager isn’t necessarily trying to place a burden on you by suggesting a leave for your mental health, but our options as managers are pretty limited.

    2. Tuesday*

      Agree with all this. I would also advise trying to deal with the mental and physical health issues as much as possible before looking for a new job. Otherwise, I’d be concerned that the problems the OP is having with the boss and coworkers might become issues at the new job as well.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yes, you have to treat the root cause because it’s going to follow you.

        It could be that you may have a honeymoon phase at the new job but it will pop up again over time. Then you are back at square one, always changing jobs and always feeling miserable after the honeymoon phase wears off.

        I’ve seen that happen to a few people over the years. Get a job, love the job, it slowly erodes around them because of the baggage they haven’t fully unpacked from other life-stuff starts getting spilling over, so they just leave again…

        It works in some industries and it works for some folks for awhile but it catches up to you. Then you find yourself not easy to just switch jobs and have a whole other load of issues to unpack.

  63. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    So much to unpackage in this letter and so much we don’t know.

    The LW reminds me of a coworker. She SO wanted to move up. But she would not take ownership of what was needed to get there. She craved attention and became the Drama Llama that no one wanted to work with because everyone was tired of her oversharing to feed her need for attention. She frequently was ill and/or absent and so could not be relied upon to give urgent work. Her kid was a living petri dish and she, not unreasonably I thought, asked to be able to work from home when her kid was sick. Because of her reputation, this was denied even though this might have fixed a few issues. She was chronically late but because of the way our collective agreements are written and the way our office culture is set up, she could not make up the time during lunch and “had to leave at four to pick up child at daycare” and frequently didn’t make up the time.

    I even advocated for her and arranged for her to take on part of a project I had been given, so she could get something fun and different to do too. She got too sick to finish it and I finished it. Advocating for her was to no gain for anyone.

    Our department at the time was not toxic…but her view on the world was. She was always the victim.

    LW, take the gift your boss has given you and take the time you need to sort it all out and heal, or to find the things you need to heal. And find a new job. And expect *less* from it. Your job is not there to support you other than financially. Your job is not your therapist, or best friend. Your coworkers have their own lives and issues that may not have the bandwidth to emotionally support you too.

    Take ownership of your situation and start showing up on time. That tiny step is the start to a better result overall at work, believe me. Your current job may indeed truly be toxic but you cannot fix that so fix what you can, and jump ship as soon as you are able.

  64. deesse877*

    I don’t think anyone’s brought this up… LW, do you have any NB or queer community? It is profoundly helpful to just exist next to peoplewho actually get it. I know it can be hard to find, but it strikesme that, if you’re so frustrated with colleagues, it may be because you actually need a different kinc of mentorship or advocacy.

    Take care.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If you don’t have any locally at the moment, I strongly suggest getting into virtual groups. As a queer youth, online communities saved my life when I was too scared to be “out” in my direct world around me or to trust people face to face because you can feel that you’re in physically in danger.

    2. Analysis Paralysis*

      Yes this! I don’t know where you are geographically OP, but in my area, there are a number of groups on Facebook, Discord, and the like for nb/queer/lgbt folks, adhd folks, etc. It helps a lot to have others who know what you’re going through.

      If you can, I’d also recommend you connect with a counselor who has experience working with adult adhd and non-binary people. It can really help to have an experienced outsider help you pull apart the issues impacting your work life and identify the right resources for solving them.

    3. mf*

      Yes, such a good idea, especially now that we’re in a pandemic and the OP may be feeling lonely and isolated.

  65. Not So Super-visor*

    OP, when you say that you’ve addressed the topic of a toxic worklplace, I believe you. My question to you is when are addressing this? Does this topic only come up when your manager is addressing an issue with your performance or your tardiness? In the past few years, I’ve had to deal with a few newer employees who seem to try to deflect any conversations about their own performance by bringing up other issues. You can’t say to your manager “Ok, my tardiness is a problem, but I’m not going to address it unless you fix the culture of our workplace.” That’s going to come across as you aren’t taking your own issues seriously. Focus on what you have the power to fix in your own behaviors, then ask for a separate meeting/discussion to talk about the toxic environment. As many people here have mentioned, being on time for meetings is a pretty standard workplace norm whether or not you feel that the meeting has merit.

  66. Robin Ellacott*

    OP, I’m sorry you’re feeling so demoralized. You sound like you badly need support but I’m not sure your colleagues and boss will be able to give you the kind of support that would most help.

    I am another person who has been on the other side of this. One of my direct reports was in a fairly similar situation… he had serious depression, anxiety, and ADHD, would often show up very late or not at all, and completed almost none of his work most days. Then he’d beat himself up over it and feel avoidant, which made it harder to come in next time. Frankly every time he didn’t show up I’d fear he had harmed himself – a me problem but certainly added to the stress.

    Unfortunately he had a role in which people would need his help urgently and unexpectedly so there was resentment when he would be so frequently missing. He would mention sleep problems to people but there were several others in the organization with significant sleep issues themselves who would walk away muttering that THEY were at work despite lack of sleep.

    I tried to work openly with him to try various workarounds, schedule, accountability, reminders, and workload changes, etc. but nothing really made a difference. I read a bunch of books about mental health in the workplace, consulted EAP, made lists of ideas, and so on, to little effect. It was the hardest management experience I’ve ever had because I felt awful for him, but also it could be very frustrating as I spent hours a day on trying to manage him sometimes and he had no idea how I could help so I had to keep coming up with ideas. And throughout this time he kept bringing me concerns about other people or policies, which loomed extra large for him because he would really ruminate over them and get really agitated. He wasn’t in a good enough place to have perspective on what was a big deal and what wasn’t, so that was frustrating too.

    I say all this just as a reminder that even if there are many other workplace issues, the manager may genuinely care and be trying to help but it may not feel that way from the outside. And there may have been steps taken to address other staff’s problem behaviour which OP doesn’t know about. (Or maybe the manager is really letting other things slide, which is annoying but ultimately outside OP’s control.)

    What finally ended up making a difference for my teammate was therapy and medication which helped with his sleep and mood. Once he was functioning better he was able to handle a change in role with more autonomy and a less rigid workload and schedule, which he never could have managed before. I hope OP can get some support for those kind of things too, and that when they feel better inside some of the outside stuff will be less exhausting.

    Sometimes when you have the sense that nobody is on your side, the call is really coming from inside the house and everything changes when you are feeling better. Good luck!

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I could have written this letter, except after the fifth paragraph, the employee simply didn’t get therapy. We put him on a PIP, and eventually said he was going to get some help for himself, or we were going to have to let him go. After that, we never heard from him again, and as per the PIP, his employment was terminated. I just have to hope he’s alive.

  67. Des*

    OP, I understand that you have problems, but reading this letter I have to wonder what have YOU done to be accommodating to your colleagues? We don’t know any other details of course, but it does sound like you’ve asked everyone around you to change so that life is easier for you — and maybe once in a while it is reasonable! — but what specific steps have you taken to accommodate your colleagues? I don’t mean “show up to the meetings on time” (i.e. the basic job requirement) but realizing that everyone’s stressed, and everyone’s dealing with problems right now. Your colleagues may not be ABLE to accommodate a 30-minute later start time for the day if their day is regimented around picking up kids from school or using their lunch break to visit a sick relative. Try to keep an open mind when dealing with those around you, especially your boss who’s proposing leave (that you somehow think is disingenuous??)

  68. RussianInTexas*

    I am getting insomnia more and more often – from my early 30s – hormones, and now perimenopause is coming.
    Running on little sleep sucks, but I am not sure how and why my colleagues would advocate for me here.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Insomnia is no different to me than any other chronic illness out there. You can be empathetic and understanding but that only goes so far. I take sleeping medication myself, otherwise I wouldn’t be functional many days.

      No, it’s not really a healthy cycle but in order to survive we often have to find ways to piece things together.

      My brother can’t work a day shift, he’s been able to live a night-shift life. The one time he took a day shift ,he learned quickly he couldn’t just adapt and quickly removed himself from the situation without placing blame on anyone, even himself.

      It’s all a game of finding what works for you and not trying to force a square peg into that round hole forever.

  69. char*

    If the point of the 8 AM meeting is just to give status updates (which it sounds like it might be), I wonder if you could ask your boss if you could provide your updates at the end of the previous day through some textual medium instead?

    My team has a daily 9 AM standup meeting, and we have a spreadsheet where we take notes on it (which helps people who aren’t able to attend on any given day catch up). At the end of each day, I always enter my project’s status into the next day’s standup notes, so that even if I can’t attend the standup, people will be able to see the project’s status. (I also deal with chronic insomnia, and there are some days when I’m so exhausted that I physically can’t drag myself out of bed over to the computer. So I get where the OP is coming from, and totally understand how 8 AM can feel way too early!)

    1. char*

      I also would like to urge the OP to please treat this like a medical issue that requires accommodation – because it is! And don’t dismiss your boss’s suggestion of medical leave so easily. I know you don’t normally agree with him, but even people we normally don’t agree with can have a point sometimes. It sounds like you really could use a break!

  70. tg*

    If it helps, you can think of the useless meetings as you being paid to do nothing. It’s not a healthy attitude, but it might get you through the meetings for now.

  71. CastIrony*

    If I learned ANYTHING from my toxic job, it’s that people who constantly fight on how dysfunctional the management is will **not win**. They will be miserable forever and ever, even if they were a stellar employee. They need to look for another job or leave without anything lined up, if they can.

  72. MassMatt*

    I’m not surprised OP is having no luck getting their complaints taken seriously when they are falling down on the most basic part of any job–showing up.

    OP sounds extremely high maintenance; that their manager is having to spend time dealing with something so basic as attendance/tardiness and suggesting time off does not bode well for their long-term prospects with this employer. We are supposed to be kind here so I’ll leave it at that.

    At the very least, it seems as though this job/employer is not a good fit for them and they should explore whatever forms of therapy, medication, assistance with coming out as nonbinary, etc will help them while finding a better fit for work.

  73. Jules the 3rd*

    OP, if it’s just US and Asia, is it possible to switch the meeting to US evening, Asia morning? Or to alternate evening / mornings, ie (US time) Monday morning, Tues evening, Thu morning? Make an extra effort to go to any that are left at the 8am time, because that really is a reasonable time for a US meeting.

    The won’t fix the other issues, and I think you need to let go of some of your expectations that coworkers will mentor and guide you. Find a support group outside of work. I am mildly polite at work, but I don’t look for friends there, I am way too weird for most people.

    I feel your pain, I have a weekly 7am with Europe, Asia, South America, and the US. I spent two hours trying to figure out how to make it less painful, especially for the SA team, for whom it’s 6am. If it was daily I’d have to hunt for a new job.

    1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

      I feel like 8 AM is a much more reasonable time for a US meeting than 8 PM. You can also argue that 8 PM isn’t ideal for Asia, but for people who work with US companies, I think accommodating US schedules is much more common than vice versa.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      In my experience, culturally you don’t really get away with having many PM meetings on the American side of things. Most people around here would be rage filled if they were asked to have an 8pm meeting because one of their colleagues doesn’t want to do an 8am meeting…when 8am is well within most office hour norms.

      I’ve seen a lot of folks in Asian countries much more willing and ready to jump on the phone late at night when working with Americans.

  74. SassyAccountant*

    I’m not sure if this has already been pointed out, but we are all in agreement it seem that 8 am is really not that early, yes? So….how often are these 8am meetings? Everyday? I feel the letter writer has even less to stand on if these meetings are not everyday. Are these once a week? Even with insomnia, they can’t get up “early” once a week for a meeting?

    As far as the rest of the letter; listen if your boss has divulged your personal business that wasn’t theirs to share (assuming this isn’t related to you being late or out sick which your team would need to know so they can pick up the slack) and has made fun of you, then this is not the place for you. Those things are very much indeed separate from the punctuality. I feel for you, I really do. I have worked for some really toxic places and all I could was cry till I got out. But for as long as I worked there, I had to do my work and be on time. You don’t want these things following you as you move on. It’s a bad look to shake. Chin up. Not every job will be the 7th circle of hell.

    1. Essess*

      Mine are every day… they are the first meeting of the morning so that I can discuss with the team what I accomplished the previous day in case others need to start working based on my output, what am planning to do this current day,and what assistance I need from others on the team in order to accomplish the goals or if there are any current blocks to keep me from getting my work accomplished.

      1. SassyAccountant*

        That’s kind of my point. A meeting everyday at 8 is a lot different then one once a week. Mine are only once a week and that’s to discuss where we are and what we have planned for the week and it’s really just informational. Anyone who needs to know more you’d be talking with multiple times a day anyway. I realize not every place is like that but I think if they had a good relationship with their coworkers they could band together and the daily info meeting could be pushed back on. We all know when a meeting could have been a an email. I think though that in this case the bridge has been burned.

        Also, I think I should point out I think everyone whose meeting is at 8am is LUCKY. I do the accounting for a school and I have to be at the school at 7:30am since I have morning arrival duties. I hate that part but “it’s part of the job.” We all have to suck it up sometimes.

        1. TurtlesAllTheWayDown*

          Except this meeting coordinates with China, who are just ending their day. It’s likely a sort of hand off meeting. The OP might not have any work contigent on this meeting in particular, but it appears to also be used as an all-hands, catch-all, daily updates meeting.

    2. Night Owl*

      They didn’t say, but I’m curious if this involved a schedule change for OP? If, pre-covid, they were approved to start at 9 and are are now required to start at 8am to accommodate these meetings, that only exist due to covid, then I’d say it’s fair for them to be annoyed about how early it is.

    3. pyewacket*

      having adhd makes waking up very difficult. even without insomnia or getting plenty of sleep i still feel desperately tired and have a lot of brain fog in the morning. it’s similar to taking codeine or nyquil and being woken up in the middle of the dose. that is how i feel each morning until my adderall kicks in. side note on adderall it is sometimes given to patients for narcolepsy. so yes even a once a week early meeting can be extremely difficult.

      1. AntsOnMyTable*

        But is it one of those things were getting up is hard or getting up at a certain time? I work at a job where you have to be here by 7 am and there are a lot of people who going to sleep by 830 pm. If it is always hard to get up then maybe, for the OP, the only solution is to go to bed early and get up early so there is a several hour buffer if needed. But if no matter when they go to sleep they struggle to get up before, like noon, then there is really nothing to be done about it.

        1. pyewacket*

          there is always something that can be done but it usually isn’t the same solution as neurotypical people. below i gave several suggestions on how i counteracted my insomnia and my pattern of getting up in the morning for my early start. this success was years of trying out different strategies and sometimes stumbling upon others (i didn’t know egg whites are in some wines). the best insight i received was right after being diagnosed with ADHD-C at 38, ‘you now have the diagnosis it’s only an explanation that your brain works differently. you have to decide if you make it an excuse.’ the op needs encouragement and ideas to try, not someone to throw up their hands and say she is a lost cause like you are.

          *op* – some other suggestions and things to think about:
          * gain insight to your ADHD and accessing more ideas through podcasts or books on ADHD, especially from Dr. Hallowell and YouTube channel, How to ADHD. (i encourage anyone that thinks they know what ADHD is to go to her channel and watch ‘What is ADHD’)
          * i fight against a schedule all the time but things are easier when i follow one. so have the same routine to go to bed and the same to get up in the morning. i equate it to muscle memory in an athlete and helps to combat time blindness.
          * is your home messy? if it is, at least straighten up your bedroom and bathroom. when my home is cluttered so is my brain. not sure where to start? make the bed each morning.

    4. JSPA*

      And in the future, OP can choose not to overshare the details of their private business–using the wording from so many other posts on this blog.

      At which point, there won’t be any risk of someone figuring, “Well, if they told me the nitty gritty details unnecessarily, I suppose they’re OK with it being discussed.”

  75. Essess*

    Agreed. I’ve been working in professional offices for 30+ years and 8am meetings are pretty normal. I can’t recall any job that I’ve had in that time that didn’t have regular 8am meetings each week. Now that I can roll out of bed to attend them is so much nicer. There’s really no excuse at this point to be late unless you are also working all night.

  76. miro*

    OP, if you don’t think the onus should be on you to deal with your health, who should it be on? This isn’t a sassy or rhetorical question–I think that considering it might give you some clarity about what you want/need/expect from your social connections (and in turn, might lead to opportunities to rethink some one the expectations or assumptions that aren’t serving you well).

    It also might help to think about the other end of the spectrum, in which a boss is overly involved in someone’s medical business (I’m sure there are AAM examples, though I don’t have any to hand). I can understand how a boss would want to err on the side of not prying, even if that risks seeming colder.

    Some of this may be a difference in expectations around boundaries–your boss views health issues as very private and you see it as… a more public matter? I guess this is where I get a bit confused, because given your other complaints with the workspace it seems like you wouldn’t want your boss/coworkers involved in your medical business?? But again, all the more reason to sit down and really think through your position on this stuff.

  77. Signed: Also Fed Up With Meetings*

    Because of what OP said “there really isn’t any point to them when I give the same updates and no pertinent information is divulged” I suspect these are morning (for OP any ways) check-in meetings that have become very common during covid. Like OP, I think it’s a little pointless and why do I need to be there each morning repeating the same info?

    On my team we also have latecomers like OP who struggle to start meetings on time. Guess what? OP is right and these meetings aren’t necessarily 100% relevant to them. They’re mostly for management to keep on top of what people are doing and a bit for you to know what your teammates are up to. So, we simply start without the latecomers.
    They arrive whenever they arrive and give their update. I think management is annoyed if they miss the meeting entirely, but as long as they’re there during part of it it seems ok.
    It’s not much different than the folks who have internet issues or technical difficulties and are constantly dropping in & out of the call, or forgetting to unmute, and so we’re waiting on them to provide their updates.

  78. Wan*

    OP – Alison has talked in the past about the idea of building and spending capital at work – and it might be helpful concept. Being on time, prepared, helpful, accommodating, etc., builds capital – essentially goodwill. When you make a mistake or need to ask people to accommodate you (not ADA accommodations, mind you, I’m speaking more generally), you spend some capital. Bringing up issues, even valid ones, can sometimes spend capital, just because of the shake-up that might follow, fair or not.

    The person who is habitually punctual and engaged will be forgiven for the occasional lateness or for the very occasional oversleeping. The person who consistently does outstanding work will be more forgiven for being a tiny bit scatterbrained about schedules. The exemplary employee will be more likely to have their concerns seriously addressed and their wishes for things like different schedules, etc., seriously considered. True, in a truly toxic work place, all of this can go out of the window, but even then doing the things that would build you capital will often pay off in some way. If you want your problems to be addressed seriously, then you’ll have better success if you’re someone who is clearly doing all that is within their personal control.

    Consider that you’re asking for accommodations while not wanting to meet a very reasonable accommodation to your coworkers in Asia. They deserve the same consideration you’re asking for. If you can reframe your perspective to one where you’ll do all you can to accommodate them as you would want the same for your own reasonable requests, then you might start to get to a place where reasonable requests of yours will be considered.

    Please also consider that if your guard is up 24/7, even for good reason, you may be likely to see things that are neutral, negative but minor, well-intentioned but awkward, etc. as more negative than they are. It’s hard to sort through. How can you validate your own experiences and feelings (microaggressions are real!) while still monitoring for where you may not be giving others/a situation some reasonable leeway or benefit of the doubt?

    It’s also okay if certain standard work things – like 8 am meetings, which I agree are the worst – are for you a dealbreaker. A regular pre-9am start time for me is just not going to work, but I understand that’s a me thing, not a workplace problem, and if I can’t take it then I need to make an exit plan to get myself to where I can have a workplace that works with my absolute dealbreakers.

    I’m really sorry you’re dealing with all of this, and I hope you can sort through everything in a way that will help you feel healthy and safe with others.

  79. pyewacket*

    i’m a fellow ADHD(C)-er who has dealt with insomnia for years but was able to finally find a permanent solution. i was tested for allergies/intolerances (food and chemicals). something like 40% increase of allergies/intolerances if you have ADHD compared to the general population. my testing showed that i have A LOT but specifically an intolerance (verges on allergy) of egg whites and yolks. i found out that some wines use egg whites to filter yeast and sediment during the fining process. when i eliminated my nightly glass of wine i didn’t have insomnia. what was happening was when i introduced egg whites i was having a delayed allergy reaction that woke me up because of a fast heartbeat and my body was feeling impending doom (real symptom). while i gave up all wine for awhile i now get either vegan or organic wines so i have no issues. other things that have helped me over the years. reading a book, preferably a college text or self help book because the more boring the better. or if it is a good book stopping in the middle of the chapter during an unexciting part. listening to a tv show/movie that i have watched previously. no new shows. journaling, specifically what am i thinking or if i’m experiencing symptoms. this one is a little gross but watching Dr. Pimple Poppers YouTube blackhead extraction videos. for me these are similar to ASMR soap scraping videos. a cup of coffee before bed. i know that seems counter intuitive but stimulants get rid of a lot of noise in our heads so we can focus. last couple of suggestions are for a dopamine kick too. push ups, crunches, quick workout but i prefer masturbation and/or sex.

    for getting up on time i have alarms that go off for at least an hour before i have to be out of bed. my first one i am able to wake up enough to take my first dose of meds in the morning. they start kicking in right before i have to get out of bed. hope this gives you ideas to try out. good luck.

    1. Ealasaid*

      This is an excellent idea! My food sensitivities mostly manifest as brainfog and fatigue. The family allergist spotted a couple when I was a kid (wild allergies and asthma run in my family), and as an adult I worked through an elimination diet with a nutritionist to find a couple more. Tweaking my diet helped a LOT.

    2. JSPA*

      Non-fined white wine does this, too; alcohol in specific and white wine in general is famous for causing insomnia. Including in people who can eat eggs without difficulty. Cutting out alcohol is one of the first things a doctor will normally suggest for insomnia.

    3. allathian*

      One glass of wine or one unit of any kind of alcohol is enough to aggravate any problems you (general you) may already have with insomnia and poor sleep. Specifically, it reduces REM sleep and if that happens, it can cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, etc. So although switching to vegan wine helped you, maybe not drinking any wine at all would be even better, at least on those nights when you have to get up especially early the next day? I’m neurotypical, though, so the ADHD brain may work differently, I don’t know. I do know that if I drink alcohol, I’m woozy the next day, even if it’s just one drink. So I don’t drink when the next day is a workday.

      1. pyewacket*

        i did an elimination diet and when i reintroduced vegan or organic wines my sleep wasn’t affected. i haven’t had any insomnia issues for 3 years. in general the ADHD brain works very differently it adds a level of difficulty due to poor executive function. you have years of being called stupid, lazy or worthless or you are dismissed by people who don’t understand what ADHD is. so where eating the right foods with meds* can help they are never the complete answer. just like everyone else you have to understand your body and yourself so you can get past issues like the OP is facing. *taking any medication is a choice between you and your doctor.

  80. Tidewater 4-1009*

    OP, you mentioned feeling confined by covid restrictions.
    Can you do things to relieve that, like taking walks or bike rides? Is it ok in your area to meet with people – ideally friends you like – outdoors? Are there any organized music or theater events, or sports if you like those? If so, do these as much as possible.
    Doing these things will relieve some of your stress at your current job and if you decide to look for another one. Even if you can’t do the other things, a daily walk or bike ride will make a big difference. I take a daily walk and it’s a big help!

  81. Lemon Ginger Tea*

    I’m thinking of a few months ago when a new hire who didn’t like that I was assigning him boring (but necessary) work decided to just not do it. When I followed up with him and eventually sent it up the chain of command after he repeatedly declined to do the work, he said I had created a “toxic” work environment.

    I don’t think that word means what the new hire thought it meant. I’m wondering if some of that is going on here.

  82. EventPlannerGal*

    OP, the way I see it is that at the moment you ar on a boat with a hole in the bottom. You’re saying to your boss “hey captain, my crewmates are horrible and the engine’s making this weird sound that sounds bad and I’m really seasick and I don’t like fish and if you sorted those things out I’d feel way more motivated to fix the big hole in the bottom of the boat”. The captain just needs you to fix the hole.

    All the issues that you are currently having sound very real and very difficult and I truly hope you find resolution. But you have a very immediate problem right now which you have been specifically told that you need to fix, and you are instead focusing on high-level issues that (again, while they are real and important) are not going to help you with that problem right now. It kind of sounds like you have used up your available credit with your colleagues at the moment; you don’t have any room to push back further, especially when the things you are asking for require other people to inconvenience themselves. You need to figure out how to be on time, aka fixing the big hole in the bottom of the boat, and then once you know you’re not going to sink like right this second you can start thinking about the ominous ticking noise in the engine room.

    In terms of addressing the punctuality/sleep issue:

    – people have mentioned multiple alarms; there are also the usual tricks eg putting the alarm across your room so you have to get up to get to it, having seperate alarm clocks (eg your phone alarm plus a physical alarm clock somewhere else).

    – YMMV on the practicality of this one but I live somewhere pretty cold and I leave my window open at night when I have to get up early because the cold wakes me up

    – if you are working from home, could you prep as much as possible the night before? (eg things like leaving your laptop on sleep mode overnight so you don’t have to worry about starting up/logging in)

    – if the meetings are very frequent but irregular, I know this may sound counterintuitive but could you try treating 8am as your new regular start time? Context: the only thing that has helped my insomnia is keeping a very, very regular sleep schedule regardless of what time it actually starts. I used to have an irregular shift pattern where I might start any time between 8.30 and 12 on any given day – my insomnia was the worst it’s ever been and I felt like I was walking through treacle for most of the day. Then my role changed, I now have to get up at 6.30 every day no ifs no buts, and even though it works out to fewer hours of sleep per night it has helped my insomnia beyond belief.

    YMMV on all of these, they’re just some things that have personally worked for me as someone who has struggled a LOT with sleep and timekeeping.

  83. Argh!*

    My former boss, who in my opinion was a covert bully, regularly held meetings 15 minutes after my day starts. The other people who report to her start their day 30 – 90 minutes before that meeting time. So if they forgot or overslept or whatever, Outlook reminded them. If I forgot to set a special alarm at home, leave the house a bit early, and skip my 2nd cup of coffee, I would be late or forget entirely until booting up my computer & getting the Outlook notification.

    I asked if sometimes we could have the meetings later in the day. She said no and she was a brick wall about it.

    Through a reorganization almost a year ago, I no longer report to her, though the rest still do. They have not once had a meeting that started at the time that previously could not be changed. Not. Once. Live or virtual. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

  84. Destroyer of Typos*

    Are you my coworker? I don’t work for a multinational company so definitely no, but I’m a coworker to someone who was constantly asking for exceptions to my deadlines. We had weekly deadlines for normal tasks, and before Covid this person was asking once or twice a month to turn stuff in late “because they’ve been so busy and had x other things to do”. Before covid, sure, you can slide requests under my door because I’m literally not going to process them until I’m physically present. But after covid, we all went remote, and I pushed the deadline an hour later to be accommodating to the new weird remote life our staff had. But even that wasn’t enough – they wanted to do the requests late at night every time because they work better late at night. But… their requests completely ignored the fact that I HAVE to keep a hard deadline now, otherwise my workload gets out of hand with constant late request exceptions. Everyone is under new Covid pressure, and routine HELPS. If I give one person a different deadline, I can’t hold the other staff to a regular deadline, and a deadline in the middle of the night is unhelpful for the other staff. I would bet money that the unusual, non work hours time would confuse everyone else and I’d get swamped with “whoops I forgot again” exception requests.

    I’m also genuinely sorry that your coworkers aren’t seeming like they’ll be cool about your coming out. I totally get that it would make life feel 1000% worse to be in a daily situation where you can’t be your normal self.

    A (helpful?) coincidence is that my coworker is also non binary, uses they/them pronouns, and it’s Not A Thing here! But they struggle with time management. Separately! I am hopeful for you that you can separate the two – because sometimes you just have to make something work that is inconvenient or even very hard for you. The coworker in question even took it up with our boss and was not granted the accommodation, and so then managed to start meeting my deadlines. I’m pretty sure they’re not convinced that the deadline needs to be what it is, but oh man, my workflow can function because I can stick to deadlines. My boss made the call because he saw the whole picture.

  85. Sam*

    I also have ADHD and have been struggling with… everything. I actually got a written warning for being late to meetings a few weeks back. One thing that has been helping me has been adding another alarm (I have four every morning) with a different alarm tone, so it’s more jarring.

  86. Orange You Glad*

    Years ago I went through a period where I was late to work every day. Every. Single. Day. It seemed nothing could get me moving to make it on time – and I only lived a 15 min walk away. I eventually realized I had lost any excitement or desire to go to work (due to some company issues) but also I was in a deep depression and hadn’t realized it yet. My boss staged an “intervention” of sorts and things changed. We adjusted my schedule to start later in the morning and I made changes in my personal life to deal with my depression. I was able to come back from that low period where my boss was threatening to fire me to now running that department.

    Take care of yourself OP and if the job isn’t going to change, figure out what you need from a job and look for that.

  87. Kella*

    OP, something striking I noticed in your letter is that I saw very little mention of what *you* are doing to fix or mitigate the impact of these problems. Yes, many of them require other people to work with you, but none of them can be fixed without your participation and willingness to do so.

    I heard that you’ve told your boss about the variety of problems that are causing you to burn out and that you won’t him to address those problems. I heard you ask your boss to be more involved in your process, which he did, which then made you frustrated. I heard that you asked for your meetings and/or work start time to be pushed later and your boss said no.

    It made me wonder what you are expecting change to actually look like, if it doesn’t involve you changing at all. I worry that even if you got all the fixes you wanted, it wouldn’t change the pain you are feeling, if you cannot take responsibility for any part of the change.

    1. LizM*

      I noticed this too.

      Honestly, if it’s to the point that your supervisor is recommending going on leave, this is becoming a major problem, and if things don’t change, OP’s job may be in danger. I think it’s worth working with a therapist to see what is within OP’s control and what is not. That could help clarify things. It may be that they are working in a toxic environment. If that’s true, the best move may be to move on to another position. But it may be that there are things they can do to improve their situation. Right now, it’s all jumbled together. Taking some time and distance to figure this out may help.

    2. sb51*

      One of the facets of ADHD though is not being able to figure out how to make these kind of changes on your own; people say “just change” at you and you’re like….bwuh? It can feel a lot like someone saying “can we get a stepstool in the work kitchen so that us shorties can reach the mugs” and your boss saying “that sounds like a you problem, why don’t you grow taller”.

      Like, this isn’t an excuse, but the usual kind of advice also can just make the problem worse, because then it’s “people keep telling me to grow taller and then dangling things above me and laughing when I don’t”. Definitely more of something to take to a therapist vs a boss, if possible, but also boss will get better results if they can suggest options that are actually feasible for OP.

      I hated having to disclose audio processing issues at work, but having it come up in performance reviews that I upset people by asking them to repeat themselves and/or repeating back what they’d said to confirm (it apparently came off as disbeliving/mocking or not paying attention) in some cases, my options were to seem like I was doing nothing and was actively being recalcitrant about the advice (which I did, for a while, until it was A Pattern vs a one-time feedback), or disclose that I literally sometimes COULD NOT tell what people who were speaking clearly and whom I was paying close attention to were saying. I couldn’t “hear better”. I *could* work with my boss to fold this into another group initiative to take better notes at group meetings; while, as one of the few women, I am leery of always volunteering to note-take, I did for a while, helping a: set the pattern and b: giving me an excuse to say “I didn’t get that, can you repeat” without having to disclose to all the people at work.

  88. QuinleyThorne*

    OP, I dunno if you’ll read down this far, but in the event you do:

    Your letter sounds so much like who I was and what I experienced at one of my first jobs, it’s almost eerie. Looking back, it was clear I was suffering from anxiety and depression, and undiagnosed ADHD, all of which was going woefully unmanaged. Like you, I was frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I felt that my coworkers were toxic and shut me out for not ‘fitting in’ with them, and that my boss’ refusal to intervene was because she was just as toxic. I also felt that no one I worked with understood or sympathized with my mental health struggles, despite having shared my experience in an attempt to provide context to why I was having such a hard time, in the hopes they’d cut me a break.
    But I didn’t get that break. What happened instead was that I got a performance-related write-up, and put on a PIP. That should’ve been the wake-up call that I was the one who needed to change, but I interpreted it as another blow of rejection, that I was a burden, and were taking the steps to replace me. I ended up mentally checking out of that job, and soon just kind of checked out of life in general. About a week after that write-up, I had a breakdown on my morning commute, turned my car around, and checked into the hospital. I took FMLA, and at the end of it, made the decision to not return to that job, and focus on my health. The cost of treatment may be a lot depending on your insurance (if any), but I guarantee you it will be cheaper and more helpful in the long run to take the leave your manager is offering and invest in your health now on your own terms than have to pay potential thousands for an crisis-intervention inpatient hospital stay.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, but if not, I would strongly encourage you to look into it, as it might provide some context as to how you’re feeling and why everything feels so toxic. I’m about a decade removed from this experience, and with my head clear, I can see the actual truth of that situation: My coworkers were not toxic and did not hate me, but they were frustrated from having to constantly pick up my slack, and resentful that I kept making excuses as to why I shouldn’t have had to meet the same standards as everyone else. My boss did have sympathy for my struggles, and frankly went far out of her way in an attempt to coach me back to my previous level of performance because she understood that my mental health was the the root cause of my performance issues, and that the health issue itself was not my fault: but she also had other things on her plate and knew that she couldn’t effectively manage a team that was spending all their time cleaning up after one person who refused to take care of themselves.

    I recognize how hard a lot of the above advice is to take in when you feel overworked and underappreciated. And having gone through this process, I also fully understand just how hard it is to to find the energy to do even more work to change, especially when you feel consistently spent. But it’s work worth doing, and it’s this work that I’m most proud of, and I promise you will be too.

    Sending you strength and wishing you the best.

    1. Still working on it*

      From what I’ve seen, hindsight this clear is the product of a lot of brave and difficult work. A person has to trust that they are more resilient than they feel in the moment. It’s inspiring to see that it can work. Kudos to you, and thanks for being the evidence that helps lots of us keep the faith.

  89. JSPA*

    This whole letter strikes me as being at least half predicated on the (incorrect) idea that one’s employer is required to make sure that you feel like coming to work, and feel valued at work, and feel like your work is worthwhile. None of this is true.

    Also, that one’s employer is covered by something akin to HIPAA, and can’t share personal information that you’ve chosen to share with them. With a few exceptions, this is also not true.

    Also, that one’s coworkers can’t be unpleasant, unhelpful, or even mocking or hostile. So long as these things are not demonstrably due to something specifically protected under law, that’s again, not true. “We think you are a pain in the ass just ’cause you are, and we’d like to see you gone, and will let you know that in a thousand small ways” is legal.

    If you have a doctor’s assessment, specific to your job as well as your condition, to back you up, you can try to push through the possibility of an accommodation. Absent that (or as Alison notes, if the early meetings are an essential part of your job), you don’t actually have the right to reconfigure your job, as assigned, into some other version of your job that would meet your needs better.

    Assuming it’s not depression speaking, and your coworkers really would be happier without you there, then you’d almost certainly also be happier elsewhere. If it IS depression, and it’s affecting you to this degree, and your coworkers would love to have the coping version of you back, then you clearly do need medical leave.

    There’s really no universe where this combination of perceptions adds up to, “If you tell people to be nice to me and you let me join the conversation 15 minutes late, we’ll be golden again.”

    OP, if the majority of your interactions at work are about how people should be doing things for you (not what you can be doing, for yourself, and for them), that’s enough to put most people on the downward spiral, at that job, regardless of anything else.

    OP, if you are WFH, being on a call is as basic as waking up and turning on the computer. People do this when they have been far shorter on sleep than “five or six hours” for years. People do this when they have to set an alarm for 1 AM, 2 AM, 3 AM, because the big-shots on the call are on another continent.

    If you know that you are pushing to get fired, rather than quitting, that’s fine. It’s a choice some people make. But if you don’t know that you’re headed down that path pretty resolutely…well, you are.

    It sounds like you have been given the most polite form of, “we can’t use you, given your attitude. We can’t accommodate your claimed needs without gutting the essential functions of your job. Plus you’ve given us zero reason, individually or organizationally, to want to put vast extra effort into going to bat for you.” When you hear that, you are generally better off starting fresh, elsewhere. Or if you’re seriously depressed (such that these perceptions are off-base) then goal number 1, 2 and 3 are all, “finding treatment.”

    If you do need to hang in, “I realise I’ve become hugely negative and needy recently. In case this is depression, can I get time off to look into it, and see if I can turn things around, without the past few weeks being held against me” may be the best way to go. Meds, coping skills, CBT, all of that may help.

    If your perceptions are correct, but your expectations are out of whack, it’s probably better to try to start elsewhere. When you do,

    1. decide what you want to be out about, and share exactly that much. People can’t leak what they have not been (often inappropriately) told.

    2. Don’t take a job on the assumption that it can of course be tailored to your comfort or happiness. Work owes you a paycheck for hours worked, in some cases, benefits, and freedom from pervasive or extreme discrimination. And not a whole lot more.

    3. Focus on what you can do for yourself and for others, not what you feel they should be doing for you. That starts with being dependable, which requires finding a situation where you can be dependable.

    4. Don’t badmouth Old Job for not being what you hoped it would be, or for coworkers not making your comfort and your development into their project.

  90. JJ*

    Take that mental health break that was offered, OP! Rest for the first half, and think about why you’re staying at this job for the second. Allison is right that you sound VERY VERY DONE with this job. Better to accept that and move on than continue to suffer, act badly because you’re suffering, get fired and lose a good reference.

    It is totally OK that this job has run its course. GTFO! Just tell interviewers there wasn’t room for growth.

  91. DarnTheMan*

    To touch on a slightly different subject, I will say as someone who is still navigating disclosing my ACE/Demi-ARO status in the office, OP you have my full sympathies. But (and please take this with the caveat that you definitely know your co-workers better than I do), I will also say that in my experience, both personally and professionally, that nonbinary and genderfluid seem to be two of the hardest identities for people (in and out of LGBT circles) to navigate so if this is a relatively new thing, you might need to give your co-workers some time to sort themselves out.

    I get it, it’s frustrating to have this thing you’ve realized about yourself and feel like people aren’t respecting it right away but some people might genuinely be struggling – particularly if you still present in a more masculine or feminine manner (not saying enbys have to present in any one way but it seems people have the hardest time with nonbinary pronouns and address if they feel like you still ‘look’ feminine or masculine (as defined by conventional society)). I’m wholeheartedly seconding the suggestion to see if you can find a group – either in person or online – for LGBT people, especially other nonbinary folks who might have some helpful advice for navigating nonbinary identities in the workplace. Virtual hugs and all the best to you OP as you work on your true you.

      1. ONJ*

        Being nonbinary is a gender expression, not a sexuality (it doesn’t have anything to do with who you’re attracted to). So if you don’t want people referring to you as a man or woman, it’s pretty important for them to know that.

        1. Wondering about this*

          I think jolene was asking about ACE/Demi-ARO status, which is a sexuality, not a gender expression (plenty of binary people identify as such). I have this question too: is there any history of people being fired or denied promotions for being ACE or ARO that would put them in the category of classes requiring legal protection? A gay person who can’t bring their significant other to a work party or put a picture of them on their desk or chat about going out for their anniversary dinner isn’t getting to live the same life as their colleagues, but what is it that an ACE or ARO person feels they are prohibited from doing in the workplace that others get to do?

          1. Naomi*

            IANAL, but: As far as legal protection, I believe it would apply because of how protected classes work. If you live someplace where sexual orientation is a protected class, it doesn’t mean that only specific orientations are protected; it covers ANY discrimination based on sexual orientation. So if someone was facing discrimination based on asexuality, it would be covered. And discrimination doesn’t have to take the form of being fired or denied promotions; coworkers reacting badly or hassling someone for being asexual would qualify.

            I don’t think DarnTheMan was referring to legal protections, though, just navigating talking about it socially. Asexuality does tend to be less visible than other orientations, but that doesn’t mean it will never come up, for example in conversations about partners/SOs. It’s not about anything you should get to do or not do in the workplace, just whether you’re able to be honest about yourself with your coworkers. Which applies to other orientations too; your examples were all about treatment of partners, but single gay people shouldn’t be expected to conceal their sexual orientation either.

            1. Wondering*

              You’re right that my examples all had to do with partners. I think that’s the context where having to police one’s speech and whole life seems most oppressive. I guess I have tended to work in offices where people, whatever their sexuality, don’t offer a lot of info about our dating lives and which celebrities we think are hot in formal work contexts, like meetings with clients and vendors and all-staff meetings.

              That professional-context info-selectiveness seems very different from feeling pressured to pretend significant others don’t exist and to lie about spending Saturday marching in the Pride parade.

              I suppose I’m naive, but I’ve never known anyone to need to “come out” as ACE or ARO at work, because they were never feeling like they had to hide any person or activity.

              I agree that nobody should be expected to actively conceal their sexual orientation, but I can’t see where being ACE or ARO would be a problem, or even how it would come up in a formal context. What would there be for the person to feel pressured to conceal? I could ask the ACE folks I know, I suppose, but I don’t ask colleagues questions about their sexual orientation. From what they’ve shared, they seem to have been bored by a lot of happy hour conversations we had in our 20s, but no more so than they were bored by Game of Thrones talk or NFL or anything else that dominated watercooler conversation at any given time.

              TL; DR. What organization, even an oppressive homo- or trans-phobic one, would possibly care if an employee was ACE or ARO? How would it even come to their attention? Why is there any “coming out” as ACE/ARO such at work?

      2. QuinleyThorne*

        To answer the question you asked: generally-speaking, no one needs to tell their office about the specifics of their sexuality, regardless of what it might be, as any discussion of sexuality tends to hinge on discussion of personal matters (namely intimate relationships and sexual habits) that aren’t appropriate for the workplace.
        That being said, while they are arguably adjacent concepts, gender identity and sexuality are not the same thing. The difference, in my mind, is that sexuality is about who and how we love, whereas gender identity is about who and how we are, if that makes sense. A closer analogue to gender identity would probably be racial identities, in terms of being a genetic foundation of personhood that remains the same regardless of presentation or performance. How one’s personhood is perceived by others has a tremendous impact on life experiences, and that includes the workplace. With that context, the answer to your question would be that it’s basically impossible not to.

  92. TimeTravlR*

    Re:Being on time – I had someone who worked for me who was never on time to work. She didn’t attend a lot of meetings so that never became an issue, but she could not arrive by 8:30 for anything. So to help her out, I pushed her start time to 9am. She was still always.. always late.
    So all that just to say, OP and anyone else, make it a habit to be on time. On those occasions when you are late, it will be overlooked if it’s not a habit.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s because of how their brains are wired. They’ll always adjust their life perfectly so when you tell them “okay 9 instead”, they adjust enough to be late by that same 20 minutes or whatever it is.

      This is why in a personal relationship, to deal with these folks you tell them 8:30 when you want to be there by 9. Yeah you’re lying but you’re there on time. So if you wanted to, I’d start telling someone who’s only issue is their late arrival issues that the meetings are at 8:30 when really they start at 9.

  93. PMK*

    Please take the leave and focus on getting well. Jobs are very difficult to find right now. You are being given a real opportunity. Please take it.

  94. Kara S*

    There’s a lot going on here! LW I really hope the best for you and I agree with Allison that it sounds like you are really over this job. But unless you address the things you are personally dealing with, I struggle to see a new job drastically improving your outlook.

    As a few others have commented, calling a workplace/coworkers “toxic” is not a useful qualification. It seems like this is a term that gets thrown around a lot to mean “people I do not get along with” rather than “people who are actively making my workplace truly awful”. I will take LW’s word that it is more in the second category but it will help to ask the boss for concrete help in regards to this issue. Pointing to specific, repeated actions you feel are rude from your coworkers will help you. Giving examples of how they leave you out of the loop and undermine you is much more useful than saying you don’t like them. It is also worth thinking about how your mental health may be colouring your perception of others’ actions. I know that being burnt out and anxious can cause me to be upset about every perceived slight or issue, which in turn makes me think everyone else must have a problem with me, which feeds into the anxiety.

    There is really only one reason that you mentioned in your letter that could cause you to be late for meetings which is the insomnia. The rest, while very real problems, don’t really sound like work issues that your manager can handle nor do they have much correlation to waking up on time. Your manager is not able to help you come out or deal with the anxiety of being closeted. They are also not responsible for making you have a more positive, professional outlook — that’s something you need to work towards. A lot of this letter veers into the territory of asking your manager to work the job around your life and manage your emotions. It isn’t your manager’s job to take on this burden. Their offer for you to take time off is generous and the onus is on you to realize that you need it and take the steps you need to reset and help tackle these major problems you’re going through. It’s okay to take that offer and take the time to reset, even if you don’t think you’ll stay in this job.

    As for the things your boss has disclosed about your life, without knowing what was said it’s really hard to know if this was inappropriate or if you might be seeing things through an overly negative lens. Only you can answer that. But either way, it might be best to let these situations go and continue to be professional. It’s also worth noting that it isn’t weird for a coworker to share personal information that doesn’t seem to be sensitive or that you didn’t ask them to keep to themselves.

    The reason moving the meeting time won’t help is because the issue isn’t your punctuality. The issue is everything else. Take the leave. Talk to a therapist to try and deal with the anxiety. I hope things get better for you — you deserve to be happy!

  95. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    If your insomnia (or coming out issues!) were your boss’s problem to fix, then your boss would have to have power to affect them. To require you to stick to a strict bedtime, to restrict screen usage, to try melatonin, to change your pillow, to switch your phone alarm to vuvuzela music. Your boss cannot change your life without changing your life.

    Be very glad your problems are yours to fix and not your boss’s.

  96. ShortT*

    As someone who has dealt with sleep disruption, is dealing with ADHD, and is looking for someone who is willing to assess me, an adult female, for ASD, I empathize with feeling as if you weren’t part of the crowd. I strongly suspect that poorly-managed ADHD and anxiety may be coloring your view of the situation.

    What concerns me is the degree to which you’re externalizing responsibility for your experience. How are you constantly being overlooked at work? Are you actually being overlooked or are you treated as if you were a regular employee? You claim that you don’t have coworkers on your team willing to guide you and advocate for you, but then complain that an 8:00AM meeting is too early and have shown up late for 9:30AM meetings. You say that you have toxic coworkers, but don’t provide any example of how they contribute to toxicity. Perhaps they just have a different work style? Being non-binary and in the closet has zero to do with your job.

    I don’t see anything for your manager or your coworkers to do here. Take them up on their offer for time off and use it for proper assessment, treatment planning, and restoring your mental health.

  97. Courageous cat*

    I have an extremely high amount of trouble getting up early (as in I usually start work between 10-11) and I’m mildly horrified every time someone puts a meeting on my calendar for 9, and this is a lot, even to me. I still get up and do it.

    Here’s my breakdown of this letter: your coworkers aren’t there to guide you or advocate for you, your sleep schedule is generally not your employer’s concern, and it’s not disingenuous for your boss to put the onus of you being on time on you. Everything you’ve said in this letter sounds like deflecting personal responsibility in favor of blaming external reasons, but the onus *should* be on you here. Your credibility is likely getting reduced by you not seeing that, and it’s probably factoring into why your calls about others’ toxicity are not going addressed – which, by the way, have nothing to do with you being late either. Last but not least, your boss isn’t “policing” you, being expected to be punctual is not that or inappropriate of your boss in any way.

    Some self-reflection definitely seems warranted here. Don’t worry so much about what other people do and start worrying about what *you* do. If you’re younger which it seems like you might be, take a deep breath and hopefully these comments will lend some perspective.

  98. Heffalump*

    “Never Be Late Again” by Diana DeLonzor is a good book on how chronically late people can become more punctual.

  99. yala*

    “because I was recently told by my manager that I should take some sort of personal leave for my health, but I feel it is disingenuous to put the onus on me in this way.”

    I hate to say it, but with mental health, the onus IS on you.

    It’s actually pretty kind of your manager to suggest this, and you absolutely should take them up on it. Even in normal circumstances, if you’re feeling burned out, you should take some personal leave for a day or two to get some breathing space. And these are not normal circumstances.

    I cannot recommend getting a counselor enough. PLEASE do. They don’t have to be a therapist or a psychologist (I would suggest avoiding religious-based councilors, as in some states they don’t need to have certain training), but at least a licensed counselor. And talk through the whole job situation. Every complain, every toxic coworker moment, etc.

    You’d be amazed at how much having a neutral third party can help things fall into place. I’m not going to doubt you on there being hostility from your coworkers, etc. I’ve been there, and had it where it’s hard to describe, but it still FEELS awful. But after dealing with enough of it, you might also be primed to see small, inconsequential actions as hostile as well. Or maybe they all are. Maybe none of them are.

    You can’t change your coworkers. There’s no one at work who’s super concerned with things being Fair or Nice. Their concern is Getting The Work Done.

    You *can* change yourself. To a point. ADHD is a struggle, and just because you know “I need to stop doing/start doing X” it doesn’t mean you’re going to magically be able to. An ADHD coach might help, but they can be pricey. There are self-help resources you can look into, and a good counselor could also probably suggest some reasonable accommodations to suggest to HR if you think they would help.

    But like folks are saying–asking the meeting time to change isn’t reasonable. Not when other folks are already having to work late for the usual time. And it’s a zoom meeting while you’re working from home. Missing or being late for something like that once or twice…I’ve been there. I definitely have problem with things like that. But doing it consistently? No, you really can’t.

    I think you really should take your manager’s suggestion to heart. Take some personal time. Have a break, a day or two where you don’t have to worry about work-things. Find a counselor. Mental health is so important, and for folks with ADHD, we need to be especially diligent because small problems with it can spiral into terrible habits (ask me how I know!) if it’s not caught and corrected soon. Seeking outside help could be a lifesaver here.

    Good luck!

  100. Dumpster Fire*

    OP, your boss is giving you an opportunity to admit that you have some issues that can and should be dealt with. It sounds to me as though, if you begin to deal with them, then he probably doesn’t have to fire you at this point. If you choose not to deal with them, and instead keep insisting that your company and your co-workers and your boss are the cause of all your problems, then your boss will have the right (and, tbh, the obligation – to your co-workers and company) to decide that you simply aren’t a good fit for the role that you’re currently in. Take the leave and get some help before leaving isn’t a choice but an order.

  101. Hailey Ukulele*

    OP, I hope that you find yourself a better working environment soon. Until then, since you’re working from home, can you distract yourself a bit during these meetings by doing something else in the background? I too have early meetings with a group that is tough to handle, and the shift to working from home has been helpful because I can split my screen between the meeting and, say, a crossword puzzle. If word games aren’t your distraction jam, maybe something tactile, like doodling or knitting, can take you out of the moment enough to lessen the mental impact while still allowing you to listen enough to join in as called upon? As for being late… well, for some, 8 am is simply contrary to their natural time clock. Until you find a job that works more with your own circadian rhythm, can you shave a few minutes somewhere to help you arrive closer to on-time? Maybe prepare your coffee/tea/wake-up ritual of choice the night before, or shorten your morning routine so you’re as close to rolling out of bed and immediately signing in as possible. But most importantly, try to be gentle with yourself, and know that this is not your forever job, just the job of the moment.

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