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I started at my new job about a week ago as a web developer.

I simply love the place and the people are super caring and wonderful. I have already been given a project with a set deadline like normal procedures run.

However I left my previous company because I was never allowed to take my leave which put me in the state of complete mental exhaustion. I have in fact not taken a single day leave since I started working 5 years ago. I am at the point now where I cannot continue, Its even a struggle simply driving to work, I find myself taking quick burst naps when traffic is at standstill.

How do I deal with this without my new employer losing trust in me?

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    You really should have started your new jobs a week or two after leaving the previous one to get that R&R. Try and keep that in mind for next time; "after two weeks of vacation to recover" is a perfectly okay answer to the question "when can you start?". – Erik Nov 8 '17 at 7:41
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    "I find myself taking quick burst naps when traffic is at standstill" - while you're the driver? Look, I know the usual caveats about 'someone on the internet said', and I am NOT a doctor, BUT - this very much sounds like an underlying health issue which you need to get looked at urgently. Falling asleep while driving is a classic symptom of sleep apnea, and you're not going to be able to hold down any job with that untreated. – AakashM Nov 8 '17 at 8:54
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    @AakashM, Im sorry I forgot to mention, it is while I am driving. I have not heard about sleep apnea before, but reading the symptoms, it seems like they very closely relate to how I feel. Thank you for this, I will check this out, I really appreciate this! – Philip Nov 8 '17 at 9:20
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    @TomW I am from South Africa, I have had a flu vaccine, but when I was still a baby, No way I can remember specifically what was used. I am sure the companies that prevented me from taking leave was infact breaking the law. But I tried to not burn any bridges and decided to move to new jobs if this was the case – Philip Nov 8 '17 at 9:30
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems like an issue better discussed with a doctor and/or therapist (apart from the obvious solution of taking some leave). Diet, exercise, sleep pattern, mid-day naps, etc. can be good ways to deal with exhaustion, but such suggestions seem beyond the scope of this site. – Bernhard Barker Nov 8 '17 at 12:39
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Book some leave.

You're in a new company now, so make that change in your life. You're in South Africa, you have a statutory entitlement to PTO, so take it.

Book something soon that doesn't infringe too much on your current project and get used to taking your entitled amount of leave.

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  • Thank you for your response, Would it be reasonable to request leave after only working for a week? I am not even sure I have accumulated any leave days in this time – Philip Nov 8 '17 at 7:31
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    Talk to your manager. Point out how little leave you had in your prior job and that you've had no break between your last job and this one. Putting the request in doesn't mean you have to take it right away, get it scheduled and then you have something to look forward to. – user44108 Nov 8 '17 at 7:33
  • Thank you @Snow, I guess there is no harm in booking leave even if it is only in a month from now or so. I will put in a request for my leave and see what they have to say. Thank you – Philip Nov 8 '17 at 7:35
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    couldn't agree more with this - even if the leave isn't going to actually be for a month or so just knowing that it's coming can provide a certain amount of relief in of itself - a "light at the end of the tunnel" as it were – motosubatsu Nov 8 '17 at 9:06
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How do I deal with this without my new employer loosing trust in me?

One of the ways you can reduce stress and anxiety is to learn the trick of leaving work at work. Lot's of folks leave work and either keep right on thinking about work or get home and continue working.

This is terrible for your health, both mental and physical. Be sure you are not taking your work home with you. I worked really hard at not doing this by using the door I leave work from as a mental switch to not think about work.

The other suggestion I would make is the next time you change jobs, adjust the start date and resignation dates such that you have a nice break between leaving your old job and starting a new one. (Yes, this advise is for the future)

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As someone who has experienced similar symptoms before - this sounds like burnout.

When this happened to me, I couldn't touch a computer for half a year.

I can't emphasize this enough: this is dangerous and can have a profound effect on both your mental and physical health. Unfortunately it's also pretty common.

I warmly recommend meditation* which can help you leave your office issues in the office and has had a positive impact on my wellbeing. I also recommend talking about this openly with your new boss - communicate what you're struggling with (and that you love the new work) and your fears.

Here are some things that helped me or other close friends when dealing with these issues:

  • Take some time off, you have the right idea - there is nothing problematic about taking time off as long as you're responsible about it and communicate it clearly.
  • Keep track of your working hours and work life balance actively and make sure work does not consume your life.
  • Get professional help from a therapist. I've been unable to do so unfortunately (though meditation helps) but it might be more accessible to you. Most people I know who work high stress jobs do this and if you can afford it I recommend it.
  • Working out has also been a great help, physical activity really helps clearing my head.
  • Leaning on friends is/was also very helpful.

It is important that you do not blame yourself or develop a feeling of guilt around this - this happens to a lot more developers than most are willing to admit. It's only when I started doing open source on big projects that I realized how common it is. As a reference I personally know at least 5 other Node.js core collaborators who struggled with this in the past year.

  • (I use headspace personally but perhaps there are better alternatives - it's just what works for me)
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