I am on an incredibly low salary for my skills and my Managing Director (MD), who I report to directly, has not seen fit to give me a pay rise in the last 4 years I have worked there due to my amount of sick leave, caused by my depressive episodes I have. I suppose I am lucky that I still have a job in many ways and I do appreciate his patience but financially I am a mess due to this low pay. I have even had to move to a shared house to reduce my rent payments just to have enough cash to eat.

I have approached my MD about a pay rise several times in the last 8 months but to no avail. Each time I am told we will talk about it when you have not had a day off sick in 3 months, but with the financial stress I have not managed to do this yet. There was no written agreement, only spoken ones.

It really is a chicken and egg situation and however hard I try to explain my mental health and how my depression works to he never seems to sink in. Also, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to work with my MD, as he is constantly blaming me for issues I have no control over or third party problems.

Is there any way I can convince him that increasing my salary now to reduce my financial stress will work out in the long term? I would even accept a written agreement of this, but I am sure that will be hard work. Even a small pay rise as an interim measure would help. Please note although I know there are no indispensable people in business my role in the company makes me as close to that as is possible as only I know all the work rounds and tricks to get our crappy systems to work.


I have thought about finding a new position but as many understand the IT business is hard work to get into these days especially at my age if you have no qualifications and a checkered job history with large gaps due to depression.

Some background:

I am a 50 year old IT guy, no real specializations so classify myself as a bit of a Jack of all trades. I have worked as a hardware engineer fixing both PC's, servers and other peripherals such as printers. During this time I picked up lots of little bits and pieces of knowledge but have never really got round to completing any recognised qualifications other than COMPTIA A+ although I would consider myself to be at least MCSA (ish).

I have been working for a supplier of musical goods who delivers to schools, institutions and the general public via websites, phone and other channels.

Along with my normal IT related tasks I am also the general dogsbody for anything others cannot or are unwilling to do, so I look after the CCTV system, managed the phone system and paint offices etc.

I have also been fighting biological depression for the last 10 or so years after being finally diagnosed and the treatments are working but its a long process.

  • 43
    Except when at a company with a fixed, iron-clad salary schedule based on time on the job, every significant raise I have ever received in my career has been when switching jobs—even to the tune of 30-40%! Please, please, please find a new job if you possibly can.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 23:34
  • 6
    Given that you seem to have a medical professional to consult, calling your boss your MD is very confusing. What does MD stand for in your post?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 9:27
  • 9
    @nvoigt Managing Director?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 12:09
  • 2
    "(How) should I bring up personal factors when asking for a raise?" would've been a reasonable question, but this posts seems a bit far between "we're not your therapist" and "we can't make this decision for you" to be on topic. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 14:14
  • 1
    Your boss may be using "sick leave" as an excuse to deny you the raise right now, but I strongly suspect the real answer is "we don't have the budget to give you a substantial raise" (or possibly "I'm a jerk who never gives raises.") Even if you made it 3 months without taking a day off, I expect he'd just come up with a new reason to deny your request. Moving on really is your best bet. Do the job hunt before you quit this place, so you've still got money coming in until you're ready to leave.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 12:19

14 Answers 14


I think Laurent's commentary is essentially correct, but doesn't really give you an answer.

If you're being treated for your depression (lucky you, many suffer in silence!), then you should talk with your counsellor about this who may be able to give you some support and resources to explore - or at least give you some coping mechanisms.

It's clear that you should really leave your current job behind and move on - you're probably never going to improve your salary more than a very small amount while you're there.

Explore your options and maybe try doing something entirely different. Work with your counsellor, and also explore local support groups and how people also cope.

You are most certainly not alone in this - people have gone through the same situation and come out of the other side - learn from them as they're there for you...!

  • 1
    Always learning about my condition and situation. I suppose one of my main problems is being too trusting of people.
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:42
  • 76
    @Kuulmonk "we will talk about it when you have not had a day off sick in 3 months" you're being used. Please, find a new job. Trust actions, don't trust words when they're never backed up by actions.
    – Jonast92
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 10:27
  • 5
    +1 because of the part about considering doing 'something entirely different'. It sounds like you have a very diverse career history and a range of skill sets, and although it may not seem like it when you're competing in a field like IT, in the right industry this is a strength :)
    – Candlejack
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:06
  • 1
    Regarding switching jobs: The UK has rather strong protections against firing employees who worked a significant time at a company. To a 50 year old with depression that provides a strong disadvantage when looking for a new job. The new employer has a strong incentive to fire them after just a little less than 12 months if things don't work out. Being aware of this and having depression is a bad combo.
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 20:23
  • 2
    @Pharap They can call out being fired from their current job as unfair dismissal, because they have proven to be competent enough at what they do to stay there for at least 4 years. But if they get fired from a new job during the first year, assuming a competent HR, any court action has near zero chance of success.
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 17:58

General Info

You're in the UK, so I think you'd find it helpful to look into the Equality Act. This law is designed to prevent discrimination based on a disability, which depression can count as depending on how it affects you. You may be covered if you answer yes to all of these questions:

  1. Do I have a mental or physical health impairment?
  2. Is it long-term (meaning lasting more than 12 months or likely to do so)?
  3. Does it have a more than minor adverse effect my day-to-day living, if I discount my treatment or medication?

Source for more information.

If you are covered be the equality act, "employers have a duty to change their procedures and remove the barriers you face because of your disability so you can work and apply for jobs in the same way as someone who's not disabled."

This includes ignoring "any absences in your last job which are disability-related" during a recruitment process - so you may find it easier to look for a new job than you think.

Speak to Citizens Advice (free by web chat, phone, and in person) to see if they can advise you on whether tying a pay increase to sick days counts as discrimination and how you can proceed if it is.

Specific Advice

You've mentioned that you're aware of the general information already, so I'm going to add a little more - you might already know all this, but I hope there is something helpful. This bit is much more opinion based, and my opinion is not an expert one.


See if you can think up any adjustments that may be helpful at work. Focus at this point on what you might find helpful, not on what you think your employer might find reasonable. Can you get any suggestions from a therapist, your GP, or a support group? (You might not qualify for therapy on the NHS, but your GP may be able to recommend a local private option - some charge based on your income.)

My own thoughts:

  • No out of hours working - you're not paid for this anyway, and more time for activities you find soothing can be helpful
  • Flexible working - rather than cutting down on your hours outside of work, start counting them towards your time working. Should you be getting paid more just in terms of you number of hours you work?
  • No interruptions during your lunch break - a little time for something soothing may help you face the day
  • More paid breaks - that also can't be interrupted
  • Agreeing on a written plan for pay advancement - you may have a better chance of getting one from your boss by discussing it as a reasonable adjustment.


See if you can get any specific advice on what might count as a reasonable adjustment. Mind list some sources of advice here - I notice in particular the Law Centres Network and LawWorks. Try to see if your boss requiring no sick leave before considering a pay increase is legal. I would also discuss the way he has told you to pull yourself together and stop being an idiot, that is clearly unacceptable.


Take your thoughts on adjustments to your boss. See if you can discuss them in terms of being beneficial to his business. He also wants to see you able to cope with work; I don't know what discussions you've had with him already, but he might be more open to adjustments than you think.


You mentioned your MD blames you for things beyond your control. Make sure you document these cases somewhere in case you need to defend yourself later.

I realise much of this is tangential to your question, but I've bolded parts that directly address increased pay. I've included the rest in the hope it's helpful generally or in the longer term.

  • 2
    I have spent a lot of time searching for these sort of things, but there is little i can do. There really is little the company can do to accommodate my depression, reduced hours just means reduced pay and work piles up. I can honestly say i rarely get a full lunch break, something breaks and i have to fix it "NOW" is the normal routine.
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 10:06
  • 2
    Its hard to get any help these days for minor mental health issues, which unfortunately is how my condition is scaled. I have spoken to several advisors in the last few months, none of whom have had anything constructive to say. I did try reduced hours, but he cut my pay by that number of hours so lost more money that way. It looks like i will just have to "suck it up" as the yanks would say.
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:07
  • 7
    This answer is what you are looking for. I happen to work for an IT company with rather large presence in the UK and my position is fairly close to the HR. And if what you say is not overly biased, hell would break loose in our company (and the UK branch is not exactly known to be treating employees super-well) as this would be a discrimination case waiting to happen. Remember, the HR is not your friend, the HR is there to protect your employer but more often than not, the employer needs protection primarily from themselves. So it may be worth checking with them.
    – Eleshar
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 20:59
  • 3
    This might turn out to a grievance case and particularly if it turned out also that the depression is actually compounded by work-related stress, the HR will definitely care because if you took them to the courts it might prove to be very nasty business for them.
    – Eleshar
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 21:02
  • 2
    To fix your lunch breaks can you leave the office/building. A short walk and some fresh air may help break up the day
    – MattP
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 8:28

The problem with striking up an agreement with your current employer is that the agreement could be changed at any time.

I agree you should explore other employment, but that doesn't necessarily mean a completely new and different full-time position.

Freelance or contract work can give you the opportunity to earn extra money, while still maintaining the stability of a full-time job. You'd also have the benefit of diversification -- not all of your income would be in one employer's basket.

Don't ignore or overlook the benefits of your current work situation -- although your pay is stagnant, you have a flexible schedule and somewhat understanding employer (as far as your health issues are concerned).

Although freelancing may be more work in the beginning in finding clients, you have the advantage of setting your own schedule that complements your full-time work.

You may find that the extra freelance income will give you greater leverage in future negotiations with your current employer.

  • One real problem with this sort of work is i need a stable income, plus i have no car at the moment (the perils of being a field engineer and being made redundant)
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:41
  • @Kuulmonk Yes, this would require some up-front work and investment, but you would in this way control your own fate to some degree, rather than be completely dependent on your current employer. The problem with striking up an agreement with your current employer is that the agreement could be changed at any time. As far as transportation goes, there are many more opportunities now for remote Ops/Sysadmin than there used to be, so it's possible that you could do a significant amount from home.
    – mcknz
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:47
  • 28
    +1 because you point out that the current arrangement is not that bad - extended absences can really hurt a small business unit and the fact that they are working around the OP's needs is important too.
    – user45269
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 16:32
  • 2
    @Kuulmonk the other thing that's stated here is that this answer doesn't suggest you leave your current job immediately, but instead use some of the flexibility it provides to do freelance in your downtime. This is something I've done in the past and it works very well for both the budget and self-confidence.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 12:26
  • Personally I wouldn't call someone who says "we'll give you a raise when you haven't had a sick day in 3 months" an 'understanding' person.
    – Pharap
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 15:06

Did you just thinkabout finding a new position, or did you try and fail? Cause from where I see it, it seems to be the best solution. I see very few chances that you're going to finally convince him to give you a bigger salary, as he probably already knows you deserve more.

Obviously, your employer doesn't respect you despite your attempts to explain the situation to him. Don't see the fact you're still employed there as a chance: it's obviously not something he does out of empathy, the reason being probably that he knows he needs you despite your many medical leaves. He's also probably very happy to have such a valuable employee for a limited salary. He probably also thinks, like you, that finding a new job is not really possible, and that's hopefully where he's wrong.

  • 1
    Well, I understand this quite long and broad question, especially with the edit, as "what should I do, leave or continue trying to convince him". Therefore my advice to leave, with some points supporting it. But I admit I hesitted to flag the question too as it was not 100% clear if that was the underlying question.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:30
  • Trouble is apart from the stress of working for some one as miserly as this when it comes to IT i love the rest of the staff, all who appreciate my efforts to keep the company running. OK, i do get some stick from the warehouse guys, but i take it on the chin and as they do treat it like a joke most of the time.
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 16:02
  • Also, if you do get a job offer with better pay, you can use that to negotiate a pay rise with your current employer. But before you decide to stay, consider that a new job could help you acquire new skills, which puts you a better bargaining position for the future.
    – mhwombat
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:21

If you are actually hard for your current company to replace (which may well be the case, otherwise they'd find a way to fire you already), then you'll have good negotiating power once you're prepared to leave. Start looking for a new job, and once you find something decent (given your circumstances, I'm having a hard time imagining a job that isn't) ask your boss whether they prefer to give you a raise or let you go. Or, if you feel the new place is better, just change jobs.

  • 1
    I like this answer, since superiors don't react to speculations about quitting. Unless you already have a job offer from elsewhere and have a resignation document ready, it's all just empty threats and warrants no action. But when you do, they usually have to pick one of at least three alternatives: let you go, give you a raise or try to persuade you to stay without a raise ("call your bluff" as they'd put it). If they then won't give a raise, you should quit and never look back.
    – user62210
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:48
  • 2
    I think this is the best advice - but I wouldn't bother asking the old boss for a raise once you have found the new job - just go. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 10:33
  • @MartinBonner The OP claims he will be hard to replace, so he may be doing his boss a favor if he stays and gets a raise. Of course, whether his boss actually deserves such a favor is up to him to decide. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:48
  • 1. I don't think the boss does. 2. Once you have mentally got as far as going to an interview, you rapidly start detaching yourself from your old company, and note all the other thinks you didn't like about it; by the time you have a firm offer, it's too late. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:52
  • I would also go with this answer. I'd also ask the question are the money troubles the only issues affecting the OPs mental health. More money may ease troubles outside of work but it won't ease the pressure of the job itself, usually it will result in more responsibilities and more pressure.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 12:12

(I'm not sure if this is worthy of being its own answer, but it doesn't seem to fit the comments either.)

OP: you said in a comment that you work "long into the night" sometimes to get updates and things finished and that these are unpaid. Have you kept track of these hours? Perhaps you could show that you work more than your boss thinks, just at unusual hours.

I work in a flexible job so if I worked an extra 4 hours one day I would work 4 hours less another day once things slowed down. As they are not paying you for it, it wouldn't help the financial side much, but it may help the "no sick days for 3 months, then we can talk about raises" part.

For example: Say you take 16 hours in sick days off (2 days?) but work a total of about 16 hours of unpaid and unrecorded overtime. If you keep a clear record of this and present it to your boss, perhaps it would prompt him to discuss a raise with you.

  • A point to go with this, if the pay is that limited and there are a lot of extra hours being done then the OP might be working for less than the minimum hourly rate which would be illegal for the company.
    – Kickstart
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 7:38

There's being pretty good answers so far, but I would like to point out some new perspective over your case.

In my experience, no company supports a underperfoming employee for too long. In other words, you are competent enough to deserve your job, maybe not a raise right now, but whatever you do there is relevant enough to keep your position. You said that yourself, although not indispensable, the work you perform is important. You are not a charity case and the company needs you. Luck has nothing to do with this.

Now, about your financial problems. Unless you are being in a semi-slavery job with a extreme low pay, your financial problems probably have more to do with the way you spend your money than with your salary.

While constantly blaming your low salary for your financial crisis, you could be neglecting the real problem. Maybe you are trying to maintain a lifestyle that does not correspond to the financial reality you have right now.

You surely need to consider reinforce your financial knowledge in order to keep the health of your finances. You could start by tracking all of your expenses and sort them in order of priority and relevancy. That should give you a clear panorama of where your money is going and then you could act on it in order to get back the control over it.

You could also read books about how to keep the finances in order or even take courses about it. If you don't improve your financial education, there's no raise on this earth that is going to help you.


1 This may be more of a medical problem than a workplace problem

2 It may sound cruel but people earn money based on their productivity

This is "not fair" but you should consider do you feel that considering your sick leave you are really underpaid(do not use linear scaling since that is not how your productivity for company works). If so looking for work elsewhere may be better option. But this brings us to first point: looking for a job considering your medical condition is not just about money, your new boss may be more mean to you, more demanding, more stress...


As most answers already said : you should be thankfull that your employers have let you keep the job, however looking for a new one will probably help you get into a better situation.

To add a slightly different point of view: Changing your job may (possibly) help you for your depression. A change in lifestyle and work to do something you enjoy more can be very beneficial.

If you have had a line of work or a project you want to finish, this could be an opportunity to get to it and have more fun than in your current work that apparently stresses you out.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is just an idea, I do not guarantee how much this can affect your well-being.

  • They do say a change is as good as a rest. I expect one problem is i have not had a proper holiday since i joined the company. The constant stress, work and lack of any form of social life has probably contributed to my "burning out".
    – Kuulmonk
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 10:03
  • well depending on your finantial situation, you could take a couple of weeks/months of holidays before starting something new, I'm changing jobs next month and they've allowed me to start 3 weeks after the end of my current contract to relax a bit and go see my family. You just have to organize it ! Good luck !
    – everyone
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 12:54

I would second Pete's solution: talk to your counselor.

I'm someone who tends to give tough love, so forgive me if it isn't what you were looking for.

The tough part comes first. There's a reason the word is "disability." It affects your ability to do a task. If you've had the same conversation many times with your MD for the last 8 months, and it's always come back with "we'll talk after you have 3 months without a sick day," that's a very strong indicator that your MD feels you are not able to meet the job requirements. The fact that the story isn't changing tells me they're dissatisfied enough to not even try to work with you on it.

If you're a quadruple amputee, you probably shouldn't get a mountain climbing job. Right? That's the nature of having a "disability." Well, generally speaking this is a good rule. That being said, if you really have that desire in your soul to overcome, do so with such a great ferocity of spirit as to overcome any physical obstacle. (I do love Kyle Maynard's spirit. He's worth the 11 minutes of your life to listen to. Click the link!)

The tricky part of that message is that that ferocious spirit is hard to come by. It's especially hard to come by if you suffer from a mental health issue such as bipolar disorder. If your passion is climbing mountains, maybe it's worth spending your spirit on that. If it's just an IT job, you make the decision as to whether it is worth applying such spirit to your job. It's only a job (unless you truly feel otherwise). It is always desirable to have a ferocious spirit for living life, and if spending some of that spirit on your job makes you hate life, skip the job and enjoy life instead. Make sure your life comes first, job comes second.

So can I recommend whether you should apply such a spirited approach to your job? No. I don't know enough about the nature of your job strees. I don't know enough about your medical history. Even if you did publish your medical history on the internet (hint: don't!), I personally couldn't do anything with it because I am not a trained medical provider with the experience to take the cold hard words written down in your medical file and heal the human behind behind them.

Your counselor does have this knowledge, and they do have these skills. They literally choose to make a living out of healing the humans behind the numbers. They may be able to help you work things out with your MD and get them to be more compassionate. They may be able to help you find a new job. Even more important, they will be able to help you figure out whether you want to stay in your existing job or move to a new job. And from what I have been told, they love working with those who seek to kindle that ferocious spirit for life.

Talk with them. They are in the best position to help set you straight.

  • 1
    Clinical depression and "great ferocity of spirit" are not compatible. It's like telling a guy in a wheelchair he should run faster.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 16:53
  • 1
    @oerkelens I leave it to the OP and their counselor to decide if the op is capable of great ferocity or not. I won't suggest the mountain is unclimable due to their disability, because that isn't my place. I will, however, be frank about what the mountain looks like. It is steep.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 19:23
  • 1
    Under UK law, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for illnesses and disabilities. Obviously, there is no reasonable accommodation that will allow a quadruple amputee to be a mountaineering guide but that's a hyperbolic example that has nothing to do with the actual situation. Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 20:25
  • 1
    @oerkelens With the right treatment some people manage to supress their depression, at which point they can feel almost normal and some most certainly could show 'great ferocity of spirit' under the right circumstances.
    – Pharap
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 15:35

Is there any way I can convince him that increasing my salary now to reduce my financial stress will work out in the long term?

If I understand this question correctly, you are asking for a raise even though you don't deserve it, because you claim later on you will deserve it. Things don't work that way in the business world: You get paid for what you do and what you have proved, not for what you didn't do or hope to do.

At the risk of sounding cruel, buckle up and stop taking off from work when you feel depressed - that will do a great deal to help your depression, and also get you your raise: "Biological Depression" may be a result, not a cause - there is evidence to support that idea.

Regardless, using "biological depression" as an excuse for one's deficiencies is in no way productive. Everyone has difficulties, some far worse than yours and more difficult to overcome, from terrible allergies to congenital blindness to dyslexia, and everything in between: Successful people learn how to adjust and prevail over their deficiencies - the examples are endless. Unfortunately, therapists, like almost every other professional we deal with in our lives, are there to make money, not necessarily to help you with all the appropriate advice.

Along with my normal IT related tasks I am also the general dogsbody for anything others cannot or are unwilling to do... paint offices etc...

You may be hurting your own cause by doing that:

You believe you are making yourself more valuable to the firm, and perhaps you find that necessary because of your absences and acknowledged lack of very many credentials - that is understandable enough, and objectively speaking it is laudable.

Unfortunately, what happens in the workplace is not usually so kind and idealistic. You may actually be unwittingly cheapening yourself: "IT guy? He's a maintenance guy too - knows a little bit about everything and not very much about anything. I saw him painting the other day - let's ask him to take out the trash and clean the bathrooms after everybody goes home..." (That is all honest work, and I don't mean to demean those who do such work - they are hard-working, valuable people. But it's not your work.)

Shine at your assigned role and leave the rest for those whose job it is. That's how you highlight your own particular value.

  • 2
    Please do not claim that you know everything about depression because of your experience. It is very unscientific and cruel considering that what did not work for you may help others. Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 12:20
  • @NoSenseEtAl : I did not "claim to know everything about depression". Nor is there anything "unscientific" or "cruel" about pointing out a woefully inconvenient truth that may be quite apropos here: The Truth Isn't Mean - It's just the Truth - Andrew Breitbart
    – Vector
    Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 22:01

Depression is serious business. DO NOT make the mistake of underestimating it.

A big effect is filling your head with false data, making you prioritize false data over true, failing to notice accurate data, or reach wrong conclusions from good data. This goes well beyond "the glass is half empty". It's more like "why doesn't she like me" when she does.

This can hugely affect your performance in life and job. If your job is doing doing orbital insertion trajectories - sure, you can probably still get good answers because that is pure hard science with one answer. But what if your job is counseling students on career paths?

This endless stream of data lies to you so effectively, and seems so real in key moments. You have to constantly bust the game: "No, it's not too late to go." "No, it's not the economy." And you must always, scrupulously search for facts that are more accurate than the facts you "know".

This is a human condition, and it's not just a brain defect. The human brain is optimized for one thing. And it ain't happiness.

Frankly, internal lying isn't just for depressed people; there's little regard for truth these days in politics for instance.

Be accountable

More than "tell the truth and keep your word".

It's about operating from a foundation of truth. When you have a squabble with a coworker and it's all their fault but it's actually kinda your fault on several fronts... you need to be cognizant of that in an accurate way.

When you are wrong, you need to know exactly what areas you are wrong, and exactly what areas you are not. This is to stop allowing depression to reduce it to "well I'm just terrible". It's so you can own up to consequences -- and can learn from, and change, the right things. Otherwise you don't know what went wrong, consequences seem arbitrary and random, which is very frustrating... you try to correct in all the wrong ways, it doesn't work, and it makes you frightened to try anything at all.

Don't just aim for normal

You need to train a lot to break bad habits or make good ones. Counseling is nice, but you can't seriously expect to make material improvements working 1 hour a week out of 168. That means following counselor advice the rest of your time. Structure can help a lot with depression.

I had the opportunity to work with very brilliant and productive people. The habits they recommend sounded like what counselors recommend! I arrived at a theory: Imagine a scale of 1 to 10.

Very Depressed           Normal          Extremely effective

A counselor isn't trying to make you powerful. She is aiming for "5", and is used to "settling in" for a long slow journey. Visionary people and life coaches are aiming for "10", and want to get you there as fast as possible.

The physical world

Of course it's not as simple as that. Counselors have a lot of tools specifically to treat depression that high achievers/coaches don't have. Not least, medical treatments. The people working in that field are very proud of their work, but they're just scratching the surface of what there is to learn. For instance, there is no brain-scan, DNA analysis or blood test to determine which of several SSRI's will be effective for you (if any at all). It is guesswork and observation.

Traditional or alternative medical practices such as traditional Chinese medicine sometimes have solutions, and usually can't hurt and might help.

Separate from that, mind conditioning such as meditation is extremely helpful, as the training quells the chatty stream of consciousness that every mind creates. Having your mind be able to be still helps a lot.

A variation are mindful body-exercises such as Yoga or Qi Gong or Tai Chi (as kundalini exercise) -- of course, you must do the mind part of the exercise, it defeats the purpose to wave your arms around, fail to run the energy, and let mind run amok on daily frustrations.

An even more honest variation are internal martial arts such as Tai Chi (as martial art), Ba Qua or Aikido which do not rely on raw strength but are powered by mindfulness and awareness. It tests your focus and discipline very honestly - either you succeed in tests or sparring, or you don't.

Even separate from that, physical exercise for cardiovascular health and toning of muscles is helpful.

Have a plan/vision

A great curse of modern living is our brain no longer has much to do. Our forebears have built this great society, where food, water, shelter, the core necessities for survival, are readily achievable for almost everyone. So what next? Minds abhor idling.

Many visions of utopian societies call for human beings following higher pursuits - as thinkers, artists, technologists -- life is supposed to be easy. Unfortunately nobody really shepherds us into that. Well, actually a lot of people do, and all the most prominent are selling "opiates of the mind" - television, Facebook, TV Tropes, World of Warcraft, the liquor store. They make shockingly small amounts of money by sucking you in - they call it "engagement".

A master plan for your life tears you away from those very cheap distractions and puts you on focus. If you work with a counselor or life coach, it also gives you clear benchmarks to aim for and hit.

Depression is hard. You can't just snap your fingers and not be depressed. You have to work really hard to overcome medical influences, self-defeating thinking, habits and distractions. A lot is just doing the right thing anyway - as I've heard it said, "fake it til you make it".

Back to that job

It's easy to think of a job as only being to supply your life needs. If you think in a highly accountable (and a bit American) way, you realize that for your employer, a job is actually about creating economic value for the company. You figure first there's your salary (duh). In western economies, benefits, taxes and employee costs (management, HR) can be as much as your salary (more if you're underpaid). That much again for the infrastructure cost of your workplace, desk, computer, network it's on, security, reception, you name it. So rule of thumb: you must bring in 3x your salary in bookable revenue for employing you to make any sense at all. Realistically a company won't survive unless a lot of employees are bringing in 10X.

So ask yourself: For this company, how can I increase my value and indispensability? What can I do to either bring in a lot of revenue, or show how I already am (without lying)? And an employer is a great framework in which to perform new skills and accountability.

Ultimately your boss doesn't care about sick days, he "dumbed it down" for you. What he cares about is bookable revenue: your actions creating wealth for the company.


What are we dealing with here?

  1. You are absent regularly, but your employer does not fire you.
  2. You feel being paid too little.
  3. You get blamed for things you are not responsible of.
  4. You work too long without getting paid.

I'd say, you have two options: either you stay or either you go.

When you want to go, I'm advising you to get a career coach because, honestly, saying you have picked up pieces of knowledge and being MCSA(ish), not one single employer will hire you when you say it like this.

When you want to stay, there are several thing which need to change, because at first sight your MD has a point:
I read from your question that you work as a support IT engineer. This means that, in case something goes wrong with the IT equipment, you're the one who needs to solve the issues. Regularly something goes wrong with that equipment, due to third-party errors, and you believe this gets you off the hook (I didn't cause the error, so I'm innocent).
I'm really sorry but it does not work like that: as a support engineer it's not your job to explain why things are not working. It's your job to get them working, despite the errors!
How can you achieve this? I propose you to do a monitoring of the equipment (diskspace, network connections, regular diagnostics, ...), so you can act pro-actively (I once contacted a user of a server about one of the file-systems being at more than 95%, he was astonished that I was monitoring his machine, and on another occasion I had a user who didn't want to do something about it, so I contacted my direct boss saying that if anything would go wrong with the server, the responsibility was up to that user, you can't believe the speed the user changed his attitude).

Stop working too long without getting paid.
Ok, you might need some time to set up the diagnostics I just mentioned,
but as far as the updates and utilities are concerned: Ok you do that during the night and you come to work in the morning just in case there is an issue, but you must be able to take a leave for recuperating the hours you worked during the night.

Good luck


Here is a completely different angle for you to consider. It may be a completely useless suggestion, but could also transform your life.

Since you say that your depression is biological, it is possible that it is rooted in a gene defect governing some important metabolic pathway in the body. Many people who have what most would assume is a mental disorder have significant or amazing improvement in their conditions after mitigating for the problems revealed through genetic testing.

You can get genetic testing done at a site like 23 and me (sorry, I don't know of genetic testing companies in the UK, but you can research this). Either do just the Ancestry service, then get your genetic data and upload it to a site like Genetic Genie, or do the more expensive Health & Ancestry service (though you can still use Genetic Genie or another provider, there are several). Please research this, though, as it seems their offerings have changed since I last researched it thoroughly, and you want to be sure that you'll get what you expect. Based on the prices, you may need to do the Health & Ancestry service in either case.

For example, a woman with inherited anxiety of disabling and destructive degree, who was completely unhelped by therapy, found through genetic testing that she had an (inherited) double MTHFR gene defect. Under a specialist's care, by avoiding certain foods containing folate and taking a methylfolate supplement, she almost completely resolved her anxiety issues which had plagued her and was destroying her family. Here is an example story—similar, but not identical to the one I read about. Some web searches will reveal lots of talk about this possible connection.

It may be a long shot and I know you are short on money for the test and for any special medical care to follow up on the results, but considering how life-changing it could be, how could you not check it out?

If you started a GoFundMe site to pay for the genetic testing and any subsequent medical care, I would probably even contribute, myself.

To My Detractors

I am not advocating the avoidance of honest self-inquiry, nor suggesting skimping on copious amounts of hard work. If there is progress to made through self-improvement efforts such as going to therapy, joining support groups, or reading relevant books, then do all those things!

But if there is truly a biological basis for the OP's depression as he has claimed, what reason do you have to doubt him? Are you psychology experts, now, able to diagnose complete strangers after reading a couple of hundred words they wrote?

Or is it that you doubt? You don't think that genetic defects in genes governing key metabolic pathways could ever cause depression? Are you all genetics experts, too? Had you ever even heard of MTHFR or COMT? Are you aware of epigenetics—that two people with the same genes can have different genes expressed because of environmental factors? Or that these defects can be more about rates and thresholds than absolute switches, so that an issue can arise later in life after another health problem has stressed the body in some way and put demand on the key pathway?

The OP wants to know "How to get a raise I am denied to because of sick leaves." My answer is an objectively realizable path that could achieve his goal. He pays $200 to do genetic testing. He discovers he has a heterozygous defect in a couple of important genes. He visits a doctor familiar with these issues and begins supplementing with vitamins, plus avoiding a few foods. The depression is cut in half in intensity and duration, it becomes easier to manage, he reduces his amount of sick leave by 75%, and is able to get the raise he needs.

Or, it doesn't work, or he doesn't have a defect. So then he moves on to another strategy to manage and defeat the problems in his life.

If you downvote, please leave a comment with what objective reason you're doing so for—and include your thoughts on genetic defects.

If you're just ignorant, go educate yourself before you vote. But if you have objective information that shows my answer to be poor, please share it so that everyone can learn! Don't be afraid I'll revenge doenvote you—I won't. Do be afraid I'll be checking and contesting any objective claims you make that upon investigation appear to be flawed...

  • Was the last chapter really necessary? None of your "detractors" explained the downvote, so I'm not sure what is the point of writing to them.
    – user27051
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 7:21
  • @Magicsowon There was an objectionable comment which has since been deleted, which gave me insight into the likely mindset of downvoters to my answer. Consider that the second part, if it doesn't hit home, isn't for you. It's only for those that it hits home to.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 17:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .