I Wasn’t Laid Off (Yet). So Why Am I Depressed?

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It’s been one of those weeks. It started out crazy, then got insane, and finally spun out of control. The work load is driving us mad, and when I walk the corridors I see my colleagues look pooped.

That is, except for the ones who are leaving. They look refreshed, rejuvenated and positively sparkly. Like someone spiked their decafs with Vicodin.

Earlier this year, my company announced layoffs. They came in waves. First, a bunch of jobs were outright eliminated. Then they asked for big chunks of volunteers. Finally a few more jobs were cut. We’re not totally sure the tsunami’s over, but we think we see the waters receding.

Among the folks who are leaving, the ones who volunteered are, unsurprisingly, the ones who seem happiest. They chose to go. They’ve got other plans. They’re looking ahead.

Call me addled or naive, but even the ones whose jobs were taken away seem a little lighter in the step.

Some people say getting canned is a new start. I always thought they’re the glass-half-full people, the ones who tell you things happen for a reason, that some higher power must have a plan. Oh, yeah? That’s garbage talk. Just ask the 13,000 at Chrysler or 700 at Nokia or 250 at MTV whose layoffs were announced this week. Ask the 133,818 the Bureau of Labor Statistics says lost their jobs in layoffs in December.

If management hadn’t launched that stupid product no one wants or blown billions on that useless acquisition or paid a staggering severance to that fraudulent bomb of a CEO, we’d all be bustling away at our desks until Social Security kicks in. The higher powers can’t balance the books, and now it’s our problem.

But I’ve been reading the press materials for Fired!, a new movie by Annabelle Gurwitch, an actress whose career-defining moment came when she was canned by Woody Allen. She really did make lemonade, seems like: she took a lousy situation, yanked at her bootstraps and made a film. Talk about clever career management, too: she talked to all sorts of names in her industry–Tim Allen, Sarah Silverman, Robert Reich (Robert Reich?)–about their own experiences getting booted. She’s casting boldface names and networking too.

In my office, those of us who got to keep our jobs (at least for now) seem leaden at the moment. I have my theories.

1. We’re depressed by the departure of longtime, beloved work friends.

2. Layoffs take a psychological toll on the “survivors.”

3. With the staff count lightened, our own work loads are suddenly heavier.

Tomorrow is the final day at work for many of my colleagues, and the send-off will likely turn boozy and teary. I’m too depressed to go. That, and I’ve got too much work.