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Career Impact from North Bay Fire Lingers On

Dear Coach Joan,

The fire might have happened a full year ago, but it continues to impact my life and my work. Our family home burned down, we lost everything, and we’re still dealing with the insurance company and builders, not sure we can even afford to rebuild. Living in temporary housing is another stress in my life.

The problem is that I am not as productive or focused at work as I would like to be. Timing is bad as my supervisor is leaving to retire in a few months.  For the past five years I’ve assumed I’d be promoted to his position when he left, but now I’m not so sure. I’m afraid to talk to my manager or HR as they act like the fire was a long time ago, and I’m afraid they would see me as weak and not worthy of the promotion if I tell them I feel distracted and stressed out.

Very concerned and hoping you have some helpful ideas.

Thank you,



Dear Michelle,

I am so sorry for your losses, and I want to assure you that you are not the only one in our community who continues to experience the fallout from the fire. As you know, I am a coach, not a psychologist, but I’ve read that it can take years for some people to fully rebound from a trauma. And in your case, you continue to live in uncertainty, which is very stressful.

I highly recommend that you get outside psychological support. You have strong self awareness, and if you sense that your productivity and focus are impaired, you have a right to be concerned. You do not want to miss out on a strategic career opportunity!

Michelle, please refer to my earlier blog post for information on this topic here.

The good news is that there are professionals who can help you, and you can keep it private from your employer. In fact, in our community we have places like the Jewish Free Clinic that provide services for fire victims just like you! (And as their name suggests, the services can be FREE!)  You can also go through your own physician to get a referral, but I would like all readers to know that there are free services available in our community for fire victims.

You might be experiencing anxiety or depression that is sapping your energy and distracting you from your normal focus and  performance at work. You might need therapy, medication, stress relief activities, or other things.

You also might find that a professional psychologist can suggest a way for you to work with your employer to give you the time and understanding you need for recovery.

Michelle, you have been a professional for many years and now, through no fault of your own, you are impacted by a mental health problem. It is a valid and real problem, and it can be addressed. Hopefully, you will get the support you need to get your work performance back on track.

Onward in your healing, and hoping to hear that you earn your promotion.


Coach Joan Tabb

Please send your career questions to me at:

[email protected]

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