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Anxious at Work

  • 28-06-2020 11:03am
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭

    I’ve been on anti-depressants for the last year because of work-related stress causing my mental health to spiral. The plan was I’d be out of the job by now. I had savings built up to help me quit and build a freelancing career but with Covid, I didn’t quit as there’d be little to no work available for me.

    The last month, I’ve been having increasing physical symptoms of anxiety. I don’t feel anxious at work anymore but I think at this point, it’s all buried and manifesting physically.
    I don’t what to do other than talking to my GP about it.

    The physical pain (stomach pains, headaches and dizziness) can feel quite serious. Girls in work comment sometimes that I look pale and unwell, not knowing how ill I feel. I kept a food diary in case it was food-related and noticed it’s only during working hours and the first hour or so after I get home that I feel so ill. Physically I’m perfect on weekends but mentally, I find a lot of the anxiety comes out and I have panic attacks on-and-off all day Saturday.

    I’m looking for full-time jobs to change into in the meantime until I can focus on freelancing again but it might be 2021 when that happens at this stage.

    I don’t even know what advice anyone can give me (no medical advice wanted!) but sure look.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,689 ✭✭✭zoobizoo

    Hey OP,

    What is it about the job that's stressing you out? Or what was it that made you anxious?

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    There's a TLDR at the end for this.

    The whole place and the environment makes me anxious. Sometimes it's not even the tasks, it's just the fact that I'm there.

    I was put in a really bad situation in my job last year. I was absolutely overloaded with time-sensitive, high priority tasks when a colleague left. Looking back, I was too new and shouldn't have been given all the tasks I had but my own role depended on the other tasks getting done, so if they weren't complete then everything would have fallen apart and the consequences were serious.

    Originally, I'd been told they had someone new lined up to start in the job the following week, but the start date kept being pushed back until it was a couple of months later.

    I know I should have spoken up about it, but after a while I was so worn down that I couldn't think about how much I had to do without crying, never mind talk to anyone about it.

    My manager and colleagues walked in on me crying regularly in the office. My manager would ask me how to help and I'd give him an important time-sensitive task that I knew he could do quicker than I could, but he kept missing the deadlines. He wasn't the one dealing with the fallout though, and when someone got angry at me for it (leading to more crying), I gave up relying on him.

    They got someone from another department to help out but they ended up making everything worse. When they were supposed to cover me for a full day once (they'd done the job before) so I could have it off, they messed up so badly that most of their work had to be undone and redone, which took half a day in itself. They hadn't done half the amount I would have in a day either so taking more time off wasn't possible for me.

    When I got home every evening, I coudn't switch off. I had nightmares about tasks going wrong. I was just feeling panicked and anxious about what the next day of work would bring. Even with all the therapy I could afford, that feeling has never gone away about working there.

    The last year has brought a lot of changes to my role again and again. My contract has a line in it that says they can basically move me to cover any role within the company (within reason). Every staff member has that line in the contract but they've really taken advantage of it over the last year. I didn't mind most of the time, but the role I was hired for was made redundant and now I'm being moved everywhere as I've no official purpose.

    I know I'm lucky that the company have kept me on, especially with the pandemic. I asked my manager why that was and he said they could use an extra set of hands to float around the place and help out in lots of different areas as I've a wider skillset than most of the staff.

    It's not even the tasks that stress me out anymore, it's the entire place. It's the environment, knowing what happened last year and knowing it could happen again. It's the not knowing of what each day will bring. I could be told I'll be in one department all week and halfway through the day, I'm told the plan has changed and I've to split myself between three departments. It's not just one thing that has me anxious, it just feels like everything.

    And this is a small thing but doesn't help either: some of the staff are just horrid, nice one day and awful the next. It really catches me off guard and can upset me. I try to keep to myself but our roles overlap and they're just plain rude.

    For a while I thought it was in my head, but when colleagues I'm friends with asked why I was accepting the rudeness, I pulled the rude colleagues up on it. I started keeping a log of it and reported it to my manager. My manager and the colleagues in question all agreed that I was mis-interpreting them on all occasions and they've never been rude to me. Practically everyone has worked in the company 10+ years where as I'm the new kid on the block, so management are good friends with them and I could never win anyway.

    TLDR: I was in a bad situation in work last year where I was completely overloaded. It's left me feeling constantly anxious in the work environment. Even after some therapy, I just haven't been able to move past the feeling of what happened before could happen again, and my role becoming redundant means I'm essentially a spare pair of hands, moved about every day to different areas. The lack of knowing what to expect is the part that worries me most as some day are truly awful. And to top it off, the last few weeks I've ended up crying a few times from the rudeness of staff.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,605 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    OP, I could have written your second post myself.

    I was in a job up until last year, where everything landed on my desk. I worked hard and was meticulous and had more experience than most so I got the trickiest most time consuming files under a tight deadline.

    It was crazy from the day I started. There was a backlog of work, so that had to be cleared as well as the on going stuff. Like you, I had a line in the contract that said they could put me any where extras were needed. But instead of doing that, more work, as well as my own landed on my desk. When I had a question no one knew the answer, which involved research, which was hefty work on top of everything else.

    My colleagues, though dead sound, were a little work shy. I was flat out and you'd see some on my team floating around having chats. Those were people there longer than me and who knew how to play management like a fiddle. One of them was given her own team in a new department they were starting off. She was seen as the model employee. Her work was passed to me, oh my goodness it was a mess. She was blagging her way through her stuff. I have to say, fair play, because even though she was doing nothing, she was rising through the ranks and adored by management.

    Anyhow, I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't enjoy my hobbies, was drinking more and more, I had pains in my chest constantly and was really falling apart.

    The crux of it came when two new projects landed on my desk. I tried and tried to explain that they were things the client was trying to expand on and we needed to work on getting something set up and get a team on it. Nothing I said was listened to, I was going to meetings drawing up procedures and all the while trying to do the work load that was already too much. Eventually the client did land hard and when I asked for help my manager snapped at me.

    After all I'd done!! So I walked in on the Monday morning and handed in my notice. I'd nothing lined up, nothing on the back burner, but I couldn't do it any more. When I handed in my notice, my boss threw everything at me to try and get me to stay, but I was completely burned out.

    Anyway, I'm luckily in a position, where I'm married and have children at home. Although money is tight on one wage, I needed a full year to recover. The confidence knock you take and the shock of it all, its like leaving an abusive relationship and it took time to build myself back up. I was only saying to my husband the other week that I finally feel 'better'.

    I've told no one what happened, only my boss. As far as everyone knows, I finished up to spend time with the kids. It's like no one would believe how bad it was, or think less of me for not being able to handle it professionally.

    There are four people doing my job now. I don't mean it's been scattered out amongst jobs people were already doing. I mean the jobs I was doing were separated out and are now 3 full time sections for 4 full time people.

    Anyhow, why all that you ask :D, I just wanted to show that I get where you're coming from and understand what it's like to be in a position like that. I have been hounded by a couple of people since leaving, but I couldnt even entertain the idea. Now I am almost there, but it's taken a full year to shake it off.

    I can't say let it wash over you, because I know it's hard, but I would just say keep positive. Keep your eye out for other jobs, I've been working in my area for 20+ years and always stayed long term and never had an experience like the last place. So there is better out there that is a much better fit for you.

    I wonder if you went back to your GP, could they advice you to take time off, if it's affecting your health? I know I was offered paid leave, but I was beyond that kind of help at that stage. I would only have spent the time dreading going back. But if you talk to your GP, they may have a solution?

    Finally, I would also go back and mention to the GP, how you're feeling on the medication. Maybe they can prescribe a different one for you?

    I hope all that is of some help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    Another here who was that soldier. It broke my health. When I was out, a team of four was appointed, including two senior managers. To an area I had been left to sink or swim in.

    Read back what you wrote, OP, panic attacks at the weekend over a job where if you were not there in the morning, they would just have to sort out properly. Nothing is worth that. Nothing.

    Go back to your doctor, take time away and evaluate where to go from here.