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Author Topic: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work  (Read 157 times)

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Offline helpseeker

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Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« on: August 13, 2014, 11:53:25 AM »
If you missed my introduction:

I'm A from Chicago, I'm 31 and a professional in the marketing field at a major corporation with an MBA (this is my 2nd major corp working for and 4th job out of college) .  I decided to join after having anxiety and depression due to unprofessional co workers (a whole team) since May of this year.  So I'm here looking for tips, other than getting a new job (since i'm currently seeking one).

Issue:
I sit at a corner cube at the center of two very busy walkways to two different buildings that connect to mine.  Our cube walls are short, probably 3 ft tall at the max.  I'm very tall for a female (6') so when I use my laptop & external second monitor my eyes seem to be looking at people when I'm working on my excel files within the second monitor.  I have gotten use to making awkward eye contact with people passing by or using the intersection to have meetings or personal discussions.  I've been awkward and the geek my whole life so I just dealt with the awkward eye contact.

In May we hired 2 ex-interns (they were interns during last summer) along with 1 new hire right out of college and 2 new interns.  These new hires are all under the age of 24 and sit 3 cubes away from me to my right.  I'm unsure how much orientation they received about the corporate world as in professional manner, professional discussions and professional dress.  Since I did not receive too much orientation in person, mostly it was done via web videos.  I assumed since the ex-interns were here previously they knew how to act in a corporate environment.

Since these new hires have been around in May they have been openly speaking/commenting on the awkward eye contact as they walk by my desk and at their cubes (right near me).  Calling me "weird" and "crazy" and saying "she stares as you walk by".  I don't know if I'm doing this since I'm working, it could be a unconscious thing so I tried to ignore their comments since I was trying to take the high road/be the bigger person.  As time went on they would look into my cube and look directly at me as they walked by, if I looked back they started commenting "did she look?" "yea she did, she's weird".  I started to get mad and my anxiety started to grow after a month due to their actions.  I didn't want to bring it up because I'm an adult and they are just being unprofessional I figured others can hear and would speak up and set them straight.  I don't like confrontation so I won't go up to them myself. 

In late July after trying to ignore their comments and ignore eye contact as much as possible I had a panic attack (heart rate increased, felt hot, tearing up and shaking uncontrollably).  I then set a meeting with a manager who overseas my team and the new hires team for the next day.  She seemed like she cared but I felt weak exposing my feelings and tearing up while she just offered no help (she didn't know a possible solution) and only asked what I wanted.  I told her I wanted it to stop, yet she just offered a corporate health center phone number to talk to someone.  This I took as her thinking there is something wrong with me.  After our meeting I just lowered my monitor and chair to where it was uncomfortable yet my eyes weren't way over the cube wall, the issue was still there yet I just tried to adjust what I could to avoid the issue if possible.

Last week I had another panic attack due to continued comments since I was avoiding looking back and I had sat at a different cube for a day (to run reports off a local desktop computer).  Comments were as such "you can tell she is avoiding looking back, haha", "did you see she switched spots, haha", etc.  I couldn't take it anymore because I just want to know why is it so important to comment on what I'm doing and what I'm not doing?!  I'm just doing my work, I don't know these people other than meeting them and I've never been so disrespected outside of high school like this.  My other manager I went to after the second panic attack said he know of the situation and felt really sad that I am dealing with this, mentioned no one should have to and until my cube location is moved he'll do what is need to help me since I'm too valuable to loose.  Yet no one even the management of the new hires are doing anything to change their behavior.  Their direct managers are my age and also started doing the same thing along with comments and laughter, in my eyes that enabling the behavior.  I'm starting to lose all my professional respect for the new hires and their management.

Last week was also the start of my anxiety to even show up to work, this week it has taken me 30 mins to leave the house for work.  This week I felt another panic attack coming on due to new comments and laughing about me looking sad.  Luckily I was able to stop yet the anxiety was still there so I went to the cafe to work for the rest of the day where it was much more peaceful.  I had friday off as a vacation day yet have now also taken the rest of the week off to avoid this anxiety.

I do love my work yet I can't deal with this anxiety anymore, especially since the management that I've talked to is not doing anything to change the behavior and is starting to incline that something is wrong with me or is enabling the behavior.  I don't want to hide in the cafe or conference rooms all day until I move cubes (where I may possibly deal with this issue).

So I'm looking for solutions on how to personally deal with the anxiety and or resolve the issue professionally.
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Offline Hopeful77

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2014, 06:41:33 PM »
Wow, I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this.  It is high school all over again.  I wish I had a solution for you.  You can either continue to try to ignore them, in which case maybe you could put in earplugs or listen to your iPod or something to drown them out.  Or, you could take the other route and confront them in a professional manner.  You could just tell them that it is distracting to watch people walk by your cube all day and in order to concentrate you have learned to ignore them.  You are not trying to be rude when you don't speak to them or make eye contact, but that you are just trying to concentrate.  If they are reasonable people, maybe this will make them stop.  If they are jerks, it could make it worse.  Whatever happens, remember that you are not doing anything wrong and you shouldn't feel bad about yourself just because some people are rude.
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Offline angsty

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2014, 10:01:27 PM »
I am sorry you're having to deal with this, but I wonder why you've not gone to these people directly and asked that they stop making the comments. That may or may not work, but going to the source is often better than going above them to their/your manager. Just a thought. I realize you are conflict averse, but so are a lot of people so the idea that someone else will speak up and set them straight is rather unfair because you're expecting others to do what you won't do yourself. This is affecting you personally so you have to be the one to talk to these people. If you're not willing to do that, you are likely to continue suffering both in this job and other jobs because direct communication is generally the best way to handle things like that.

I wish you luck!
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Offline CarrieAnn

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2014, 10:38:44 PM »
I think that is terrible of those people to act in such and immature and rude way.  I concur that perhaps you should confront them----although I'm not sure what you should say to them.  I know what I would say, but it wouldn't be nice, I would probably ask them if they have a problem with me----but don't do that---that's just the Italian in me speaking, lol.   

I certainly empathize with you though, you are taking the mature stance and that is commendable.  It's a good idea to move the area where you sit to avoid them as much as possible, and hopefully avoid anymore anxiety attacks.

Take care :)
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Offline MartitaRobinson

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2014, 10:52:27 PM »
As someone who's held a management position before, I'm surprised your manager didn't suggest having a sit down. That should've happened the second you asked for help. What you need, and I say it as what you MUST do in order to help your anxiety is to communicate your feelings. You also need to be able to have a conversation about what they are doing, and give your piece. There is obviously a misunderstanding on their part. They think you're staring and are taking it in a way that they find offensive. It scares them and makes them feel weird so they in turn project it on to you. You've got to be able to have a moment to say, "Hey, I'm not staring. I'm working on my computer." But only after asking them why they make the comments they do. This will allow for them to communicate how they feel.

Do this ASAP! And when you do, don't hold back. Let your feelings be known.

Some Prep:

See the meeting go well. Try not to let anxious thoughts take you to a lower level beforehand. Breathe.

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Counseling student (2 classes shy of graduation)  & Anxiety Specialist.
Previous anxiety sufferer. Healed my GAD which I experienced on and off for 20 years. Contact me on my wall or messaging if you need anything.

Offline helpseeker

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 12:03:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for your comments.  I do realize I have an anxiety with being the center of attention, I have always shyed away from it and had great anxiety if I was being put on the spotlight in front of people I do not know well (even for accomplishments).  I also am a non-confrontational, overly nice person who is against any drama.

At work since my post I have started to ignore them the best I can and just deal that they will be immature.  Although that won't stop the gossip and chatter about me.  Newer chatter was about "she looks so sad" followed by laughter.  I have recently started to have a rash show up Sunday nights to Thursday nights that my Dr assumes is from the work stress.  I would go directly to them but I don't know what to say that will make them stop.  I feel they are too immature to react to anything that isn't a penalty at this point. Since if I look, don't look or move to a different area to work (for whatever reason), look sad, look happy they love to gossip about me when they haven't even said 1 word to me personally.  I feel like I'm constantly being watched and judged no matter what I do while I'm at work...working!

Monday I suggested to my manager a sit down with the group to call a "truce" so the group can give it up and move on already.  I also mentioned with this possible sit down to explain to them what I see is going on and how I feel about it then let them say what they feel is going on and how they feel about it.  There will most likely be a disconnect so then we can all agree to move on.  My manager had to "email the higher up manager to see what she thought".  Well I haven't heard what the word was on that suggestion.  Due to hearing chatter yesterday about "she wants everyone to give it up" followed by laughter and whispering noises which were loud.  After hearing them say a few times "she's such a liar", I had enough and emailed HR, I have yet today to discuss this issue with them.

At this point I'm just so pissed that they don't know me and they are devaluing my name in the corporate environment AND that others who know about this issue can also hear them yet no one cares that it's going on.
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Offline CarrieAnn

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Re: Seeking help with controlling anxiety at work
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 07:07:46 PM »
If it were me that this was happening to, I would put being upset about it behind me, and take on an attitude of 'I don't care about their chatter'.  Even if you don't feel like you don't care; as one of my counselors used to say, "fake it till you make it".  Just go about your work, ignore them, and better yet, smile at them while you say hello.  If they know they can't get your goat anymore that may put an end to it.
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