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    coping at work
    jennycee posted:
    I'm finding it difficult to function sometimes at work. I feel like I'm an alien from another planet and if anyone knew what was in my head they would escort me out of the building. At times I'm in my office with the door closed, filled with despair, crying, rocking. Other times I'm talking to my colleagues with great energy. Very manic feeling. I feel like I'm spinning out of control. The worst thing is if someone comes into my office to talk. The way my furniture is arranged they wind up sitting between me and the door. It feels very unsafe. Almost all of my colleagues are men. Wonderful, smart, sweet men who I consider friends. But now when they're in my office I feel threatened and I want to escape. I'm so afraid that I'm going to have a breakdown someday or blurt out something inappropriate. How do I do this???
    tnmist responded:
    Hello, Jennycee, I'm sorry this so rough right now. I don't have a lot of advice, but I did want to mention that when I was in the worst of my stuff last year, my therapist offered to help get me put on "partial medical leave," where my hours could fluctuate without getting into trouble with absences and stuff. I don't know all the particulars because I chose not to go that route, but I believe it would have given me much more flexibility with my hours when I needed it. I had never heard of PARTIAL medical leave before then. It may be worth looking into.

    I also have to practice compartmentalizing when I'm spinning out of control, especially during work hours. If I promised myself a set time later - after work - to honor those feelings but right then I had to stay in the present, that helped sometimes.

    If there is any way to rearrange your office, I would encourage you to get that done, too.

    I can empathize with what you are going through, probably many of us here can. It's very stressful to act "normal," when the inside is screaming and full of pain.

    I'm sure others will have much better advice, especially those who have been down this road longer than I have, but remember to be gentle with yourself.

    {{safe hugs if okay}}

    bluerose90 responded:
    Hey Jenny,

    I'm sorry that you're having to deal with all this. I know what it's like to go to work and feel like your world is crashing in around you while you have to keep face with your coworkers.

    I agree with Misty that if you can move your furniture around in your office at all that might be a big help. I know that I have to keep my back to a wall where I can see any windows or doors in the room and have clear access to them if I need them. I've been setting my bedroom, offices, and everything else up like that since I was very young. I never really understood why until a year or two ago.

    I don't know if any of these things will help but I took awhile to think about it and came up with a few ideas. I'm honestly not very good in the advice department... If your employer will allow you to play music in your office you might keep a few playlists or Cd's handy that help to relax you when you feel like you might be spinning out of control. I don't know about you but sometimes I get to a place where I need to listen to "angry" music for a little while too. (Headphones.)

    If you can keep a pad/coloring book and pencil/crayons, or whatever you would like to use, handy in your desk it may help if you try to use it as a stress relief or as an outlet when you can. I used to do that on my break. Go somewhere quiet or out to my car if I could and draw for a little while or journal when things were getting too crazy in my head.

    I don't know if this is possible either but I used to have a place I could go just to breathe for a few minutes. It was a file room that wasn't used very often. I could just stand in there or even sit on the floor a few minutes to get away from everyone and breathe. It was handy because a large part of my job was taking care of the files so if for some reason a coworker did come in I had an easy excuse for being there.

    I hope one or a few of these things will help you or at least give you some ideas. Take care.

    ((Hugs if okay.))

    Where there is shadow, there is light.
    tnmist replied to bluerose90's response:
    Those are good ideas, Rose.

    You know, I never thought of it before, but I've always done that, too, with furniture in bedrooms/office. Windows don't bother me as much as they used to, but I have to see the door. I'm picky about where I sit in a restaurant, too, and most of my friends realize I'm picky even if they don't know the background. All that makes more sense now...Hmmm, this, uh, stuff (insert crass word here), permeates everything, it seems. My living room is very small, and I have furniture set up to look okay, but I really only use one or 2 spots because of where the other furniture is located in relation to windows/door/doorway. Just second nature.

    I doubt that will ever change for me. There is always this level of alertness that is very hard to turn down. Being hyper-alert sure wears on the nerves, though. I just realized that's probably the reason I feel so worn out after being in social situations - it's not just the "acting normal" routine, but that hyper-alertness that is hard to turn down.

    tnmist replied to tnmist's response:
    oh, um, I didn't mean to ramble on or change the gist of this thread. Rose's comments just got me thinking, that's all.

    jennycee replied to bluerose90's response:
    Thanks for your thoughtful post. You should give advice more gave me some insight. I too have always favored having my back to a wall, facing doors. I especially like corners. I have come to realize that it is a primitive attempt to protect myself as a child in a situation where there was no safety (or predictability). I plan to take steps tomorrow to move my furniture. Also I like your idea to keep a pad and pencils or crayons handy. I've always been a doodler but lately I have the urge to create -- draw, paint, write, sew -- all the time. It's as if by rooting out the most horrific memories that I've spent so much energy concealing/denying, I have a lot more energy for other things. So when I'm not on the roller coaster of hating all of mankind/wishing desperately for rescue/sobbing in despair, I'm actually ok and that's when I want to make stuff. Like right now. I should be going to bed, but instead I'm sewing -- pajamas for my son, skirts for my little girl. I guess there are worse vices. I'm also lucky that I can have private, quiet moments at work when necessary - I can close my door (and it even has a lock, though no one else uses theirs). Anyway, you got me thinking, in a good way, and I am grateful.
    jennycee replied to tnmist's response:
    Not at all - I thought your post was interesting and I can relate on every point. The social situations are exhausting. Sometimes if I'm in a group I look around and think that I'm the only one who knows there is a dangerous killer lurking around the corner and everyone else is blissfully ignorant. Constantly on the alert for danger. Another thing: when I'm walking down the street, standing in line, etc., I make eye contact with everyone. People think I'm friendly. But I do it so I can make a split-second assessment of whether or not the person is a threat. Sigh. If only we could use these powers for something constructive and healing...I guess that's the goal. Thanks again.
    bluerose90 replied to jennycee's response:
    Your comment about making eye contact with everyone when you're walking in the street or standing in a line made me think. I do that too... I guess I never thought much about it before but I do assess everyone that I get physically close too.

    Just had me thinking.

    Where there is shadow, there is light.
    tnmist replied to bluerose90's response:
    Strangers? I don't typically look in the eye. Children, yes. I love kids. But a lot depends on my mood. I know there are a lot of hurting people out there, and it's good to learn to notice others because it takes the focus off of self. It's too easy to get too self-absorbed with all this baggage. I know there is self-care, etc., and all that has its place, too. Just sayin.


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