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Old 01-05-2006, 01:49 AM   #1  
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Default Work Stress

Hi everybody.

Has anyone here ever taken stress leave from work? Or has been very stressed at work and figured out a way to deal with it without quitting?

A couple of months ago I was so stressed at work that I wasn't sleeping well, my stomach hurt all the time, and I had chronic headaches. I went to see my doctor and he told me to take stress leave, but I decided that wasn't a good idea because I'd just return to the same environement. I talked to my boss about it, she was great and reorganized how work requests come in to me (I'm a secretary and tech support type person) and took a huge amount of work off of me for two weeks so I could recover. That helped for awhile, and I really appreciate that she did that for me.

Everything was fine until the week before Christmas, when things got really bad again. My boss and supervisor went on vacation, and other person in my department took advantage of that to pile all kinds of "emergency" (they weren't really an emergency but she felt they were) tasks on me. I tried to say no, and reminded her about how my work had been reorganized, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. Even 4 days into my Christmas vacation I was having heart palpitations and feeling really anxious as a residual effect of those few days before Christmas vacation.

Work started again on Tuesday. I haven't slept since Sunday night, not even a nap. My chest feels tight and I've been having heart palpitations again. I took Wednesday off, and I'm probably going to have to take today off, too. I feel REALLY guilty for taking time off. I took a lot of sick time off last year, 12 days of it. I think I got sick so much from being overstressed. I had strep throat in November. I wanted to cut down on my sick time this year and already I'm going to have two days and it's not even the end of the first week in January.

I don't really want to talk to my boss about this again. I feel like a weak person, my job isn't hard at all. I also don't want to cause problems with the person who was bullying me that last week of work before Christmas vacation, she's been very resistant and argumentative towards my boss about the changes in my work, and I can tell my boss doesn't want to push it with her. Plus, I am so overtired that I cry at the drop of a hat, I don't want to call my boss and talk to her about this and start crying during the conversation. And what if she thinks that I'm exaggerating or taking advantage of her just to get time off of work, or what if she thinks I'm histrionic and have a weak personality? I desperately wish I could sleep so I could go to work and just be normal.

I'm going to see my family doctor tomorrow if I can get an appointment. Maybe he will give me a sleeping pill so I can get some rest.

Apologies if this is incoherent, I'm really tired.
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Old 01-05-2006, 02:16 AM   #2  
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You poor thing! I wish I had the instant answer for you, but I don't think there are any to be had. So...I assume from the situation that you HAVE to work (financially)....what about changing jobs though? I *know*--that is a stressful process in itself, but is it a possibility? Sometimes I think knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (even if it's a secret light and only YOU know that you're headed toward it as far as your current co-workers go) will help you cope for now.

Does your current job have an employee assistance program? They would be able to provide free and confidential counseling (sometimes this is associated with health insurance--a call-in sort of number, at least at first).

You are definitely in a bullying situation, sounds to me. I guess on re-reading your note, I just really feel like you need to get out of there. Is short-term disability an option with a doctor's note? Like...that would keep some income coming in while you actually look for another job? Are you in an urban area where you could register with some temp agencies? Many of them have temporary-to-permanent placements (or even direct to permanent). I've worked with temp agencies MANY times in my life and they are always good for transitional times. You could register with the temp agency and in a good business environment (not knowing where you live), they could place you almost immediately ( could register with them, get a feel for the situation, then give notice at your current job and check out whatever vacation, etc. time you have?). [I'm sure you know this already, but I wouldn't mention to either a temp agency or future employer about the stress situation--either with the bullying boss or as far as how you felt--better to go the old "generic" route about you interested in a change and a place of employment either with additional opportunities, opportunity to learn new skills, blahblahblah).

BTW, Ambien is a sleeping pill that I've taken on occasion (prescription) and I've never had a hangover effect with it and it ALWAYS sends me into a restful sleep (even if I just take half a pill). At least if you can get some rest then you can cope more easily with making any decisions you might need to make. Feeling so tired just adds to everything, doesn't it?

Hang in there hon. I hope someone else has some good ideas for you!

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Old 01-05-2006, 08:44 AM   #3  
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Oh my gosh!!!!! I feel like I'm looking into a mirror when I read your post!!!! Did you take my job when I quit? No really, I was in a very (let me stress very) similiar situation at work. I was so stressed that I too got really sick. I can honestly say that I gained a quite a bit of weight while working there too! I'm a stress eater! Anyways...........I had a meeting and they had our Human Resource guy there as well as the other women, our Sargent, my immediate supervisor, myself and one other women employee from our office. Who was also a walking disaster because of our fellow co-worker. However and unfortunately, when we where in our meeting, she fell to pieces and couldn't talk or let them know how she felt. Well I did. A month past and NOTHING changed. Of course if our supervisors were around you would have thought that she was my best friend. After that month I filed a grievance (I worked in Police Administration) - 6 weeks later - still nothing. 2 weeks after that I quit. Keep in mind, I job searched while all of this was going on. I took a HUGE paycut and went to work for a really great little company. I have been there a little over a year. I am not sick anymore. My weight has dropped by 33#, my blood pressure is normal and I no longer have stomach aches and anxiety attacks!!!!!!! So.................IF YOU CAN.........start looking for a new job. There are jobs out there. They may not be what you "think" you take a challenge, you might be greatly surprised. Don't do anything drastic (like quit $$$$) until you have something else to go to. In the meantime........BE THE BIGGER PERSON.......You go into work, do what you can, leave what you can't, it'll be there tomorrow when you go back. Hold your head up high and look the other way. I REALLY REALLY KNOW how hard that is to do, but it INTIMIDATES the crap out of the Bully!!!!!
Good Luck with everything. Let us know what you do!
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Old 01-06-2006, 07:12 PM   #4  
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So sorry you are having these problems. I too know how you feel. One job I had made my blood pressure go up... when I went directly from work to the dr... it was 260/120... he said stoke level. He said I HAD to Quit that job, or I would really be in big trouble...

This is something new for me... never knew you could take stress leave! Good luck honey, & please let us have an update soon!
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Old 01-07-2006, 01:23 PM   #5  
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Work stress is awful, and what is happening to you isn't fair, it's not your fault, and you are not a weak person. I went on stress leave about eight years ago. This was in Australia so things are probably different in the US. It wasn't a pleasant experience, because there you have to apply for workerscompnesation (which is paid for by the employers insurance firm). The insurers decided to contest and tried to say my stress wasn't caused by work, and we had to go to court. I couldn't afford representation and had to speak on my own behalf. I won, fortunately, and stayed another 2 years, then left when I found a better job.

Keep a diary if you aren't already, of what your supervisors say to you and how your work is allocated. I think you should talk to your manager again and explain what happened when she was away.

I wouldn't take sleeping tablets, and was refused them when I asked the doctor for some. (I think he thought I was a suicide risk, which I wasn't in my opinion) and he put me on antidepressants. These were good, coz they stopped the swings, but I felt like I was in a bit of a bubble for 4 months. I couldn't feel anything, happy or sad. And I still didn't sleep. Boy did I get good at playstation games!!!

Try and build in plenty of fun things to do in your away from work time, whether it's crafts, spending time with friends and family, whatever. And try to exercise, it really helps.

Best of luck with it and keep us posted.
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Old 01-07-2006, 04:50 PM   #6  
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Thanks so much for the advice, guys . I really appreciate it and am going to keep your suggestions in mind. Quitting is scary because I just got to my second "step" at work, and with this salary increase I was planning on moving out in the spring. However, if things don't improve at work I may be forced to quit.

On Thursday after my third night of no sleep I went to see my family doctor, who said he thought anxiety was keeping me awake, causing the heart palpitations, tight chest, etc. I was so tired at that point that I couldn't stop trembling and I was really confused. The doc gave me some sleeping pills to take. Zopiclone? I took the pills as directed but still wasn't asleep at 1 am. I was so distraught at the thought of going 4 nights without sleep. I couldn't really keep my balance or anything (probably because of the sleeping pills). I went to emergency at the hospital. They did some tests and concluded it was anxiety also. I was given some Ativan and sent home with a note for work that I was to stay home on Friday. FINALLY at 6am on Friday I fell asleep. Friday night I had to take more Ativan to sleep because my heart was pounding again. Hopefully tonight I won't have to take anything. I still feel really dozy and stupid.

I'm going to talk to my boss and let her know what went on in that week before Christmas. I was documenting everything that happened, I also put notes in my supervisor's inbox letting her know exactly what was asked of me by whom, what the deadlines were, etc.

The bullying person is away until the 11th. Yay! Hopefully my brain will calm down enough for me to get some sleep and go to work on Monday.
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Old 01-07-2006, 09:03 PM   #7  
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In my impression you need an antidepressant/antianxiety combined with therapy to help you make permanent changes. Ativan and Imovane are only temporary.......but I agree with a bit of sleep we gain perspective.

I started a new job in the fall.....I started trying to hard to please everyone else and forgot about myself.......I came home and had a good cry.......went out with hubby for some beers and a big chat and decided that only I can let people abuse me......and I have worked hard on it every day since.

You know what your job is and no one else can make you do anything. Communicating with your boss is great.

Good luck!

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Old 01-07-2006, 09:14 PM   #8  
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Life happens in a really, really short span of time...Do you really want to spend another minute of it in a job that puts your emotional/physical health at risk? I know it scarey...but get out of it...find something you enjoy doing!
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Old 01-14-2006, 08:11 PM   #9  
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You've been there what, like a year and a half?

That's long enought o move on to another job, it's a respectable time to have gained experience so quitting won't look bad on your resume.

Maybe working two part-time jobs instead of one full-time for a while? That way you're more checked out emotionally. Or if i were you, start applying for grants and bursaries to go back to school part time. You'd be amazed how much that takes the edge off because you have something else to focus on. Job tasks seem less 'do or die' when you have other priorities in your life.
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