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crying and blushing at work

(45 Posts)
anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 09:23:24

I have been back a work for a few months following mat leave and am at the latter end of a long stint of depression . I suffer anxiety which has become huge since having dcs and although the depression is abating the anxiety symptoms are still prevalent.

I work in a large office in a high pressured public facing job. I struggle with talking to groups and feel very 'exposed' in my role. I blush constantly, flaring up at the slightest thing, or the thought that somebody may say something challenging or embarrassing.

I live in a very small town and most days one of our customers is somebody I know which makes me feel jittery and everyday chats with colleagues can cause me to well up and it's not uncommon for a tricky subject to bring me to tears. I have been having counselling and taking meds which is why a lot of the symptoms have abated but the panic/anxiety/embarrassment symptoms remain.

I feel like such a fool, I recently had to reapply for my own job where I was a sweating, stammering, beetroot mess, I feel like the worlds biggest idiot and I dread to think what people say about me behind my back.

My boss is very understanding but she is leaving and being replaced by a man who I don't know, I also struggle to hold it together in conversation outside of work but work is where this is really affecting me.

I guess I'd like to ask you honest aibu-ers what do you really think when you see someone blushing?
And what do you think of women who cry at work?

JeanBodel Sun 12-May-13 09:28:31

Having read your post, I have to ask: do you really think you are in the right line of work? A 'high pressured public facing job' does not sound like a good fit for you.

If a person is crying at work because of some recent tragedy then I feel sympathetic. If they cry at work all the time because they are unable to cope with the pressures of the job - then I think they should get a new job. It's unprofessional.

If you are just going through a bad patch and will eventually get back to a good place where you can do this job without blushing and crying, then YANBU.

EeyoreIsh Sun 12-May-13 09:29:23

I wouldn't think twice about someone blushing. As long as you can remain focused on work whilst blushing.

Crying at work is different. I've done it, but always in the loo or in front of just one colleague. Trying to keep control of emotions is difficult but really important. I've worked really hard on this over the years.

I have one cried in front of external people, but it was when I had started to miscarry, and it was trying to stop the tears from falling rather than sobbing. I wish I hadn't cried, but I was stuck on a train with these people and had no way of controlling the emotions!

MagicHouse Sun 12-May-13 09:30:11

You poor thing, that sounds really difficult. I used to suffer from anxiety especially at work and it's really horrible. I was similar to you, and would blush/ panic and worry endlessly about what people thought of me.

What helped was - counselling - learning to stop the spiral of negative thinking/ realising that people didn't actually think what I thought (you asked what people thought - the "worst" will be "she seems a bit nervous/ shy/ she blushes when she's nervous", other people will be too wrapped up in themselves to think about what you're doing!)

I think the main thing that helped was talking to people about how I felt - it calmed me down and made me realise that actually most people are really kind and supportive.

Presumably you got your job after the interview?? So even as a "stammering beetroot mess" you got your job back - that means you must be really good at it and they want you back - try to focus on that, not how you felt!

MrsWolowitz Sun 12-May-13 09:30:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotYoMomma Sun 12-May-13 09:35:32

I have anxiety anxiety disorder and have cried at work a few times recently just to build up of factors. I certainly wouldn't have disclose them to Jean unless she was my manager so if she thought I should get a new job without knowing the full details, or I can easily seek employment elsewhere with a diagnose anxiety disorder she should really look a bit closer at the issues people with this face.

My male manager who I only got in February has been fantastic, we had a sit down and I told him triggers, how I feel and also how if affects me. He has been great to support me and understands that I am seeking help and hopefully it won't be a long term thing, even if it is he knows that for each incident I have weeks and weeks of knocking my job out of. the park. He has agreed if I feel panicky I can take a few minutes to go outside and calm down.

I think full disclosure would help with a new manager (maybe after a week or so or if you feel particularly anxious) and may be worth considering, I find most people surprise you in a good way.

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 09:44:45

Hi thanks for replies. No I don't think I'm in the right job currently but having looked around extensively there is nothing that pays as well in my area and my salary is crucial to keeping our family afloat so I feel trapped in my job like many others.

I am having counselling/CBS and it was actually the counsellor who suggested I canvas opinion at work re my blushing/crying but I didn't want to make it even more of a big deal of work which is why I chose to bring it here instead.

I did get my job back, manages are full of praise for my work which I do really well but the role has changed beyond recognition from when I was there before.

I have never cried in front of customers and I try really hard to hold it together, the office layout means you can never hide unless you get up and run out of the room so if I feel exposed when I blush and people continue to look t me that's one of the triggers that drives me to wanting to cry as well as having to present in meetings etc.

I have always been a blusher and more tearful than most but never ever to these extremes.

NotYoMomma Sun 12-May-13 09:49:08

Honestly don't make it a big deal with colleagues Tec, just carry on but I really think you could benefit with a sit down with one of the managers who knows how well you do your job, they will prob be grateful that you've spoken to them and they can support you rather than wondering what is going on.

My manager actually fought my corner when I raised a grievance with a bully at work

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 09:56:44

Thanks notyomamma, my own boss has anxiety issues herself so is very understanding and has made some allowances for me but I feel weird about bringing it up with someone new even talking about it honestly makes me cry I feel so imprisoned by my symptoms.

my job seems to be full of stalwarts who celebrate never having been sick in ten years , you know the types: "my left arm is hanging on by a thread but I will continue typing this report left handed and will have the amputation under local anaesthetic and be back in office tomorrow" , saying that though the people who I have been honest with have been very sympathetic often opening an honest dialogue about their own/family members' mental health issues.

MagicHouse Sun 12-May-13 10:01:36

Have you thought about make up for the blushing? I know it's not getting to the root of the problem but it can help! I used to use concealer and foundation which hid the worst of it. There are heavier make ups you could look into too.

AgentProvocateur Sun 12-May-13 10:02:59

To me, they are two separate issues. The blushing wouldn't bother me in the slightest. But the crying would have implications about how I thought of you as a colleague. I do think crying at work is slightly unprofessional, but much much more than that, my worry would be about doing or saying something that then caused you to cry. I would feel truly awful. For this reason, I would go out my way not to deal with you in case I started you off

WillSingForCake Sun 12-May-13 10:03:50

I used to blush a lot, and got very shaky and nervous easily, and found hypnotherapy very effective in reducing it.

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 10:13:42

agent: I totally agree that they are two different issues its just at the moment they are linked physically and in my brain they are linked as two very visible signs of my anxiety, thank you for your honesty, I feel too scared to get involved in any kind of conversation in case I set myself off! I am afraid of making people feel uncomfortable.

Magic: thanks , I bought some green colour corrector which you wear under make up to wear for presentations etc but I don't really wear make up and have a hugely freckled face which looks weird when I put make up over it. Maybe I will give it another try just as some sort of armour.

DawnOfTheDee Sun 12-May-13 10:15:03

I wouldn't think twice about a colleague who blushed a lot. Some people blush more easily than others and some people's colouring means thay tend to go 'red' more often/easily than others.

Crying on the very odd occasion wouldn't bother me - I'd just assume that person was having a bad day/had stuff going on that i didn't know about so I wouldn't say anything to anyone about it. If it was happening more frequently though I would be quite concerned...more for that person's wellbeing than anything else. i would like to think their manager was aware and supporting that person.

So, don't worry about the blushing easier said than done i know. I think magicHouse's suggestion about makeup might help. It might give you a bit more confidence if you don't think it's as noticeable.

And please talk to you new boss about your issues. Trust that your current boss will do a proper handover and that new boss is a professional who will support you accordingly.

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 10:15:34

Willsing: brilliant! Never even considered it, thank you s much I will look into it. How long ago did you have hypno? Was it effective long term? Did you have to do anything as well? How much did it cost?

DrGoogleWillSeeYouNow Sun 12-May-13 10:22:06

If even everyday chats will colleagues are causing you to well up, and you're too scared to get involved in any kind of conversation for fear of crying, then I think you need to see your GP and get signed off sick for a while.

Toadinthehole Sun 12-May-13 10:30:03

OP, you have my sympathies.

I also have a very public-facing job (involving speaking in public) and despite having done it for years I still get really, really nervous on occasion. I have had problems with anxiety in the past. What I find helps are minor strategies to get my mind out of panic mode: my favourite is to imagine everyone in the same room as me stark bollock naked: it appeals to my sense of humour and makes me realise that things aren't so bad.

I also had the most godawful boss, and in moments of extreme stress used to imagine him in a pin-up calendar, naked except for a well-placed hubcap (he was into cars).

If I see someone blushing I am generally concerned for them; if someone cries I have nothing but sympathy and generally feel really bad for them (yes I have seen both, in court) unless I think they're lying about something.

lovesherdogstoomuch Sun 12-May-13 10:32:37

OP i used to blush horribly and have panic attacks at work. i hated them and tried everything to beat them. the only thing that worked for me was breathing control. if i sensed a stressful situation coming up i would breathe very slowly and deeply. no one noticed and it kept me in charge! i also found talking quietly and and thinking about what i was saying helped. the panic attacks would make me babble and talk loudly. awful. just awful. i still get them, but not as badly. People seem to think blushing is quite endearing, however crying is'nt. sorry. good luck. flowers

2rebecca Sun 12-May-13 10:39:02

Sometimes with anxiety being off work can make them worse as going back to work then becomes a big anxiety provoking hurdle to be got over.
Being off sick can help if the problem is likely to settle in a few weeks with a change or increase in medication, but in this case it sounds as though the anxiety is part of the OP's personality and she is working at reducing it with CBT and usually in CBT they advise not running away from upsetting situations but acclimatising yourself to them and looking at your thought processes.
If the job is not suited to your personality then only changing the job will help, or reducing your hours, although the CBT may help you care less about what others think of you.
I don't think canvassing the opinion of your colleagues will help and am surprised the psychologist suggested that.
I suspect as someone else said that some of them just avoid discussing problems with you in case you cry. Beta blockers can sometimes reduce blushing and if the crying is linked to this may help although if this has been going on for a while then you have probably tried them.

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 10:47:49

drgoogle: there is s much going on at work I can't explain here but I cannot risk taking time off sick at the moment, a lot depends on my being there. I have talked I through with my gp and other than all the things I'm trying at the moment there is nothing else he can/will offer to help m through this.

Lovesherdog: I do practice breathing exercises, maybe not enough but I find that the breathing seems to act as a trigger, sort of like telling my body that something's going to happen so I kind of brace myself rather than relaxing! I'm a lost cause!

Toad: thanks I will try the nudey pin up technique, I struggle once my mind is in panic mode to think of 'normal' things and despite cbt I still get stuck in the panic zone.

Selks Sun 12-May-13 10:50:18

People's blushing is rarely as visible to others as the blusher thinks it is.
Also even if people do notice a bit of blushing they're too busy with their own thoughts and stuff to think much about it.
In other words it hardly matters to other people.
Plus blushing can happen for all sorts of reasons. I blush but not because of anxiety. Actually I blush in a very blotchy way, mainly when I am stresses, hot or have eaten something spicy. I made myself believe that it wasn't a big deal and not to focus on it as it doesn't really matter in the wider scheme of things.
Be kind to yourself.

sushidave Sun 12-May-13 10:50:19

Interested in this as I've always been a pathological blusher in very specific circumstances at work (i.e. speaking in large meetings). I'd tried various relaxation techniques but didn't find them helpful so I'm actually booked in for some hypnotherapy next week. I found detailed information about the process of blushing via local hypnotherapists' websites, which was a real surprise, very interesting, and an improvement on the last time I researched it a few years ago, when the best I found were questionable links to surgical procedures!

Prices vary: I've decided to go with the most expensive in my area as after talking to the guy, he seemed to talk the most sense. He said it normally takes 2-3 sessions to see an improvement. I'll report back and let you know how it goes. From what we've talked about so far, the approach centres of shifting the focus of attention away from what others are thinking of you, and reprogramming your thought process away from the familiar path of blushing in specific circumstances. All I know is I can't wait to start feeling confident and competent in meetings: logically I know what I'm saying is worthwhile and makes sense, but the feeling of blushing just makes me feel like an idiot!

One thing which might reassure you is that hypnotherapists apparently treat blushing very often, ie many clients per week. This raises the question of why you never notice others blushing if so many people find it a problem. One answer is that the feeling of blushing is much worse than how it actually looks. I recently gave a speech at a friend's wedding and felt very hot and red but my husband told me that I was a normal colour (I trust him to tell me the truth).

Have a look in the mumsnet archives for blushing: that's what made me realise that hypnotherapy was an option.

Interested to hear others' experiences of this..

anxiousmess Sun 12-May-13 10:54:41

2rebecca you are right about the sickness thing, I have done it before and I have witnessed what colleagues say about other people who have been signed off for stress an it's not encouraging!

I was given beta blockers by a previous GP and they worked brilliantly but I have a new surgery and none of the GPs there are keen on beta blockers they just insist on anti d as a good anxiety treatment.

My first counsellor agreed that BBs would really help in my situation and the Gp wouldn't back this up. that counsellor no longer practices in my area and the new counsellor thinks BBs aren't any good and are only a sticking plaster and I should continue with the cbt route rather than becoming reliant on drugs.

scottishmummy Sun 12-May-13 10:59:23

gosh,you've got lot on your plate,and it clearly worries you.can alternative role be found?
there are aspects of your public role that will exacerbate the anxieties you feel
would you consider another role,something with less interface.hope ths resolves

Lizzabadger Sun 12-May-13 11:08:56

I blush at work and socially when I feel put on the spot, have to talk in meetings or when I think someone will say something embarrassing. It's worse sometimes than others. I can sort of get into a rut of doing it, then get out then get back in. I blush even thinking about blushing - I am doing it now!!

Although it feels uncomfortable and makes you very self-conscious it's actually really common. About 13% of people suffer from social anxiety in their lifetimes and many of the, are blushers. If I notice someone doing it it just makes them seem more human to me. I have asked for opinions on my blushing and had remarks like "It's nice that you still can" (!!!) and "You have very translucent skin". I did get a nickname of "Plum" in one place (I go deep purple all over my face and neck) but they weren't nice people anyhow.

I think the best thing to do is just ignore it and carry on, trying to drop any safety behaviours (I am sure you will have covered these in CBT). It is very unimportant in the scheme of things.

I agree the crying is another matter and you need to find a way to stop doing this in front of colleagues.

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