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to think that having an ill spouse is not a green light for being permanently bad tempered

(42 Posts)
babybarrister Mon 12-Oct-09 12:36:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WurzelBoot Mon 12-Oct-09 12:44:07

Leave her alone. She has to deal with it herself however she feels she can, and honestly might not want to go to lunch and concentrate on not snapping at people because these things take energy that she might not have. She isn't going to be able to mend her spouse with yoga, she might have tried it and found it hasn't worked; she may not have time to go to yoga classes in between work and caring for him and running a household, so in a lot of ways that sort of suggestion might just remind her of the things she can't have.

Yes, it's irritating for you, but sometimes your colleagues might not be people you get on with. This person clearly has a lot to deal with and may be aware that things are likely to get worse.

I don't doubt that your intentions are good, but the chances are she has good friends and/or family to confide in and work is just a necessary evil for her right now.

babybarrister Mon 12-Oct-09 12:48:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pippel Mon 12-Oct-09 12:51:14

yabu to be honest if you suggested yoga to me under those circumstances it wouldn't be well received

but I'm a bad tempered cow

WurzelBoot Mon 12-Oct-09 12:55:06

I understand. I think that all you can do is to not dump her, continue inviting even when rejected and to occasionally ask how things are going.

It is really hard and frustrating, but you have to remember that what she's going through is likely to push other things completely off the radar.

(I have a friend in a similar situation. It sucks, but it sucks far more for her than for me.)

chegirlknowswhereyoulive Mon 12-Oct-09 13:01:24

It is difficult for those around her and she isnt doing herself any favours but you need to understand she may not have much control how she is acting.

Stress and depression make us difficult to be with. The fact we realise this only makes us feel worse.

People deal with things in different ways. Some people have less resilience than others.

My OH has a long term illness. I havent got used to it because it changes all the time and so does he. I try and get on as normal but the fact I might come home and find him unable to walk is always in the back of my mind.

Chronically ill people can also be buggers to live with when they are in pain or scared. Her OH may be giving her hell at home and its really difficult to argue with someone who is ill and in pain. Its got to come out somewhere and unfortunately it may be coming out at work.

TBH people are bitches at work for much lesser reasons.

Its nice that you care about her but she may feel like she is being pressured by you. As well intentioned as you are she may well feel 'what she thinks a bit of frigging yoga is going to sort my bloody life out!'

mellifluouscauliflower Mon 12-Oct-09 13:06:59

Sorry but YAB a little bit U..

I am sure the snapping is wearing but probably not as wearing as the constant stress of having an ill husband and a thousand question marks hanging over your future.

No doubt her sleep is disturbed - the stress really does take up your entire being. No doubt she is also very tired from the extra work of caring from an ill husband (plus taking on his chores etc) and having no support at home. Dealing with the health services is not easy and requires a lot of energy.

She is probably depressed too but it's just a time thing, not a yoga thing. I would suggest concentating on listening and empathising when she comes to you rather than actively trying to solve her problems (which you probably can't, although I can see the trying comes from a good place..)

RainRainGoAway Mon 12-Oct-09 13:12:57

I do feel for this poor collegue/friend but if she is isolating herself and driving people away who would be otherwise able to support her its all a bit worrying.

I think everyone has a certain well of goodwill. I would make so many allowances for colleges who are in this situation and do as you are doing. But there is a certain point that if she is upsetting other people then perhaps something has to be said. Are you the person to say it?

This happened to our workplace. One of the junior members brothers was awaiting a transplant and the stress was obviously getting to her, but after a while the snapping upset so many other junior members our manager took her to one side and although empathised with her, informed her that being upset yourself was no excuse to upset others.
Of course i have every sympathy, if you said she was just very sad/crying etc I would say leave alone, but snapping is a different thing.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Mon 12-Oct-09 13:14:27

Wurzel - 'She isn't going to be able to mend her spouse with yoga'

Perhaps a leetle OTT? To me the OP wasn't suggesting things to help her pull herself together/make everything better, but to suggest coping mechanisms.

Her colleague has to live with her DHs illness regardless, and the OP thought that she might be able to ease some of the stress she seems under with yoga or talking about it with a friend?

Suggestions sound better to me than ignoring her colleagues distress, the OP can't know if her colleague is going to be offended by her offer of help.

ThingumyandBob Mon 12-Oct-09 14:00:16

To be honest no, I don’t think YABU, it’s ok to go through rough patch and not be yourself, but not so ok to use everyone you work with as an emotional punch bag…even if you don’t mean to or don’t know you are doing it.

Not sure if you are the best person to speak to her though, if her snapping is affecting workplace moral or work output then it’s your boss that needs to step up and deal with it sensitively….perhaps you need to have a chat with them?

pagwatch Mon 12-Oct-09 14:06:38

are you kidding me?

This person isn't having a rough patch but has a partner with a long term illness - he isn't in bed with a cold.
Dealing with a family illness that isn't likely to be improved is terrible and depressing and overwhelming and frightening.
I have no doubt that the yoga suggestion was made with kindness but it is offering a plaster to someone who is in deep trouble and therefore hugely insensitive.

Of course she is snapping. She is probably exhausted and frightened and possibly grieving.

Fucking nora.

TheHeadlessWombat Mon 12-Oct-09 14:10:33

YABU. Leave her alone other than letting her know that you're there to listen if she wants that.

Just be grateful that you don't have to live with what she does. It's incredibly difficult and it's something that hangs over you all the time. No wonder she's snappy and emotional.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Mon 12-Oct-09 14:12:12

What should the OP do then pagwatch? I'm making an assumption that the OP isn't a psychologist/doesn't have all the answers, she just seems to be suggesting what she knows in her remit of life experience.

Are you saying that if you can't offer effective help then don't bother with her? As any kind of communication with her colleague will be met with the hostility you seem to be showing in your post?

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Mon 12-Oct-09 14:17:23

"I am trying to be patient and kind to a colleague whose spouse is ill but the spouse has a long term illness and I just think that my colleague needs to realise how unpleasant she has been to everyone for the last year."

That makes you sound horrid.

You think she needs to understand how unpleasant she is being, I think you need to walk in her shoes for a while.

RainRainGoAway Mon 12-Oct-09 14:18:40

As someone who has dealt with a close relative with an illness (in this case a brain haemorrage in my mum leading to long term health problems - this was in my teens. Then my ds spent much of his first year in hospital with health problems) I disagree with the not giving even small acts of kindness.
There is even an article in Red this month about a woman with cancer giving advice on how to handle her, saying that a chocolate bar and her favourite magazine left on her doorstep by a neighbour meant so much. OK, it won't cure her, but the OP at least sounds like she is trying.
Agree with thingumy about not using collegues as emotional punching bags. There is no way I would have snapped at my collegues, even when I was really upset about my ds being ill.

hannahsaunt Mon 12-Oct-09 14:25:29

Depends on the job you are doing and upon whom it's impacting - my db's teacher in P1 and P2 was supporting a terminally ill husband - utterly dreadful sitution - but the parents didn't know until after the event and she made the lives of the children in her class utterly miserable through her temper (understandably short) - she shouldn't have been in the position and I dread to think what she was like with colleagues - are there ways in which there could be some discreet relief given at work to ease her stress?

babybarrister Mon 12-Oct-09 14:31:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shandyleer Mon 12-Oct-09 14:39:01

I don't think I've ever posted in AIBU but this is a subject close to my heart as my DH has a longterm illness that affects just about every body system, and is only going to get worse.

We all deal with stress in our different ways, and while I think you have been tolerant, considerate and kind towards your friend/colleague, I now think its time to back off. She seems to be handling her situation in her own way, and as long as she knows that you are there if she needs you than I think you need do no more. If you keep on asking her out or making suggestions that she turns down, then in a perverse sort of way you are exerting some pressure on her? I don't know if that makes sense, but I know that when people are kind and try to take me out of myself, I feel guilty refusing constantly, and sometimes end up doing something I really don't want to so as not to offend.

Personally, after DH has a particularly lengthy stay in hospital or an especially painful episode, I seem to go into myself. I think adrenalin keeps me coping whilst he is suffering, and then when things are on a more even keel I can let it all go as it were. As I don't work out of the home I can do this and offend relatively few people (my friends now realise its best to leave me alone until I come out of it, but I know they are there if I need them). It sounds as if your colleague doesn't have the option to stay at home and is perhaps unable to help the way she is reacting to the stress in her life? She may even be deliberately trying to isolate herself.

I don't know if I'm explaining this very clearly, and I do think you have been wonderfully patient, but I think now its time to let her approach you, and to try and overlook her abrupt manner if you can. And if she is upsetting other people in the workplace then let them deal with it, you can concentrate on being her ally/prop when she needs you.

RainRainGoAway Mon 12-Oct-09 14:40:30

sad shandy.
So sorry to hear about your DH.
A very wise post.

ThingumyandBob Mon 12-Oct-09 14:42:49

Nope, not kidding, but I have worked with a women in a very similar position who became so desperately unhappy and unpleasant to work with that she made several of the juniors (who had done nothing to provoke her) cry on several occasions, whichever way you looked at it, it was just unreasonable.

The situation became so unpleasant that no one wanted to come into work, crazy! Doesn’t matter what you are going through you can land your unhappiness on everyone else (not on the people you work with anyway and certainly not for a whole year)

I didn’t say that the OP boss should throw the frigging book at her, just that they should step up and deal with it sensitively, who knows she might be horrified by how much she’s been snapping at everyone. The lady I worked with was.

babybarrister Mon 12-Oct-09 14:53:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pagwatch Mon 12-Oct-09 14:58:36

grin at bleep being really hostile and sarcastic because I was

i said in my post that I believed that the offer the op made was kindly meant. And I suspect that the op would have said if she were a psycologist but thanks for clearing that up. I am not sure how my saying that suggesting yoga is not terribly kind gets translated into suggesting that no one should bother at all ?
I think the offers ogf lunch are very kind and i think asking how she is coping, is she getting any help, does she want to talk are all kind too.
It is entirely possible to have a conversation where you reference how obvious it is that she is under some strain without lecturing her about snapping

The Op didn't say that the person in question was making everybody miserable and reducing people to tears. She said that she was 'snapping' and that is was 'rather wearing' . That does not sound like it is causing some sort of tsunami of emotional torment to her co-workers.

I have to deal with people who are rather wearing in many aspects of my life. Sometimes even on mumsnet. i would hope that when there seems to be some reason why they are wearing I try to be grateful that my life is not currently as tough as theirs and be kind.

Jamieandhismagictorch Mon 12-Oct-09 15:01:16

I can see your point, baby. Whatever the cause of her depression/stress, it can be hard because you clearly want to help her but are frustrated that she can't seem to take on board your suggestions. As che says, people react differently to things, and can sometimes end up behaving in counterproductive ways. Unfortunately, you can't make it better for her.

So I'd just stop making any suggestions and try and listen

WurzelBoot Mon 12-Oct-09 15:01:23

Babybarrister, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to diss your yoga idea! Of course you have been extremely patient with her. I think what I meant was that to her, she might well have thought "what good would that do!".

I don't think there's any harm in reacting to individual incidents. For example if she snaps that she already told you something, to respond "I'm sorry, X, if you did I didn't remember, please don't snap at me." What I wouldn't think would be effective is to talk about "you're doing this all the time! Everyone's upset with you!" because it seems to me that this is either something she knows but doesn't think she can change right now, or she doesn't know and it will give her an extra stress.

Not that you ever suggested that of course! But when things build up like this it can happen.

And I agree with the 'small acts of kindness' thing mentioned downthread. Particularly if she doesn't know, sort of "it was buy one get one free on galaxy bars - I can't eat two - you have it!". Those unexpected pleasures are really good too.

pagwatch Mon 12-Oct-09 15:03:46


nice post. you did say it wellsmile

when my DS was first being diagnosed I used to feel really bad when people would try to jolly me along. I actually hid it pretty well so as a consequence they would always underestimate how seriously challenging and exhausting DSs problems were. When you have little sleep because you are anxious and then have so much to do during the day - and the other children to care for, It becomes so difficult.
So I would be just at breaking point and someone would inevitably suggest a manicure or me time. I know, always knew, that they meant well. And I was always grateful for their thought. But it just increased the isolation because it just showed that they had no earthly clue what we were all going through. It made me feel incredibly alone

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