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Broke down at work today. So embarrassed.

(22 Posts)
Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 00:13:15

My brother died by suicide in September. I took three weeks off work, supported my mum and dad and then went back as I felt ready. I have since moved to a different list and few people know what happened, and I kind of prefer it that way.

Anyway the last few weeks have been a strange time. Things have being going so right in some ways. I have moved into a new house with my partner and we are planning to try for a baby. But I am finding life harder to cope with in many ways all of a sudden. My work, which I generally enjoy, can be a stressful nightmare. And I have been feeling increasingly sad about my brother, ironically as my life is getting objectively better.

I have weekly "supervision" with my boss, who happens to be a psychiatrist, as I work in mental health. This is intended to discuss any work related issues, as it is recognised it can be challenging. He knows about my brother but I have not gone into much detail. As I mentioned I have been feeling a bit stressed, but generally coping. He had a couple of "feedback" points which were basically constructive criticism about minor things such as detail in note taking etc. I felt s little smarted by this as they seemed a bit nit-picky when I am a bit run ragged by the job, but I accepted his points, and he said it in a nice way. However he then started asking me about how things were going in general with life etc and I just broke down in tears. We had a long chat, especially about my brother, and I worried I may have exposed myself a bit too much. I also now worry it was unprofessional in a work place to lose control like this. He was very nice and sympathetic and said that I should go home early. I worry now he may think I'm nuts and not up to my job. I am embarrassed I was sent home. Is it normal for this sort of thing to happen after I seemingly felt ok? I spoke to my mum and she said her and dad have had a few wobbles recently. Ironically dd is also seeming to get a bit more upset about it lately - she is 6 and it didn't seem to phase her at the time.

I am embarrassed to show my face at work on Tuesday - although it was only him who saw me like this.

SwedishEdith Fri 14-Apr-17 00:24:44

Sorry to hear about your brother. As your boss is a psychiatrist, I really doubt he thinks you're nuts. Maybe he was asking as he was fishing and is genuinely trying to find out if you're ok? Crying when you're sad is fine. Please don't worry about that.

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 00:31:40

I know nuts was poorly worded - I am in tears and just rambling - apologise for any offence caused. I just worry he thinks I am losing my shit when I really can't afford to do that with the job I do. And I generally think I do it well, I would take time off if I genuinely thought I wasn't up to it. I guess with his minor criticisms, my crying and him sending me home he is going to come to the conclusion I am not up to it and am actually unwell, or just rubbish st my job.

I am hoping that this is just all part of normal grieving? Or has it been "too long"?

SwedishEdith Fri 14-Apr-17 00:35:05

Or he might have sent you home because he cared? Please try not to worry too much about it.

SwedishEdith Fri 14-Apr-17 00:36:20

Work, I mean, not your brother. flowers

SlB09 Fri 14-Apr-17 00:46:37

So you work in mental health but don't think you should show your emotions about a very traumatic event? Your boss will absolutely not think you are 'nuts', as a psychiatrist he will be more able to contextualise your emotions as a natural process and reaction to events and probably sent your home as it was the compassionate and caring thing to do. Don't be embarrassed by your emotion, its a process that will include ups and downs xx

notanurse2017 Fri 14-Apr-17 00:48:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Woollymammoth63 Fri 14-Apr-17 00:57:38

Hi, I do understand. From the outside looking in, everyone will think no need to be embarrassed. And there isn't. But when you are in the sort of job that requires high coping skills, and being calm under pressure it's so hard to accept we are human, with human emotions.
It's very common to experience grief over the course of months, or for about a year. That's totally normal.
When you have supervision, it's an odd situation because it's quite personal, you are aware that the consultant is a trained psychiatrist and sometimes psychotherapist, it feels hard to hide anything. They are quite different from consultants in other specialisms.
However, this is your job and your workplace and I know it feels very difficult to break down at work. It's fine, try to accept it's ok and normal and doesn't mean you are not coping. But think about how you are on Monday - was it just an in the moment thing, or are you starting to feel very grief stricken because your own health is more important than anything, and everything else can wait. Look after yourself, plenty of healthy food, fresh air and rest and see how you go. If you did have to take time off for working through your grief that's perfectly fine.

Woollymammoth63 Fri 14-Apr-17 00:58:18

Yes I am so sorry for the loss of your brother.

Woollymammoth63 Fri 14-Apr-17 01:00:28

Also in my experience you can feel very grief stricken at about six months. Totally normal.

SealSong Fri 14-Apr-17 01:11:05

I work in mental health too, and I understand the work context and culture that you describe. There is often a feeling (self imposed at times) that we have to be tough and strong, to cope with huge amounts of stress without the cracks showing, in order to work in mental health.
It's ironic that we have to (or feel we have to) push our own mental health down or suppress our emotions in order to do this.
But in all honesty, it's ok to be human, to have feelings. You were not unprofessional at all. In supervision it should be a safe space if emotion happens. Your boss enquired, and you replied, and tears came as well. It's no big deal. I've cried in supervision on several occasions.
After going off sick with stress for several months a couple of years ago I realised that trying to be strong and resilient in the face of unrelenting stress had made me sick and ill. I am much more honest with myself now, and if that means being more open with my supervisor then I am.
Look after yourself.
I'm sorry about the loss of your brother flowers

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:12:34

I also kind of worry that he is going to think my reaction was down to his bringing up things I need to improve, which it wasn't, it is totally fine and appropriate for him to to that.
But I think it was the straw that broke the camels back - I totally catastrophised that in my head as "shit it is all unravelling - he can see I'm not coping and he thinks I'm not doing my job properly", and as there has been a lot bubbling away under the surface, and he was nice, and he actually asked me how I was (people have stopped doing that now), it all just came pouring out.

I am worried now that he will not feel he can be honest about my performance, so I will never be sure if he is genuinely happy with my work, or just trying to spare my feelings.

I am also dreading my next supervision (in a week) as I don't think I can cope with this happening again. I am even thinking of asking for supervision with a different consultant. I'm not sure if that is just a defence mechanism to keep my feelings buried, or whether this is the appropriate thing to do.

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:15:21

I guess I just feel a bit exposed now.

whitehandledkitchenknife Fri 14-Apr-17 01:19:15

I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand. Six months is no time at all to process what has happened. I'm wondering if you're so used to being calm and collected on the surface, getting on with a complex job ...and your supervisor, by showing the compassion you show others, has poked that sore, grieving spot?
Don't be embarrassed. It's perfectly normal. If we can't allow ourselves some vulnerability in supervision, where can we?
Go easy on yourself. When we work with others who are vulnerable, we can sometimes forget to allow ourselves to be vulnerable too. flowers

whitehandledkitchenknife Fri 14-Apr-17 01:21:02

X posted with SealSong. Agree with everything said.

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:23:40

I am actually genuinely anxious about going in to work on Monday - and I have never felt like this before. It is not just today. The job is becoming ridiculously stressful. All week I was covering the work that when fully staffed three people would do. And I had a new staff member shadowing me, which, whilst she was lovely slowed me down even more. And then I get criticism for not writing quite enough detail in the notes of a very fast moving meeting. I'm trying my hardest, but I just don't know if I can do it anymore. Not with everything else that is going on. The fact that we were short made me feel even worse about going home, although he insisted. I was all for dusting myself off and going back out there, but to be honest I was relieved when he wouldn't let me.

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:25:06

It doesn't help that all the service users remind me of my brother either. 😕

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:27:38

And I'm on a week of nights starting Monday. But just realised at least I will avoid supervision and not be working with the usual crowd.

Bottlesoflove Fri 14-Apr-17 01:28:12

Thanks everyone for making me feel a bit better. Good night. 💐

Woollymammoth63 Fri 14-Apr-17 01:41:20

Bottles, I understand as I have had a similar situation a few months ago, before I swapped over to doing the job you are doing now. I was having counselling and was supposed to discuss something and got terribly upset, the next day cried at work, and the whole experience made me feel very exposed. It was hard. If you want to PM me feel free as I can't reveal too much for obvious reasons x

Expat38matt Fri 14-Apr-17 06:37:02

I'm sorry you lost your brother. I lost a friend also in September to suicide . I still get unexpected wobbles so I think you're more than entitled. If you work in MH field I think your boss would understand?so you don't have to feel embarrassed or worried. But maybe you're just not ready to return to work especially in a field that's triggering for you ?

Expat38matt Fri 14-Apr-17 06:45:45

I read your post again. I see your concern that your boss may think your sudden expression of emotion was down to his professional feedback and the assumption that you can't cope with that and therefore no one will ever be able to give u professional feedback again!!
I don't believe that but if you're concerned I also think it's ok on a professional level to sit down with your boss and explain that your emotion was external and not about your professional feedback
I'm sure they already know this but perhaps it'll make you feel better to separate the two different kinds of emotions?

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