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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Stress in the workplace: How do I avoid it?

I find myself caught in a bit of a bind at work, at the moment. My co-workers expect me to do the same job I was doing before I had a month off due to stress and depression, while not seeming to realise that the job I was doing was the reason I had that time off.

So today, when I was asked to return to producing a weekly report rather than the monthly one I had changed to since coming back to work, I said no. Firmly. I even then explained that the repeated report writing was one of the reasons that I had had to take time off: too much expectation on me and too much criticism of the report, which was really only meant to be a tool to allow other people to complete their work. The criticism of the report became "shooting the messenger" and attacking it became more of a focus than dealing with the problems highlighted within it.

So after I made it clear that I wouldn't do it more than once per month, what I got was not a head-on attack but a barrage of sideways, sniping comments criticising me for being intransigent and questioning what use this report was.

To be clear, this data is available to everyone. Anyone could do this, given willingness to devote time to it. It’s not like I am the sole source of the information.

Anyway, I found that I couldn't deal with the passive-aggressive criticism and decided to deal with the situation in the best way I could, by picking up my things and walking out of the room. I fear, however, that this may not have been the best solution. It meant getting chased down the stairs by the deputy head of the department (my mentor) who wouldn't let me just go for a walk and clear my head but made me talk about it. As I didn't have the time to resolve it internally or calm down it means I resorted to a foul-mouthed tirade, threatened to walk out and let out my feelings on the guy who caused me the most grief. I don't think any of this was helpful. Looking back on it, my attempt to defuse myself has made me look unprofessional, childish, resentful, aggressive and unbalanced.
I feel I am letting myself down and don't seem to be able to find a way to fix this.

Finding out that I may have Asperger's has certainly opened my eyes to a lot, including why I react the way I do, but it doesn't always help me control my reactions or judge what is the best course of action in a situation. I can't gauge at the moment whether I did the right thing, but it doesn't feel like I did.

Right now I feel vulnerable and alienated, and I feel that I am being judged on the way I am trying to avoid the stress. I don't really know what I can do.

And as a beautiful irony, the guy who caused me to need to leave the room has just come to me to ask for a different report I promised him (this was no problem) and told me how hard it is to walk a line about firmly stating a position without offending people.

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