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I am depressed and I am having a hard time making it through a work day. I am really tired and slow and I am obviously withdrawn from social discussion at lunch. I am not eating very well either. It happens. I'm trying but the effort required is enormous.

But there is this stupid hyper-active woman who keeps telling me to "Cheer up!" "Change your attitude!" " It's a beautiful day - why do you look so glum?" She's really noisy and in-your-face, and I can't hack her. I just want to burst into tears every time she comes near me. I try to avoid her but she'll spy me across teh yard and yell out to me. It's awful. ;)

I thought about printing off some sheets on depression, and dealing with depressed people, and leaving them in her mailbox with a note saying, "Give me a break, please" but I don't know if that is the best way to approach the subject.

Anyone have any ideas?

Bern

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Bernard,

I have a book, title is:"Working in the Dark" subtitle: "Keeping your Job While Dealing with Depression"

It addresses EXACTLY your issues. The authors are Fawn Fitter and Beth Gulas and it is an easy read, if like me, you also suffer from difficulty concentrating.

I am on SSDI and no longer HAVE to work, thank Goddess, but this was a huge issue for me when I did work. I sooooooooooo feel for you.

Stupid cliche but you aren't alone. Are you able to pop on line during work and stop in here and just blow off some steam a few times a day? I know some workplaces the internet usage is very closely (communistly) monitored and people get fired and stuff.

But, I'm a stay at home, schooling my 5th grader, on disability as I said, for health reasons below my neck (INOW, not mental illness, though that might have been the icing on the cake when the determination was made.) My theraprist's report and my hospital records from my nuthouse stays make me sound less stable than I feel, but I could quite possibly be delusional. ;)

Anyway, get that book. I think you will find a lot of helpful strategies in it.

Good luck,

S9

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so what kind of advice DOES it give for dealing like jerks like bernard is dealing with?

because, that is what she is. she's a total jerk.

i'm usually hyper and chipper at work, because i'm lucky enough to have TONS of dopamine whether i need it or not. but i sure as hell don't shove it at other people. they can be as grumpy as they want. i've been told it's one of the nice things about working with me and that it actually cheers other people up a bit, because nothing at work seems to effect me. let's here it for autism, huh??

anyway, i'd love to hear advice for people like that too! i can't stand them. does it say go ahead and smack 'em? i doubt it. *pout*

in the meanwhile, you can use my boyfriend's method. he says "i LIKE being grumpy. being pissy MAKES me happy. i'm smiling inside because i've pissed you off" and other endearing comments. lol. (he's bipolar.)

abifae

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I used to have three sheets of paper tacked to the outside of my office door. One was a regular smiley face that meant it was cool to come in, the next was something like this ;) mean knock before you enter or be cautious before you enter and the last was something like :) that had a little note letting people know to not enter and email me(or leave messages on my voicemail) with comments and I'd return them within the hour. I never returned the "smiley peoples" emails or messages unless they were absolutely work related. They got the point rather quickly. That way you can close your door or if you don't have a door post it on your cubby wall- when she comes by point to the sign (and you can put whatever you can get away with on it without breaking the conduct rules) without saying a word and turn back to your desk.

One of my friends had a clock that pointed to whatever time and the note below it was "SHHH no talking til then" that was funny.

If your boss says one word you say your primary goal at work is productivity and "X" loves to chat so that was your way to restabilize your work environment.

tacky talkers it's like damn if you don't have work can you go find some? this is not a social gathering it's WORK. and women like that never have anything of value to say and can never understand why they never get promoted past a certain level. amazing...

lilie

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Seems to me you need to think very hard before showing much weakness at work. However, it also seems to me that you can make a good case that this woman is distracting you. Or maybe even harassing you.

If in a reckless mood, one could always whisper "What's it going to be like when you end up saying that to someone who's just lost their parents? How do you know I haven't? You're lucky it was only my goldfish that died today." Or make up fake New York Times stories about large meteorites expected to hit the earth. But I suppose it isn't wise to appear that flaky.

I suppose saying "Calm down. It may be a beautiful day, but we're going to die." doesn't really cut it. Or "You're interfering with my personal serenity." Or, "I am happy, but I just don't like showing it off when so many people are depressed. Even the ones who are pretending to be happy. Have you considered Prozac?"

It's too bad, because a lot of genuinely happy people seem to have it in an infectious, but not pushy way.

P.S. If you don't care much about the job, just say thank her for her thoughts, confide that you've just had a diagnosis of terminal cancer, but that you think you can beat it. Of course, you'll probably then hear every day that she's praying for you.

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LOL ;)

So many good responses - both happy, and helpful ones! Thankfully a close friend at work has noticed my frustrations and saved me today by dragging me away and talking me into a rant and then a big laugh (after the tears and hugs that go with a rant). After her help, I feel I can deal with crazy-happy-stupid lady a bit better.

Bern

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i like the idea of the happy/middle/GO AWAY signs. you need to train people to your personality. some people just want to rub themselves (personality wise, or maybe physically, i'm not too sure!) all over you, and this is a polite way to stand up for yourself.

sometimes it won't work with everyone, especially in the lunchroom where you can't exactly wear the sign, but maybe getting them to notice it on your office or cube will get them to notice it on your face and in your actions- not everyone lives in bubble world.

i have the same problems at work. thankfully work is a thing of the past with SSDI, but there are SO many annoying people at work. i think as bipolar/depressed people we're more sensitive in general too, so their annoying behavior is all the more annoying to us.

i just rolled my eyes (to myself, of course) and mentally ranted, and when i got home I kicked the cats (not really), and if it was bad had a glass of wine.

aren't people idiots?

RANT

loon

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I haven't been on here for a while, but I saw this thread, and I hope Bern won't mind if I hijack just a little?

What do you do when you have just the opposite type of colleague?

I work in a very small office - there is me, my colleague M, my boss and our salesguy. Very often our boss is in another office as he is the European Financial controller. Very ofter the salesguy is travelling around to other countries as well. Which leaves just me and M.

Now, I have my days/moments/weeks/whatever and I'm not the chattiest person in the world, but I make a real effort every day to be polite, say "good morning", offer to get coffee, that sort of thing. M on the other hand is completely antisocial. Completely. Honestly, that's OK, but all day every day? We've worked together for 7 months now. She is not a talker at all. Even when I try to talk to her she won't talk about anything personal, like - I asked her once how old she was, she refused to say anything; I asked her what her kids' names were, she wouldn't tell me. I ask her how school is going, I ask her if she had a good weekend... I get grunts that could be assumed to be a "yes".

She is a single mum and she goes to school and works part time. I respect that a lot. I'm sure it's hard for her sometimes. On 4 separate occassions she has brought 1 or both of her kids into the office for a couple of hours because *I guess* she had sitter issues. I say "I guess" because she never even said "I'm going to have to have my kids in for a couple hours, do you mind?". Mind you, she has *only* done this when the boss/sales guy is NOT around!

The last week at work was pure hell. She literally said about 3 words to me, we had the kid situation AND she had her headphones on listening to music for two whole days (which means *I* have to answer the phone).

Because I'm emotionally sensitive, this f*cks with my head big time. I am already paranoid that people don't "like" me and I just don't understand what the hell the problem is or how to deal with it. I have spoken to my boss about the kid thing, he agrees with me that it's a bit deceptive and disrespectful. I haven't really said anything about her personality because I don't know what to say. I have had this problem with a colleague in the past (Maybe it's me????) and I actually ended up getting fired at that job!

I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?

Sorry Bern! I am certainly not trying to minimalise your problem!!

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No problem Velveteen,

It's difficult finding a balance at work. I agree, some people can be too standoff-ish and rude, and this is equally annoying as people who are overly friendly and in your face. I am still being annoyed by Crazy Hyper-happy lady but also by the other extreme - the stressed, grumpy incommunicable folk lurking in the depths of the staffroom.

Gah. I have no suggestions as to what to do. I'd probably try a nice gesture like a small flower or little chocolate on her desk to open conversation. If that didn't work, I'd just let it go and go about my day ignoring her. Not as easy as it sounds but making a conscious decision not to let it get to you, is important.

Luck & hugs

Bern

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hi bern,

i already talked to you about Miss Hyper USA, so i'll answer to V now. sorry about the thread-jacking!

v- i'd just ask her one day if there is anything you can do to help minimize her stress, because you have noticed that she's having a hard day/week/life. whatever. that will let her know, hopefully if she has any brains at all, that she's being a rude bitch. if she doesn't get the hint then it is her, not you, who needs to be examined by the boss.

i'd keep a discreet record of her behavior. every time she sits there with teh headphones and doesn't do her job, jot it down. when she brings the kids, jot it down. particularly bitchy mood? that is very unprofessional conduct. saying hello to your coworkers is kind of standard. jot it down that her behavior makes you feel uncomfortable.

what can you do with this information? it depends on your boss/HR department/company structure/laws in your area. i've had former jobs where they would have laughed in my face, and i've had others where this would have been taken seriously and the offender written up or at least counseled about her behavior.

no one is perfect, but there are some things you just have to do at work. one is be nice to your coworkers. no one ever said you have to be friends, just work together. if she can't do that, and that is for sure a part of her job, then she isn't doing her job.

loon

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B: It's great that you have this friend in the office. I hope things keep going a little better. That's probably good, becuase I don't think it's safe to say the things I mentioned, however much I'd like to be a fly on the wall (somehow, a fly that understands spoken language, mind you) when (in the unlikely event, really) you said them to her.

V: Sounds to me like this woman has her own problems. Serious ones. This is not normal. Even if a normal person didn't like you much they'd still interact a little. Anyway, unless it puts too much of a burden on you, it may be best to just leave her be most of the time. If she needs to be in a hole, she's probably going to dig it herself.

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ask her one day if there is anything you can do to help minimize her stress, because you have noticed that she's having a hard day/week/life. whatever. that will let her know, hopefully if she has any brains at all, that she's being a rude bitch.

It will? Sounds rather roundabout to me. That is not my idea of a hint, unless by "hint" you mean "peculiarly obtuse rune to be pondered over for six hundred pages of a fantasy epic." This is not direct. This is assuming a particular shared set of social rules that many people don't share.

saying hello to your coworkers is kind of standard.
It is? I never knew that until someone explained it to me rather explicitly, and even then it still took me three weeks to try get the hang of it and then I had to quit that job for unrelated reasons. Again, you are assuming a shared standard she may not share.

i'd keep a discreet record of her behavior. every time she sits there with teh headphones and doesn't do her job, jot it down. when she brings the kids, jot it down. particularly bitchy mood? that is very unprofessional conduct.
If her actions are causing her to neglect aspects of her job, or are interfering directly with your ability to perform yours, then yes, keep a record of relevant behavior. I'd recommend asking her about it quite directly before turning into Harriet the Spy, though, especially if you'd like to cobble together some sort of non-hostile working environment.

jot it down that her behavior makes you feel uncomfortable.
Right.

10.45 AM. Coworker hangs up coat in silence. Does not smile or say hello.

11.00 AM. Coworker sorts paperwork into stacks with disturbing intensity.

11.46 AM. Coworker does not say "bless you" when I sneeze.

What the hell? Keep a record of unprofessional conduct, sure, but pass notes back and forth with HR saying "she's weird and I don't like how that makes me feel?" The HELL? Loon, I really have to disagree with you here.

no one is perfect, but there are some things you just have to do at work. one is be nice to your coworkers.
I have yet to see this in a job description. Ever. And I have had about a dozen jobs since I finished high school. Someone's definition of "be nice" may simply be to coexist peacefully.

no one ever said you have to be friends, just work together.
The only thing I noted from Velveteen's post suggesting her coworker isn't doing her job is when she said her coworker doesn't answer the phone when she has her headphones on. "Working together" isn't always cooperative. Are you familiar with how toddlers play "together?" They usually do things near each other, copying each other perhaps, but don't interact much at all. Parallel play. For some people, working without communication is far more normal, and perhaps more efficient, than chattering with someone else all the way.

What Loon's remarks fail to take into account is that 1. lack of small talk and such isn't always an intentional indication of hostility and 2. some people have no fucking clue how to get along with others. It is one hell of a lot easier for me to duck into my little bubble of nontalking than to try figure out how to greet someone or how to smile the right way or nod the right way or answer a simple question. Words get stuck in my throat some days, responses creaking out of my mouth too slowly and quite inarticulately to be taken right, like my jaw has rusted shut from disuse. It is REALLY HARD to answer questions, even simple questions, because there are so many variables as to how and why. To you, someone saying hello might be commonplace, something expected. To someone else in a particular chunk of headspace, even a friendly remark can be felt as hostile and invasive.

I'm not saying your coworker is exactly like me, Velveteen, but I think Loon's advice is indicative of the standard NT mentality that overran all of high school. (Loon, remember how your friend has difficulty obtaining and keeping jobs because of social problems? Shall I attach big flashing lights to one way social difficulties can manifest themselves? Would you try to get your friend fired if you didn't know him already and if you weren't aware of his being an Aspie?) Lack of communication is NOT NECESSARILY HOSTIlLE. Going from your post and only your post, there could be any number of reasons why your coworker doesn't respond well to your questions and has difficulty figuring out what kind of behavior is appropriate. It's not about you.

Maybe you can find a way to establish interaction with her, or maybe, if her self-imposed isolation doesn't interfere with her work or yours, she would prefer to be left alone.

Suggestions? Try to find ways to show you are a nonthreatening person. Do you have email at the office? If not, perhaps you could try leaving her notes. Perhaps a less immediate form of communication (written vs verbal) will be easier for her to respond to. If there's something she has done or is doing, explain it to her in very clear terms. Please refrain from hint-dropping. If you feel she is unfriendly in the morning, tell her "it makes me feel uncomfortable when you don't acknowledge me when you arrive at the beginning of the work day. Failure to respond when I say "hello" makes me feel as if you dislike me. Could you reciprocate when I greet you in the mornings? Thank you." Maybe other people won't respond to this like I do, but clarity is needed. Find your own words. There's a good chance that such a message will feel like a threat at first, then settle in. Things take time. Just please, please, please, avoid playing mind games and tattletaling.

Same if you have a problem with her bringing her children to work. Is this okay with you? If so, tell her "I don't mind if you bring your kids to work sometimes when you're stuck, but I'd appreciate it if you'd ask me in advance." If not, tell her "I have trouble working when your children are here. Is there something I could do to help you find a better solution?"

I like Bernard's suggestion that you make small friendly gestures like leaving a treat on her desk. It's noncritical and nonthreatening. Unless she chucks it at your head or pointedly pokes it into the trash when she knows you're looking, assume her response to be nonhostile. Maybe she'll say thank you. Maybe she won't, perhaps out of not knowing how to respond. If such gestures go without mention two or three times, try asking her what she thought of the item. If you think you see a good moment and she apparently isn't aware of this already, explain at this point that it's customary in our culture to say "thank you" when someone gives you something or does you some sort of favor. Small points. No big lecture on custom and whatever. No patronizing speeches. Just a quick mention of expected behavior.

You do not want to know how long it took my best friend in high school -- pretty much my first friend ever after a relentlessly miserable elementary experience -- to get me to talk to her. She sat next to me every day in class for nearly two weeks, trying to make conversation every time, before I finally started getting a grip on how to respond.

I can't tell you if your coworker is just preoccupied or intentionally rude or unaware of social conventions, but I think the first and third options are things you should consider before logging her "bad" behavior and complaining to your boss. Be patient. Do your best to be friendly. Maybe she'll start to break out a little bit, and acknowledge that you are her human coworker.

(I'm an Aspie. I'm biased.)

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THANKS for the responses. Really appreciated!

Because I hadn't had any responses at first (and unfortunately when I have a problem NOW I need an answer NOW and I didn't get one so I huffed and puffed about that as well) I haven't seen the responses until this moment.

A few comments:

I *do* think it's a pretty common practise to say things like "good morning" and "thank you" when you work with people. I'm NOT the friendliest, chattiest person in the world, that I admit. However, when in the workplace I try damn hard to be cordial (I sound so old and old-fashioned!) to my colleagues. NO I do not expect to be best friends or buddy buddy, but being nice just makes things comfortable. Since I spend most of my time feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, I NEED comfort outside of my skin.

Last week was just awful with her, this week was better, BUT our salesguy was in the office most of the week. He has a more "open" personality, so you can talk occassionally and laugh and that gives a sort of "break" to the daily stress of the job. It's nice and I really like him. Needless to say, she rarely had her headphones on (she really only does this sort of thing when it's just me and her). She did not bring her kids in the office.

I made more of an effort with her - normally, I guess, I expect (horrible thing, expectations) people to try with ME more than I try with them, but this was clearly not going to be the case. I made an effort with a tiny bit of chit chat. I offered her some of my mango one day (well, it was pretty ripe and I couldn't eat the whole thing and I didn't want it to go to waste! ;) ) and she seemed surprised and pleased. I tried not to focus on all her irritating little habits. AND I spoke to my boss just a wee bit more about it, in a relaxed setting AND in my own language (the language thing is a HUGE issue for me, since I speak Dutch MOST of the time in the office, but I communicate better in my mother tongue, English) - we went to lunch, though she could not go, yesterday and because salesguy is Bulgarian, English was the common language. So, out of the office, neutral setting, two glasses of wine, and ability to communicate fully. Good combo.

I was more relaxed. She seemed more relaxed and talkative. Maybe she is just like me and needs the other person to make more of an effort first. I'll keep trying. I don't want a bad situation like I had in the job I got fired from.

I am still unsure I can directly approach her with her behaviour. This is mega-scary for me. I did however once ask her to turn her music down as it was really annoying me to hear it from her headphones. She obliged sans grumpiness. So, I guess I CAN do it, I just need to build up the courange to do so.

Again, thanks, and again, sorry for the hijack!

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ask her one day if there is anything you can do to help minimize her stress, because you have noticed that she's having a hard day/week/life. whatever. that will let her know, hopefully if she has any brains at all, that she's being a rude bitch.

It will? Sounds rather roundabout to me. That is not my idea of a hint, unless by "hint" you mean "peculiarly obtuse rune to be pondered over for six hundred pages of a fantasy epic." This is not direct. This is assuming a particular shared set of social rules that many people don't share.

saying hello to your coworkers is kind of standard.
It is? I never knew that until someone explained it to me rather explicitly, and even then it still took me three weeks to try get the hang of it and then I had to quit that job for unrelated reasons. Again, you are assuming a shared standard she may not share.

This so made me recall the Jerry Seinfeld riff about saying Good Morning once to each person in the office, then the awkward faces and meeps we [the collective, specifically US, I reckon...] go about our day still feeling the need to ingratiate--in some way--smiles, nods, meeps, the same people through out the day. Seinfeld's hypothesis in this joke was thas we should all be able to just say, simply, *acknowledge* after the official initial. ;)

My physical disabilities, which enable me to draw from the tax system I've paid into for 30 years, are a serious PAIN to deal with, however, given the choice; I think I'll be disabled rather than deal with the crippling horrors (for me) of the office. ugh, so many unwritten rules/agendas. I even worked in HR, which, btw, is the worst gossipy place one can work--in my experiences.

Hats off to ya'll still doing it. It's a bitch.

S9

Refering to Ella's second comments, I'm still a spazz, obviously with the quotes and too tired to fuck with it.

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I *do* think it's a pretty common practise to say things like "good morning" and "thank you" when you work with people. I'm NOT the friendliest, chattiest person in the world, that I admit. However, when in the workplace I try damn hard to be cordial (I sound so old and old-fashioned!) to my colleagues. NO I do not expect to be best friends or buddy buddy, but being nice just makes things comfortable. Since I spend most of my time feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, I NEED comfort outside of my skin.

I never said it wasn't common practice. The point I was trying to establish is that this is an unwritten rule. It is not written in any employment contract. It is simply expected. Some of people are well nigh incapable of reading that invisible ink and need to have it spelled out for them.

I don't think saying hello is cruel and unusual punishment. Nevertheless, I did not know I needed to do this until two coworkers of mine asked me "why don't you ever say hello to us? It makes it look like you don't like us or something." Even though I left that job soon after, I was able to generalize that societal expectation and act accordingly in later work scenarios. I still wouldn't know this unless someone had told me.

As for "being nice," what is your definition of "nice?" Is this something you are capable of articulating in specific terms?

I am still unsure I can directly approach her with her behaviour. This is mega-scary for me. I did however once ask her to turn her music down as it was really annoying me to hear it from her headphones. She obliged sans grumpiness. So, I guess I CAN do it, I just need to build up the courange to do so.
Keep working at that. The ability to deal with a difficult situation head-on will be a useful addition to your arsenal of life skills. For those people who don't get hints, the only way you can fairly expect them to change their behavior is to tell them what change is needed. Her non-grumpiness suggests that she isn't ignoring you out of malice. Perhaps you can bridge the communication gap yet.
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