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Ari887

Meltdown at work

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Today I had a total breakdown at work.  I'm talking ugly crying while my boss held me before sending me home to "rest".  There's been some staffing issues and I've had to take on a lot of extra responsibilities so I think the stress finally pushed me over the edge. Right before I had this weird experience where it was like everyone was speaking in slow motion or maybe I was thinking slowly?  I don't know.  I could barely follow a normal conversation and completely blanked out at one point (just a minute or two but still).  Afterwards I could tell that I had still been working during this time but I didn't remember completing it.   Then it was like I could hear mumbling and indistinct whispers that were so loud it was hard to focus on the actual people in front of me.   I'm not sure if I was hallucinating or having an anxiety attack or some combination.   

Has anyone else had any episodes at work or other public places?  I am beyond embarrassed to show my face again after this melt down.  There's a difference between someone knowing you have a mental illness and seeing the reality.  Anyone have any advice on how to deal?

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The fact that your boss held you and said you could take the rest of the day off is probably a good sign; it means that they were able to empathize with you and I would assume understand that you've had a lot going on. I've had similar experiences where I tend to lose focus no matter how hard I'm trying to pay attention and I have trouble trying to express what I'm thinking. It's not fun and I can imagine that hearing whispers on top of it was very scary. One thing I find that works in an overwhelming situation is to take a large breath through your nose and slowly let it out over 30 or so seconds through your mouth (my therapist taught this to me).

Edited by Swamp56

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Hi and welcome to CB! I'm glad you joined us.

I don't think you should be embarrassed to show your face at work. What happened happened. It sounds like your boss was understanding and cool about it. If I were you I'd go in with my head held high. Seriously, I really don't care what people think if it is something beyond my control.

However, I do think you should tell your psychiatrist about this meltdown. It's important to find out what it was and what triggered it if for no other reason than your own peace of mind. 

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Thanks for the support guys.  I'm not exactly glad other people experience stuff like this but it is comforting to know there are people out there who get it.  

My boss and coworker were very kind about the whole thing but I guess I just worry they won't take me seriously anymore.  Plus there's just this part of me that hates that anyone had to see me like that.  

I stopped going to therapy a while ago because I've seen doctors on and off for years and I just started to feel so over the whole thing.  I was doing ok and managing things fine on my own until recently.  Clearly that that wasn't the best decision.  

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I hope you will make an appointment with a psychiatrist and a therapist. I think it is important and will help you understand your mental health better and get treatment if needed.

I wouldn't worry about being taken seriously. As they say, crap happens. As long as you are not melting down every day, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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5 hours ago, Ari887 said:

I could barely follow a normal conversation and completely blanked out at one point (just a minute or two but still).  Afterwards I could tell that I had still been working during this time but I didn't remember completing it.

I can empathize.  I blank out when in the middle of a conversation also.  It is embarrassing and frustrating to me, and even today I still have that happen.  Sometimes when in a conversation, my mind is racing around (the thoughts are) so much that I end up nodding yes or no to everything else they say because I have lost most all forms of concentration with a person, family, etc.

Idk about the mumbling ... that is something I think is a little bit of a hallucination ... stress/anxiety will cause something like that too happen, at least to me.  But I'd ask your pdoc about it (when you find one).  Do you have a diagnosis from a previous pdoc? Or on meds from a previous DR?

5 hours ago, Ari887 said:

There's a difference between someone knowing you have a mental illness and seeing the reality.  Anyone have any advice on how to deal?

I think you have a great boss who is really understanding.  I agree about there being a difference "between someone knowing you have a mental illness and seeing the reality." 

I'm not sure if this advice will help, but I can't remember breaking down in public because people in my life wouldn't know what to do and would be embarrassed, telling me to just, "get up ... things are that bad, " or tell me I am embarrassing them, saying" there isn't anything wrong with you, so why was I 'acting' like I was.  So I now hold the breakdown/s inside and the only way I dealt with that (and it might not really be helpful in general but I'll say it anyway just in case it is), is to get back home and sit in peace and quiet, with the embarrassing thoughts of the meltdown going through my head ... there in a safe place at home, vs in a public place. 

Overall I'm not positive that this is a helpful answer to your questions ... but thought I'd offer my opinion..

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I had an episode one day in front of a friend. She ended up cutting all contact off with me and has told people she wants no contact with me ever again. This was 2 years ago and I am still beyond hurt with what she did. I still sometimes have a bit of a cry about it. That kind of betrayal is hard to get over. I'm mortified that I had an episode, it's always embarrassing but at the same time I don't see why we should apologise for having an illness that causes us to do these things. It's not as though we wake up in the morning and think what should I do today? Oh I know, I'll have an episode and scream and cry because people are stealing my thoughts and are plotting against me. I take responsibility for my episodes and I make sure I do everything I can to lessen them but I will not accept blame for having an illness that takes over my mind and makes it behave in bizarre ways at times.

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I did the same thing today too of meltdown in front of my team mate for a study group. We met with our supervisor today, who told me to stop talking in a certain tone of voice. If I had to label that tone, it would be "frustrated". I just saw her behaviour as disproval of me, and figured it would be another breach of the code of conduct with the company. A third breach = being kicked out, and that would be the third. So, I just pulled my team mate aside after, and cried. That's the first time I've cried in front of her, so it's actually pretty good going considering I cry almost every day. (I'm borderline personality disorder, but figured this revelation fit here...).

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I had a messy breakdown at work a couple of years ago. I'm a scientist and I was doing an experiment that had often gone wrong in the past. This occasion it was all going fine but I was so stressed and worried I just started crying and couldn't stop. I had to get a colleague to take over and I wanted to leave right away but my boss was going into a meeting and wanted to talk to me before I left so he asked me to stick around. So I sat at my desk for an hour unable to stop crying before I could speak to him and even then I couldn't explain what was going on. Everyone was supportive and understanding but like you I was worried that in reality they were judging me. I've since done CBT and when I was no longer depressed I was able to recognise that I was engaging in mind reading. http://cogbtherapy.com/cbt-blog/common-cognitive-distortions-mind-reading If you haven't been to therapy in a while it might be really helpful for you to read up on cognitive distortions! 

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Hi Ari887,

I just had an outburst yesterday. I get SUPER sensitive to noise when I am on a bipolar high. In short I was at the grocery store at a VERY busy time and I was clinging to my shopping cart with a death grip. Suddenly the noise was so grating - like an explosion in my head-  I just yelled out "Why can't everybody just SHUT UP!" Luckily I was with family who helped me get through the check out process and out the door fast. But I, too, am embaressed to face the store because of making an ass of myself. I also feel like I could have avoided this, because usually I wear earplugs or listen to music that soothes me to help. Well, we all mistakes.

I agree though, that your boss seems sympathetic which is good and hard to find. Seek help and things will get better.

Poem

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Hi Ari887,

I know just how you feel because all the same stuff happens to me. It's mortifying! 

Something that's helped me recently is looking at it from the other side. If you have a meltdown it means that the people around you can see how distressed you are, and that's what lets them know when to help you. You can totally exhaust yourself in trying to look fine, and then people don't realise there's a problem until you suddenly crash.

I recently got put on special measures at work because my anxiety is affecting my productivity at work, and a big part of the problem was that I look kind of ok even when I'm in a thousand pieces. e.g. when can't function because I'm so terrified that everyone's angry with me I chat and tell them jokes to make them laugh so that I know we're cool. They just thought that meant I was in a good mood and were shocked when they found out it was the opposite. Likewise people thinking I'm coping surprisingly well with stress because I'm smiling and talking a million miles a minute, and actually it's hypomania resulting from stress. People are surprisingly dense when it comes to this stuff!

 

I'm really glad your boss is sympathetic! Do they know how hard you're struggling at the moment? Is there anything that can be done differently to help you?

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I just want to thank everyone for their kind words and sharing their own stories.  I've been back at work and everyone there has been really supportive.  After talking with my boss we agreed that not only does it help me personally but I am more productive at work when I have at least one day off a week to de-stress.

Also I'm looking for a good doctor that my insurance will cover.  I didn't have the best experience with the last one so I'm a bit nervous, but I know it's something that I really need to do.  Looking back there were definitely signs that I was not coping well with the extra stress and headed for a meltdown but I ignored them.  Partially because my team was relying on me and I didn't want to let anyone down and partially because even though I've been dealing with my mental illness (Bipolar 2 according to my last doc) for years I still have a hard time asking for help when I'm struggling.  

 

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its very hard asking for help for me as well and I just wanted to say that there are people who take great satisfaction?  Well they like helping.  If you ask for help its ok.  Just pay it forward to the next guy.

 

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