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Topic: Anxiety and stress causing aggression at work.

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. BeeKay
    BeeKay avatar
    2 posts
    24 June 2020

    Hello everyone. :) New here, so here goes...

    I'm a young woman working full time in a healthcare sector. Recently I have been struggling under the demands of my employer to reach unrealistic high targets, and being an essential worker during this pandemic. I have been experiencing conflict with colleagues and management which has further exacerbated my anxiety and depression, and my 'imposter syndrome'.

    I have difficulty expressing my stress and frustration at work, and often don't realise when I am communicating aggressively or my body language is conveying a negative message. I am described by almost everyone who meets me as a kind, warm, shy, and caring person, with the best laugh in the office lol. I don't intentionally mean to come across aggressive and its probably more anxiety driven. However I have recently received feedback from management that I have been aggressive towards them and they feel I have attacked them on several occasions.

    I've been questioning myself, am I aggressive?, or are they possibly misinterpreting what I am trying to convey. I guess I don't like to think of myself as the kind of person who is aggressive towards others, I'm struggling with that concept, part of me want's to go and apologise and admit to everything because I don't like the feeling of conflict, and part of me is thinking if I did say something, it would always be with the best of intentions, and it was what I felt appropriate at the time.

    Either way it isn't sitting right with me, I've noticed myself toggling between feeling angry towards management, and then shame towards myself, and its this constant tug of war in my mind. Am I really that person?. And I think maybe because I'm currently experiencing burnout- to the point where I called lifeline for the first time ever at 3AM this morning due to feeling overwhelmed and having anxiety attacks- that I might even be unintentionally externalising this stress and anxiety through aggression. I have sought out mental health support through my organisations EAP and also see a psychologist external to the organisation as well. I want to address my behaviour, and change for the better, but not sure if I'm being too critical of myself.

    I'm wondering if anyone else on here has experienced something similar. How did you deal with the anxiety, guilt or shame when coming to terms with a behaviour that you aren't proud of? how do you deal with receiving negative/constructive criticism?.

    Thanks for reading!


  2. Sophie_M
    Sophie_M avatar
    3679 posts
    24 June 2020 in reply to BeeKay
    Hey Beekay, welcome the Beyond Blue forums. We're so glad to have you join us here and we hope our community can help to answer some of your questions. We're really sorry to hear of the difficult past few months that you have been through but please know that you've come to a safe, non-judgemental space to talk about your thoughts and feelings. 

    If you feel up to it, we'd also recommend reaching out to our Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. The website will be regularly updated with information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time. You can also call our dedicated support line, staffed by mental health professionals, which is available 24/7 on 1800 512 348.

    We hope that you keep checking in to let us know how you're going, whenever you feel up to it. 

  3. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    9200 posts
    25 June 2020 in reply to BeeKay

    Dear Beekay.~

    Welcome here to the forum, it can be hard to set out things abut yourself to a bunch of people you don't know, and one can be apprehensive as to the result.

    To the best of my knowledge imposter's syndrome is when I have a bout of depression combined with my ongoing anxiety condition. I undergo a period of low self esteem and even failure, and fear others will see this -in other words I'll be found out as a failure or at least less than I want. This has never in fact actually happened, I've been doing OK in the eyes of others.

    Here my partner is a help in that a second unbiased voice can lend a new perspective to matters, and I often find I'm basically worrying about matters to much.

    Do you have someone to support you?

    You do say others regard you as a lovey person, and you are working in an extreme environment due to the virus.

    So you are sort of wondering if you are blaming yourself or if there is in fact aggressive behavior showing. It may well be things you have said have been taken out of context, or more importantly are justified. Too many quick shifts in a row, larger than practical work targets etc. Those sorts of things can make one pass uncomplimentary remarks, which unless uttered in a rude manner, are legitimate things to say

    I guess you know your management and if they are OK it might be worth finding out exactly that they are referring to, not to argue about it, just find out the facts. At least that way you will have something concrete to work from.

    So you take it from there

    I'm very glad you are seeing the EAP and particularly pleased about getting an external psychologist, very wis

    Getting criticized is hard, particularly if justified, however I've found my best way has been to acknowledge the fault, apologize if appropriate and say you will try to do better -and then do so

    Sometimes it may turn out that the criticizer is under overwhelming pressure which case you may some to sympathize with each other

    If it is undeserved and the person concerned holds the power, then thinking to yourself they are in error, and possibly limited by intelligence or even greed, can leave you feeling that it is not you, just the way of the world

    I'm not suggesting you argue unless it is of overwhelming importance as I know in my own case that causes more grief and worry than leaving the issue alone

    Then you go to a movie - no I'm not joking, distraction with something pleasant is a great thing

    Please say what you think



  4. BeeKay
    BeeKay avatar
    2 posts
    28 June 2020 in reply to Croix

    Hi Croix,

    Thank you for your kind reply.

    I am glad to hear you have people to talk to, and it sounds like this has helped you with your imposter syndrome. I too have people in my life I talk to, but sometimes feel I am talking too much about it, or I'm annoying them.

    I opened up to a colleague about work, I thought I could trust this colleague as they check in on me at work when I look stressed/upset. We had a disagreement over a stressful work situation, my colleague used what I told them about my work against me. They made a formal complaint about my 'conduct' and I've had to sit a meeting to respond to their allegations. I was able to keep my cool and respond professionally.

    I acknowledged my faults and apologised, and said I was working on improving these things with an external service. But there were also allegations made, where I was not 100% the only one to blame, I stood my ground on these (professionally of course). I'm not sure if this helped me or not, however I felt better after doing this, and proud of myself for keeping my cool. I went for a walk afterwards and then focused on what needed to be done that day.

    I had a session with the EAP counsellor that night who was not very helpful and triggered my anxiety, negative self talk and doubt. I told myself that there was noting I could do right in that moment, as I've done my best to express my view of the work situation, and what comes next is out of my control. I thought that thinking about the 'worst case scenario' was only punishing myself further, and not helpful.

    I was told that I would find out if the complaints would be dropped or be further investigated by the end of next week. If there is a further investigation I was informed it could take a couple of weeks before an outcome is reached. This makes me nervous..

    In the meantime, I've started taking some herbal calming supplements/vitamins, and spending more time with my family (even though they don't know what's going on- I'm afraid of their judgement and shame). I'm trying to get 7-8 hours sleep, and I'm putting in more effort to appear happy and pleasant towards others at work, even when I see/hear my colleagues and supervisor do/say things that I have been pulled up on, but seem to be dismissed by management.

    I have been looking for other employment, but worry I won't be successful because I won't have references, except for a few current and ex-colleagues, all I can do is try.

    Thank you again for your support Croix.


  5. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    1492 posts
    29 June 2020 in reply to BeeKay

    Hi BeeKay

    I really feel for you so very much as you face the challenges that this time in your life brings.

    Something tells me you're a reasonable person, able to find good reason for feeling triggered by people who don't really want to listen to reason. A lot of the time people don't want to listen to reason. Perhaps they're too focused on listening to what's going on in their own head or focused on policies and procedures that are highly questionable. Makes you want to scream. I bet you have a natural intelligence which is outstanding, so you're going to be triggered by people who can't relate to such natural intelligence. Having such natural intelligence, you're going to want to ridicule the ridiculous and question the questionable, I imagine. I bet you're pretty good at recognising insanity too.

    Do you think it's insane to overwork people to the point of stress and exhaustion? Do you think it's insane to solely question an intelligent person's perceived 'wrongdoings' when you could be questioning them on how things could be improved? Do you think it's insane to chronically fatigue employees nervous systems and their other internal systems in an environment which is not set up well enough to cope with an increase in work?

    Would I be right in assuming you find it difficult to tolerate intolerable situations? Other people around you may say 'Oh, that's just the way it is. You gotta put up with it. Just keep your head down, keep working and don't question so much'. What the heck?!!! That's insane. If you work in an environment that promotes this way of thinking, you gotta get out. That's crazy stuff. Glad you've been looking for other employment.

    Personally, I've come to be a pretty intolerant person and I must say I love it. I used to put up with so much poop from so many people and now I feel free to be myself but being myself does require a kind of filter scale. As they say 'You have to pick your battles'. Letting things slide requires a full filter. Being reasonable, trying to reason with people, requires a partial filter (as I manage my intolerance). When the person I'm facing is mentally abusive and undeniably narcissistic, my filter is pretty close to being off. I won't scream or rant, perhaps just insist 'Your narcissistic views are seriously affecting your sanity and ability to reason'. Do you like that? :) The filter aspect of dealing with intolerance can be a tricky part of getting to know our self better.

    Don't doubt yourself so much :)

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