On being sick

As I announced here back in June, I got a job. Truth is, I really enjoy it. I get along well with my coworkers and do an alright job at what I do.

But I’ve had to call in sick now 3 days, once before the store opened (we were setting things up then) and now for 2 days in a row…

I know why I’m sick…I make myself sick when I’m extremely anxious. I don’t try to, it just kinda happens…I get stomach problems and my head hurts and sometimes throw up. I’m anxious because of some stuff I let get out of hand when I was unemployed (2 years of unemployment…killer), even though now I’m in the process of rectifying all of it.

Now, I hope this isn’t too big a deal, especially considering that I don’t think I’ll have to call in sick after today because my life’s about to get a whole lot better. I’ll be moving soon, and having a new beginning of sorts.

But I’m feeling a bit neurotic about all this…I mean, almost 2 months in, I’m still in the probationary period, and I’ve already called in sick 3 days…I know this doesn’t look good and, speculation be damned, I want this job more than anything else in the world.

Advice to calm my nerves?

Advice to calm your nerves, I got none, but you may want to speak with your supervisor, ask whether your performance is OK and whether there’s anything (s)he thinks you should be working on correcting. The water you’re in may be a lot less hot than you think, and if it turns out to be hot, the sooner you know exactly where the better.

We have regular verbal performance reviews, so I should be hearing about what I’ve done wrong soon. Yeah, I don’t think that’ll help with my nerves, particularly since I was a bit slow on getting the job down, and surely will hear about that :stuck_out_tongue: (mind you, I have it down now, much more comfortable than my first few weeks).

You are calling in sick too much for a job you just started. You can repair it, but right now everyone is mentally rolling their eyes every time you call in.

Sorry. You did ask.

No, actually, I didn’t ask how people are looking at me. I realize how it looks, that’s the point. Your being obnoxious is very unhelpful to me, as I have struggled for the past decade with depression, and now you simply reinforce reasons for me to be anxious and sad. But I take it as a sign of hope that even you, as nasty as you’re being, maintain I can repair the problem here.

I have this same problem, making myself sick. I’ve had severe depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been great with attendance, ever. But I’m beginning to realize I really don’t have a choice but to show up even when I don’t feel like it. It’s either that or I’m not viewed as reliable, and I’d rather suffer through a few days than be thought of as unreliable. One way I think about it is, ''Well, I’m going to feel like crap no matter what, so I might as well feel like crap AND do something productive."

Honestly I think the best thing you can do to help your anxiety is directly address the issue that’s causing it. Those of us who have overactive nerves just kind of have to learn to ignore everything our minds are screaming at us and live the best life we can. If you’re anxious about calling in sick, then work on not calling in sick. Or address it with your boss. Give yourself some kind of input to fight back against the irrational thoughts.

I am not attempting to be obnoxious. And I’m sorry I came off that way. However, it really would bother me, a lot, if a coworker took that much time off so early in the job.

Advice to calm your nerves? Hmm. This is difficult for me since I can’t walk a mile in your shoes, but perhaps you should think about this:

“even though now I’m in the process of rectifying all of it”

And post a list of all of the things you’ve done to rectify it, right on your fridge or something, where you see it first thing each morning.

Good luck.

Consider these reviews as an opportunity to know where to focus, rather than having to passively listen to ‘what (you’ve) done wrong’. It’s just a summary to assist you in your learning of the job, and clarity for what is expected. Express your concerns about your own performance, and the way you are overcoming your current anxiety challenges.

Co-workers and supervisors have more understanding and patience for new staff than they are sometimes given credit for. Explain (don’t excuse) your situation to those it matters to (people whose workload may be increased when your absent; immediate supervisor) and take the pressure off yourself. At the moment it probably feels to you like you have a ‘big secret’ - be honest about how the 3 days off have made you feel, and that you are actively seeking solutions for it. Let them know that this job is important to you, that you want to be among all the best employees they’ve ever had, and you’d like some pointers on how to achieve this.

Honesty takes courage and you’ll find that people are willing to help.

Taking time to learn something is not usually an issue, Bpelta - not taking instruction, not asking when you’re unsure of something, and making the same mistake over and over are the types of things unappreciated by many in the workplace.

That you care so much about your job indicates that your anxiety is probably based on assuming what others ‘must be thinking’ and deciding it’s negative. Don’t assume. Make part of your skill set being a great communicator, and know that there is no criticism, only feedback.

It’s a new job. Relax. You’ll be fine.

6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast and olivesmarch4th…that’s some of the best advice I’ve received in a long time. I really appreciate it.

Anaamika, you’re right that you can’t walk in my shoes, and I appreciate your apology. That you’re so bothered by the personal flaws of coworkers even as you realize you can’t walk in their shoes indicates that we have differing epistemologies, so it’s probably safe to assume we just can’t relate on this issue. Thanks for your advice anyhow.


Anaamika is one of the most level-headed people on this board. Don’t disregard the advice.

Was reacting previously…thought post got lost.

I am not bothered by the “personal flaws” of coworkers unless they interfere with my work. I would ask you, respectfully, to consider walking a mile in their shoes. They expect to be able to rely on you and look to you to pull your weight.

Like it or not, a job is focused on teamwork, and we all need to help each other. Other people do matter, and from your posts it sounds like you don’t really care that your coworkers are having to pull up the slack. Getting defensive is not going to help. You should address the situation with your boss.

Becky2844, thank you.

Might be generally level-headed, but like I wrote, differing epistemologies. I appreciate the advice about the fridge list, but I know enough about myself to know that won’t work for me.

I love it when people accuse somebody of being defensive because there’s nothing he can say to convincingly refute that charge. What am I going to say, “NO, I’m NOT being defensive, YOU’RE being accusatory!” Lol.

But let’s just put it this way: This place is big enough that my being sick due to anxiety – and I’m sorry if you think that means I don’t have any care for my coworkers – for 2 days will not really negatively effect people. Any increase in workload will be so minimal people won’t even notice it. Me, myself, the allegedly apathetic and amoral Bpelta, wouldn’t care if a fellow coworker was sick for a fortnight…I’d pick up the slack. Again, that’s just how big the place is.

If it makes you feel any better, my company would view that as only 2 call-ins. The two day call in, because it was consecutive, would be considered only one event. A 3 day call-in requires a doctor’s note.

Most companies have a policy about allowable call-ins. They may allow 3 in 4 months or 6 in six months, etc. Excesses are treated with an escalating series of “verbal warning”, “written warning” and “up to and including termination”. Some companies will add up tardies and may call 3 tardies as equal to a call-in.

We did recently have an employee terminated for excessive call-ins. She had a bad reputation amongst the staff, called in on her scheduled weekend days or holidays with flimsy excuses, and it was clear that she was using the policy to take as many days off as possible. This made our day much harder and we resented her for it.

Maybe you should check on that policy and try very hard to not exceed it.

Also, just because the company is big, doesn’t mean your absence will not be felt. If your workload is so minimal that it will barely be felt, then I’m not sure it’s that great a job. If you look like a potential problem employee, maybe they might conclude that they don’t really need that position.

Really, they would not have hired you if they didn’t need you. You should work to develop a reputation as a reliable, competent employee.

I’m not trying to be harsh, but you can’t claim that you won’t be missed and also claim to be a valuable employee and part of a team.

So, are you getting treatment for your anxiety? Maybe a follow up with the doc would help you devise a plan to manage your anxiety on the days you don’t feel well. You said you were anxious because of past unemployment. Certainly you can see how excessive call- ins will threaten the new job that you say you enjoy. Can turn your anxiety around and use it to avoid calling in?

That’s right.

And I didn’t have the impression that Bpelta doesn’t care about her co-workers; in fact it seems the opposite to me.

Bpelta, it may be useful for you to consider the stomach reaction and the hurting head you sometimes experience just as ‘sensations’ rather than ‘anxiety’.

When it’s ‘just a sensation’ it will pass. If you label it as ‘anxiety’ then it can be more immobilising for you.

Remind yourself of other, bigger challenges you’ve overcome. You’ve survived 2 years of unemployment for a start! Take a few deep breaths and decide you’ll learn how to not do ‘anxiety’ in the same way you’ve learned how to do the many things that make your life better, and easier all the time.

She was not being obnoxious at all. She was telling you the truth.

Ok. Good luck. :slight_smile:

Not necessarily ‘obnoxious’; and not necessarily the ‘truth’. We’re all just making observations and offering opinions here based on perspectives and experiences.

Calm down, people! :stuck_out_tongue:

Getting back to the OP.

The brain is an amazing tool - and I think everyone would agree it is really quite easy to convince yourself that you are not feeling well. If you do that long enough, you really can start showing actual physical symptoms.

However, the brain can also be tricked into making you feel like a million bucks and ready to march out and conquer the world!

Let’s put it this way - if you were feeling so-so today, and got some really bad news, you could/would easily feel physically ill and have a real need to spend the day in bed recuperating.
But if you were feeling so-so today, and suddenly found out you won $1 million dollars in the lottery, my guess is you would suddenly be doing a happy dance, getting dressed and flying out of the house in a burst of energy.
Same body, same physical condition, but the brain has control of your well being!

Now the trick is to convince your brain every day is going to be a great day and all is right with the world.

  • start thinking of positive things the night before.
  • try to get up early, shower, do your hair or whatever, wear clothes that make you feel like you look good and are comfortable.
  • have something quick to eat or drink that you like - maybe that fresh orange juice or just a moment with a cup of coffee and perhaps a guilty pleasure like a Danish or maybe a healthy bowl of cereal. Have your favorite, upbeat music playing in the background.
  • head out a bit early - take your stress-free time getting there.
  • smile and start the work day with a friendly greeting/quick hello to the co-workers. “Happy Tuesday, Bob! Wow, Mary, where did you get those cool shoes?! Hey Pat, got any new pictures of the puppy?” As you spread some cheer and a few nice words, nice words start coming right back at ya.

Everyone has bad days where the weight of the world seems to be pulling you down - bills, family problems, major and minor annoyances. But you can just as easily think of the positive - good things that have happened and good things to come soon! Tell yourself all is good and you will start to believe it and feel better and ready to go out there.

It takes practice. You have to actively prepare and psych yourself into being in that good place. Plenty of sleep, good food, think positively - all easy starts to teaching yourself how to get up, get out and seize the day. You can do it. Just tell yourself you want to do it and get started. Over time, it gets easier and easier to do - really.

Good luck to you, and don’t obsess about these last few sick days - call those “prep” days for the great days to come.

Just ftr, I’m a “he”, not a “she.”

DMark, I hear ya. I really shouldn’t let myself get bogged down in these sorts of days.

As for my discussion with Anaamika, 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is right. Anaamika apologized if the comment came across a certain way, I accepted, we moved on. I considered the comment in poor taste, but others disagreed, okay…Not a big deal.

Ca3799 we have a point system. I’d be automatically terminated if I received 40 points before October. The only things I know you get points for are absences and tardiness. An absence is 3 points unless you don’t call in (in which case it’s 15 points!), tardiness (from breaks, or clocking in/out of work) is 2 points,…based solely on absences and tardiness, which I’ve rigorously kept track of, I should have 13 points right now.