Archive for the ‘Job Decision Quiz’ Category

The Woman at Work who Grabbed onto her Desk when Panic Attacks Struck.

Once upon a time there was a woman, (I’ll call Jo) who was suffering from panic attacks.  They occasionally happened at work, or in the early morning before she got to work.  She said the panic attacks came out of the blue; she never knew when one was going to strike her.  She would be sitting at her desk at work and suddenly get a wave of panic so intense she would have to grab onto her desk so she wouldn’t run out the door. The attacks were happening more often and she dreaded the next one.   She claimed that her job was not the issue – it wasn’t difficult, just boring.  Her main focus was how to manage the panic attacks.  Her doctor prescribed some Ativan and referred her for counseling.

Panic attacks seem to occur ‘out of the blue’ but they really don’t.  They are like a tidal waves, they rise up, crest and subside.  The therapy started with helping her handle the panic attacks by breathing through them.  This helped her feel less out of control.  Then focus shifted to increasing her awareness of herself.  She was so focused on trying to avoid a panic attack that she had lost contact with herself.  She was focused on the symptom, not the cause of the symptom.

Her office job was a problem for her.  She was not just bored, she was bored to tears.  She had a dream of getting a degree in biology so she could teach, but she considered doing that out of the question.  She couldn’t afford it.

Work was not the only problem.  She and her husband were totally renovating their home and they were having lots of arguments about it.  Money was tight and she needed her income.  Quitting work was not an option.

As Jo got more in touch with herself, she realized the precursors to the panic attacks.  Gradually she became so aware that she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck go up the closer she got to work.  She no longer could deny how intolerable her job was.

Jo finally told her husband how unbearable her job was.  To her surprise, he understood.  Once the renovations were completed, they remortgaged, finding the money needed for her to go to university.

People often focused on symptoms instead of the cause of the symptoms.

Sometimes people are distracted by the symptoms, which gets in the way of finding the cause.  Other times, focusing on the symptoms helps them avoid what they do not want to face.  People are often convinced there is no solution (which is occasionally true) so they bury their heads.   But usually once they are clear what is causing the problem, they find a solution.  Once the cause is identified, even though it may be difficult, appropriate changes can be made. Change is what is needed.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

I can’t Face Putting on my ‘Monkey Suit’ and Going to Work Anymore.

Once upon a time a man who could no longer function at work.  He was severely depressed on permanent disability.  He said for years he would get up in the morning, put on his ‘Monkey Suit’ and go to work.  Then one morning, after a particularly bad day the day before, he could not get out of bed.  “I just could not face putting on my ‘Monkey Suit’  one more time.

He had all the symptoms of severe depression: no energy, sad all the time, lost confidence in himself, lack of interest in anything, felt flat or numb, felt like a failure, felt like he was being punished, highly critical of himself, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, thoughts of suicide, difficulty making the smallest decisions, highly irritable, difficulty concentrating, very pessimistic about his future and total loss of interest in sex.

He stayed at home and did nothing.  He would stay up late at night and into the early hours playing video games or watching TV.  That time of the night he felt no expectations, from himself or others, to be working.  Also, he had time to himself as the rest of his family slept.  Then he would sleep late in the mornings or nap in the afternoons.  His doctor had referred him for therapy and finally, after six months, he went.

In therapy he talked about how he had never liked his work because it did not fit who he was.  He had to act like someone else to be able to do it.  He thought about changing careers but was not sure what he wanted to do.  He got caught up in the usual phases of life and needed to earn a living to support his family.  He felt trapped, so just kept on going – that is until he could no longer do it.  His life was at a crossroads.

As he talked over many sessions, it became clear to me that he was very angry on some level, although he did not sound angry or act angry.  He said he did not feel angry.  I believed him.  I knew he was out of touch with his own emotions.  Every time he put on his ‘Monkey Suit’ he had to disconnect from himself and what he felt.

One day I gave him some homework.  I suggested that he make a ‘bat’ out of newspaper  – roll up a newspaper, wrap duct tape around it.  Then find a place in his home where he could hit with the ‘bat’. I told him the ‘rules’ of doing attacking type motions.

When he came to the next session he looked different.  His face had changed. He was animated. He told me what he’d done.  He said he made five of the newspaper bats and took them down to his basement.  He hit on a pole with each ‘bat’ until it was in shreds.  He said after all 5 ‘bats’ were in shreds he lay in an exhausted heap on top of them.  He had accessed his rage and channeled it onto the pole.

As a result, he came alive, reconnecting to his emotions.  His emotions let him know what he liked and what he did not like.  Gradually he started making changes.  Over the next weeks and months he found a new meaning for his life which gave him direction.  This led to a new career which was congruent with who he was as a person.  No more “Monkey Suit’!

Sometimes, when we over ride our wants and needs, when we procrastinate in taking action to make the changes we need to make,  our body shuts down and forces us to take stock.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

The Man who Regretted his Impulsive Decision to Change Jobs.

Once upon a time, a man whom I will call Charles, was deeply distressed. He had recently changed jobs and was confused about the decision he had made.

Charles had enjoyed the work at his previous job and was very successful at it. He and his boss occasionally disagreed on how to handle situations yet they usually worked things out.  One day they had a particularly bad argument about one account. Charles was livid.

Charles was very personable, connecting easily with others in his field.  As a result, over the years, he had received a couple of serious offers from other people to come and work for them.  He was pleased about these offers but had not been interested in taking any action on either of them.

When Charles had this huge argument with his boss, he decided to look into one of the offers that particularly interested him.  He got the job and gave notice at his current work.

At the time Charles came for therapy he had been in his new job for three weeks.  Although he liked the work, he found it lonely.  He worked on his own.  He missed the work at his previous job and the people he worked with.

Through therapy, Charles realized his main motivation to change his job had been to get back at his boss.  He felt his boss did not respect or appreciate him.  His hurt shifted into anger, which acted like an engine, driving him to want to prove a point to his boss.  He realized his hurt and anger had distorted his thinking.

Also, he realized how important the people he worked with were to him and how camaraderie in the work place mattered to him.  Working with people he respected and enjoyed was part of what made him tick.

He deeply regretted his impulsive decision.  He said that if he had been more aware of what was going on for him, he would have handled the situation with his boss differently.

The Job Decision Quiz is designed to help people in situations like Charles, avoid making decisions they regret.  Sorting through the statements helps individuals identify factors important to them.  It helps them clarify their priorities about work and the work environment.  It also can point out where a person might be stuck or blocked in their decision-making.  All this can keep thinking straight.

The best decisions evolve from knowing oneself clearly.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea