Meltdown at Work

People often ask me why I’m organised and strong, and this story is how it came to be.

Meet Monsieur Stress.

He builds and builds until I cannot operate. It weakens me.

I can’t admit it to people… everyone else just ‘keeps calm and carry on.’  But for me, it sticks its ugly head in my brain, and I can’t get him out.

It started off on the Monday at work. I didn’t check the data before it was meant to be passed on. Turns out it was littered with mistakes.

I apologised the next day, hastily trying to cover my tracks so the office wasn’t aware of things. My manager had already given me that look. You know the one, seeping with disapproval.


Just as I started my slow recovery, handling the next task with the precision of a soldier, things blew up.

Whilst out on reception. A menu appeared, saying TROJAN TROJAN TROJAN. And that my computer had a virus. I thought if I closed it down, it would go away, it would all blow over.

But no- it came back, I minimised it but it kept popping up like an annoying child desperate for attention.

I went back to my work computer and  logged in, to find all my applications held to ransom by the virus. The screen went black and all my icons had been replaced by traffic cones. Apparently I had to pay various bitcoins to get them back.

I phoned IT and I thought everything was sorted, I was panicking as I thought everyone would judge me for obtaining it, and that I couldn’t do any work now that my computer had been seized. They seemed to be able to fix it.

Then the morning happened.

The virus had spread onto the work drive. As soon as I heard, I wanted to crawl away and hibernate. Most people couldn’t get on to use their work. Some where saying they’d have to work weekends. My stress levels began to rise.

Our morning meeting was awkward, I couldn’t speak. I felt so embarrassed and like it was my fault. I went onto Facebook twice during the day, recklessly, and both times being caught by my manager, she was so venomous, I felt so, so bad. I was using it as an escape tool, or possibly a way to feel comforted and accepted in the midst of this chaos, but being caught made me feel like the naughty boy at school.

It felt like I was playing with fire. I was so nervous, I kept making more mistakes. I walked into the print room, and buried my head against the wall.  My head was so weary, I could feel even under my arms were getting hot and bothered. My eyes began to droop.

As I got to the end of the week, I was hauled to the office by my line manager, I took the rap and admitted everything. I promised I was on the straight and narrow from now. He had said how people on my team and in the office had complained about me to him, which was so hard to hear. I came across as confident and a little cocky, not really caring about work, but the truth is I liked to mask my stress.

I felt like the phoenix had risen from the ashes. It felt like I had a fresh start . I strode back into the office with confidence… but before lunch time it somehow continued to unravel.

I had my two mistakes a few weeks ago which I hadn’t noticed, which both happened at the same time on the same. I felt the new me was even worse… I couldn’t handle this. My fresh start was in tatters.

My fairly alcohol free manager needed some vodka, and she told me to go my lunch break. I sat in the library, daunted about the thought of returning to hell.


As I returned, she kept disappearing to speak to the line manager, I knew it was about me. It felt like everyone was speaking about me, that I was to blame for everything. If felt like everything was going wrong and I couldn’t do anything about it.

I sat at the reception desk, I was completely numb. My line manager said come here from his little office. I leapt over the desk and went inside, I felt protected from myself. But as soon as I had the chance to sit down, everything came out.

I self combusted, I felt so stupid, a grown adult with tears flowing down my cheeks. I held my hands, my fringe a mess. He wanted to give me a hug, but instead gave me some water, and some tissues. He theorized I was down about something, and it was affecting my work, but I knew that it was worry from people judging me, and the seething about me I imagined them to have.

I told him I wanted to leave out the back door, I said I wasn’t good enough.

He told me ‘don’t leave’ and these 2 words meant so much to me. Even now I can picture him saying it, and him having self-belief in me gave me the motivation to continue.

I asked to speak my manager to say sorry for my mistakes, he went off to bring her inside. She didn’t seem so concerned that I become this disheveled creature, and I apologized for everything that had happening. She took a snipe at me for looking at Facebook… which was incredibly hard as I was baring my soul and was an emotional comedown.  I said I hate seeing you angry. To be honest I think she was surprised how someone so un-nerved could be so open right now.

Facing the office again… was the hardest thing in the world. Knowing people had complained about me, facing the world with dried tears and a red face took a champion’s heart to ride it. I was allowed to leave earlier, and I’ll probably never know what was said about my departure.

My line manager was shocked to see me return on Monday morning. Although I didn’t want to be there, and oh how I did think about disappearing, I wanted this chance to prove myself that I can do this job and I can do it well.

And I think I have 🙂


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