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One of the Craziest days of my life

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5 of may, 2014: One of the craziest days of my life.


I still work as a software developer on a company here in Rio, Brazil, that gave me a chance to come back to the workforce, after a year working on a family business while treating my condition. Today i woke up tortured by another bad night of anxiety and fear... I have been working on a project for Sulamérica, a insurance company here that is a very important client for us.




The problem is that this project is a mess, and i am alone in it. It's a Java webservice application i am building copying an old software made and very badly written in  an Oracle/Peoplesoft platform. It was badly designed, badly documented, the schedule badly proposed, and the people i have to deal with in this client, even supposedly more trained than me, doesn't seem to be able to do their jobs properly (they suck). So i woke up in a lot of stress... i miss days of work a lot because sometimes the panic attacks are so strong i can't keep my heart easy, and i can't even put a step outside my house. So i simply could not get up, just thinking to myself that i have done a bad job and it's my fault the project is late, and i have to deliver stuff today that i could not finish yesterday, or before that yesterday, etc... a panic attack, like most of you know, just as me, seems too real to simply ignore and go pretending isn't happening.


Ok... im in bed, trying to control my breath, and my body, and my mind... finally calm and tired of suffering, i slept again. If i insist and get up my chest hurts. 13:00, a friend sends me a message: "Sidnei, it's very important, call me, or pick up the cellphone when i call". I am "ok... my luck maybe finally ended, or... someone in the company was expecting me and i wasn't there..." i could not break the paranoia. I called him.


This colleague in particular, work with me and we are good friends. When i have trouble going to work because of the panic, sometimes i call him just to assure me that don't have motives to have fear to go to work... a task that you might agree with me, we don't give to any person, but only to someone we trust. If you have Social Anxiety like i do with work, maybe you know what i am talking about. The message he needed to tell me this time was: "Everybody there is being fired.".


Ok, it wasn't everybody... but it was most of the software factory... circa of 10 people (not such a big firm), but i was sure my job was on the line too. Of course it was... even if i get paid less than the market requires, for sure the bosses were thinking in put my name of that list. My friend suggested me to go there and check about my condition.


Now; i have to be honest... i was getting happier (!); working, even if in such good environment, have been stressful... and this project for Sulamérica was dragging my health. I've been having panic attacks just after waking up almost every morning, and thinking that i didn't need to go there anymore sounded like a huge prize for me! I was thinking, ok.... i will be sent home, and receive my rights as worker (in Brazil we receive 3 months of unemployment insurance), and could just relax before trying something again. For my friend it wasn't the same... he had just become a dad. Other friends have families to keep... i was thinking to myself what an injustice was if i wasn't fire. You see... not everybody there knows i have such a serious case of social anxiety, and i am very skeptical if they even care that someone with this condition must be tolerated skipping days of work because he was "sick".


OK... i was still very anxious. But the thought of "vacation" calm me down, seriously, i was even ashamed of this, but its true. My dad was around and i asked him to give me a ride there (He works half time at the office where i live), so he could give me a push, or just the moral support I needed. I was very very afraid.


I wasn't afraid of getting fired. I was happy about it. Please! I was more afraid of the reaction of people... lost a day of work, in the exactly day a bunch of my friends were sent home. My bosses could react the exactly way i expect in my phobia: Verbal and moral abuse.... or just being harsh with the message and letting me tremble... or just a bad look.... it's just enough to give me nightmares for an entire year.


Ok... i got there at 18:00... most of the people were sent home(no, i don't mean the fired ones; they were much earlier). At the entrance i faced a higher boss in the company... he just says "Hi Sidnei... i have to go now, but tomorrow i put you in context of things". "huh... ok" i answered... it sounded strange to be put in context if i was fired... but ok... Then i asked my dad to stay in the lobby while i visited the software factory to talk to anyone that was still working there so they could sent any message that was for me (Have i mentioned my immediate boss was also sent away?). I found colleague that is kind of a boss, but mostly also a colleague (he have shares of the company)... i waited him talk to other people that was in front of me talking about work... it was hard to keep my nerves.


While waiting, i spoke with other colleagues, and they shared to me how bad the day was... people sent home crying... embarrassed bosses trying to give explanations... people with sad faces everywhere... exactly the kind of thing i want to avoid.


OK... Vinicius (the company partner and colleague, but not exactly a boss) became available, i shake his hands and finally asked "So... what is going on, and what is it for me?"... he started talking about how bad the day was... and i interrupted him and asked "Yeah yeah... but do you have any message to me!?", to which he responded "If you are worried, relax, you are still in.".




We went to a reunion room and talked about what happened, and how things were going to be in the new structure of the company... but the thing in this conversation that was so important to me, was his explanation of why i was still there, and not my friends: "We need people that make a difference. We know your problem, but you compensate your problem making a difference. And we need that. We need brains... but unfortunately not everybody that was here working everyday was so committed to a good work. Many people was just too relaxed.". I was still troubled and asked about the quality of my work... i could not deliver the Sulamerica project in time (more than a month!), and it was a problem wasn't it? He just laughed, and said that my work was just fine... in fact much better than many... and this was the main reason i was still working there. None of these other colleagues that were there on time, everyday, could do the work that i was doing (That's true... last week i asked my boss to be put out of it, and we went on and on about the names of people that could do it in my place... there was none).


Dude... so choked. He was laughing because i was already comfortable to the idea of losing my job... i was of course. But man... my head was spinning, and of course the funny part was that i was ready to be fired, and i "deserved" if you think only about my lack of presence there, the (many) days i lost work while sick, just having demons that don't exist in my head torturing me, thinking my work sucked and i was incompetent... but in the end, i was still on the job. I warned him that i needed help dealing with this... because of course i  feel very very remorseful... dammit! Remember that film "Office Space"!? God dammit that was a funny film! And i was sort of living the life of the hero in that movie. LOL. I know that it isn't entirely true for me... but i imagine other people can imagine this of me, and that will be hard for me to deal with these next days. People could be thinking "Our other friends were here everyday working hard and were sent away, while Sidnei, that fail to come everyday, and are always late, is still with his job.". I know that will be hammering my head everyday from now on.


The lesson was: I just can't trust my own judgment about me, but... even though my mania of thinking that my work suck, torture me... it was still one of the reasons that made my work so precious. The fact is that i don't need people around me making me do a better job, even though i need people to say that it's ok, and i don't need to work so much more than my health allows.


Even if you think you are the worst! Be irreplaceable. It can save your life.


5 of may of 2014. Crazy day in my life.


Enough. I need to prepare myself to sleep. Tomorrow i need to wake up early to work.


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1 comment

  • Comment Link Goddess2Tabbies Friday, 11 July 2014 20:30 posted by Goddess2Tabbies

    Awww... I'm glad you got to keep your job. I know it's hard for us to see the big picture when we are immersed in our work. I am a supervisor and a trainer in a call center. I know what it's like to compare yourself to others. If your manager told you that you're making a difference, trust him. I didn't have to read this to know that you are a perfectionist who demands the highest quality from yourself.

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