update: I’m worried my manager has lost confidence in me

Remember the letter-writer who had gone through a harder-than-normal period at work and was worried that her manager had lost confidence in her? Here’s the update.

What commenters said about anxiety really resonated with me. It helped put things in perspective, and now that I’m more removed from the situation, I can recognize that I was more anxious than I realized, and that I was responding to stress by getting depressed. I didn’t fully realize it at the time. As of right now, I haven’t really sought professional help. I did mention my concerns to my primary care doctor, and I’m open to pursuing it further. But fortunately, this is something that I’ve been handling well. I feel like I’m getting more confident at work and have a better perspective of realistic expectations. I’m getting better at differentiating between my own perfectionism and what is actually expected. I’m also being careful that when I start to see signs that stress is getting to me, I try to take care of myself before it gets out of control.

As luck would have it, not long after I wrote my letter, things took a good turn at work. My manager did bring up the fact that I dropped the ball on something by not speaking up sooner when I felt overwhelmed, but it wasn’t a disaster. My manager seemed very understanding and just wanted me to be conscious of this going forward, which I have been. Some further restructuring happened at work, but this has mostly been good because now I have access to additional resources and don’t feel as alone in figuring things out.

To be honest, I still don’t feel completely confident. The fact that there has been some additional restructuring means that I’m still navigating some parts of my job. But I feel better equipped to deal with it. I’m not overwhelmed, and I’m not obsessing so much.

I’m still considering seeing a therapist. I recognize that having good coping skills is important, and I’m working on that. But things are going much better now, and I appreciate everyone’s feedback and reassurance.

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. The Cosmic Avenger*

    It sounds like you’re in the process of adjusting/adapting, OP; it’s always a process, and it often takes quite a bit of time to do it right. I hope you told your manager that you were grateful for the low-pressure feedback that let you internalize the criticism and adapt rather than have an anxious or panicky reaction, and let them know that you were going to keep their feedback in the front of your mind going forward. Managers need feedback, too, and it would be good to make sure that they know that the style of feedback they used is one you prefer, and that it’s effective for you.

  2. Christy*

    I had to learn my good coping skills from a therapist. They’re pros at exactly this!

    And Lordy, I can’t say enough good things about my anxiety meds. I’ve been there, OP. I’ve been as anxious as you are. And therapy and meds got me not-there anymore. Good self care has helped too, but nothing really quashed the anxiety like the professional help.

    1. orchidsandtea*

      Seconded — therapy is crucial in a crisis, but it’s also amazing at helping you develop the tools to make it through everyday life stresses. Granted, it took a few tries to find the right therapist for me, but I’m so much happier and more relaxed now that I’ve had her help for a few years. I only see her ~4x/year now, and I’m still feeling the benefits every day.

      1. cary thomson*

        Therapy can also be about learning healthy coping skills before the next crisis hits. It’s easier to learn to swim in a calm ocean than a stormy one.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          It’s easier to learn to swim in a calm ocean than a stormy one.

          How true.

          I had to come close to drowning more than once before I realized on-going therapy is more beneficial than run to the office when I had a *major* meltdown.

          1. Christy*

            So true! And now, for the most part, I’ve graduated from therapy. I recently went back to grieve out loud about some recent deaths (I’m coping fine, I just wanted a space to complain and cry), and I’m about to go back to deal with the one version of my anxiety I specifically never discussed–my horrible fear of vomiting. I never wanted to address it because addressing it means having to think about it, and 99.5% of the time I can avoid thinking about it, and why push the issue? Not the most feasible long-term strategy.

        2. OP*

          I definitely get this! Which is why I’m cautious about declaring myself “cured.” I certainly want to make sure that I have good coping skills for the future (though I do think I’ve gotten better at managing that).

          Unfortunately, the logistics of finding a therapist are tough for me right now. I live in an area with a lot of urban sprawl, I rely on public transportation, and a lot of the places I’ve checked out wouldn’t be able to fit me in after work or on weekends. And honestly, the stress of trying to fit in a therapy appointment on my lunch break or getting someone to give me a ride to an office that’s off the bus line makes the whole thing counterproductive for me. I’m a lot more comfortable waiting until I get a car.

  3. M.A.*

    Seeing a therapist isn’t a bad thing, OP. Think of it more of preventive maintenance, if that makes you feel better. Learning how to deal with stress and anxiety through therapy helps me keep calmer through the really challenging times. It’s easier to fix things when you’re not in crisis mode, and then you’ll be better able to handle yourself in crisis mode.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, absolutely this. OP, one of the downsides of anxiety and depression is that when you’re not stressed, it’s easy to think you’ve got a handle on it. And you might, right now, but sometimes the stress becomes completely unmanageable, and at that point it’s very difficult to have the willpower to follow up and find therapy or other treatment options.

      I say this often: I think counseling/therapy is good for everyone, regardless of their current mental health. As M.A. notes, in the context of your situation, therapy can offer really helpful resources/tools for managing stress, as well as for how to pull yourself out when you’re in an anxiety/depression morass. It’s like running CPR drills—it’s easier to deliver CPR if you’ve been practicing than it is to do it in the heat of the moment with no practice. It may also help with your feelings around confidence.

      All that said, good luck!

      1. Business Cat*


        It took me far too long to seek out therapy for my anxiety and depression because there were times when I felt so good and so close to “normal” that I would rationalize away the times of crisis. A year of therapy has resulted in a major turnaround for me at work as well as in my personal relationships. The difference has been such that I’ve also been able to refer a few friends to my therapist to help them work towards their own personal goals. If you can find out what’s driving your reactions and what triggers your anxiety you’ll be more aware and prepared to meet those issues.

    2. OP*

      Oh, I know it’s not a bad thing! Unfortunately, it’s just been tough for me to find one that I can get transportation to and that has hours that work with my schedule. Since I’m coping well enough on my own right now, I’d rather wait until I can find a therapist that works for me.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Fair enough! I also don’t know if your employer is flexible this way, but they may let you modify your schedule slightly to go to therapy (e.g., coming in 10-6 once a week instead of 9-5). I know that can be a big ask, though, so I understand why the first move would be to wait to find something sustainable that fits your needs.

  4. Brogrammer*

    Hang in there OP, anxiety can really mess you up. If you do decide to pursue therapy, remember that one thing a good therapist can do is help you develop techniques to manage your stress.

  5. memyselfandi*

    Restructuring is much harder on staff than most managers realize. In many ways it is very subtle and cumulative thus hard to put your finger on. Restructuring led to office moves which meant different people were walking by my door, which was the thing I noticed as causing me anxiety. But, I don’t think it was the different people that really bothered me; it was all the other stuff.

    1. OP*

      This is true. And also, the restructuring has been happening since I started the job, so I haven’t really had a chance to get settled and feel like I know the lay of the land. Also, I don’t think I mentioned this in my letter or my update, but I’d had another manager for a while who was nice most of the time but dealt with stress poorly and tended to lash out at people. At the time, I thought I was handling that okay (I knew it wasn’t my fault), but in retrospect, it was really bad and it was doing a number on me. But my other manager (the one who gave me good feedback) is great, and I have another manager now who’s really easygoing.

  6. CBQ*

    I agree with all of these comments. Please take care of yourself and pursue therapy. Anxiety doesn’t go away and can be managed immensely with therapy. You will feel so much better by addressing it. Please make this a resolution for 2017 and share another follow-up to let us know how you’re doing.

  7. mskyle*

    If you don’t want to pursue therapy, the Feeling Good Handbook is really great for those of us with mild/moderate anxiety! It can really help you learn to manage your anxiety on your own.

    I’m sure it’s easier and probably faster with a therapist but it’s entirely possible to make great strides in dealing with anxiety without therapy.

  8. Kaitlin Marie*

    Congrats on the progress you have made! I also had anxiety and depression – I have felt much the same way you have at times. There is little to lose and so much to gain from seeing a good therapist. The things I learned in therapy are still helpful for me every single day, and my last appointment was 10 years ago. Best of luck to you!

  9. Whats In A Name*

    I think therapy is never a bad thing, we’re all trying to navigate the world and sometimes it helps just to have a unbiased perspective.

  10. Lucy Westenra*

    OP will get therapy when they is good and ready. When you do, thought, keep in mind that not every therapist is a good one. Some don’t know how to do their jobs, ore aren’t the right fit, or are just plain mean. If you find yourself sitting across from one of these, you are under no obligation to stay and finish the appointment. Just say, “I’m sorry, but you’re not the right fit, and I’m leaving now.” Then find another doctor and try again. Do not stay with a bad therapist.

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