updates: coworker with anxiety keeps asking us to drive her home, my boss never returns my work on time, and more

Continuing our annual December “where are they now” series, here are four more updates from people who had their questions answered here this year.

1. Coworker with anxiety keeps asking us to drive her home and stay there with her

I showed several coworkers the response to my question on here, and they all thought it was great advice. But after the letter, Amy ended up having a pretty good stretch where she didn’t ask people to go home with her as much—so I didn’t end up going to Amy’s manager myself. However, I recently found out that one of my coworkers did go to Amy’s manager, and they discussed the issue in Amy’s review. Amy told one of my coworkers about it. It sounds like she still doesn’t “get” it and thinks it’s selfish of people not to want to help her (i.e. spend hours taking the train with her and sitting with her) when they don’t have anything else to do. But from what I hear, she has accepted what her manager said and has not been asking people to go home with her.

2. Mediocre employee wants me to accommodate her school schedule

I did pull Jane aside and explain that I would do what I could to support her but that I couldn’t switch her schedule over those with seniority. I also explain what would need to happen in order for me to be able to move her schedule — essentially threee people on the earlier schedule would need to leave/be promoted/retire. (I know a lot of people pointed out in the comments that call centers have a high-turnover rate, but ours actually does not have a lot of people who leave. Due to a higher level of pay and some benefits that you won’t normally find at a call center, the majority of our reps have been here for 5+ years.) Jane said that she understood but wasn’t very happy about it. About a week later, I ended up having to put her on a PIP for recurring performance issue that we had already covered in several coaching sessions.

Then something quite fortuitous for Jane happened — two people were promoted to other internal departments and a third declared her intentions to retire by the end of the month. I was able to tell Jane that despite her PIP (which we had weekly coaching sessions to help her improve) that we’d be able to move her schedule as soon as we hired and trained three new people. It looked like we’d be able to move her schedule in less than two months and right in time for her to start classes. Jane was happy and doing much better in her coaching sessions. I was happy that I’d be able to help Jane.

Then a month before we were schedule to move her shift, she called in on a Monday — not the end of the world but we were already short-staffed. Then the following Monday, she called in again. I had to tell her that she’d now used up all of her accrued PTO time. The next Monday, she called before my shift started and left a message stating that the reason for all of her call-ins was because this department was negatively impacting her mental health and making her sick. She stated that she could no longer work here and was quitting effective immediately. Her friend from another department had already packed up her desk by the time that I got there.

In the three years that I’ve been with the company, no one has just quit from our department. I was a bit shocked as she had never mentioned to me that she was having issues and everything seemed to be going in her favor. There was no reason to believe that she wouldn’t be removed from her PIP in the following month. Most of her former friends in the department were pretty angry with her for handling quitting this way. I don’t regret trying to help Jane, but I definitely wish that it had ended differently.

3. My boss never returns my work on time

In my letter, I focused on company-mandated reviews of my work. While he has been late in providing those reviews, upon further reflection (and as I mentioned this in the comments), I realized that the bigger issue is his delinquency in completing his portion of projects that we collaborate on. In the case of the reviews, I can work around the problem by saying, “If I don’t hear from you by X date, I’ll assume you approve and will send to client.” In the case of the joint projects, I’m stuck waiting for him (I can’t offer to take over his part because what we’re doing is summarizing conference presentations, and we each attended different sessions).

The same week my letter was published, I was asked to provide feedback for my boss’s 360° review. I did, and I hoped that it would lead to a sea change in his behavior. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Since that time, there have been 3 or 4 important projects for which my boss was quite late in providing his PowerPoint slides.

About a month ago, I was so distraught about one of these that I finally broke down and contacted my grandboss to ask for guidance. Grandboss was in total agreement that the delays are unacceptable, and at first he was going to step in and try to resolve the issue. However, he ultimately changed his mind and said that I need to be the one to bring it up.

I’ve made a couple attempts to address the issue, framing it as “What can I do to help make the process run more efficiently,” but my boss’s response has always been along the lines of “There’s nothing you need to do differently. I just need to get my act together.”

At this point, I’m not sure what else I can do. I’m still extremely frustrated, but overall I enjoy the work, and I just got promoted, so I don’t want to leave. Instead, I’ve more or less resigned myself to having a boss who is fundamentally incapable of meeting deadlines, including those he sets for himself.

I wish my update were more uplifting!

4. How to rewrite your resume to focus on accomplishments, not just job duties

You answered my question on what constitutes an accomplishment in jobs that don’t have clearly defined numerical metrics, and how to frame them on your resume.

I feel like I have to share though because I have become an AAM proponent in a big way – I have not found similarly modern, sane, actionable advice on any other job advice site (although I stopped looking almost three years ago now).

My story as briefly as possible: I moved to another state without a job lined up, for family reasons. I have been in the work force since the late 80s, and have held a number of really disparate positions, so my resume is not one that immediately gives a sense of what I do or might be qualified for. It’s a patchwork quilt – graphic art, editorial, teaching, veterinary, no clear reason for the transitions. After my move, I began looking for administrative roles in my new area, but was stymied by (1) insane looking resume, and (2) my complete cluelessness about the modern hiring process. I was still writing the stilted corporate robot-speak cover letters, and I probably would have tried calling hiring managers (if any had been google-able).

I went almost three months without a nibble, sending out dozens of applications. It was a very dark time for me emotionally, I felt worthless. I only had so much in savings to live on, and was going through it supporting myself and my husband. I forced myself to sit in front of the computer and job hunt for at least 6 hours a day. Thank goodness, one day as I was searching for tips, I came across this site. That day, I started writing real cover letters, and started fixing up my resume (I still didn’t really think it was so bad. It was.)

Immediately, I started getting responses, but by this time I was aiming really low, job-wise. I had some interviews for some awful jobs. Finally, I copped to the fact that my resume was holding me back. I revised it based on your advice, and within a short time I was able to choose between two offers, both for good positions at large entities. In total, I only went 4 months without a job.

Since I didn’t have any direct experience in my new role (but lots of transferable skills, it turns out), I continued to follow advice from your site on how to be a stellar employee. Four months after my hire, I was being recruited by another group in my entity for a higher position. I got that position, along with a nice raise. After being in that position for six months, they created a new position for me that came with a substantial raise. I am now the program manager for an awesome program that I really believe in.

Everyone I know who is looking for a job, or hiring or managing employees, now knows about this site. One of my co-workers actually sussed out a cover letter plagiarizer in her job applicants because she had originally read the cover letter on AAM.

{ 213 comments… read them below }

  1. KG, Ph.D.*

    > It sounds like [Amy] still doesn’t “get” it and thinks it’s selfish of people not to want to help her (i.e. spend hours taking the train with her and sitting with her) when they don’t have anything else to do.

    Yikes. You’ve reached that difficult place where “person with mental health struggles” intersects with “person who may be fundamentally kind of selfish.” It’s really difficult to figure out what a reasonable level of assistance is when the person needing assistance has wildly unreasonable expectations. Argh. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, LW#1, and I hope it gets better soon!

    1. Emi.*

      I dealt with this problem in a college friend, and I can attest to how terrible it is. I’m really sorry, LW1! Please be reassured that it’s not mean and selfish for you to turn down requests like this. If it helps, remind yourself that doing everything Amy asks you to is not actually an effective way to help her deal with her anxiety, big-picture-wise. (Also it would burn you out and totally warp your sense of what normal requests are.) I hope it works out. :(

    2. Charlie*

      It’s unbelievably obtuse and selfish to think people don’t have anything to do if they’re not helping you. Mental health issues are very different from being so selfish as to assume that you can set priorities on others’ time. Like Emi, I had this problem with a college roommate. He was frantically writing a paper and I was headed out for a hike. “No! Stay here and help me with this, it’s due tomorrow!!!”


      “You’re not even doing anything! This is important!”

      “Shyeah, for you.” And so it went until I flipped him off and went hiking. He seriously had no conception that his procrastination-imposed panic wasn’t important to me, and that he didn’t get to tell me that my favorite activity was a lower priority. One of the most narcissistic human beings I’ve ever known.

      1. Allison*

        I unfollowed someone I knew on Facebook because she was always posting status updates to the tune of “oh, so you can afford ____ but you can’t help me with my [important expense here]. Fine. I get it. Guess I’m not important” or “so work is more important that me.” Basically, if she needed someone to do something for her, or needed money for rent, her needs had to become a top priority for basically everyone or we were all terrible. It was making MY anxiety worse!

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I had to actually unfriend someone for a similar situation (pre-facebook days). I got a new job and all of a sudden we would go out and at the end of the night she say something “oh, so you have to pay this, I have no money until pay day” or would call me up needing gas money.

          When I finally told her I couldn’t keep supplying her with cash/paying for her the answer was that I could afford it and she didn’t always have the money. I even suggested a few times just hanging out at my house and I’d order take out and get a 6-pack (so much cheaper!) but she said no.

          Long story short her behavior/attitude didn’t change. I was very sad about ending the friendship.

        2. Pamela*

          OK…Anxiety Disorder is different from someone asking someone for money, because they think you have the money. I am NOT condoning what “Amy” has done…please understand this. I am a trained mental health professional and I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder myself. People with an Anxiety Disorder are NOT thinking rationally, a rational person would not need someone to take them home or stay with them once they are at home. I can’t give any kind of diagnosis, but it seems like she has some type of irrational fear of being alone. Amy’s anxiety has taken over how she lives her life and now the lives of the people she works with. She literally can not see how her behavior is effecting other people because if her level of anxiety. However, this DOES NOT excuse her behavior with her co-workers. She needs to take responsibility for her mental health care. I control my GAD with therapy and medication. Amy needs to seek out a treatment that will work for her, and should not depend on her coworkers to help with her anxiety.

          1. D.A.R.N.*

            Yes, thank you for posting this. As someone who doesn’t have the training, I wasn’t able to put it to words. All of the examples of selfish people are great for examples on setting boundaries in painful situations, which you’d have to do whether Amy was simply selfish or not, but it’s a good reminder that her disorder is speaking for her at the moment and sometimes, mental illness needs both the boundaries and the forgiveness for everyone involved to move into a healthy place.

            I hope Amy can get the help she needs so her illness doesn’t overwhelm her anymore. :(

        3. INTP*

          This is why I don’t use “I can’t afford it” or “It’s not in the budget” as a reason not to do anything, even when it’s true. It feels like a nice non-confrontational excuse at the moment, but people seem to interpret it as an invitation to start scrutinizing your finances for evidence that you really could afford it. In the end they wind up just as mad at you as if you said straight up, “No, I don’t want to pay your bill/be your bridesmaid/contribute to your child’s fundraiser because I would rather spend the money on myself.”

          1. Christine*

            I had to drop a friends years ago, we would go out and she would like I do not have money after the guzzled a few drinks. And the, “you can afford it” statement doesn’t fly with me.

            If you cannot afford it, you shouldn’t be doing it and expecting others to cover the expense for you. I have had periods of my life where I living off unemployment and was drinking tab water, and surviving off food stamps. I really resent it when people have a sense of entitlement at the expense of others.

            They need to cut back their expenses, and develop reasonable expectations of their finances. We are so much happier in life when we realize this is how much extra I have this month, I need to save for that, etc.

            I’m off track, OP # 1 can your employer recommend that the individual go to EAP counseling if it’s offered through your employer. We get 4 a year and I take advantage of them.

            I think we might have touched base on this before, but some employers make the EAP counseling mandatory to keep a job if on PIP, etc. I know that counseling to deal with substance abuse can be mandatory when it impacts on one’s work performance. That might fall under FMLA in some aspects.

          2. Whats In A Name*

            FWIW I actually see using those excuses as a sign you are responsible with money and would much rather hear those up front than hear “oh, by the way I don’t have money with me so you have to pay” after dinner and a few drinks have already been ordered.

        4. Biff*

          I jut unfriended someone with similar behavior. I was exhausted by the constant “:(” statuses and the emotional rollercoaster that was connected to increasingly questionable life decisions.

          I do kind of suspect that modern therapy techniques have a tendency to encourage and reinforce narcisstic behavior.

      2. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

        My favorite expression is “Lack of planning on your end does not constitute an emergency on my end.”

        I work in healthcare and we’re currently heading into our busy season where insurance changes for approximately 90% of our existing patients. We advise ALL patients on service with us that it is their responsibility to provide us with changes to their insurance ASAP and that if it’s after the fact there will be delays in their treatments. A woman called me yesterday to complain that information she’d provided the day before hadn’t been updated (literally a 3-10 day process for the treatments rec’d). Her insurance change was over a month old and she was demanding that I bump her case to the top of the list because she wanted her services today. Um…no? It doesn’t work that way.

        1. Candi*

          That’s the expression I was trying to think of!

          My mind seriously boggled at the ‘not doing anything’ comment. It doesn’t matter if they’re doing laundry or binge-playing Mystery Case Files -people have stuff to do!

          Sometimes all you can do is pull away the leech -or even salt it.

      3. Venus Supreme*

        Yeah… I had a friend in college who was very unwell threaten to harm himself if I didn’t spend time with him. As in, watch me hang out with friends, leave a vaguely threatening Post-It note on my belongings (I’m going to ____ myself) so I would drop everything to be with him. His behavior got worse when I got into a relationship with someone else. It ruined both of our mental wellness. He ended up leaving school to go to an in-patient program. Amy’s definitely blurring lines and really pushing other people’s boundaries and I hope she gets help because this is unhealthy for all parties involved.

    3. Panda Bandit*

      I have anxiety and I think Amy’s response is horrible. Her mental problems are her responsibility to deal with. She can get some assistance from her doctors but they’re certainly not going to sit at home with her.

      1. Mel*

        I have generalized anxiety disorder as well, and I think I would experience EVEN MORE anxiety asking for others to help me so much! Of course, I was stuck on the mindset of not wanting to be a burden on others, and this obviously isn’t an issue for Amy.

    4. Artemesia*

      An emotional vampire doesn’t get to suck away your life. Sometimes, it is your child or your spouse or your parent and you step up and provide massive support because of your obligation and your love and closeness to the person. A co-worker has zero claim on a minute of your time away from work. I don’t see anyone to be unusually selfish who doesn’t want to hand hold a co-worker on the train and sit with them at home because after all they have no life? I can imagine doing it once for someone the day after they had a car accident or a mugging or other frightening situation, but for someone with anxiety to expect a co-worker to be mommy is so completely out of line that not wanting to be that helpful person doesn’t say anything about one’s character.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        “An emotional vampire doesn’t get to suck away your life. ”

        I lost my entire group of friends because I refused to give into a person who was lashing it and being horrible. Everyone else was willing to say, “it’s her depression,” but really she was just a bully who used her depression to batter people into changing plans, including her in something at their own detriment, or dropping everything to make her the center of the universe.

        When I finally reached my limit I tried to politely explain my stance that “depression is not an excuse to be a jerk,” and when that went nowhere, I just stopped hanging out with her. Unfortunately, she continued to lash out at people who spent time with me, because they weren’t spending time with her (which of course was my fault, not hers for lashing out), and when I refused to be sucked back into her drama, my friend’s chose her because “she’s really suffering.”

        Despite the repercussions, walking away from her was the best thing I have ever done for myself.

        1. Jesmlet*

          This is my mother. Unfortunately as a kid, I couldn’t just decide to stop being around her. Depression is not an excuse to treat everyone around you like shit. I did nothing wrong and certainly didn’t deserve her taking her misery out on me.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            Thank you for the reminder to take my depression meds this morning. I just started them back up and am getting back into a routine on taking them.

      2. Anon Two*

        No emotional vampire gets to suck away my life no matter their relation to me. I’m sensitive over this matter, because I have a parent who believes that the world should revolve around them at all times, and uses their physical and mental illnesses as the reason why.

        You only get shot at life. Enjoy as much of it as you can. There is a massive difference between being compassionate towards another human being and making yourself miserable to accommodate someone else.

    5. paul*

      Yep. Its one of those realities. Someone can have mental health issues and *also* be a jerk/exploitative/whatever.

    6. Sketchee*

      It’s funny how that works, those who think about how selfish other people are invariably want something for themselves. The idea that others don’t have anything else to do is illogical itself. Afterall, they would be doing *something* if not on that train. It’s okay for Amy to look out for her own interests, and at the same time everyone else considers themselves. Best situation is where everyone considers others and themself.

    7. INTP*

      I think it’s probably oversimplifying to say that Amy is fundamentally selfish. The thing with anxiety is that it really puts you in the physiological and psychological state of being under a life-threatening stressor – your lizard brain wants you to survive at any cost, not think of social norms and empathy. Sometimes your conscious brain can override that, sometimes it can’t. I don’t do anything like this when I’m anxious, but I definitely have made decisions that seemed reasonable at the time and greatly confused or disturbed me later. Amy might be a good person whose anxiety manifests this way, or she might be a terrible person who happens to have anxiety and chooses to handle it this way.

      That said, whether she can help it or not doesn’t really have any relevance to what her coworkers owe her. All they really owe her is what her employer has decided is a reasonable accommodation and made a part of their jobs. If it’s warranted and practicable, the company needs to find a way to make it work, but it’s not on coworkers to handle the rest of the burden. Anything beyond should just be what people are doing entirely by choice because they want to help, not an obligation.

      1. KG, Ph.D.*

        That’s why I say Amy “may” be “kind of selfish.” It’s not a given, just a possibility worth considering, particularly when it seems that many of LW’s coworkers were handling Amy with kid gloves at the expense of the whole group. I have anxiety, so I’m familiar with the ways in which it can warp thinking.

    8. Lafayette*

      My college roommate was kind of like that, but worse. She would come out of her room when we had guests/boyfriends over or were just hanging out and be like, “I’ll be in my room having a panic attack if anyone needs me.” Then she’d go back in.

      Having anxiety/depression does not make you a bad person, but using that to try to manipulate other people gives the rest of us with them a worse name than we already tend to have in society.

      1. Lafayette*

        And yes, if you read that sarcastically, that is in fact how she said it. She also did other stuff like cling to me in public and possessively announce to everyone that we were best friends, even interrupting my conversations with other people like at club meetings. AND she tried to sabotage a birthday party my friends were secretly planning for me, even though they were perfectly nice and invited her to join. I could probably write a whole series drama on the stuff that happened between us, and she made my anxiety much worse in those 2-3 years I had to live with her.

  2. Rusty Shackelford*

    Amy told one of my coworkers about it. It sounds like she still doesn’t “get” it and thinks it’s selfish of people not to want to help her (i.e. spend hours taking the train with her and sitting with her) when they don’t have anything else to do.

    Don’t have anything else to do? Like, maybe, going to their own homes after work? It’s pretty hard to have sympathy for Amy if this is really her attitude.

    1. Tuesday*

      My thought, too. I did feel bad for her while reading the first letter, but if she really doesn’t see how asking coworkers to spend their evenings with her just for her own comfort would be a burden on them then I have trouble being sympathetic. It would be one thing if they were friends or family (still a burden, but a little more understandable as supporting people through difficulties is part of the territory with those relationships) but these are coworkers. And interns!

      Nevertheless, I hope she gets help. I did wonder if she had tried therapy or anything along those lines.

    2. designbot*

      This, just because somebody doesn’t have a scheduled commitment doesn’t mean they have nothing to do! Self care, family time, and home tasks are important to keeping everyone’s lives running smoothly.

      1. Christine*

        When I get off work I may want to attend an event on campus. But normally I might need to stop by Walmart on the way home, but I want to go home, rub my cat & dog, have a quick dinner, watch TV with my mother (we share a home), read some, throw a load of laundry in, work on one of my hobbies, etc. I admit I’m hermit most of the time, but do not expect me to devalue my hermit ways and take care of you. Amy’s attitude would drive me crazy.

        Am hoping that the manager’s discussion with her sticks between her ears even if she doesn’t understand it in her sickness & being selfish. That’s all required in this situation, is that she doesn’t ask and expect her coworkers & employer to accommodate her illness outside work.

  3. animaniactoo*

    Oh, Amy.

    No, it’s not selfish to want to go home and take care of me in whatever way I want to spend my free time. To have it be mine to relax and do stuff for myself, even if they’re not any particular thing. It is selfish to want me to continually take care of you rather than myself with my free time. I know you don’t understand that because of the space you’re stuck in mentally. But I hope you get there someday.

    1. Charlie*

      The only person I know who I’d take care care at the expense of my relaxation and free time has half my DNA, and he’s two. And even then sometimes I want to give him to the nearest wolf pack to go raise in the forest. The rest of humanity? Bahahaha.

  4. Sabine the Very Mean*

    The driving home lady was very entertaining. I have a difficult time hiding my emotions. If I were asked this, I wouldn’t be able to stop my face from saying, “What the ever-living eff? Why would you think it’s okay to ask anyone to do this for you let alone your coworkers?” and then proceed to take her to task for it. “No really, Jane. I need to understand your thought process. Does your anxiety really equal those around you should suffer by default?” Sit there and wait for her answer.

    1. Your Screen Name Is Not An Excuse*

      You say you have a difficult time, but maybe for civility’s sake you should try a little harder.

      1. sunny-dee*

        I wouldn’t say that, but like Sabine, I’d be thinking it. The uncivil one is Amy; any angry or rude responses are kind of what she asked for. She’s the one creating the situation, not anyone else.

        1. pope suburban*

          Yes, me too. I’d stick with a simple, “No, I can’t,” or “I have plans,” because planning to go home and watch some TV is still a plan. But if Amy badgered me, there would come a point where I would have to ask her why she felt that I was to be responsible for this. I’ve had to do something similar with a coworker who is anxious (I’m anxious too, really badly, but mine errs on the side of making me super-duper private). She wants to have discussion after discussion about how our company is dysfunctional and that leads to everyone treating me poorly. I understand that she means well, and that she is coming from a place of wanting that to change because she cares, but it is exhausting and so not appropriate for even a casual workplace like ours. So eventually, I have to ask her, “What are you hoping to accomplish with this? I agree that the culture is bad, but at this point I think it’s wiser to accept that and find ways to work within it.” Because it just. makes. me. tired. I feel for her and I get it but I can’t be her therapist. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to take on that kind of emotional labor either.

        2. INTP*

          We don’t know that Amy is consciously creating this situation, though. She could be in full control of her behavior and choosing to behave so outrageously, or anxiety could have warped her ability to know what is reasonable. Anxiety isn’t just the state of feeling anxious, it often puts you in a fight or flight state where any sort of cognitive function that doesn’t serve you while fleeing a life-or-death situation (empathy, perspective, consciousness of social norms, long-term consequences predicting, etc) is compromised. Her coworkers don’t owe it to her to give her rides and shield her from her anxiety, but they should try their best to not be rude about it.

          1. Sketchee*

            As someone with anxiety, it is my job to manage that and I’m responsible for my actions. It’s nice when others have empathy and are understanding and supportive. Certainly others should be polite as a professional baseline. That helpless feeling is uncomfortable and downright scary when untreated. Amy is on the right track to be seeking some sort of help, however it’s misguided to go to her coworkers for it in this case. The coworkers should address the issue at hand – ride sharing and it’s immediate impact.

      2. paul*

        Maybe less combative initially but I don’t see anything wrong with telling a coworker when they’re making a grossly inappropriate request.

      3. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

        I disagree with you. I think civility is what has allowed Amy to take advantage of her co-workers for so long. Doing things in the name of civility means that people often harbor anger and resentment against someone because they become so afraid that someone might get their feelings hurt or think they’re not nice because they’ve done something someone deems uncivil. That’s what’s happened here. Amy has asked her co-workers for rides and to stay with her. They said yes, because it’s what civil and polite people do. Amy’s co-workers now feel taken advantage of because she keeps asking and to do anything other than say yes without a reasonable excuse could leave them looking like jerks. She’s vulnerable, she’s anxious and what kind of person would say no to that, right?!

        It is possible to be civil and still indicate that their needs don’t trump yours. I can see myself saying something along the line of “No Amy, I won’t drive you home or sit with you. I’m sorry that you have anxiety and hope that you can get the help you need for that though.” I’m not being cruel. I’m being polite and direct. If pushed (as she seems to have done with others) I would say “My time is my own and I don’t need to offer you an excuse. It’s unfair to keep pushing after I’ve said no.”

        I recently had a conversation with a friend about a situation where I had to cut a person that was generally unlikable and annoying out of a social group meeting. I wanted to make sure that this person didn’t attend further meetings and I struggled with how to do it without hurting her feelings. My friend said “It’s impossible. One of you has to be upset. Either she comes and makes you miserable to the point where you dread it every month or you let her know that it’s not really working out having her there and that you wish her well but she’s uninvited. It’ll hurt her once real bad and maybe a lingering hurt for a while, but you’ll have a never ending monthly dose of it.” I had the hard conversation, she was hurt and we parted ways. We still have mutual friends and they have stated that it’s exactly that way: she was hurt for a bit but has now moved onto other social groups and doesn’t even talk about the “breakup”.

        1. fposte*

          I deeply reject the notion that civility is what has allowed Amy to take advantage of her co-workers. People’s discomfort with saying no is not the same thing as civility, because civility doesn’t demand that you do everything people ask; that’s more socialization about being “nice” and not having developed your “no” muscles yet. Similarly, there’s no need to abandon civility when you’re saying no.

      4. Temperance*

        I think that when someone does something shockingly rude, like harassing a coworker to spend hours riding the train to your house and then sit with you because you’re afraid to be alone, a confused or angry face in response is probably OK.

  5. Gandalf the Nude*

    #3 – Since Grandboss was open to the feedback earlier, you might follow up with him that nothing has changed despite you addressing it directly with your boss. I’d ask for guidance on how to talk to Boss about the lack of change since you don’t have the authority to hold him accountable. Hopefully, he’ll either have a useful suggestion (I’d be surprised), or he’ll realize he really does need to step in and use his authority to address the issue.

    1. Charlie*

      Grandboss needs to cowboy up and regulate on boss, is what needs to happen. This “no, underling, you do it” routine is lame.

      1. Jadelyn*

        As I say when I have to ask my boss or grandboss to help deal with someone above my level in another department, “Will you please lean on them for me? You can lean a lot harder than I can.” It’s just a fact that I, as a line employee, do not have the same authority to wield against a recalcitrant manager as my manager and VP do. This situation is the same kind of thing. “Managing up” only goes so far, eventually you need someone who has the power to DO something about it.

      2. designbot*

        I’m wondering if grandboss is trying to teach LW about “managing up.” It is an excellent skill to develop, but admittedly not every boss responds to the same techniques.

        1. Lance*

          It is a possibility… but at the same time, trying to manage up doesn’t always work, as seems like might be the case here, since nothing’s improving. In which case, grandboss should start actually managing, at least a little, to help get the ball rolling.

    2. Sadsack*

      Yes, OP should tell the upper boss exactly what her boss said about getting his act together. He obviously hasn’t done it even after it came up in his review. If OP doesn’t provide this feedback to the upper boss, how will he know before another year-end review?

    3. Artemesia*

      This. ‘Grandboss, I have spoken now with Fergus twice and offered to problem solve with him to improve our procedures, but he simply responds he needs to get his act together and then he doesn’t. I can’t be productive without him getting his part of the work done and I have no authority to make this happen. It is really something you as his manager needs to take care of.’

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    My sister suffers from anxiety, and she says almost the same thing when I stand up for myself. My response? “Yep, I’m selfish. You’re correct.” Then I go back to doing whatever I was doing and ignore her.

    1. D.A.R.N.*

      This is a great response, leave no room for arguing the point. OP has my full support to say something along the same lines to Amy. “You’re right, I need to [Go straight home/do my errands/go to yoga] and it is selfish of me to do that rather than drive you. I’ll still be doing that, though. I hope you find a good coping method for your anxiety.” And then disengage.

  7. Doug Judy*

    #2 – Sounds like Jane was told her schedule wasn’t changing and was put on a PIP and started looking for a new job and found one. OP did all they could, but Jane had no way of knowing things would turn around and by then she was likely over working there anyway. She could have handled her resignation better and more professionally.

    1. Important Moi*

      “There was no reason to believe that she wouldn’t be removed from her PIP in the following month.” — I don’t think Jane believed that and neither do I.

      Jane could have just as easily concluded a PIP was the “beginning of the end.” The PIP was laying the documented groundwork for discipline and/or formal termination. Two weeks notice and meeting with the OP may have been great but was it really required, if you feel you’re being pushed out? Jane is gone with the wind. She will not be contacting the OP ever again.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Especially since, in many organizations, PIPs are misused as a “formality before firing”, it’s not all that surprising that Jane took it as a sign to move on.

      2. Michael Scott*

        +100. I don’t comment often, But there is something about the poster’s tone that I find irksome and out of touch, paternalistic even. It’s hard for me to believe that turnover is as low as he or she states when 4 longer-term in their call center left unexpectedly. And also hard to believe, as the prior commenter noted, that they have a hard time understanding why an employee would leave after being placed on a PIP. Sounds like some more self-reflection might be in order from my perspective.

        1. Blossom*

          Mm, I don’t want to pile on the OP, but the use of “coaching” rubbed me the wrong way. Itt seems like the object of the coaching here was “get Jane to understand why she’s wrong/performing badly and to change her ways”, rather than the more positive, employee-led model that I’m more familiar with. Basically, this “coaching” sounds like performance management – which is fine, it just gives coaching a bad name (imo. Maybe that’s just my perception?)

          1. Jadelyn*

            I’m curious how you generally see “coaching” then – my organization uses the term in a way that sounds very similar to what the OP said. “Coaching” is one part of performance management, referring specifically to the one-on-one work that a supervisor does with their employee to help them develop better work skills or work on bad habits or whatever. It can be positive and employee-led if an employee says “Hey, I’d like to learn more about X or get better at Y, can you help me?” – or it can be used when an employee is underperforming and management wants to try to get them up to speed rather than just “writing them up” and then firing them, in which case, yes, the goal of the coaching is to get an underperforming employee to do better at work. So I’m wondering, how do you use the term “coaching”, such that that usage would “give it a bad name”?

          2. paul*

            I mean, I do see coaching used to refer to feedback geared at changing negative behaviors. All the time in fact. So I don’t know that it isn’t a normal use of the word?

      3. cncx*

        I totally agree about the PIP: in my entire career i have never known someone on a PIP who turned it around or for whom it wasn’t a process just to formally fire someone, so if i were put on a PIP i would be looking for a new job as well. Yes, Jane could have handled it better, but I can’t say i blame her, honestly.

      4. Vanilla Nice*

        It sounds to me like Jane did what she needed to do for her own well-being. Yes, she ideally would have given two weeks’ notice, but ultimately, she’s replaceable.

    2. INTP*

      Yep. I see nothing wrong with Jane quitting here, though she ideally would have given notice. Not every job is for every person – the job might have been negatively impacting her mental health even if most in the department are happy working there. And based on how I’ve seen PIPs play out in real life, I definitely would start looking for a new job ASAP if placed on one. You can’t expect someone not to, imo.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Or the pressure of the PIP was just more than she wanted to handle.

      I quit a side job (church organist) because I got feedback that I was making too many mistakes, and when I doubled down to try to fix that, I realized I couldn’t be perfect. I couldn’t stop making those mistakes. Not without huge amounts of keyboard practice, and even then I was doubtful that I’d be successful.

      After a month I realized that I spent every Sunday in anxiety and guilt, and I wasn’t enjoying it at all anymore. So combine my conviction that I wouldn’t improve, and the fact that I wasn’t enjoying church anymore, not even the non-organ-playing parts, and I quit. I used schedule as a reason, but that wasn’t really it.

      The pressure to improve more than I thought I could had ruined any sense of fulfillment I got from it, and the money was not enough.

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, your story is amazing and uplifting! Congratulations to you, for making it through dark times, for incorporating advice/guidance, and for killing it at your job!

    OP#2, I am so sorry; if I were in your shoes, I would feel hornswoggled. But I really admire that you were able to handle Jane’s issues in such a professional/detached manner while also keeping firm on her need to improve. I’m not sure why she was constantly calling out on Monday, and it’s certainly not great to quit without notice/warning, but hopefully she does better in her next life adventure.

    OP#3, I wish I had advice, but I had a boss like this and ultimately had to leave and move my project to another organization in order to meet grant deliverables. I wish grandboss would handle your boss. Did you ever circle back to let grandboss know the outcome of your talk with your boss?

    1. Anonymouse*

      I can’t really speak for Jane, but I know that for me when I’m having a flare up of my own mental health issues, Mondays can feel like an insurmountable hurdle to the week. If I can get myself in to work Monday morning, the rest of the week is much easier to trudge through, but that first morning after the weekend can be a very difficult mental exercise that I sometimes do lose and end up calling out.
      No excuse, just trying to hopefully give some context.

  9. animaniactoo*

    #3 – You might try to be more direct about this: He is creating an issue *FOR YOU*. He is creating a problem that means a lot of stress and anxiety and rushing to complete the job on your end. And then follow that up with “I know you said you need to get your act together, so clearly there isn’t anything I can take off your plate. But can we discuss things that might help you be more organized and get this stuff on a deadline that doesn’t leave me playing catchup?”

    And then spitball time management techniques/apps that might help him.

    1. Artemesia*

      This guy isn’t going to change without his boss making it a condition of his continued employment. He already sees the chaos he has wrought. He has already been confronted by the OP, owned up and then refused to actually do the work. The OP can either get the Grandboss to do his job or find herself a better position. I’d encourage her to try both but be giving serious thought to finding a position where she could use her skills and get things done without these hassles.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I’m not sure he has been confronted all that directly by OP. They’ve tried the “is there anything I can do to help” and it sounds like there were previous conversations about “this is a continued issue”, which does not drive home the impact of how hard this is for OP to deal with on their end. As in it’s not just “I got it late, you keep giving this to me late, I need it to do my portion” but “It creates a lot of stress and anxiety and I have to stay up all night just to get it done.”

        There’s a lot of difference in the emotional weight of each of those statements, and that can often be a key factor in somebody realizing that “oh, this isn’t manageable, this is a PROBLEM”.

        I agree that grandboss needs to get in there and start managing his employee. But it’s possible that even if OP contacts him, he’ll still push it back on them. So this is worth trying. Personally, I think it’s worth trying now so that when OP goes to grandboss they can say “I tried this, I tried that. I tried this. I am out of ideas for how I can effectively do this from under him. If you have any, I’m willing to try. But I think that this needs to be addressed from above, not below.”

        1. animaniactoo*

          Also to be able to say “I have been clear with him about the impact on both my workload, and the space it leaves me in emotionally to be continually dealing with cleaning up a delay that is out of my control. It hasn’t made a difference.”

    2. TootsNYC*

      yeah, maybe stop saying, “Is there anything –I– can do,” and say, “what are YOU going to do differently?”

      And if you have suggestions, etc., offer them. It’s essentially doing to him what you might do if you were his manager. You shouldn’t have to, but…

    3. zora*

      I think I would try, the next time Boss says “There isn’t anything you can do,” responding with “But this doesn’t seem to be working so far. I think we need to come up with some systems or processes to make this actually happen.” and then suggest some. Like, can you block time on his calendar specifically to finish the things you need? Can you give him outlines that he just needs to fill in? I don’t know, but I would get waayyyy more specific with him.

      But that said, I would probably also be looking for a new job, because being late and rushing all the time is my biggest pet peeve and I couldn’t keep doing it forever!

      1. zora*

        The other thing might be asking the Boss, “then, what do I do when you are late with your piece? Because staying up all night to finish isn’t working for me. Do we push the deadline back? Can I turn mine in separately?”

        Or even taking that to the Grandboss. Because the other option is to remove the stress from your plate, so that if Boss is late, it’s his problem, not yours. Your job is getting done, and you are all good.

  10. Kate*

    Isn’t Amy being selfish for demanding that her coworkers take the time out of their lives to tend to her needs after work hours???

    1. Blue Anne*

      No, no, Kate, you see, no one has anything else to do when they’re not out of work! They’d rather sit around twiddling their thumbs instead of help out Amy.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      That’s the sort of question Amy needs to be asked by her confidante. “Could you please clarify for me which is more selfish: expecting other people to give up their time and resources every day for your comfort or just wanting to go home after a long day of work?”

      I would be interested to know if it was someone else who needed help, how often Amy would be willing to supply it. I have a feeling it wouldn’t be something she was comfortable doing. It’s one thing if it’s a special occasion where carrying something home would be spoiled (rain, snow). It’s another thing entirely to just want company. Go to the library or a coffee shop or walk around malls. Get a therapy dog. People used to be paid companions and if Amy is hiring, maybe someone would be willing to take that job.

      1. Pandora 124*

        I was thinking the same thing, if there’s people you can hire to do your shopping or wait in line on your behalf for that new phone, I’m sure someone can take the job of waiting for her after work and keep her company.Craiglist.

    3. James*

      It’s not selfish as long as she NEEDS it. ;)

      But yeah, the idea that I don’t have anything to do when I’m not at work, or that I’m selfish for wanting to go home to do my kids’ laundry, cook their dinner, help them with their school work, take care of the dogs, take care of my (pregnant, about to go into labor) wife, pay my bills, run my errands, and in general LIVE MY LIFE makes me very, very angry. The only mental illness that could justify such behavior is a failure to develop object permanence; in anyone over the age of 3 or 4, this is being a jerk, pure and simple. This is the type of thing a particularly vile boss would try to get away with. From a coworker, it’s beyond intolerable.

      My favorite response to the accusation of “You’re being selfish!” is to say “Yup. It’s my life; I put myself first when it comes to my own actions.” Watching people’s heads explode when they realize that I actually mean it is fun. Shuts down this nonsense pretty quick!

  11. Anxious*

    I’m not Amy, I do not suffer from the kind of anxiety she suffers from, but if I had to put her thought process into words, it would be:

    I am a messed-up person.
    Everyone else around me is not messed-up.
    My needs are greater than theirs because I am messed-up and they are not. They have everything they need. If they didn’t, they’d be messed-up, and it’s pretty obvious they’re not.
    Those who are not messed-up should help those who are messed-up. I need the help of any and everyone who is not messed-up.

    It’s not a healthy way of thinking, but that’s what anxiety can do to you. It makes you feel like everyone around you has their act together 100% of the time and therefore should be willing to help you. It can also make you feel like if people won’t help you that they hate you. Anxiety is good at making you think in extremes.

    1. Angela*

      Yes. There is something especially pernicious about anxiety (among other mental ailments) and the way it can affect your thinking and make you feel desperate, so I still feel for Amy. However, her employer telling her it is unacceptable to ask her coworkers to manage her mental health would hopefully be enough of a wake up call. I also think I would be feeling pretty resentful about being called selfish for not sacrificing my own free time (which is essential to MY mental well-being) for a coworker’s piece of mind.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      What a great explanation. Years ago, when I was depressed and anxious in college, I definitely had that mindset. For a while I HATED my peers because I so obviously needed help and they weren’t willing to give me assistance. Now I realize that I was in a very bad place and it wasn’t their job to help me.

    3. Allison*

      Right, they seem to have this highly idealistic “we all need to help each other” mentality which translates to an expectation that when they’re in need, their community should take care of them. If you have anything “extra,” it should go to someone who needs it.

      Obviously helping others is great, but they take this mentality to an extreme.

    4. Temperance*

      Thanks for putting this into words. My mom has some Amy traits, although her problems are more serious. I never understood why someone would just demand and expect others to take care of them like that. The Amy letter really bothered me for that reason.

    5. CMT*

      I just started listening to the audiobook of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and this line of thinking was described in the chapter I just finished! The author describes it as a manifestation of entitlement (although he describes a lot of other things as entitlement that I don’t agree with). Corollary to “I’m better than everyone else and therefore my needs are greater.”

    6. Ehh*

      I generally agree but would word “Those who are not messed-up should help those who are messed-up” a little differently. Severe anxiety makes you have this big yawning gulf of NEED in one or more aspects of life. You NEED. There is a NEED, and that NEED isn’t being met, and you can’t figure out how to meet it. That NEED is so big that you can’t stop to think about other people’s lives. It’s like drowning: you desperately need oxygen, so that’s all you can think about, and the concept that someone else has other things on their mind doesn’t even compute. Except it’s more abstract than that, so it comes across as selfishness and entitlement instead of NEED. It’s not fair for Amy to ask her coworkers to pick up the slack for her NEEDs, but I don’t think it’s helpful to sneer at her. From her perspective, she’s probably just trying to keep treading water and not drown.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is true, and it’s also true that if you don’t know how to soothe yourself, external reassurance is kind of like an addiction–the only thing that makes you feel better is more. Which is, of course, why therapists generally point you away from it, because it’s not a solution and in fact exacerbates the problem.

        1. jamlady*

          I’ve been in therapy for GAD and depression since I was in junior high. I go back when I need to, but I’m a generally successful adult with healthy and happy relationships. I was raised learning how to manage my illnesses. It’s sad to see letters like this and know so many people just are not as lucky. Amy sounds like my MIL – I feel for her and I understand her… But that doesn’t mean I’m going to put up with her. And I’m glad the OP and her coworkers put up that boundary with Amy – she needs it.

        2. Julia*

          This. It took me quite a Long time to get over my Feelings of “being alone”=”no one to turn to when anxious”=”scary as shit.”

    7. anonderella*

      I get swallowed into this thinking, as well, from time to time. It was really cathartic to see it laid out so clearly – thanks Anxious, this was great wording!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Anxiety is good at making you think in extremes.

      Yep, and one of those extremes can be, “This will never ever stop, not ever, no matter what I do.” If Amy isn’t getting help, she needs to be.

    9. Knitchic*

      This! My hubby deals with some pretty extreme anxiety. This time of year is especially difficult, family gatherings are The Thing for his family and sometimes after work he just can’t. It’s a tough line for me to walk trying to help him feel comfortable in his own skin while being resonably social and getting his family to just accept his quiet presence and not insist upon huge smiles and merriment. I feel for Amy, but boy does she need a better network to help her. Asking coworkers all the time is not ok.

    10. bearing*

      This is beautifully put.

      I have a young person in my life — I’m not her parent but am an “auntie” figure — who is like this. She does have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, is legally an adult and very bright but never manages to complete anything: coursework, a job for more than a couple of weeks, any kind of project, etc. — because she has convinced herself that if something is difficult, it must be because she is too messed up to handle it.

      It’s hard to judge where the disorder ends and the ordinary difficulties of life begin, especially when the disorder is a dominant feature of your identity. I have been trying for years to suggest, without driving her away and losing my tenuous position of authority, that perhaps things are often difficult even for non-messed-up people, and it is normal to have to persevere once in a while even through something that is experienced as unpleasant.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Last year I read this fantastic book that might be relevant to you/your “niece”‘s situation, Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement (which someone here on AAM actually suggested). That’s pretty much the whole focus of the book: overcoming the idea that “difficult = can’t be done” and the limitations we place on ourselves that stop us from accomplishing stuff.

        It’s geared toward neurotypical people, AFAIK, so I’m not sure if it would be right for someone struggling with an anxiety disorder, but it might be worth checking out! I didn’t end up following through with all of the strategies and plans it has, but it gave me a much-needed smack on the head to readjust my thinking and overcome some of my behaviors that were just hurting me.

    11. Marisol*

      This is a very satisfying post. I always appreciate it when someone can translate a confusing thought-process. I had been wondering what the connection between anxiety and bad boundaries was, and although you are speculating, you’ve definitely shed some light on the subject.

    12. TootsNYC*

      “Anxiety is good at making you think in extremes.”

      another thing Anxiety is good at is in tricking you about what will help. OCD is driven by anxiety; when my son was undergoing treatment, his doctors talked to us a lot about how giving in to the anxiety–placating it–only makes it stronger. All the crutches–washing your hands, etc.–only get worse if you give in and do them.

      Because Anxiety will -never- have enough. Never. If you soothe it, Anxiety will only want more. It’s only when you refuse to “feed” it, and it rages and rages–and then, oddly enough, dies down (bcs your body cannot physically stay at peak anxiety forever). And getting to that final poit is how you begin the metal process of learning that you don’t need to be controlled by it.

        1. No Name Yet*

          Yup, that’s the basic strategy for many anxiety-focused therapies. It’s really really rough in the middle, and then it often gets a whole lot better. :)

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yes yes yes. My experience with this is relatively mild; I had not-too-serious agoraphobia a few years back, related to my general anxiety disorder. And even with that “not-too-serious” example, it was frankly terrifying how swiftly anxiety could nibble away at the boundaries of my life if I let it. It started with anxiety around really really crowded events, like music festivals or the Bite of Seattle, which, okay, plenty of people don’t like being crammed cheek by jowl with strangers, so that was easy enough to justify avoiding. But inch by inch and bit by bit it crept from “mega crowded public events” to “moderately well-populated public events” to “well-attended private events” and so on and so on, and then I woke up one day realizing that I was frightened to walk down to the 7-11 to buy some milk. It would have been okay if giving into Anxiety Stage One: Giant Music Festivals had been the end of it. But every time I gave in, the anxiety took another step forward, like a horrifying game of Mother May I.

        That is not of direct use to LW1; they are not in medical care of their coworker. But it can be useful to know, if only because it helps assuage the guilt when you say, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t take you home today.”

        1. Marisol*

          Well it ties into the idea that the best choice for you is also what’s best for others in the long run–even if it means they benefit by learning a tough lesson. You’re actually helping the person by not giving in. (I’m a big proponent of tough love, in case you couldn’t tell…)

    13. Jenbug*

      This is a wonderful comment. I suffer from anxiety, have panic attacks, and have had to rely on the kindness of my family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers on occasion. In the moment, when things are really bad, it’s hard to think logically.

      Of course, afterwards, I am always very thankful and appreciative. It sounds like Amy is missing that step.

  12. KimberlyR*

    I have mental health issues so I get how helpless you can feel. However, if something is impacting a person to the point that she is literally asking her coworkers to stay with her, or asking to go to their post-work activities, then that person is way past the point of seeking help from a doctor or trained therapist. She cannot hold other people hostage because she isn’t feeling comfortable in her own home.

    I think its important for people not to give excuses when saying No. It’s often instinct (I don’t want them to think I’m saying No to be mean, so I’ll tell them what else is going on so they know I have a valid reason) but that gives her something to argue against. If you just say, “No, that won’t be possible” or “I’m afraid I can’t”, she doesn’t have anything to argue against. If you say, “Oh, I can’t because I have yoga”, that opens the door for her to say she will go with you. Although she shouldn’t say that (really! who does that?!), she has shown in the past that she will. So the best answer is a polite but firm No.

    1. Charlie*

      Charitably, I think sometimes the feeling of helplessness is so strong that it can warp one’s sense of empathy…but it’s not impossible for a mentally ill person to also be just kind of a selfish jerk.

      1. automaticdoor*

        THIS. THIS THIS THIS. As someone with mental health issues, I try REALLY hard to make sure that I’m not using it to compensate for jerk behavior. Depression/anxiety aren’t always the cause of jerk behavior though. Sometimes a jerk is just a jerk.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          One of the best things my therapist said to me very early on is, “your depression is not an excuse to be a d-ck.”

          It was a hard thing to hear, but honestly, when I have relapsed on my ED, my depression kicks into high gear and it is just her voice in my head that keeps me from lashing out.

          1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

            I had a therapist say something like that to me as well and I often think of it when I’m struggling. At the time it was totally necessary as I was letting my ED/anxiety make me a shitty person. Plus it was just keeping me stuck as it was easier to blame everyone else rather than looking at what was going on and being willing to fix it.

            1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

              I credit her for truly saving my life. Not just in terms of my physical health, but for also giving me the tools to help me save my relationships.

    2. KimberlyR*

      Also, I have anxiety and my thought process does not make me expect more out of other people. My thought process goes like this:
      I suck at stuff.
      Other people don’t suck at stuff so I should try to be more like them, even though I’m not and I suck.
      I’m making things hard for other people. I need to suck it up and do it myself.
      Never ask for help, because other people can do everything without help so I should be able to as well.
      I’m really tired and really tired of being anxious about everything, but I can’t ask for help because then people won’t like me anymore, because I’ll inconvenience them.
      Struggle by myself.

      Obviously, there are times I should ask for help and I don’t. But my anxiety makes me less likely to ask for the kind of help that a neuro-typical person would ask for, because I think I need to be better than them to make up for my faults.

      1. Emi.*

        Yeah, this is my process as well. Learning to ask for help is hard, especially when you’re afraid of being an Amy.

        1. KimberlyR*

          Yeah, I think I overcompensate so much the other way that I will turn down help that is offered because I don’t want to impose on anyone. When not in the situation, I can logically see that I should accept help. But in the moment, my brain always says No, even when I do really need help.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, this is me. When I’m down, my brain wants to run away from everyone in the world, because I don’t want to bother them, and I’m convinced it will make them hate me forever.

            It’s interesting to me in the discussion, how different brains can actually react to depression and anxiety in different ways. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories!

          1. Emi.*

            And dealing with an Amy warps your sense of what’s actually an okay level of help to ask for. It was when I was trying to fend off my friend Amy that I thought I couldn’t even let my boyfriend know I was stressed, because that was what Amy would do. :-/

      2. SL #2*

        A lot of my friends have anxiety of varying levels, and yeah, that’s basically their thought process. “I can’t ask someone else for help because I’ll be an inconvenience and everyone hates me and no one will even help me anyway even if I asked so what’s the point? I’m just going to stew in my own problems,” and so on and so forth. It boggles my mind that Amy’s line of thinking has gone in the completely opposite direction.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Why would it boggle the mind? I mean…people are different. Different people will have different experiences of mental illnesses. Some people isolate, some become dependent. It can be the same mental illness at the root of it, but the manifestation is heavily filtered through the person’s own personality and life experiences, which is how you get someone like Amy – who is probably a bit on the selfish side in terms of inherent personality – whose anxiety magnifies that personality trait and makes them clingy and dependent, versus someone like me – an introvert and a loner – whose anxiety magnifies that trait instead and makes me push people away.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            One of the big lightbulb moments in my life was when a psychiatrist pointed out to me that some people with social anxiety are extroverts; it isn’t purely an illness of introverts. And while an introverted person with social anxiety might turn inward and become avoidant, simply because avoidance is their comfort zone, an extroverted person with social anxiety might become dependent, simply because interconnectedness is their comfort zone. They’re both perfectly natural (not healthy, but natural) responses to social anxiety. It’s just that we don’t think of extroverts as ever having social anxiety. (But they totally can.)

            It doesn’t make Amy’s behavior any more appropriate, but it’s not a particularly unusual way for social anxiety to manifest in someone who is more ambivert or extrovert.

            1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

              This is really interesting, and something I have never thought about…but it makes perfect sense.

            2. Security SemiPro*

              Extrovert with social anxiety here!

              Mostly it exhibits as my personal interactions of choice being groups smaller than 6 and needing to really psych myself up to go to gatherings of people. But if I can get myself there, I have a grand time. My husband, the introvert chef, and I like to throw dinner parties as our best solution for socializing. He gets to show off cooking and retreat to the kitchen without being rude, I get other humans to talk with who will show up at my house regardless if I’m still hyperventilating or not. I can also play with table linens while hyperventilating.

            3. D.A.R.N.*

              This is an excellent point, thank you for bringing it up. I feel I can better categorize some of my own life now.

      3. halpful*

        ouch, yeah, that sounds very familiar.

        I’m honestly not sure how much of mine is pure anxiety, and how much is childhood experience where asking for things would get a lecture on how I don’t actually need the thing (where the shaming was probably magnified by anxiety too). Or attempts to help that got into circles of “do the thing.” “how do I do the thing?” “just do the thing!”. Or kids who would turn any request into a chance to tease.

        Easier to just hide. :/ Even with people I know are safe and reasonable, it takes most of a day’s spoons to ask for something. And even reasonable people sometimes say silly things like “I just need to get my act together”.

        It’s getting easier, though. :) bit by bit.

  13. Rainy, PI*

    LW #4, I could almost believe I had written this, other than being about 5-10 years behind you. I am so pleased for you ! (And I feel such a sense of relief that I am not the only one!)

    1. OP #4*

      I am days late seeing this – thank you so much, and no you are not the only one! Glad to hear I’m not the only one either :-)

  14. Rusty Shackelford*

    For #2, I wonder if anyone other than Jane wanted that earlier shift. Was she offered it because she had asked first? If someone who had more seniority, or was simply a better employee, had asked for it, would they have been given that shift?

  15. StartupLifeLisa*

    Oh man, Amy reminds me of an employee I ended up having to let go (and later realized I had probably missed markers in the hiring process that she was let go for similar reasons before…)

    My version of Amy had unspecified mental health issues including at least some degree of anxiety, but manifesting more as social anxiety. She would behave totally inappropriately at work and then be upset about how people don’t seem to like her. After she was told to stop asking coworkers for rides home so often, and reminded that our company offers transit reimbursement for people who don’t bring a car to work, she seethed and would work late, then get up, sigh loudly, and say “Since I’m not ALLOWED to ask for a ride anymore I guess I’ll go catch the bus…”

    At one point she decided that the pitch of her voice was responsible for people perceiving her as hostile (rather than taking the feedback I was giving her about how her actual hostility towards her teammates was obvious) and started speaking in a Minnie Mouse voice in the office. She insisted that this was her “real” voice.

    Anyway, long story short I let her go, gave generous severance & called it a layoff so she can get unemployment, and surprisingly she handled the layoff much better than she had handled the job and we’ve remained friendly acquaintances. I actually really like her outside of work now, but my god was it hard to be her manager.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      You would think social anxiety would prohibit someone from wanting to approach others for rides, but maybe it was the lesser of two evils when compared with riding a public bus. Huh.

      Amazed you were able to maintain an outside relationship with her.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        While it’s not a terribly common manifestation of social anxiety IME, it is sometimes the case that social anxiety manifests not as placation or shyness or timidity but as aggression. My social anxiety, and that of many anxious people that I know, tends to manifest in the more typical “I’m worried that everyone is judging me and hates me” > “I must hide from them and/or placate them.” But I knew a guy years ago who had serious social anxiety, which in his case was comorbid with fairly serious anger issues, so his was more like “I’m worried that everyone is judging me and hates me” > “well if they hate me then FUCK THEM” > *goes into every social setting with a default setting of FUCK THEM*. I could see someone who defaulted to passive-aggression in combination with anxiety doing something like the above, with a “FINE I guess if you all HATE ME I’ll just take the BUS” sort of deal.

        (This is part of why anxiety is so complex–we tend to think of it as manifesting in a particular way, but in combination with other personality traits it can be really quite diverse.)

          1. Turtle Candle*

            That is a beautifully succinct way to express something that took me two long paragraphs! I will have to remember it.

          2. paul*

            Yep. I have some tendencies in that direction myself (of course I work on managing them, they’re not an excuse to be an ass).

          3. Elizabeth West*

            Totally off topic, but Turtle Candle and fposte just exactly nailed why I’ve been struggling with two different characters in two different books–one should be extremely bitey and the other not so much, but both are like this. I tend to just shut down (literally stop talking) or avoid when I feel that way, so I was writing my reaction, not theirs.

            MUST BITE MORE.
            THANK YOU.

            Wow, I suck, LOL.
            Y’all help me so much, in many different ways. :D

        1. StartupLifeLisa*

          This is exactly the case with this person. She’s very insecure and anxious but part of her anxiety is a major fear of people finding this out about her, so she hides all of that behind a huge layer of overconfidence and aggression/passive-aggression. When she’s actually comfortable with an individual you get a totally different persona–she can be charming, caring, and disarmingly honest about all of her complicated feelings. The problem is even then you can’t bring her into group situations or all of the fear-aggression stuff comes right back & she ends up embarrassing the friend who brought her, which leads to not getting more invites, which leads to more social anxiety.

        2. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

          My anxiety manifests itself in anger for sure!!!! I warn people now. Ex: I was invited to a outdoor concert this summer with a few friends and our kids. Large crowds freak me out, especially where there are kids involved. (It’s the whole distracted parent / possibility for danger to child issue that sets me off.) My friends were insistent that my family go. I had to tell them: I’m going to seem like a control freak when I get there because it’s my way of controlling my environment until I am comfortable. Would it be okay if I chose the place where we set up our seats? Once I get in a space that I feel safe in I will be fine, but until that happens I’m going to be surprisingly uptight and kind of mean. It’s not you. It’s totally me. If you can deal with that I’ll be happy to go, but if not then I hope you still go and have a good time but I won’t be able to go with you.
          Also…when I’m truly anxious I move past fight instinct straight into flight and have literally had to straight up leave places. I worked at a place that had an annual field day for it’s employees during work hours. There was a tug of war game and a friend of mine got really, really hurt playing it. She fell to the ground crying, the other co-workers surrounded her to help and I turned tail and went inside. I really didn’t head inside to help…I just blanked and instinct took over, but by the time I got inside the building I was coming back to myself and had the ability to have someone call an ambulance and the building medical team. It’s a HORRIBLE feeling when it happens. It’s like I have no control. My son does the same thing too when his anxiety hits a certain level. Weird.

      2. StartupLifeLisa*

        I think work environments are a major trigger for her. She seemed very relieved to be let go.

      1. StartupLifeLisa*

        It was…. SOOOOO bizarre. I encouraged her to work on modulating her voice differently if she felt like she was using a more aggressive tone than necessary, but I had no idea that she was going to start squeaking and insist it was her real voice!

    2. Temperance*

      My mother has some pretty serious psych issues, and is like your Amy. I can’t imagine how hellish working with her would be.

      I think you handled it pretty well, all things considered.

      1. StartupLifeLisa*

        Honestly, she’s not even the worst I’ve had to deal with at this company in terms of unmanaged psych issues, she’s just the only one I had the power to remove from the organization. We have an executive who’s even worse. She’s to the point of needing to call another member of the executive team every morning at 5 AM for a pep talk to be able to come to work that day, and I’ve come to realize that she’s never going to get let go.

        Relatedly, I’ve recently updated my resume.

  16. Anon 12*

    Here’s my pet peeve about people taking the accomplishments on a resume thing too far. I hate it when people have these relatively short work stints and list accomplishments that would literally take years to complete. like “replaced, tested and trained employees on new CRM system” when the person worked there 6 months. Really? Credibility check please.

    1. BestInShow*

      Well I have some accomplishments that sounds like they should take a long time that I managed to get some my first few months.

      I am really tech savvy and efficient.

    2. Jadelyn*

      Depends on the person. I had a temp job where, two months in, I was asked to perform a massive I-9 audit. I moved us from 54% compliance to over 90% compliance inside of about one more month after that, simply because a lot of the information was *around* but not in the files where it belonged, and I was good at tracking people down for copies of old documents that we needed. So a major audit with significant results showed up on my resume under a 3-month temp job. Depending on how streamlined the decision-making and purchasing process is at a company, I could see getting, activating, and training people on a new CRM in six months, especially if that’s what you were hired to do.

    3. Brogrammer*

      It really depends on the context of the rest of their work history and skillset. For the example you gave, if the person has no other references to CRM on their resume, that would be a red flag. But if they already had CRM skills and were hired specifically to oversee a new CRM deployment, six months is a pretty feasible timeline.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      That’s actually quite doable. I’ve done it with various systems over the years. When planned properly and the right people are involved it went smoothly. I’ve also seen complete disasters that ultimately were shown to be due to poor management of the process. But a 6 month turnaround shouldn’t be a surprise in a functioning workplace.

    5. CMT*

      I think you’d want to ask questions about it in a interview. Maybe it was just a really small, not-as-impressive project that they really did complete in a couple of months.

      1. zora*

        yeah, I agree. I handled a transfer to a new CRM system, but our website had been in WordPress, and we had a list of only about 1500 contacts, so it really didn’t take that long. But, I had to handle all the various steps, so I feel like it was a good introduction to the issue, and I would have been able to work on a bigger transfer in a subsequent position.

  17. drpuma*

    LW#4, first, congratulations! Second, are you able to share a link to the plagiarizing-a-cover-letter piece here that tipped off your coworker? Regular readers often wonder what happens to some of the more egregious problem applicants/coworkers once they move on to a different environment, under the assumption that folks with outrageous behaviors must surely repeat themselves. It’s funny to hear that that seems to be true!

    1. OP #4*

      Thanks! I am not sure which one it was – she said as she was reading, she started feeling this weird deja vu, and on impulse searched this site and found the original. It was barely tweaked apparently. Sorry I don’t have the link.

  18. OP #3*

    Thanks so much to everyone who has suggested that I follow up with Grandboss! This is my preferred course of action, but I was hesitating out of fear of being seen as a “tattle tale.” But between what I described in my original letter and update PLUS the fact that my boss has cancelled and rescheduled our 1:1 from December 9th at least 4 times, I’m so over this nonsense. Once Grandboss gets back from his holiday break, I’ll be putting a meeting on his calendar to let him know that he needs to step in!

    1. Gene*

      And if he doesn’t effectively step in, let projects fail. You’ve tried managing up, you’ve tried having him managed by his manager, don’t do his job for him. Sometimes, unless things fail catastrophically, they will never be fixed.

      Just make sure you have everything you did to try to avoid the failure documented.

    2. Josh S*

      When it comes to “Other person’s actions are impacting my ability to perform”, there’s really no such thing as “tattling.” The manager needs to know, and ought to act.

      Tell your Grandboss, and be specific in the impact this is having on you, on your team/function, and how the clients are seeing it.

      Good luck!

  19. One Handed Typist*

    #4 – “One of my co-workers actually sussed out a cover letter plagiarizer in her job applicants because she had originally read the cover letter on AAM.”

    I love this!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve had job applicants use letters from here when applying for a job with me (not realizing the connection, I assume). I always point it out to them.

        1. Josh S*

          https://www.askamanager.org/2015/02/yet-another-reason-to-stay-far-away-from-resume-writing-companies.html — Resume writing company plagiarized a Cover Letter posted on AAM, complete with GoT references, and then denied it when called out.

          https://www.askamanager.org/2007/06/what-does-good-cover-letter-look-like_13.html — Notes at the top indicate that lots of hiring managers have seen this letter plagiarized.

          https://www.askamanager.org/2014/02/heres-a-real-life-example-of-a-great-cover-letter-with-before-and-after-versions.html#comment-360465 — This comment shows that a candidate tried to pass an example off as their own…oops.

          https://www.askamanager.org/2010/03/on-not-being-anonymous.html — Third bullet here.

          https://www.askamanager.org/2012/01/cover-letter-swindles.html — Less so from the post, more so a lot of stories in the comments.

      1. Charlie*

        So do they just go hide in a hole right away, or do they have the decency to let you end the interview? :D

  20. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

    Good for you and your coworkers not giving into Amy’s requests as I know it can be hard when you know someone is struggling. Just from the view of someone whose has severe anxiety (and some other mental health issues), anxiety made me a selfish person in the past as I couldn’t see outside of my own struggles and when I felt like I was drowning under it all, empathy for others wasn’t high on the list. I remember in high school my sister and I were at the grocery store and she wanted to buy something that was a difficult food item for me to have around with my eating disorder. I had a panic attack (with tears and all) in the middle of an isle because I didn’t want her to buy it and she said she didn’t care. I now look back and cringe at how self involved I was but I remember thinking that she didn’t care about my eating disorder recovery and she was being selfish. Instead of really looking at myself and being honest about where I was in my recovery, I decided it was all her fault for triggering me and I wasn’t responsible for my actions after that incident. Hopefully these incidents will allow Amy to look at her anxiety and ways to manage it independently as that’s what will really make the difference long term.

  21. Jessesgirl72*

    I would tell Amy that the kind thing is not to continue doing things that give her excuses not to seek more effective treatment for her anxiety disorder. Aside from being an imposition to others, it’s not helping her live a healthy life. The best thing to do to truly help someone like Amy is to encourage her to tell her therapist that she is still really struggling under her current treatment- and if she’s not being treated, she needs to be!

    I’d expect her to lash out in fear and anger at being told that, but I’d hope something would get through. If not, at least I’d know I’d done my very best to actually help her, instead of just helping to cover up the symptoms of her disease.

    The OP and her coworkers shouldn’t feel obliged to have this conversation with her, either, though. It’s just something to try , if they want, if one of them really feels guilty about not helping her.

  22. ZVA*

    I just have to say that reading #4 really lifted my spirits. Congratulations to you, LW, and thanks for writing in to share your success with us.

    1. OP #4*

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate the great commenters on this site – such a positive community.

  23. Emlen*

    I know mental health issues come in a thousand flavors, but making my co-workers feel responsible for any part of managing my own would send my anxiety into freaking orbit.

  24. Ed*

    Thanks again for your advice over the past months!

    I am unsubscribing / unfollowing because too many posts require clicking through to other sites, many of which are very ad-heavy. Thought I’d at least register my vote.

    1. halpful*

      personally, I like the NYM articles – but I’ve given up on the Inc. ones and just skip them. I’d like it if they were easier to spot in the rss feed. I’m skipping the Fast Track ones too, but iirc that was more about the content than the ad wars.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Those other posts are the ones that pay me money, so those aren’t going anywhere :)

      But they’re definitely the minority of posts here (there are four outside posts a week — US News, New York Mag, Inc., and QuickBase — versus 14-15 of the normal posts.

      I hope you’ll come back sometime!

      1. D.A.R.N.*

        I hope you’ll register this vote, too: I don’t mind the off-site articles and am happy you’re making money doing these advice posts, thanks for the 14-15 on-site posts every week. :)

  25. Alexis*

    I feel like Amy would be a good candidate for a support dog, as that’s a friend who ALWAYS has time to ride the bus with you so you feel safer

    1. StartupLifeLisa*

      Psychiatric service dog actually, emotional support dogs don’t have public access (e.g buses). If she’s capable of caring for one it could definitely help!

      1. Alexis*

        It may depend on the city and how flexible they are (In Seattle ALL dogs can ride the bus unless it’s too crowded). In Portland I met a guy returning to his nursing home on the bus with his comfort dog (who was pretty big and very sweet). So I’ve seen it before but it likely depends on city/state/country

        So yeah Amy would definitely need to figure out the rules in her area and whether it would be allowed

    2. Marisol*

      This is a great practical suggestion. Also, for whatever it’s worth, I fail to see a meaningful distinction between “emotional support dog” and “psychiatric service dog.” Honestly, who cares. I think it’s clear what you meant.

      1. Emi.*

        Well, lots of bureaucratic distinctions aren’t super meaningful but still end up making a practical difference, like if one kind of dog gets to ride the bus and the other doesn’t, so it’s helpful to point out.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        It’s not just public transit. The OP’s office would have to legally accommodate her psychiatric service dog. They do not have to allow an emotional support dog. And for good reason- service dogs (and their clients!) are trained to be in public. There are many, many unruly and dangerous “support” dogs running around out there.

      3. Pineapple Incident*

        The difference is that service dogs are generally certified as being needed to address a particular condition, trained for a specific purpose related to remedy-ing that condition, and have privileges under law as a result. Not all states/transit systems/landlords/what-have-you recognize “support animal” versus “service animal”- the language is important for the purposes of legal protections that would actually help Amy, like being able to bring an animal onto public transit and into businesses.

    3. nonymous*

      yes I was scrolling through the comments to find this thread. A service dog would allow Amy to meet her need for companionship in a socially appropriate, self-sufficient manner. For fair housing and entrance to certain facilities (think grocery store, mall), she’ll have more flexibility with the service dog route but it will require a greater commitment of funds and training time. Depending on her personal SA journey, even the right pet may alleviate symptoms enough to live an independent life.

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