I have discovered that I care more about what people think of me than I thought. This comes as a bit of a surprise.
Not often enough, I get together with two women I have known since childhood. As it often does in situations like this, we reminisce and inevitably the conversation winds its way around to why we did what we did when we were younger and someone alwayts says to me, "You never cared what anyone thought! I wish I was more like that! When we were little, we would come to your house and ask you to come out to play and you would say, 'nah, I don't feel like it' and close the door!"
Though now, I am wondering if other people would say ? I will take an unofficial poll and see what I find out.
When I announced to the same two women I had discovered I was a perfectionist during my therapy--they looked at each other and burst out laughing.
I have still not told anyone I work with exactly why I am off work. Last November I was having problems with my asthma, the phantom nerve pain and the depression that was festering under the surface took my health problems as the nudge it needed to push me over into a hospital stay. Last they heard, I was in the hospital for asthma. They are not stupid.
It has been almost 6 months since I have been at work.
This is horrifying to me.
I have either worked in a job, or worked as a student (or been on maternity leave which is a whole other kind of work...) since I was a teenager. I am learning that I closely associate my worth to my job (where I am thought of as competent, proactive, a leader, hard working, determined, yadda yadda) and not working means not a lot of worth.
So I guess it does make sense that whenever I am close to where I work, I feel my chest tighten, my breathing quickens, and I walk a bit faster---my eyes flitting up quickly and then down again in fear of seeing someone I know. My nightmare is that they ask me how I am and when I will be returning to work and I will launch into a litany of symptoms and complications punctuated by sobs and apologies and then wrap it up nicely with a massive panic attack and make a complete idiot of myself. Part of me thinks that would at least show people I am sick (but if I am sick, how can I be at the grocery store/mall/gym, etc.?)
My doctors tell me it is none of their business; that I should say --"I am better. How are you?"
But they will ask. I know it.
And they will make assumptions.
And they will treat me with kid gloves.
And they will talk.....
And at work, two women have already been off with mental health issues and travelled through the same hospital program that I did. One returned to work, then left again and never came back (and everyone did truly feel sorry for her--but could not understand what the problem was with her "getting better") and the other was ridiculed at work and accused of milking the situation for all it was worth. She has since returned to work and I don't know how she is doing.
What will they think of me....