Burn out - I should have stayed at home

I am currently on sick leave after a breakdown and a diagnosed burn out. Despite I have to do some minor works to keep production running (I am a technical manager)

Today I was asked into office to discuss some changes at the it system, the owner wants to set up a new network, after the original installation is already 20yrs old.

While I was there, one departement manager started to argue with the it support guy and I was totally overwhelmed by the situation. I started sweating, and shaking, with the extreme urge to run away. I went to another office fore a few minutes, but it didn’t go away. I tried to stay calm, and get through with this meeting - basically just nodding to everything being suggested, after I couldn’t think clearly any more.

After the meeting (2hrs) I went home again, still shaking and sweating and layed down to cool of and ended sleeping for 3 hrs. When I got up again, my body ached like a long run, also chest pain, headach - and a feeling that I need to escape all that - not the situation, but my pain, elso the emotional.

I eventually calmed down a bit more, but still, I don’t feel like I can make it through the next few day.


Hi Ish,

I’m sorry to hear about your difficult day. I definitely understand how hard it is to be around people arguing. I personally get like you - I get very tense and nervous, I shake and sweat. For me it also takes a long time to get over these things, usually a day or so. And, like you, I end up feeling very tired, and sore, often with a headache.

For me, I think I get nervous around people fighting because I grew up witnessing physical abuse on my family and there was a lot of yelling in my childhood, so now I automatically go into fight or flight mode whenever people start fighting.

As for the aftermath, I think it’s my social phobia/introversion. Being around people just drains me in general, and moreso when I end up in a situation like you said where my anxiety spikes.

These things are hard to deal with. I commend you for making it through your meeting successfully. If you’re like me, it would’ve been so easy to say, Sorry, I’m not feeling up to this today. But you didn’t. You stuck it out and stayed calm despite your entire body telling you to just run. You handled the situation very well in my opinion, as someone who experiences similar feelings.

I think you can make it, Ish. In your time here you’ve been a great support for many people here and have managed to keep your general outlook seemingly optimistic, at least here. Perhaps after such a stressful day, you simple need some time to relax and decompress. Do something that makes you happy. Art or learning to play my guitars, or even just listening to music in a dark room help me sometimes. Most importantly though, I tend to need time away from people. Maybe this would help you.

We are all here for you, Ish. You can do this.


Hi friend.

Wow, what a difficult situation this must have been. You take some time out due to burn our and a breakdown and the first time you go back to work for a meeting you witness an incredibly stressful encounter. I’m sure that was terribly overwhelming. I’m sure it makes you scared to go back to work again any time soon.

I’m not a professional but it sounds like you may have experienced an anxiety attack, and those are very common especially in stressful situations like this one.

I encourage you to continue to take care of yourself and your health and place that as the top priority. Maybe that means talking to your boss about ways to make the work environment less stressful when you do return. Maybe that means therapy or finding things that calm you down.

Sending love to you friend. This community is here for you.


I’m so sorry you had this bad experience at work, @Ezra. Seeing people arguing can be very triggering, whether it’s about important issues or not.

If I can be fully honest, I think it’s time to set strong boundaries with your work and with your colleagues. They have to respect the fact that you are on sick leave - meaning they have to learn to work without you. And you’ll have to learn to be clear about the things you can or cannot do.

At this point, and through the discussions we had, I think it’s better to stay away from anything work-related. Get a real break, that’s what the medical leave is for. So you can take your time to make the right decisions regarding your job. Also to focus on therapy. Medical leave = no work. There’s no in between. No “maybe just a bit”, or “but I’m the only one to be able to do that”. That’s not your problem. And you’re not at fault for needing time to rest and heal.

I know setting those boundaries is hard. It’s so easy to open your emails when you have this thought of wondering how things are going there… It’s also part of what makes us feel useful, needed. But the truth is: your health is the priority. And your colleagues have to learn to handle situations at work without you, no matter what the situations are, no matter what skills are needed.

You don’t “have to” do minor things. This is still a decision, a choice that you have. Really. And again… I know it’s tough and scary to release the grip. I know I make it sound like it’s easy while it’s not. But you can do this, and you have the absolute right to do so.


I don’t feel like I can make it through the next few day.

is a reg flag. Trust your guts. Trust yourself. You are the one who knows what you’re able to do or not given the current circumstances. And you are the one who can set the right boundaries.

There’s no job that is worth your health.
I care about you. And I want you to make the healthiest decisions for yourself. You’ve been doing so much for so long. You deserve and need to rest now. Your body too. You’ll be okay. :hrtlegolove:


Thank you all for your great feedback. I calmed down during the evening, and I am pretty ok for the moment. Your comments helped me a lot.
It helps to just tell others how I feel, and feel being recognized, that is wonderful thing to experiance.
I will definatly will talk with my doc about this experiance, I have not experianced it that extreme in my life.



How you doing?

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Better, thank you. I was at work today too, and I also felt axienty, but the situation was not that stressful as the day I described. I was just for an hour in, printing out some papers for a coworker. The departement manager told me about several things that should be done at some day, and that put preassure on me (which it wouldn’t when I was healthy) but I made clear that I cannot do that in near future.

I also had a phone talk with another coworker, with whom I was supposed to visit a customer tomorrow, now they talked me into doing some programming and observing remotely tomorrow, and I am a bit scared of that, not knowing if I actually have the energy to do that.

I made clear that the maximum time I can do will be 2 hrs, and also told them they shouldn’t count on me getting back sooner than after 2 months.

Privatly I managed to sleep more, last night sleep was 6hrs, which was an improvement. I also nap about 3 hrs in the afternoon, but often my body aches when I get up, and sometimes with more or less intense headache.

My paranoia cosidering my friends (see my other posts) is less stronger, and I feel that they also do easier reaching out for me. Still I have that moments, where I believe that they try to push me out, but those phases are shorter, and more easy to control.

I was trying to do some learning about 3D design, but I cannot concentrate long enough. I might try to find someone who could show my some basics rather than watching tutorials, because I enjoy the human interaction.

So tl;dr - I am doing better. Not well, but it seems to improve a bit.



Good to know. Take it easy on yourself one day at a time.

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