I was – and still am – determined not to tell new boss about the crazy. He doesn’t need to know, it doesn’t really affect my working life much now so it’s all good. But I forgot something – the hangover of mental illness. It doesn’t matter that my mood swings have calmed considerably, that what is left is manageable, blah blah blah… I am left with massive concentration problems and hypersensitivity to noise and movement.
Imagine my delirious joy to find myself seated in the middle of a large open plan office with my back to the room. YAY! People talked all the time, moved all the time, the phones rang all the time. I have shit loads of stuff to read to understand anything about this job but after an hour I’d only read half a page. Not only that but I jumped constantly, my heart started racing and tears pricked behind my eyes. All day. I tried listening to music but I could still hear people so I had two sets of noise. If I had turned it up enough to drown them out they would probably have been able to hear it too. Anyway, it’s untenable to listen to music all the time, I’d end up climbing the walls.
I tried telling boss that I was finding it hard, and I got a sympathetic response, encouraged that he found it hard when he first moved to an open plan office, he adjusted eventually and if there’s anything specific I need to do that requires more concentration then I can find a quiet cubbyhole somewhere to do that. How do I tell him that I will need that cubbyhole all day every day? I can cope with interruptions and noise, but not constant noise, not people walking past me every couple of minutes, phones ringing, laughter, jokes, calling to one another across the room… that I can not handle.
If I tell him nothing about why I can’t cope, why should he be expected to take me seriously? I have been advised to keep any explanations general, but I can’t see him being willing to disrupt other peoples’ working environment for one high maintenance woman. If he knows what the problem is then it can become a reasonable adjustment. But that is a massive can of worms that I do not want to open.
Plus, to complicate things even more, I don’t even know if I’m going to stay there long term. Boss wants me to and is slightly pushy about it, but head wants me near him in a different building. I should be making this decision based on what is best for the new department, the team of people I will be working with and my working relationships with them all – not running to the other building just to get some peace. And even if I do run away, that won’t be for another two months at least.
There must be an option I haven’t thought of. I’m not used to hiding things, thinking of ways to say things without giving too much away, I’m honest almost to a fault. This is hard. I’m lousy at lying and could feel myself blushing. Boss is a really nice guy and I so wanted to just spit it out. I can tell him how well I am now, and explain residual problems… but I can’t. I will never be able to guarantee how he will react, I can’t guarantee that it won’t bite me in the arse for the rest of all time. I can not tell him.
So where’s the middle ground? I can’t leave the open plan office entirely, but if I move to a corner spot I would at least only have noise to deal with, not mysterious people wandering out of nowhere and scaring the shit out of me. I don’t have a legitimate reason to disrupt the entire fucking office – “I don’t like it here” is not a good reason.
I think “suck it up, princess” may be the only response to this.