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To the Coworker Who Asked Me to Put Away My Phone, From the Girl Having a Panic Attack

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I understand your point of view. You think I’m being disrespectful and slow. You think I’m not doing my fair share of work. You think I just don’t care. I understand.

I’ve made the same rash judgments. I understand what it’s like to be in your position…to be frustrated you have to pick up the pace and work around me. I understand the frustration that may cause. I really do.

But could you give me a chance to explain so you can understand?

I have mental health issues. Sometimes when I am freaking out, which I was at the time due to a post-traumatic stress disorder-related panic attack, I use my phone as a crutch. Sometimes I use it to text a friend so they’ll lighten the mood.

That is what I was doing. I was trying desperately to cope well enough to be able to stay and continue working. I was about to start texting the Crisis Text Line in hopes they’d be able to help me calm down even more.

That’s when you stepped in.

I understand where you were coming from. I really do. You wanted me to pick up the pace and start working more efficiently. You thought I was a lazy slack-off who just didn’t want to work. I understand that’s what I looked like. But you gave me no room to explain why I was on my phone. You gave me no room to explain I was getting a headache from all the sounds and smells, tension and pressure. The panic attack was not only not helping that situation, but it was making it worse.

You didn’t give me a chance to feel like a human being with basic, human rights, because I wasn’t allowed to explain what I needed. If you’d given me room to explain myself, I would have felt much better. I would have been able to continue working. I would have been able to stay and help for half-time.

But because I felt mistreated, partially due to the glares you continued to give me, the panic attack worsened. The headache became unbearable. And so I signed out and slipped away, all because you supported the unfortunate stigma and decided not to treat mental health as a real problem.


The Girl From Concessions on Her Phone

P.S. It didn’t help that when I left, I caught you on your phone.

Photo credit: marchmeena29/Getty Images

Originally published: February 11, 2019
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