Coping with Extreme Sunday (or night before work) Anxiety?
May 19, 2019 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Weird things happen to my body on afternoons/evenings when I know I have to work the next day (usually Sundays, but if I work weekends and have a day or days off during the week, it'll happen the afternoon/evening before I return to work).

By about 4:00 PM I increasingly experience...

- Diarrhea
- A lot of sweating and weird heart palpitations (kind of feels like I've been running even though I haven't been)
- Sometimes random shaking/twitching
- This overall feeling like I have been or am about to be in some kind of fight

What's even weirder is that this seems to happen regardless of where I am, what I am thinking, or what I am doing.

Honestly I didn't even fully realize any of this was happening until I was visiting a friend one afternoon. I was in his living room chatting, and my friend was like, "Dude, are you okay?" Although I was having stomach issues (i.e., mild diarrhea), I didn't really feel bad, so I said, "Yeah, why?" He was like: "You're sweating literally everywhere, and you look like you saw a ghost and are ready to kill someone at the same time."

Since then I have been recognizing patterns and weird symptoms I experience before I return to work after a day or days off.

What is this? Is this what they call 'Sunday Blues'?
posted by 8LeggedFriend to Work & Money (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It's called fucking hating your job. It's the worst: you have my utmost sympathy. It's not you, it's them.

You might not have thought that this is work related. If possible, give yourself time to think about what you can change about work to make this better. Look for a different job if you can't make the anxiety go away.

(this is intended to make you feel better, not even remotely “suck it up”: I once worked with someone who'd get the Sunday night blues on Friday evening because her work was made so toxic by her manager.)
posted by scruss at 5:54 PM on May 19, 2019 [18 favorites]

No information, really, but anecdata: I’ve gone through this sort of thing periodically since I was a kid. In fact, in first grade, it took me two weeks to get back to school after Christmas break - it started with me being really ill the night before, then it was throwing up on the bus, then in the hallway on the way in... my mom finally had to come and sit with me in class. (My sister in law to this day will not buy a garbage can with decorative holes in the wide (you know those silver latticework ones?) because she literally threw up almost every Sunday night before school on Monday and her garbage can was the vessel of choice.)

I associate it with anxiety - I always say I have a nervou stomach, and when I’m anxious my stomach hurts and I have diarrhea. It typically happens to me on Sunday nights when things are stressful at work - not necessarily bad, just overly busy or stressful or even if things are uncertain. It goes in waves, too. Like I haven’t had it happen for a while now, but when it starts happening it’ll go on for a few weeks or months. Usually coupled with not sleeping well that night to add to the fun.

I do find when I’m busier with non-work things it happens less often. And when I’m at jobs that are generally good it happens less often, too.

Good luck. It can really suck.
posted by firei at 5:55 PM on May 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

You're not alone--far from it. It got so bad at my last job (eventually the sweats, shakes, and nausea/diarrhea would appear at work, not just at home before work) that I voluntarily committed myself to a locked ward for a week.

It's called Late-Stage Capitalism, aka I Haven't Been Able to Admit to Myself that My Job Is Slowly Killing Me. Unfortunately it's highly contagious and we have yet to find a cure.
posted by tzikeh at 6:08 PM on May 19, 2019 [26 favorites]

Not to abuse the edit window: this is not the "Sunday Blues." This is severe. Think about how you would react if a friend told you that they experienced all of this (diarrhea! nausea! sweating and shaking!) whenever work loomed in the near future.

I found a job where I get to do something I love, and this doesn't happen to me anymore. I gave up a chunk of salary to do so, but it is worth every penny-pinching action I have to take in trade for not having to puke first thing every workday.
posted by tzikeh at 6:12 PM on May 19, 2019 [17 favorites]

This sounds like a PTSD episode to me, as someone who experiences those. It goes beyond hating your job. It sounds like a trauma reaction. Seeing a trauma therapist could be very useful.
posted by sockermom at 6:18 PM on May 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

A lot of sweating and weird heart palpitations

I missed that one: slide by your cardiologist. Heavy sweats + heart palpitations + unusual emotions all together can be very bad.
posted by scruss at 6:24 PM on May 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

IANAD, but this may be more than just anxiety. I had those symptoms years ago when I suffered from hyperthyroidism (blood test was all it took for my doctor to diagnose). Maybe you have anxiety and just happen to be hyperthyroid. Just a thought for you to consider.
posted by forthright at 6:47 PM on May 19, 2019

It's likely that this is severe anxiety due to your job but it couldn't hurt to take a look at your health and make sure you're holding up, and don't eat anything that would cause your system additional stress. This kind of pressure isn't good for your body so whatever you can do to lessen it will be appreciated by future-you.
posted by bleep at 6:51 PM on May 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've also heard this called the Sunday scaries, and I also get it, and have even gotten it at jobs I like. I am prone to anxiety. I have medication, including short-acting medication like beta blockers, for exactly this sort of thing. I basically usually wind up with a beta blocker on Sundays, and sometimes also half an Ativan in the evening, and it does pretty well.

Some of us just have a more physiological response to anxiety than others; I don't actually have to be that stressed to feel like I'm on the verge of dying, and having the option to take something helps a lot. It doesn't always mean that you've got anything seriously wrong. Sweating and heart palpitations and stuff are all basically the same set of nervous system responses, and the beta blocker does a lot to help those, for me.
posted by Sequence at 6:53 PM on May 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

See your doctor. There are many conditions that can exacerbate relatively “normal” anxiety to such a large degree as you have described.

Also: a therapist once suggested to me : “Quit your job. Don’t tell anyone, especially your employer. Keep going into work, do what you can, but with the mindset that you’ve left your job and are looking for something else.”
posted by armoir from antproof case at 7:23 PM on May 19, 2019 [19 favorites]

Not this severe but yes, I’ve experienced this when I hated my job and didn’t even realize I hated it! I loved a lot of aspects of it but in the end teaching was not for me. This feeling got worse the more time I had between teaching (Christmas break, etc). It felt like I had forgotten to be a teacher in the time in between and it took me getting back in the classroom to remember I was good at it and it wasn’t that big of a deal. But ultimately I left that job because that’s no way to feel even once a week.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:48 PM on May 19, 2019

I would strongly advocate that you see a physician and get a complete workup, assuming that is something you can do health insurance-wise. I completely agree with what people are saying here about this likely being a trauma/PTSD reaction, but the severity you're describing isn't just the Monday blues, it is your body telling you very strongly that there is something you're ignoring that you need to take care of.

In the meantime, one thing that is told to people experiencing that kind of reaction is to do a grounding exercise: name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch/feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. The idea is to, when you're feeling all of those symptoms, re-focus yourself in the here-and-now.

Also, until you see a doctor, see if taking a pain reliever at the emotional moment helps (assuming nothing is contrary to that in your medical history). That sounds like I'm being facetious but there are some studies that show they helps blunt emotional pain as well.
posted by WCityMike at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you are in the US, you probably have access to sick time, possibly disability pay, or at least unpaid Family Medical Leave, which protects your job. There may be an Employee Assistance Program. Do not hesitate to use these and any other resources. Take care of yourself.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 PM on May 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've had this before to a lesser extent, and my psychiatrist says that anxiety on Sunday evenings (for those who have weekends off) is quite common. I recall that you both really hate your job and have autism, both of which seem like they could cause a more severe reaction.
posted by serathen at 2:51 AM on May 20, 2019

In addition to all the sensible suggestions to get medically checked etc, one small additional thing - do you drink a lot more coffee on work days than you do on your day off? Caffeine withdrawal is a thing, I don't know if it would cause effects this sudden, but might exacerbate anxiety? Might be worth cutting it out totally for a bit and seeing if that helps.
posted by penguin pie at 4:09 AM on May 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

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