Ever worked with someone whose moods you have never really understood? Not the one-off kind of mood swings but the permanent kind of mood swings where a person is happy one moment and is somber the next. Sometimes we live with people who have spontaneous mood swings and may never know that they suffer from mental illness.
Mental illness: “Usually, such a person has a mental condition that is leading to that sudden change in mood and behaviour. Sometimes these changes don’t stand alone, they are usually other mental health problems underlying,” Innocent Ntabazi, a psychiatric nurse at Butabika mental hospital, says.
Ntabazi, adds that the problem, is that people around and living with such a person may just brush it off or neglect it as a person’s behaviour, but if someone has some abnormal situations or mood swings for a long time, then they ought to seek medical attention, he advises.
“Being supportive towards such a person and encouraging them to seek medical attention is the best way to deal with such people. They may also be hesitant in accepting that they need help, but you can have them convinced overtime,” Ntabazi notes.
According to the Depression and other common mental disorders: Global Health Estimates, a 2017 report by the World Health Organisation, Uganda came sixth out of 50 African countries with the highest cases of mental disorder. According to the report, 1.7 million, that is; (4.6 per cent) of Ugandans suffer from depressive disorders and 1.07 (2.8 per cent) from anxiety disorders. Depression is among the causes of mood swings.
Don’t push them to the limit: Dealing with a colleague with mood swings is never an easy task, however, it is possible.
Dorothy Arinaitwe, a counselling psychologist, says pushing these people to their limits is never a good idea.
“When you work close to them or observe them enough, you will discover there are things that trigger this change in mood. So, don’t use this as a soft spot to hit every time you do not agree, instead, desist from these triggers to keep your work relationship or environment good for you but also for other people,” she cautions.
She, however, notes that sometimes, you may not be able to stay away from topics, issues or things that get this person heated up, “Don’t use this to compromise on things that are clearly not right. For example, you may discover that your colleague is doing something contrary to your work policy or even criminal, don’t compromise because you don’t want to tamper with their moods. Clearly and firmly express your discontent with them,” she says, adding that for the simple things that can be overlooked, stay away.
Look out for behaviour patterns: Again, look out for behaviour or mood patterns of the person. There are people who get in a super good mood in the morning, and by evening, they are in a terrible mood, or just a day when they have woken up on the good side of their bed and another when they just don’t even want to talk.
Observe these patterns and come to them in a time when they are warm and welcoming. You can even talk about something they previously did when they were down. When they warmly come to you at such a time, be open to talking.
Keep away: However, Arinaitwe advises that at a time when their mood is raging, try to keep away because being in their faces will infuriate them even more.
George Ssemwogerere, a manager, shares that he had such an employer.
“Sometimes, while working, discussing with him or around him, his mood would become negative. What I used to do was to just withdraw, or detach myself until he was back to his usual self,” he says.
However, the challenges working with/for such a person whose moods changes like the weather is that you are never certain about anything.
“You always have to tread carefully every time, which makes working with them a bit complex. This becomes even harder when the other person is also stubborn and rigid.
“So, if you are a supervisor or employer, when you recognise that any of your workers had this challenge, having them work along a fellow colleague who is calm and very understanding and who they are friendly to can help minimise this challenge,” Ntabazi advises.
Negative energy, anger outbursts, silence, ignoring, over excitement, or any such mannerisms are all indicators of mood swings.
Practise patience: “With a moody person, one of the things you will need is lots of patience and waiting, so sometimes, you will just have to wait it out, Amia Catherine,” a counselor at Kawempe Youth Centre advises. “Wait for them to get back to their normal mood by either staying away from them or giving them space to realise they either were rude, or their behaviour or reaction was unnecessary.
Consult administration: “Sometimes, when things get severe and we can no longer handle that person as individuals, then administration has to come in to save the day.
It is better to report prior incidents of negative mood swings to your superior but when it persists, it is at that level that you talk to the person with or in the presence of a more superior person than yourself either in warning, correction or just termination from the job if the situation is persistent, severe and disruptive, according to each company’s Human resource policy,” Andrew Musisi an HR consultant, notes.