So far I seem to have just done brief blogs on my anxiety but thought I’d write one about how it affects my working life.
For so long I am posed with the question from other colleagues and acquaintances “Why do you only work part-time? You don’t have children or full time at university”, a question that has bothered me for some time as I can’t just go and spill the beans on the real reason, which tends to make people believe that I am lazy and don’t like to work.
Which however is the complete opposite, I have tonnes of ideas for careers I’d like to get involved in but my social fear puts a block on that and makes me retreat into a job that I feel I can cope with, even if it’s not in the field I wanted for my career originally.
From the start, I got offered a job in retail at the age of 18, fresh from dropping out of university, and of course I accepted it. The main things that frightened me was working for a large company which employed a huge amount of staff, I had to mix, I had to face my fears meeting new people who didn’t understand how scared I was. But I soldiered on and I formed friendships with colleagues and after a while opened up to a few of them, who helped me get through my working days.
The real things I used to dread at work, were Staff Training sessions, my first induction day was the worst, being forced into a classroom situation with people I didn’t know and even though I wasn’t the youngest there I felt like such a child as I was worrying over the most stupid things and the younger people were just getting on with it and having a laugh.
The more I sat there the more the anxiety creeped in, I became hot, stressed and would freeze, my muscles were so tense it hurt to move, and just as I started to come out of the panic attack I heard the dreaded words “We won’t be leaving this room until this is done and it could be a few hours” and to me, being told I cannot leave is a HUGE trigger for me to start panicking!
I did however keep my cool and by the end of the day felt great for achieving something I found so scary and stressful.
After this had happend, I opened up to my line manager about my “disorder” and she was so understanding as a close friend of hers had experienced the same, to my relief. As the months and years passed, she helped me alot with coping and always asked how I was, she even once told me that I had to go for training and walked me up to the training room, much to the amusement of the guy doing the training. This horrified me, and I felt like a small child who needed their parent to take them anywhere, this really got me down and made me shut down even more.
It was during this time, I had started my CBT which helped me come to terms with the fact I am not a child, I’m an adult that needs to do things for herself and not rely on other people to take care of me, to this day is something I always try and drill into my head, and it works, I feel now that I can do things on my own without needing another person to be there to “protect me” from any situations I feel threatening.
After a couple more years, I found myself in the position I dread, I was going to lose my job, not because I had done anything wrong, just because I couldn’t get leave for a few weeks, and I was forced to look for another job that frankly petrified me, as I was some what settled in this place.
But now after finding a new job, albeit in the same place but with a different company, I am so happy I done it, cause I’m in a job I find more interesting and have more responsibility, which in turn has really boosted my confidence and made me believe that actually I can be “normal” and have a job where I could cope with full time and not panic at the thought of staying longer than my contracted hours.
I always thought I was the type of person that when forced into a sink or swim situation would always sink, but I proved to myself that I done it and I’m swimming along with it and I’m much happier for that!
So over a few years of ups and downs, I faced alot of my fears, although they are still there, they are definitely a smaller trigger for me.