Coping with anxiety in the workplace, or should I just quit? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Coping with anxiety in the workplace, or should I just quit?

I didn't really know where to post this or what I'm expecting to gain by doing so, but I'm just so confused and frustrated.

For the past 3 weeks I've been working full-time at a retail outlet on a work experience program type thing. I spend most days working the tills and sorting out stock. This means that I have to spend a lot of time communicating with customers. To begin with I was quite excited to start working. I thought it would be a good opportunity to work on my social skills and maybe overcome my anxiety issues. Over the course of this time, my boss has commented multiple times on my poor communication skills and is getting frustrated with my inability to function like a "normal human being". I often suffer the infamous mind blanks when being instructed to do something, and usually have to ask people to repeat themselves. I struggle to be polite to customers and often mumble and mutter under my breath. I've most certainly become more comfortable with social situations since starting but I'm finding it harder and harder to muster the enthusiasm to go into work each day. Since starting, I've become very depressed and am considering leaving. Everyone I work with thinks I'm an idiot. I constantly make mistakes due to my anxiety issues. My mind is so pre-occupied with feeling anxious that it's difficult to focus on anything else.

I guess I'm just looking for some advice, I dunno. I've spent some time doing CBT, but being in such a stressful environment all day makes it's difficult to remember what I've learned. I always fall back on my well-established avoidance behaviours. I'm tired of feeling so inferior and insignificant whilst working. I'm not comfortable with the responsibly I'm given. My life has been pretty horrendous since I started working there. Even after I get home, I'm usually so exhausted from all the worrying that I can't do anything productive. I can't even communicate with my family because I'm just so depressed and exhausted. I've started smoking again and I've even considered loading up on valium before work, which is something I really do not want to do.

The idea of going in and telling them that I'm quitting terrifies me.

I dunno. I don't usually rant about my problems, but if there is a place to do it, this has to be it.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 12:40 PM
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Try not to quit man. I did that at 20 and I couldn't find another job until 4yrs later(due to my SA.) I went through those same issues with my boss, and the general public is a pain in the *** to deal with when you have any kind of social interaction issues. I know this won't be easy, because it sure as hell wasn't easy for me, but you just got stay with those uncomfortable situations, let that nervousness/akwardness just be there with you, and keep doing what your doing. CBT is good, but not everybody has the patience to stick with it(I want to change NOW dammit!)

I wish I could help more, but with anything else you gotta find what works for you...
and what doesn't.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:13 PM
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I would look for something else if I was you. My first job was in a customer facing role as well (worked at the counter in a library) and I just got progressively worse as the months wore on and started turning up late/not going in at all. Add that on to the fact I was worrying about how the next day would go the previous evening and it was quite a depressing time in my life!

Just remember there are plenty of jobs out there that aren't going to require you to be someone you're not for most of the day, and where your skills are going to be able to come to the fore instead of being hidden away because of your anxiety issues. I just work in an office job and have done for the last 7 years. Sure people still talk and you have to socialise occasionally, but when people realize you're a quiet type and like to keep to yourself, it becomes a lot easier. I'm well respected in my role and I have several people at work that I feel comfortable talking with and that's fine by me.

The most important thing for me is it's a 'safe' routine - you don't have the worry of meeting new people every day and wondering how they're going to react to you.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Try not to quit man. I did that at 20 and I couldn't find another job until 4yrs later(due to my SA.) I went through those same issues with my boss, and the general public is a pain in the *** to deal with when you have any kind of social interaction issues. I know this won't be easy, because it sure as hell wasn't easy for me, but you just got stay with those uncomfortable situations, let that nervousness/akwardness just be there with you, and keep doing what your doing. CBT is good, but not everybody has the patience to stick with it(I want to change NOW dammit!)

I wish I could help more, but with anything else you gotta find what works for you...
and what doesn't.
Thanks for the reply, it's a comfort to just know someone else has been though similar things. CBT has a been a great help to me, but I just fear that I'm not quite ready to be working yet. I've come a long way this past year or so. I've gone from being a person too afraid to even leave his house, let alone speak to people, to someone with a job and a somewhat active social life. I just worry that I'm jumping into the deep end here having never learned how to properly swim. I worry that my self-destructive thoughts will again take me over and I'll be resigned to my room once more. I feel that I should build myself up slowly, and develop new, sustainable ways of thinking. I feel like I'm undoing a lot fo what I've accomplished with this job.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:16 PM
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Trust me I know exactly what you are going through, I am taking two weeks off from working with the public to go to therapy, thank goodness that I have a kind and understanding boss, he told me that my job was secure...
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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I would look for something else if I was you. My first job was in a customer facing role as well (worked at the counter in a library) and I just got progressively worse as the months wore on and started turning up late/not going in at all. Add that on to the fact I was worrying about how the next day would go the previous evening and it was quite a depressing time in my life!
This is all too familiar. I've turned up late a couple of times already, and I'm not even sure at what time I'm working tomorrow. I was so focused on getting the hell out of there, that I forgot to check, lol.

I'm definitely going to start looking for something else, even if I don't decide to leave anytime soon. I'd like the knowledge that there are other jobs available for me.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:42 PM
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This is all too familiar. I've turned up late a couple of times already, and I'm not even sure at what time I'm working tomorrow. I was so focused on getting the hell out of there, that I forgot to check, lol.

I'm definitely going to start looking for something else, even if I don't decide to leave anytime soon. I'd like the knowledge that there are other jobs available for me.
Yeah don't feel like you're confined to what you're currently doing. Sure the jobs market is not exactly saturated at the moment, but there are options out there.

Oh and also for the first 18 months of working in the office, I was taking calls from customers for the majority of the day and you know what? I was fine with it and it helped me become a more confident person. For me the problem is always face to face contact with someone new or unfamiliar since I always feel like that person can sense my nervousness and that just makes me come across even more awkward. If you're taking calls from customers, it's not a major problem because they're phoning up for one purpose and you're there to do it for them - they're not phoning you up to ask you what you're doing or expecting a conversation about anything non-business related (in most cases anyway!). Once I realized that I became a lot more relaxed when speaking to them

I was still incredibly relieved when I eventually got to work in the back office and just do admin work, but I guess I'm just saying that it was nowhere near the nightmare experience I thought it'd be!
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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**** it, I'm not going to let my sense of self-worth be dictated by how successfully I can mimic the appearance of a socially confident person. And I shouldn't care whether or not everyone likes me. I do not have to please everyone and it's okay to be disliked.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 02:43 PM
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Exactly.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 02:55 PM
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if this was full time then i would say don't quit but don't let it rule you either because asoon as you do that you really will hit rockbottom ... i gave up on the public and anything that requires my presence in the public and tbh at first it felt great really refreshing but with all the free time comes more anxiety and stress (unless you find something to do) betta get back on topic... think of it as something of a learning experience don't jump right in at the deep end but rather work your way in ... because a failure at the deep end is alot harder to deal with than a failure when your feet are still grounded.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah don't feel like you're confined to what you're currently doing. Sure the jobs market is not exactly saturated at the moment, but there are options out there.

Oh and also for the first 18 months of working in the office, I was taking calls from customers for the majority of the day and you know what? I was fine with it and it helped me become a more confident person. For me the problem is always face to face contact with someone new or unfamiliar since I always feel like that person can sense my nervousness and that just makes me come across even more awkward. If you're taking calls from customers, it's not a major problem because they're phoning up for one purpose and you're there to do it for them - they're not phoning you up to ask you what you're doing or expecting a conversation about anything non-business related (in most cases anyway!). Once I realized that I became a lot more relaxed when speaking to them

I was still incredibly relieved when I eventually got to work in the back office and just do admin work, but I guess I'm just saying that it was nowhere near the nightmare experience I thought it'd be!
Yeah, I have noticed that my anxiety hasn't been as unmanageable as I anticipated, and it's precisely for that reason. Whenever I don the uniform of the retailer worker, my own sense of personal identity kind of disintegrates, I just become a tool. Which is distressing in it's own right, but at least I don't feel the same pressure for social interaction as I do in my private life. Interacting with customers is difficult, but I don't feel a sense of social responsibility. I can't say the same for the interactions between me and my co-workers though, they are as unnerving as any other interaction.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-03-2012, 06:17 PM
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I'd quit if i was you, and look for something else. I worked in retail for a year and hated it, was always SO filled with anxiety and so quiet, (and this was before I really knew what SA was) all the employees around me made friends with each other and then there was just me.. I also sucked at talking to / being around customers. So I went out on a whim and quit before even finding another job. Turns out a week later, a movie theater called me in for an interview and I got it and now I love this job
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-04-2012, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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Yep, I'm definitely quitting. Today was the final nail in the coffin. I'm tired of my bosses passive-aggressive bull**** and unpredictable behaviour. He struts around with an air of superiority offering cheap gestures to his employees, completely unaware of how blatantly hollow his remarks and words of encouragement are. One minute he'll apparently be friendly and caring, but if someone makes a minor mistake his entire attitude will change. Suddenly his posture will alter and his tone of voice become more menacing, but he'll never come out and actually say you've done something wrong, instead he'll aggressively correct what ever mistake has been made and force you do a **** tonne of extra work almost as a form of revenge. All of his employees are aware of this and fear making any mistakes. It's complete bull****. I don't need this in my life.

Ugh, I dunno if any of you care, but it's just nice to get it off my chest.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-04-2012, 11:26 AM
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I wish i could give you some advice but cant as i have the same problem.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-04-2012, 06:29 PM
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I started a new job that's wreaking havoc on my anxiety and want to quit, and it's only been my second day. I often try to put myself in situations to grow and achieve something, but my SA (and me) just pisses it all away. I don't learn either because I keep doing it, and consequently keep failing.
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-04-2012, 06:59 PM
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I'm going through a lot of stress at my work. I've been at this job for 5 years now, everything went smooth until now. Recently more work keeps being added to things I have to do, but I'm not getting the help I need from my other coworker. I'm getting depressed, because them not helping me seems like it's being done on spite, because they know that I get anxious if I don't finish on time. The other day my heart was racing because I was almost out of time, and had a lot of stuff left to do. I'm having so much trouble getting up to go to work now, and I'm always late. Lucky my boss covers that for me,,

I really wish I could quit this job, but I need it to survive
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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So I quit today, almost had a panic attack trying to explain why I wanted to leave, but at least it's over. I always feel so trapped when I have commitments to keep, whether it's a job or college or whatever. It's such a liberating feeling to be able to look at my future without constraints (besides SA of course). Feeling pretty ****ty today though, in a few days hopefully I'll be well enough to start rebuilding my life again.

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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I started a new job that's wreaking havoc on my anxiety and want to quit, and it's only been my second day. I often try to put myself in situations to grow and achieve something, but my SA (and me) just pisses it all away. I don't learn either because I keep doing it, and consequently keep failing.
You don't have the psychological tools in place to help deal with the anxiety. Throwing yourself into stressful situations without coping mechanisms is like pouring gasoline on a fire in hopes of extinguishing the flame. I'd advise you to hold out for a couple of weeks to see if it gets any easier. If it continues to remain as stressful as it is now, it might be best to quit and find something more manageable. At least until you develop those coping mechanisms anyway. You should probably look into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy too, if you haven't done so already.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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I'm going through a lot of stress at my work. I've been at this job for 5 years now, everything went smooth until now. Recently more work keeps being added to things I have to do, but I'm not getting the help I need from my other coworker. I'm getting depressed, because them not helping me seems like it's being done on spite, because they know that I get anxious if I don't finish on time. The other day my heart was racing because I was almost out of time, and had a lot of stuff left to do. I'm having so much trouble getting up to go to work now, and I'm always late. Lucky my boss covers that for me,,

I really wish I could quit this job, but I need it to survive
Have you considered filing a complaint? From what you've said, it seems like your boss would be understanding. It wouldn't hurt to start looking at other options for employment on the side though, just in case things really do start to become overwhelming.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 12:04 PM
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Afraid of Work, or the thought of going to work..

Wow, does this topic speak to me. I work in a pubic service office and as soon as I was notified I was selected for the job, after over a year applying for it, I was terrified. (Some might think this odd as apparently I wanted the job). Once I got in there, the lack of training and resultant stress had me strung out. Ever since I was a child I've had anxiety/stress/self confidence issues. I also allowed kids to pick on me mercilessly at school without standing up for myself. This job is making me sick. I worry daily, including weekends. I cant quit because I have financial obligations but I don't want to live like this. I am on prescribed psych pills (about six of them), and I see an counselor regularly. It's interesting to see that others also face this situation. I'm going to start going to Emotions Anonymous meetings this week in hopes that will help. Any other suggestions from the Forum? I'm scared, nervous and sick about all of this...
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