I blogged about my ‘dream’ job a few weeks ago - 'The Next Step 2017' and applied for the job that weekend.
I have learnt a lot about myself and my anxiety in the following days and weeks. So here is what happened and my reflections after the event.
[I have used this image, as it sums up how the phone ringing does affect me and my anxiety - acknowledgement #CollegeHumour]
Having applied for the job with some enthusiasm I started to think about the reality of the job and I suppose my anxiety kicked in. I started considering the work environment and how I would manage my anxiety, IBD and IBS, particularly my toilet visits, where was the loo etc., what would people think?
The prospect of answering the phone and engaging with people in the office, triggered my social anxiety. I attempted to balance this with thinking about my strategy; which was to be honest in my application about my mental and physical health. I had been honest, they could decide on whether I was suitable for the job based on facts.
Then I started to question why it this was my dream job; why had I applied: was it because I felt I ought to be working? I.e. going out to a job away from the house. Was it because of the stresses at home and the idea of escaping appealed to me? Was it the idea of being ‘left alone’ by my home life whilst I was at work?
By this time my generalised anxiety had kicked in about the whole thing, including the job itself and the interview. I tried to manage this by remembering that I already knew how and where the job was based and told myself I had been into the office reception already - so knew where I was going. I told myself that the purpose of an interview was for both me and them to decide if the job was right.
But my anxiety symptoms kicked in: nausea, feeling weak, physical shaking, constantly thinking about it, obsessing, thinking of ways to get out of it, the urge to self-harm, my mood crashed and I turned to my bed, thoughts of suicide became the solution, dreams - or do you call them nightmares, about my old work experiences and my reoccurring nightmare about being trapped in an office full of people and not being able to find my way out, where back, haunting me.
I initially set myself the target of waiting to see if I got called for interview, on the basis of then deciding whether to go. So I had pulled my target back from deciding about taking the job, if I got offered it, to just going to an interview (if asked), then I said to myself: it was just a meeting.
So two days after applying for the job, I was: highly anxious, obsessing, struggling with my physical symptoms of anxiety, nausea, irritable bowel, going to the loo a lot, feeling very low, stopped being able to do anything, bad thoughts in my head, jumping every time the phone rang, constantly monitoring emails and the post for an interview invitation.
I then set myself the target of talking about how I was feeling at counselling on the Friday, so all I had to do was cope for another 2 days.
But by Thursday morning, I decided enough was enough, I was now at the point that I couldn’t cope with the prospect of a telephone call to offer me an interview, let alone going to the interview or doing the job. I had spiralled into obsessive thinking and regularly seeing suicide as the way out. I therefore spoke to my wife and agreed that I needed to withdraw my application. So I withdraw my application four days after applying for the job. I didn’t get instant relief and was still highly anxious and unable to function for a good week.
Now some 6 weeks later I am still seeing the repercussions of the job application, in terms of regaining my confidence in going out and I now have a Colitis flare up, which I believe is triggered by me feeling extremely stressed.
So what have I learnt?
I don’t regret applying for the job, it was the closest to an office based job that I think I could do, in terms of how I am. But it was not for me at this time. Interestingly I had saved the same job details a few years ago, but done no more, this time I had applied – small steps.
I have constantly, for the past few years, being putting myself under pressure to apply for and go to work, it was what I believed I OUGHT to do. But now I know it is not an option for me at this time.
I don’t regret withdrawing my application and haven’t doubted that it was the correct decision.
I now feel much better about the work that I do at home on a self-employed basis and accept that it is ok, it suits my mental health, IBD and IBS. I feel better about the job I am doing and could almost say I feel proud of myself. This work is right for me.
I feel more able to focus on the now and getting on with what I have, rather than beating myself up all the time thinking ‘you should go out to work’
I am now focusing on the home issues that keep pushing me to want to escape from home.
I have reevaluated the work I do, stopped setting far too high standards and expectations on myself of what I should get done, in terms of my measure of quality and quantity.
I feel more comfortable about claiming social benefits (PIP and Tax Credits), I am unable to go out and work in an office and do anything like I used to do, it is ok to get help from benefits.
I wrote an honest application and an honest subsequent email withdrawing my application, but never heard anything from the organisation, so maybe they are not the right company for me anyway.
It doesn’t mean that I won’t ever do a job like the one I applied for - I accept it is just not the right time now.
So, I have learnt to accept and know my limitations, not keep berating myself about what I should do, and be proud of what I am doing.
Know your limitations, accept your limitations and be proud of what you are achieving!