I apologize beforehand for the long post.
Up until the end of December, I had been unemployed for about four months and almost out of savings. I was feeling desperate for another job and worried about my prospects, since my resume shows a lot of job hopping because of previous troubles with social anxiety disorder.
Two weeks ago I was hired. This opportunity sort of fell into my lap through a connection that I had and a lot of the details about the job were awesome—great hours, great location, stable company, and more pay than I have ever experienced before. Pay enough for me to be able to support myself living outside of my parents home (I’m in my 30s). So, I took the job. There was just one thing that made me hesitant. It is a technical support role, heavily phone-based. I have never done call-center type work, and the light phone support I’ve had to do in other jobs gave me intense anxiety in the past.
I’m currently on Session 10 with the therapy program and over the past months, I have been making small strides using the techniques such as slow talk and rational thinking statements, and attitude statements and they were really helping me through interviews and other anxious moments. I wondered if I might be able to use them to help me handle the anxious scenarios on this new job as I went along.
This last week was my first week on the job and it’s been a doozy. On the first day my supervisor took me around and introduced me to everyone in my department and also dozens and dozens of other people in other departments who I’ll be expected to communicate with in resolving customer issues.
My days have been filled with trainings and PowerPoint sessions where I’m in a room for hours with my two closest managers. So, I can’t really use the method where I pick the easiest person in the room to talk to.
I find myself wearing out physically, mentally, and emotionally trying to corral the automatic negative thoughts and loosening my muscles over and over again because they seem to want to go into a catatonic state and stay there. My heart rate, which I’m recording on my watch, is consistently around 85-98 bpm and I find that the techniques that were effective before (slow talk, rational statements, muscle relaxation, attitude statements) just dissipate into nothing.
Most of my attention is going to calming myself down from panic and ANTS thoughts and it is impacting my job performance right out of the gate. A lot of information is being given to me about the products and technology that I’ll be helping customers with and the software systems I’ll be using and the business processes of the company. A lot of this information has gone in one ear and out the other because I’m so anxious that I can’t calm down.
After days of experiencing this, growing more discouraged and afraid that I might not be able to keep this job, on Thursday I asked my manager about the weekly staff meetings that we have every Friday. She said that the whole technical department gets together, we go around the room and share one thing that we’ve learned during the week. She said she was going to put me in the hot seat and have me introduce myself and talk about my background.
I told myself mentally “It’s no big deal. So what?” But all I felt was physically drained, emotionally taxed, and terrified. I told her that I hadn’t been feeling well that day. She grew concerned about me and said if I needed to I could take the next day off and even Monday, if I needed it. So, I took Friday off and I’m tempted to take Monday too but I think that may look really bad because it’s only my first week.
I don’t really know what to do. At this point, this anxiety is more intense than I can calm down and control. It’s like a job unto itself calming down my anxiety and takes away from my real job. My motivation has dropped a lot in practicing the daily 30 minute therapy, even though I know that it works on a smaller anxiety level for me. I’m scared of being flooded with fear on the job but also scared of becoming unemployed again and having no money.
The things I can think of doing differently is to exercise before work this upcoming week and see if that helps. And I’m going to experiment with some herbal supplements to induce calm and muscle relaxation. I don’t feel very hopeful though.
I feel lost.