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New Job: Manage Anxiety w/o Meds/Therapy?


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Last month I wrote a post about losing my job from panic attacks.

 

After a month of searching and preparing, I managed to secure a new job as a website developer for another small company. There are not many options in this city for this type of work, so I really need to make this one last!

 

The deal is that I will be working on a three month contract as a front-end coder to pick up the slack for backed-up projects. I'm confident in my abilities as a developer and I feel like being away from the designing end of things will give me a chance to do something more structured and less stressful than having to squeeze out creativity during a high-anxiety period. If in the next three months I prove myself a worthy investment for the company, my contract will end and I will gain a full time permanent position.

 

The office holds about eight employees, all young women with the exception of one who will be the lead I work under. This will be a first working in a female-dominated environment. I get along fine with people, male or female, so I am not afraid, I just don't know what to expect on that front. I don't know if there is a difference working with mostly women compared to working with men. I am more comfortable working in a semi-private location that is still close to the action of the office. This particular office has no such arrangement. I will be working in a completely open (and small) space so it will be difficult to find a quiet place if I need a break from the noise. My coworkers have been descried as 'close-knit' so it is imperative I fit in and mesh well with the personalities of each person. I need to blend in to the dynamic of the workplace, there is no room to be disconnected or quiet.

 

In order to help combat my fears, I have been to the local mental health clinic for assessment. I was told I was being given 'urgent status' on a waiting list for two group therapies. I was told to expect up to two months to be contacted for one, and a few weeks for the other. I have not heard anything since then. I was not given any further information about the groups or their location, nor was I given contact information. I saw a new doctor recently and he has put in a referral for a psychiatric assessment of my mental state and my current medications (which I know are not working for me right now). Although progress is in the works, I still do not have any form of therapy and my medication is not under control. I am basically floating without any help whatsoever.

 

What I would like to know is how others cope with work. What type of interim solutions are there for people who have no choice but to carry on with a normal life without any aids? Although there may be a little more flexibility at this company because it is small, I will still need to show up every single day (historically a difficult point with me), I will need to be calm in the face of my coworkers, and I will need to be fit to complete my work within given deadlines. I would really like to have anti-anxiety medication to help me while I wait for my psychiatric assessment, but the most recent doctor I have seen did not want to touch my medication himself, and a previous doctor I saw wanted to have my previous health records first (but my previous doctor has a policy against releasing her notes and will not do so). Is there a way to get a prescription, from these doctors or elsewhere, to help me?

 

Any comments are valuable and appreciated!

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Headphones are the first thing that come to mind... Noise cancelling if you can afford them.

 

Take some time to be interested in your colleagues instead of just task focused.

 

Learning how to do progressive relaxation and/or meditation and/or deep breathing.

 

Those are the other immediate thoughts I have.

 

Other than congrats on finding a new position so quickly!

 

Maybe after you show some reliability in office, you could request to work from home occasionally?

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I'm a web development engineer and have worked in an open cubicle (ie, no cubicle just table with little side wing things) environment.  A pair of the marshmallow kind of earbuds that block out ambient noise is the greatest thing ever for this.  I would put on my music and zone out.  When my anxiety was out of control this was the only way I could work.  If they don't allow that, I don't have any suggestions other than going to your car for quiet.  I've worked at 8 development companies and they all allowed this so hopefully you'll get that too.  

 

Working with women is just like working with men.  Women just typically talk about things in a completely different way.  Like men and women talk about their kids but women mostly focus on the care of the kids while the men focus on accomplishments.  In my experience.  Also, in full disclosure, I'm a woman.  If they are a tight group, it's just like men who are a tight group, you have to work your way in there if you want.  And just like men, if they don't want you there, you're stuck on the outside.  

 

I was glad when I didn't have to do any designing anymore.  Just like you said, it's exhausting to add that in.  Good luck on the contract!

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Duh, I just realized, there is this good workbook that if you take CBT course you will probably use anyway: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. I didn't see it in the Crazystore, but if you click through the Amazon search on the left to find it, it will help CBs financially. 

 

You can work on this at home. I think you should take a class when it becomes available, but you can do some self-help using this workbook.

 

When I started CBT, I was offended, I thought it was over-simplified and denigrating. I got over it, and I use CBT a lot. So even if your initial response is "Fuck you," try to stick with it.

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My coworkers have been descried as 'close-knit' so it is imperative I fit in and mesh well with the personalities of each person. I need to blend in to the dynamic of the workplace, there is no room to be disconnected or quiet.

You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself over something you can't really control, which is not going to help your anxiety at all. You should be courteous and friendly - but whether you'll end up "meshing well with the personalities of each person" is really up to fate. And it's not imperative. What your employer really cares about is that you do your job well and secondly that you get along with your coworkers reasonably well.

I'm impressed by how much you've thought through your goals for this job. But allow yourself to be a human being - and even enjoy yourself. You're not going to be perfect - you just want to be good enough. Otherwise your anxiety is likely to get the better of you.

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I am also struggling with anxiety surrounding a new job, so I feel for you!

 

Currently my best things for a cube environment are headphones, as others have said. If I need a break I've gone and sat in the bathroom. At my old job I also sometimes went and sat in my car or walked around the building. 

 

I think it's okay to say you needed to stretch your legs and look at something further away that the computer screen. The quiet can just be a bonus.

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Thank you very much for your comments everyone! Today was my first day of work. It didn't go as good as hoped. The company and my coworkers are friendly, but I just couldn't get past my anxiety. I decided not to return to the job and asked them if they offer contract work instead. At the moment, I think I'm starting to learn that I'm not ready to work, I'm just too sick right now.  I took some suggestions into mind and I spent a few panic waves in the washroom or counting breaths. I just can't concentrate well enough when I'm getting through my anxiety to be able to do any work at all! I spent a good chunk of my day just staring at code wondering what I was doing.

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