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My First Day at My New Job While Battling Anxiety

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My anxiety started days before it was even “supposed” to — not being able to sleep, waking up feeling sick, constantly feeling on edge and that feeling of dread we all know too well.

On the morning of the big day, my alarm hadn’t even gone off yet and I was wide awake. A sudden rush of adrenaline went through the whole of my body, my stomach started to growl and I felt sick. I feel like I am going to be sick. It suddenly became harder to breathe. Pull yourself together. I sat up, took a couple of deep breaths and tried to calm myself down.

Why do I put myself in situations that make me feel like this?

Battling with my mind I got out of bed, had a drink of water and started to get ready. I was constantly looking at the time as the moment I had to leave was rapidly approaching. My head hurt. I felt so uptight I couldn’t relax. Why am I holding my breath? Breathe. In … Out … In … Out.

I skipped breakfast. I couldn’t possibly face it, feeling like this.

My anxiety leads me to believe I am always going to be late, that I am running out of time and I need to rush. My workplace is a 10-minute walk away from my house, so I left 25 minutes before I was due to start, just in case. I set off out the door at a nice, steady pace; everything around me seemed to be moving at 100 mph, so I found myself speeding up, frantically trying to get there as fast as I could. I am running out of breath. Stop. Breathe in … Out … In … Out.

You can do this.

Approaching the doors. Breathe, just remember to breathe. Outside, I couldn’t see anyone around. Whilst waiting, 101 things were running around in my head: What if I pass out? What if I am sick in front of everyone? What if they can see me panicking? They are going to think I am weird, I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

I’m in, I’m sat down, I’m OK.

Everyone seems nice enough. Breathe.

I spent most of the morning filling out forms and doing training. One of the forms I had to fill out was the dreaded health questionnaire I was hoping wouldn’t come up, as I wasn’t comfortable talking about it. “Do you consider yourself to have a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995?” Do I? I don’t know, am I classed as disabled because I have a mental illness?

I asked my new manager what I should write on the form as I wasn’t sure what came under the law. I explained my situation to her and she looked shocked, to say the least. After a long pause, neither of us saying anything, I assured her it shouldn’t affect my work and that I am OK. She replied “I hope so,” and laughed.

And yet people wonder why some don’t wish to disclose their mental illness to their workplace and would rather just struggle in silence, in the fear of being judged or not taken seriously?

I kinda just brushed it off and got on with my day, as I was determined to not be brought down by anything. Surprisingly, I had a good day and enjoyed it!

Most people won’t know and will never know what it took for me to get up and go to work, or how brave I am for disclosing I have a mental illness to a complete stranger and making myself feel vulnerable. I am proud. I am proud I was brave and strong, and I am proud I took such a huge step forward in my recovery.

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Thinkstock photo via HbrH

Originally published: May 22, 2017
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