Would this be an example of letting my fears control my life?
June 13, 2012 7:48 AM Subscribe
Is leaving my job because of (possibly irrational) fears an example of avoidance? Or a realization of limitations?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have had OCD since I was a teenager. The obsessions have mostly revolved around contamination and a particular disease. I had a multi-year reprieve of my symptoms but they are back with a vengeance.
During the reprieve, I got a job in a lab where the possibility of coming into contact with this disease is higher (though we don't specifically work with any disease). Now that my symptoms are back, the disease via my job is the focus of my obsessions. I take all proper precautions but of course, as OCD people hate to acknowledge, we can never been 100% certain of anything. To me, because I have this job, my fears of contracting this disease aren't as irrational as they once were.
Up until now I have really liked my job, it's a very good job. I have felt I was good at it. But it has become an enormous source of psychic turmoil and I dread the days I have to do work in the lab. Just thinking about accessing my work email makes my blood pressure rise. I find myself increasingly wishing I worked somewhere without the possibility of disease contact so my mind could be put at ease. Surprisingly, I am functioning completely normally at work and I think my boss/coworkers would be shocked if I approached them with this.
I have already given up the idea of a job in nursing or medicine. I realize my limitations. I don't want to implode my life by leaving my job over my illness but I don't know what to do anymore and I don't want to constantly be worrying. Also, I used to fear getting this disease before I had this job. Who's to say I won't just start worrying about some other vector or get some other obsession (I have had a few)? Is it ever okay to leave a job because of irrational fears? Is this just avoidance or a realization of limitations? Though relieved, I know I would be disappointed in myself if I left. What do I do?
Relevant info: I am in CBT and while it is helpful, my OCD has gotten worse since I started. I'm not blaming the CBT for this, it could be any number of reasons (including increased job stress, moving in a month, etc). I have brought up the possibility of leaving my job, but my therapist thinks that would be foolish, he sees my going to work as a form of exposure therapy. But I am not getting better, I am getting worse and I want my job to be my job, not an exercise in anxiety-producing exposures.