Too scared to work
December 5, 2012 5:28 AM Subscribe
How can I cope with extreme professional/work anxiety?
posted by one of these days to Work & Money (21 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
My life is better than it ever has been in almost every aspect lately, at least on paper. I graduated last May with a degree in Computer Science from a good university and got a job instantly via one of my professors. I work in a research and development position funded by one of the world's most recognizable companies, dealing with challenging and interesting technology.
I am not very good at it.
For the first six months my project lead, residing halfway across the country, was on leave. Now that he is back, my various performance issues either have been or will be brought to attention.
I work in a lab with several other researchers and postgrad students and I am most likely the least experienced and educated among them. I am expected to interact with them in order to pick up on their research. For example, I need to learn to use a program I am unfamiliar with to grab recent versions of something I should be testing, but every afternoon I think "today I will ask" and never actually do it. Or I hear about tools other researchers are using and, because I am unable to inject myself into these conversations, I never learn the address of such-and-such server. Since I have been here so long, I feel as though asking elementary questions would be embarrassing.
I also have issues checking my e-mail, for some reason preferring not to know if I am being criticized or doing poorly (I had the same issue with checking transcripts while attending school). Obviously, this makes no sense, but I don't check these important things as often as I should because I procrastinate when I am worried there will be something unpleasant.
Plus, general phone anxiety. I hate hate hate talking on the phone, always have. Given that one of my bosses lives a thousand miles away, this is a problem.
My concern that I am useless and incompetent among these more experienced people has made it very difficult for me to actually get up and *go* to work. Every morning is a drag and I have to psych myself up just to get out of bed. More than once I've called in sick because I couldn't bring myself to move.
I have a long history of mental illness (surprise, surprise), having gone through depression and suffered through panic attacks extensively as a teenager, stuff triggered by some pretty extensive and complicated family issues. I got therapy for those, so I'm not unfamiliar with the whole deal, and obviously since I'm verging on non-functional I need it again. But I'm not sure how long it will be until I can find a therapist, and how long it will be until I am able to function without this heavy anxiety.
What do I do at work until then? I never saw myself working in this field forever, so I might just need to take a lower-demand job, given my history. But for the time being I would really like to keep this one.
This is my first time being independent and although many aspects of my life are going well for a change, this one has me very worried about my future.