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Have you ever discovered something about yourself that made so much sense, you were stunned to not have noticed it sooner?

It has become clear to me over the past six weeks or so that I have been suffering from anxiety. However, I never really equated what I was feeling or thinking with anxiety. I had no idea. It’s only been since it started going away that I recognize it for what it is.

Mostly, my anxiety has been centered around my job. Even though I know what a good job I do, I have very little faith in supervisors and/or co-workers and their ability to credit me for what I do. Instead, I’m convinced that at every turn is a knife waiting to be plunged into my back.

This has made for an interesting life this past year, since our living room and our office/showroom back up to each other. On our day off, if we‘re hanging out in the living room, we can hear the office phone ring and the chiming of the showroom doors as they open and close. These sounds are faint, but since we hear them first-hand six days out of every week, they are unmistakable.

It wasn’t at all unusual for me to hear the phone ring through the wall and immediately mute the television so I could try and hear what was going on. Or, if I’d heard the door chime and conversation take place, I would torture myself over what was being said, and by whom. I worried that maybe I’d left something undone, or done wrong. Or maybe my snotty little relief manager was out to get me and would set me up for something. These thoughts (and more) could swirl around my head all day long if we stayed home.
If we went out, every ring of my cell phone would make my heart pound, dreading who was calling me.

Making it even worse, I suffered through most of this silently. I rarely announced my anxieties to Scott, who probably could have helped me identify them for what they were. Instead I held all this in, worried alone, and then breathed a shaky sigh of silent relief once the perceived crises had passed. It was an emotionally exhausting way to live.

While I recognize now that that my thoughts were unreasonable and bordering on paranoid, in the moments they seemed completely justified. I’ve been screwed over on a lot of jobs and have developed a defensive approach to working. I’ve had co-workers who have taken credit for work I’ve done; I’ve had clients/customers who were bitter and vengeful for any number of reasons; and I’ve had supervisors who were just supreme jerks and couldn’t find a nice thing to say, even if their own life depended upon it.

The sort of anxiety I’d been experiencing has obviously been building over a period of time, and is only really clear to me now that it’s no longer necessary for the survival of my paycheck. In my past three jobs (each very different in scope but very similar in situation) it was necessary for me to keep my guard up at all times in an effort to keep the record straight. Now that I don’t need to, and have actually stopped doing it, I find I have more peace in my life and can enjoy my time both on and off the clock.

Oddly, it’s been the medication I was prescribed for mild depression that has alleviated the anxiety I’ve been blindly suffering for who knows how long. My mind and emotions are clearer and more under my own control, and I actually look forward to my time away from work, rather than dread what might happen while I’m gone. I’ve even started several creative projects that are bringing me so much pleasure that I’m still keeping them a secret. I’m just not ready to open them up to the rest of the world yet!

I think it’s an absolute shame that bad jobs, much like bad relationships, can change who we are. Naturally this isn’t a change I willingly went through, and (other than the need to watch my own back) wasn’t even something I recognized I was doing until I stopped doing it. It took coming out of the funk to identify just how funky I’d become.

Have you ever had a job situation that tore you down so much that you had to actually change the way you looked at and thought about other jobs? Did you recognize the change that needed to be made, or were you surprised into noticing it?


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cindylouwho1966 wrote Apr 1, 2009
    • Feather, I was the exact same way when I worked in retail. I felt sure things were not going to get done, or done properly, if I wasn’t there. To this day, I dream I’m back in retail and there is some sort of crisis.  

      I’m glad you sought help, because that is a horrible way to live. It makes you miserable and eventually that comes out to the people you love.

      Good for you!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Apr 1, 2009
    • Feather this must have been awful for you honey. I’ve never had this but friends I know have suffered in the same way - a close friend who is just amazing at her job has just walked due to her CEO being more than a pain in the butt and almost doing her job for her and undermining her at every chance .....

      Good luck with the secret projects - I think sometimes the key is outside distractions

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Apr 1, 2009
    • Thanks gals for your input. I knew I couldn’t have been alone in this.

      Initially I was going to share some of the gory details from the previous jobs, but decided there’s three or four more blogs in there. So, I think I’ll save them for another day. estatic

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Apr 1, 2009
    • It’s horrible the way some people treat employees/coworkers. In so many cases they are the ones who feel small, inadequate, in jeopardy of losing their jobs but they take their frustrations out on the only people they can. I’m sorry you’ve had to endure this treatment but happy you were able to see your way to some help. Our professional lives are in some ways bigger than some of our personal relationships. It’s how we make our way in the world and how we plan for our future. I hope that from here on out you are able to grow professionally and are treated with the respect you deserve.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Apr 1, 2009
    • Thank you, Cynthia. I’m glad to have found some relief too. Oddly, it was in an area I didn’t even recognize as being in need!

      I think it’s unfortunate that we can become so accustomed to living a particular way that we don’t even recognize the abnormality of it.  

      It’s one thing to have to work in a hostile environment; it’s something else altogether to not be able to shake it off.

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