I originally wrote this blog post in January 2019. Moved post to here as not renewing domain name for other blog. I am diagnosed bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder.
It's very hard for me to cope with workplaces. Many times over, I have become anxious about someone else to the point of panic and then left (avoidance). I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder along with bipolar and PTSD. All these conditions affect my ability to keep a job.
On several occasions I have quit after having panic attacks and/or being burnt out. Once I got fired because I 'didn't fit' and another employer said he was glad to get rid of me when I resigned so he paid out my notice so he didn't have to see me again.
So the avoidance - anxiety cycle would continue for me. Avoidance would temporarily provide relief, but then my anxiety would be worse in the long-run as there was a pattern. My social anxiety is a fear of interacting with people, but also fear of negative evaluation and criticism. I have actually felt suicidal over this.
An employment consultant told me he couldn't help me because I not only job hopped, but career hopped. I would attempt more challenging careers when I was hypomanic but still able to function. Then I would burn out and become extremely anxious. I was unable to function nor work when I was fully manic. I wasn't diagnosed bipolar until my forties so I was on this rollercoaster for years along with the avoidance-anxiety cycle.
I currently work part-time as a merchandiser with a high degree of autonomy - tasks are set and I just have to go in and do them. It was incredibly hard for me to go up to talk to people. I would mask and smile. Then hide myself away from the world again. I find people and noise in the workplace especially stressful.
There was initial friction with someone I need to talk to on a weekly basis. My anxiety would get worse and I was unable to take in what they were saying, which then frustrated them more. I would feel overwhelmed internally then shut down so I couldn't take in any information. But gradually things thawed, our working relationship improved and my anxiety eased significantly and no longer dreaded seeing this person. I look forward to seeing them now as they seem friendly and caring.
They talked to me about our getting off to a rough start today. They said they could see that I am 'different' so tried hard to change their approach. I admitted I felt anxious that I could feel they didn't like me. They were frustrated in trying to communicate with me initially but persevered. I appreciated that.
I told them it's hard for me to face people - including the workplace. I usually self-isolate. They told me I was courageous.
I had a cry - tears are healing for me. Gave each other a hug. I don't usually like hugs. But I'm getting more used to them. I'm trying not to 'run away' and quit when I feel anxious in the workplace. I still have a long way to go before I have the capacity to work full-time but I'm doing what I can.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).