Posted by fxckfeelings on February 16, 2016Share This Post
Despite the bad rep it always gets, we like to remind people that anxiety can be a blessing and a curse. After all, anxious people sometimes do better work because they’re afraid of failing (and were once better at survival since they were afraid of being eaten). On the other hand, sometimes their fear of failing prevents them from working or doing anything at all. So if you’re an anxious person, learn how to use your anxiety to your advantage. Then, when it flares up too much, you will know how to use it for motivation while protecting yourself from the curse of paralyzing panic.
I recently completed several large and important projects at work in a brief amount of time. I am satisfied with my work and proud of myself for finishing, but due to the emotionally and mentally taxing nature of this work, I am exhausted in every way that it is possible to be exhausted. I find myself getting sick a lot, and I have had two anxiety attacks in a single week. Because I have a tendency toward anxiety, introversion, and depression, my exhaustion takes the form of wanting to withdraw and shut down. My supportive spouse is willing to shoulder more work at home (which leaves me feeling guilty), but, as much as I would like to, I can’t reduce my workload at my job at the moment. But I find it very difficult to deal with people there without feeling panicky and irritable. What I really need is like a month’s vacation, but I know that I am not going to get it without destroying my career. If I hang on for one more month, I will get a week off, but I have to make it until then. My goal is to get through the next four weeks without totally collapsing or burning bridges with colleagues and friends.
Fear can be a useful force for self-motivation, i.e., when fear reminds you that bear aren’t friendly so you should run away from that one right over there as quickly as possible. When fear isn’t a life-saving motivation but a career-advancing one, however, it can be almost as dangerous as an angry bear at a gallop.
Many sales-people and executives use a fear of failure to get themselves out of bed, into the office, and into the grind, regardless of whether they’re feeling anxious, depressed, or medically ill. That’s where the problems come in.
The same fear that can make you a top competitor can also make you feel like you’re having a breakdown if it blossoms into anxiety attacks and an inability to talk to people without barking or crying. There’s a point at which fear of a meltdown can cause a meltdown.
In your case, fortunately, you seem to have a tremendous ability to keep yourself on track despite fatigue, anxiety attacks, and irritability. Your symptoms sound severe, but you also seem determined, experienced and likely to meet your goal of surviving the next four weeks without doing major damage to your career or relationships.
In the future, however, learn how to encourage yourself with positivity, rather than scare yourself with fears of a breakdown. If you haven’t already done so, familiarize yourself with the symptoms and treatment options for anxiety, depression, and the negative thinking that goes with them. Find a positive coach/shrink who can help you remember that you have developed good ways for dealing with the worst-case scenarios that haunt your nightmares.
Anxiety is probably your strength, as well as your affliction. Don’t let fear undermine your pride in what you’ve accomplished or your confidence in your ability to survive and manage depressive mood swings. When you work hard, it should be in order to achieve good things, not desperately run from bad ones.
“I feel so exhausted by work and a mental slowdown that I wonder if I can keep functioning and hold my job, but I’ve always been able to keep it together in the past and I won’t let my fears talk me into feelings of desperation.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname