Hiatus Explained and Update (Part I)

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but here we go. The reason for going a year without blogging didn’t have to do with a major mental health issue, but a shortage of new things to discuss as well as feeling burned out with writing. Now I do have some new things to talk about and am feeling enough drive to settle in and write it out. In the past I’ve found that when I spend two or three hours writing out a blog post I tend to be not so easily irritated or frustrated for the couple days that follow. That’s just a correlation I’ve experienced. I need to be careful when drawing connections between events because I can easily draw false connections that lead to obsessions, compulsions, and superstitions. However, in this case I believe it is an accurate and harmless connection to draw. Devoting a lot of mental energy to something useful can help prevent it from building up and expressing itself in negative ways like anger, irritability, anxiety, etc. But, since it does take a lot of energy to do, I need to psych myself up for it like I need to psych myself up for a physical workout.

I will update you on the most major issues I’ve encountered in the last year. Several months ago I had a job as a laundry room attendant. I was looking for a low stress job that didn’t require much interaction with the public. I got the job rather quickly and began immediately. The first couple days involved training on the computer. It involved watching videos, reading instructions, taking quizzes on what I’d heard, and agreeing to abide by the company’s rules. That didn’t seem so bad. Then I had my first day of actual hands on laundry work. I shadowed another attendant the first day and worked with her the second day. However, I learned that there were a lot of different tasks to accomplish and a limited time in which to do them. Part of the reason I had to leave previous jobs was because I could not keep up with the workflow. I couldn’t make sandwiches fast enough in a deli and couldn’t process samples fast enough in a laboratory. I had a strong indication that I wouldn’t be able to separate, wash, dry, fold, and deliver all the laundry in the required time without another person’s help. There were other duties as well I would have to do on the job that I had not expected involving interaction with the public.

I became very anxious all the time. On my days off my mind would be almost completed focused on dreading the next day I had to go into work. I cried a lot more, was depressed, and felt like I had a pit in my stomach eating away at me all day. My hands would shake, my heart raced, and my breathing was more shallow. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I texted my boss saying I had to quit because my mental health condition was acting up. I hadn’t had the job for two weeks. I felt great relief after I turned in my shirt and left for the last time.

Later, I got a job as a dog daycare assistant. I thought this would be perfect for me because I love dogs, it wasn’t a production job where things had to be produced in a very short time, and there was almost no interaction with the public. The job itself was not bad. The owners were friendly. However, they wanted things done a certain way that I didn’t always understand. They had an outlook that I didn’t always agree with. I never said anything about it to them because it was how they chose to run things and see things and it wasn’t objectively wrong. It was just different from how I would do things or see things. But, it created friction with me in my mind. There was one time I was lightly reprimanded for failing to do something quick enough, but that criticism hurt me deeply for a while thereafter. I tend to take even the most constructive of criticism as a personal rebuke. I wish I did not. Another issue was that I didn’t have a good grip on how to react when dogs got into scuffles or a dog wouldn’t stop humping another dog. I had some knowledge on it, but it flew right out the window when it actually happened because my fear and anxiety took over when coming face-to-face with it.

I encountered the same problem at this job on my days off as the previous job. Almost all my waking moments were spent dreading going back into work. Like before, I shed tears over nothing, my body shook, my heart raced, and my breathing was quicker and shallower. There was that dreadful feeling always with me in my stomach eating away at me. Once more, I couldn’t take it anymore and left the job via text message. Fortunately, the owners were very understanding when I explained my situation, again without going into too much unnecessary detail with them, and we parted on good terms.

Now the question is what do I do now? It’s clear I have to find a way to get a handle on my anxiety and fear or I may never be able to work. Or, is there a job out there that doesn’t evoke this kind of reaction from me? Whatever the case may be, the help of others will be a crucial part in finding and maintaining employment.

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