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I need a hero

Crippling Anxiety Related To Job Performance

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I’m not very active here.  Maybe I should post more to help others, or maybe I’m just selfish and only look for answers here.

I just don’t know what to do.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a fear of failure.  I remember on the high school football team every once in awhile having crying fits and being pissed off at myself for not performing up to my preconceived standards.  I was bullied a lot.  This continued throughout high school and sometimes I also would occasionally pick on those I deemed who were easy targets.  
 

I remember I punched myself in the face for losing in a video game once.

Some people saw my weaknesses and would target them.  I was young and made some mistakes in my youth and I don’t know.  Maybe I could have done something different.  Being on the football team I feel was a big mistake.  I did not fit in.  I stayed all 4 yrs.

Today I’ve been feeling nostalgic in a bad way.  I’m trying to pin point what mistake I made in the past and how I can fix it to the situation I’m in now.

I came out of college with a degree in Law Enforcement.  Big mistake.  I was already on anti depressants when I was 14 yrs old. I went on and off of them.  My mother cried when I was put on them.  I still remember.

College was fine and everything.  I guess it was easy to forget about life for a little bit when I was away from home.  In a lot of ways, it was a vacation from the real world.  Fast forward to when I did my internship, and I was having mental breakdowns.  I was an intern.  I wasn’t even supposed to do anything.  I had no tasks but to observe officers actions.  I felt crippling anxiety and I had panic attacks at the police station.  I even got a warning from the training officer about getting proper rest and showing up on time.

Fast-forward a few months and I got a job as a surveillance officer.  I was not good at it at all.  I was okay in spots, but putting everything together was terrible.  I was given the option to leave after my trainer said he doesn’t think I’m cut out for this.  I cried right in front of him.  My first job after college was a fail.  I cried, but I was relieved because I really hated the training for that job.

I got my first job.  It was my favorite still.  I consider that my peak and I don’t think I can top it.  It was extremely laid back and for what we did, even then, I got very hard on myself when I did mess up.  I kind of freaked out for something minor that I thought of was a big deal.  We were paid decent.  And I knew.  I knew that was going to be the top for me.  I told myself I’ll never see another one like that again.  And I haven’t.
 

I had good marks on my record, so they placed me at a better account.  Big mistake.  I went from cruise control to panicked most days.  It was a new account they just acquired and I guess they wanted the officer with the nice marks to come onto this new account.  It was a nightmare.   Everything was different and uptight.  It was awful.  I never felt comfortable after 9 months and I hated it.  Everyone and everything was negative.  Too many responsibilities for me to handle.  And I tried.  I did.  Until one day we committed a grave error.  A mistake that was so bad.  That I had knots all in my stomach the rest of the shift.  Because we committed a security breach on overnights.  Another officer and me.

At this time, I got a phone call that I was suspended pending further investigation.  I still have the voice mail and I play it over and over again as a reminder of my mistake and I hate it.  I don’t know why I do that to myself.  I consider that the worst day of my life.  The area manager tore me apart.  He didn’t understand that I was suffering from extreme anxiety.  My goal was to make him as uncomfortable as he was making me.  I gave him a death stare.  I stared into his soul and I know I made him uncomfortable.  I’m sure I looked mean as all hell.  He questioned everything about my character.  Like he knew who I was.

When I got to my car, all I could do was scream and I hit myself in the face, hard, twice.  I gave myself a black eye and drove home sobbing.  Then a week later I got a call that based on a technicality, I could come back to work with a final written warning.  I was walking on eggshells.  I wanted out.  I knew that history repeats itself and it did.  I was thrown under the bus for a mistake.  Another anxiety ridden officer moved it up the chain.  I was removed and transferred.  It was easier to handle this time.

They placed me at another account that was very uncomfortable.  Standing post all day.  I couldn’t take it.  I applied for a trades job and it was better, but still bad.  I did not mind the hard work even if it was very difficult, but it was hard to learn.  Not only that, but they’re mean nosed guys.  I have cried several times at work. They have no sympathy.  I felt awful.  I did not feel like I was learning the job at a good pace and felt inadequate next to another apprentice of the same yr as me.

I have been searching for another job for a long time and I found one.  A Public Safety Officer at a college and it is very difficult to deal with.  They told me everything is slow now with the virus, but that things that we do now will change.  Much more activities. Plus, non union, but, good benefits.

It sounds like a nice job, but in crippled with pain inducing anxiety so bad, I felt like driving off the road.  I have not slept in 2 nights.  I don’t know what to do.  My supervisor tells me I’m doing good with training, but I’m so nervous with everything.  He knows it too.  I want to quit now and it’s 3 weeks in.  I’m torn up inside if I were to ever get fired from this job.  I don’t know.  I would probably just sit in a corner outside and sob silently.

I have a terrible fear of failure.  The time I got removed, was heartbreaking for me.  I don’t want to mess up, but history repeats itself and it’s a horrible cycle.  I can’t stand it.  I’m almost 30.  I still live with my parents because I’m afraid of moving out and if I can’t get past this uncomfortable phase in this new job and I get fired, or get deemed unfit to work and seen by a work psychologist, I really don’t know what I would do.  I think I would just sit quietly somewhere outside and just cry until one of the other officers came to talk to me.  I’m at the point where it’s hard to function and I need to train for a sensitive position such as public safety and act like I’m fine.

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I am so sorry you are suffering this ordeal.  What you write about in general is something I can completely relate to from personal experience.

A couple of things have helped me with fear of failure and failure.  Don't know if they would be helpful to you or not.  And these things required a lot of practice before they became second nature to me.  Long-standing habits and ways of thinking and feeling are not reversed in a day, sadly.

One thing that helped me was to keep "failures" and "fear of failure" in perspective.  This was difficult for me since I grew up to be a kind of perfectionist.

Perfectionism for all its benefits and merits can be distressing and stressful and take all the joy out of life.  Many people are perfectionists without knowing it at a deep level.

Perfectionism teaches that only perfection is good and that therefore anything less than perfection is bad or evil.  This robs the range of values of all richness and makes everything one dimensional.

In truth, good and bad form a spectrum and have many gradations which is why most languages have words for "better" and "worse."  Perfectionism can destroy such distinctions and level everything unnaturally and unreasonably.

On the scale of good and bad there are many gradations.  A couple of men in the last 100 years caused the destruction of tens of millions of men, women and children through campaigns of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced starvation.  I am thinking here of Hitler, Stalin and others.

Now I have read of what you wrote about some of your "failures."  But I know that you have never failed so badly as to cause the destruction of tens of millions of men, women and children . . . or the destruction of millions . . . or the destruction of hundreds of thousands . . .or the the destruction of tens of thousands . . . or the destruction of thousands . . . and so on.

So to me, you are very,  very far . . . almost infinitely far from being a failure as a person or having failed at anything like Hitler and Stalin did.  So I think it can help to try to put things into perspective.

Since anxiety is about the future . . . I don't think you will ever do anything like Hitler or Stalin.  We all fail at things but I don't think you should worry about failing at something as grave as Hitler and Stalin did.  I don't know if this would help you, but it helps me.

Second, the perfectionist attitude locks a person into a very narrow point of view.  I would call that point of view a way of looking at oneself, others, things and events in the world and constantly thinking:  "could be better but isn't better!"  This perspective tends to engender feelings and moods of anxiety, sadness, disappointment, despair, frustration, guilt, anger and restless and joyless striving.

But there is another way to look at things.  One can look at oneself, others, things and events and think:  "could be worse, but isn't worse."  Perfectionists sometimes lose the ability to access this point of view because they are locked into the other one. 

Happier and more peaceful people in general tend to have as their default point of view the "could be worse but isn't worse" attitude.  This engenders in them feelings of peacefulness, calm, gratitude, appreciation and joy of living.

Ideally one would be able to move easily between the "could be better" and "could be worse" attitudes.  But sometimes one gets stuck.

I am not criticizing perfectionism in all its forms.  Perfectionism has led to some marvelous medical breakthroughs, marvelous machines and technology and so on.  But there can be a dark side to perfectionism if it is not balanced and if it loses perspective.  Then it just engenders constant stress, distress and a sense of hopelessness.

Third, I think . . . is that there is a time dimension to success and failure.  A person can suffer a string of failures but then bounce back in a tremendous way.  I know of a historical person who seemed to suffer a virtually unending string of losses and failures.  He might be called today a total loser. 

But when he was an older person, he did something quite amazing.  He saved many people from being sent to a Nazi death camp.  And that is what is he known for today.  Nobody today except a few historians are even aware of his many failures in life: career, relationship and so on.  He is known as a great hero.

Things can be turned around.  A man I know who suffered many losses and failures in his life did something in secret that we only know about today.  Every few days for 20 years he donated blood.  He is today credited with saving the lives of thousands and thousands of people. 

There was a homeless woman who donated half the money she begged from others to charities.  What she did was walk to convenience stores and gas stations and put coins in the little boxes for the March of Dimes, St. Jude's Children's Hospital and so on.  What an amazing person.  Her failures and losses did not prevent her from doing great good in the world for others.  And she is a hero in my home town.

When everything is going south so to speak, a little change for the better can turn what is important around.  No one can stop a person from being a good person if that is something they really want.  Even people who have failed at everything can become heroes.

These are things that have helped me in my life.  To be honest, I don't know if they would help you or others.

I am sure in your life since childhood you have done all kinds of brave things, clever things, kind and sweet things, beautiful things.  You are clearly a good person.  I hope you will find something that helps you with your distress.  And I also hope that others here will have better words for you than my poor words.  I want to wish you good things in your life!

- Epictetus

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Debilitating anxiety disorder of any kind is an awful condition to live with. It may be useful to think of it as an illness, rather than to beat on and bully yourself for not somehow overcoming it? I dunno. For me, it was a better problem to conceive of having a treatable illness than declare myself defective since forever. 

But how? There is you. And then there us this fear. It's easy to mistake the two as one; to fuse them. 

You didn't hit your "peak" long ago, that is a nonsense that makes sense only as a story you tell about yourself. At some point in life that story got promoted from a tale to make sense of things into a truth about you.  

Your struggles are facts. How you've endured and survived some tough years is to your credit. Maybe it's possible, if your symptoms were to lift just a bit, this feeling of impending doom wouldn't seem so overwhelming and you could function just a little better?

Not me or anyone can function at a high level with a debilitating condition. And with that understanding comes a measure or self-compassion. 

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14 minutes ago, Atra said:

Debilitating anxiety disorder of any kind is an awful condition to live with. It may be useful to think of it as an illness, rather than to beat on and bully yourself for not somehow overcoming it? I dunno. For me, it was a better problem to conceive of having a treatable illness than declare myself defective since forever. 

But how? There is you. And then there us this fear. It's easy to mistake the two as one; to fuse them. 

You didn't hit your "peak" long ago, that is a nonsense that makes sense only as a story you tell about yourself. At some point in life that story got promoted from a tale to make sense of things into a truth about you.  

Your struggles are facts. How you've endured and survived some tough years is to your credit. Maybe it's possible, if your symptoms were to lift just a bit, this feeling of impending doom wouldn't seem so overwhelming and you could function just a little better?

Not me or anyone can function at a high level with a debilitating condition. And with that understanding comes a measure or self-compassion. 

You’re right it isn’t me.  It is my condition that I am fighting against.

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On 3/2/2021 at 6:21 AM, I need a hero said:

You’re right it isn’t me.  It is my condition that I am fighting against.

Wow, my friend it seems that you have been very hard on yourself. It is not your fault that things have been a little difficult for you. However, you can do something about how you allow things to affect you. Remember one thing as long as you have done your best there is no need for you to beat yourself down. 
Hang in there my friend and hopefully, you can find some medicine to help you function better 

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