Job Hunting with Anxiety

Job hunting can be frustrating for anyone. Simple day-to-day things can be difficult for someone with anxiety. Interacting with people when you have social anxiety can be really hard. When you have generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and severe social anxiety while looking for a new job, it can be hell.

Your mind is constantly telling you you’re not good enough for anything, let alone the job you are applying for. You think that they can tell something is wrong with you or that you’re weird or crazy and they won’t want to hire you. You’re constantly worried about whether your resume and/or portfolio are weak. Your mind tells you no one wants to hire you. That can be extremely debilitating. It can even cause you to avoid or procrastinate applying for jobs because you’re so terrified of what will happen that you’d rather not even go there.

If you’ve had a bad experience with a previous employer regarding your mental health issues, all these thoughts can be amplified that much more. It doesn’t matter how much friends or family tell you that you will find the right job or that you are good enough for a job, you still dread the whole experience.

I, myself, have always been overly nervous when it came to job hunting and interviews. I never understood why until recently. I was always hesitant to apply for jobs because the description didn’t sound perfect or they asked for skills that I didn’t feel I had or was very good at. This is due to the fact that I have severe social anxiety and with that, poor self-esteem. Up until about 11 months ago, I had no idea why I struggled so much with this.

As of just over two months ago, I am no unemployed after having an extremely discouraging experience with my former employer, related to my mental health issues and did involve some stigmatization. As far as how it effected me emotionally, it was actually pretty traumatic.

Now that I am back job hunting, I am absolutely terrified! I am worrying constantly that the same thing will happen again. I’ll start out nervous about the new job, then end up loving it and being super loyal, then get too stressed and have to take doctor recommended time off again, and then when I try to return they refuse to make modifications to ease me back in without overloading me with stress all over again.

Even though the last time this happened, I didn’t know going into the job that I had any sort of mental illness. In hindsight, I know now that I’ve had anxiety almost my entire life, and depression at least since my teens (varying in severity over the years). The problem was that I had no idea, and no one else did either. The signs were all there, but no one clued in. Not even myself, until I had a breakdown and realized I needed help. Course, I didn’t tell anyone initially. I didn’t know how. It had gone for so long. Years! At least 15, probably 20 years. I had the behavioural, emotional, and physical symptoms and everything but, I internalize my feelings most of the time, making it harder for the outside world to really notice, so I felt like no one would believe me. Course, that’s part of what kept me from seeking help sooner, was the fear that I would be told that there was nothing wrong with me and it’s all in my head. (Part of that is a justified fear, based on past experiences, but also a symptom of the illness itself.)

This unrelenting worry and paralyzing fear has forced me into an unending cycle of procrastination and self loathing. It has made me extremely irritable and triggered (or been a secondary trigger) for a few more than mild depressive episodes over the past few months.

The fact that I am currently on antidepressants has helped keep my mood more stable, and even improved it significantly on most days. It has also helped pull me out of a depressed mood faster than I would have been able to do on my own in the past. It doesn’t prevent the bad days from happening though, it just reduces the number of bad days, makes the bad days slightly less bad, and makes them easier to overcome.

All of this has made my job search that much harder. In reality, it probably hasn’t been all that different from past job searches. Course that’s not including when I worked in retail because that has always been easier since there are more local options than looking for jobs in my chosen career as a web developer, without having to consider moving to another city.

At this point, I am still looking searching, and trying my hardest to be less scared about it. It’s not easy though.

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