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I had an anxiety attack at work and now have a week off...feel guilty

Community Member

So some personal things have happened through the years: both my parents passed away in 2014 and 2015, my brother sueing us for the inheritance...recently my partner tried a new job to an area with hopes we can buy a house there but the job didn't work out and now we're lost not being able to afford a house.

That all has passed and I work in a job I'm ok with, but difficult to balance full-time work and life. It has been a year and last week was stressful, people kept coming to me about mistakes I made every day, then one day my supervisor mentions a mistake AND that I am working too slow, I lost it.

I ran to the bathroom trying to do breathing exercises, but the body wouldn't listen and tears started pushing through until I just let it out.

I washed my eyes and continued work, but quiet and people knew something was wrong. At the end of the day I called in sick for the next day and saw a doctor who gave me a week off for stress leave, I have already been off a few times this year and seeing a doctor and a psychologist again today but the guilt of not being able to cope is overwhelming.

I keep thinking of the future, where and how can we afford a home without renting? How am I able to function in the real world? What is the point of it all?... I was on medication and it has helped through the year, now taking another medication so I can sleep at night, but anxious dreams still come up though able to fall asleep in less than an hour at least.

I'm trying so hard not to loose it, yes I should relax and it is a disease, but in real life nobody will give you a break and it makes you a loser for it.

I have been thinking of just working as a cashier again part-time, but feel like a loser. Especially since I always wanted to sell my art but nobody buys it even with paid advertisement so now I don't know what to do in my life.

I don't have anything to look forward to, nothing excites me anymore and my passion for life has run dry.

45 Replies 45

Community Member

It can be exhausting how our brains don't stop. The world doesn't stop so there's always something to engage with and stress over.

Frustrating the people at the new job seem confused! Have you managed a clear conversation about your start date to undo any ambiguity?

About people going through tougher circumstances... Experience is relative, we actually really don't know what people see, think or experience. Maybe it's tougher on them than they're letting on. Even if not, what exactly does "seeing a way through" look like, or even mean about them? Maybe a lot of people who are ignoring stress could be in trouble down the road because of it, and maybe your noble example of standing up and making a point about noticing and actioning what's really important can help someone be brave enough to think about how they can apply wisdom to their situation as well, which will look different for everyone.

It's tough for people who are standing out from the crowd as the front runners of bearing the weight of feeling misunderstood, but hopefully with time this can help normalise the voice of mental health, and chip away at what people don't quite understand about it yet. In that sense you can actually think of yourself as a hero, which is a position of strength.

About "too weak for the world", I do understand that feeling! Consider flipping it around the other way. Imagine trying to lift a car. When you consider you can't lift it, it would seem reasonable, and not something to be ashamed of. Nobody should really be trying to lift something that big, and those who are, are possibly damaging themselves.

If it became normal for people to be expected to lift things that heavy all the time, and was socially unacceptable to complain about it, you'd expect there to be people not managing, and pretending to. If there were people who had "evolved" to do it, it wouldn't mean those who need to say, "that is unreasonable and not something I can do" need to feel shame or label themselves as weak. It'd be accurate and acceptable to say, "that is too heavy for me to lift;" a statement about the monstrous and often ridiculous nature of the task, not the person. It's technically accurate to say the person is too weak to lift it, but that doesn't mean that the person is weak, just that the object is unreasonably heavy.

If the world is too much for you, that is ok! It's a problem with how the world is, not a statement about you and your value, talent, strength or admirability.

Community Member

Thank you for your reply! It has really helped me see things better, and today I do feel so much better about things.

I got a message from my work today telling me my hours and working two days for next week, which is great! I just will talk to them in person about the money and contract. I know one should really talk about how much a job is at the interview but honestly don't care about the money anyways.

We also figured out that we will try and save for a deposit for an appartment, it will take some time, but honestly we have that, plenty of, and we aren't big spenders anyways.

I am trying not to be all anxious for my new job this week, and I have always been a functioning anxiety/depression sufferer (I always have this mindset that first I have to do what needs to be done: feed the cats, clean, cook so others around me don't suffer for my illness, then take time to feel sad after. If I still feel too strongly, I'll skip a day of cleaning and doing work around the house and take some time for myself and aim to do it the next day as a treat to myself).

So from the bottom of my heart, I was really looking forward to your post and am very thankful for all of your help! I hope sincerely everyone gets the help they need and remember that it's a disease that messes with your mind, a demon whispering bad things and distorting your reality when in real reality, things aren't bad and bad things pass easily.

Community Member

Jesskch that's so great to hear. It sounds like things are a bit more smoothed out to pave the way for you and help you to look forward in a calmer way. I do know what it's like living with ambiguity, and having an understanding of what your plan is, even loosely, (like how you and your partner made a decision to work toward in your living situation) and how what you think and expect related to what others think and expect (like knowing what your work hours are) can really take some of the weight off the whole thing, even if it ends up changing along the way.

I feel relief for you just hearing all that. Thankyou for your comments about my posts, that really means something to me too. I sometimes have to suddenly appear and disappear (and sometimes for long periods) from situations and habits like posting here, but for the moment it seems to be a theme that's gelling with me and I'm really feeling what others are going through (sometimes to my own detriment as an involuntary empath.)

Would love to hear how things go when the job starts, and I'm glad too that it's just a couple of days. That sounds nice and low pressure. Feel free to post as well about what you're doing in the meantime. Have found any small activities to enjoy or distract you in the small patch of "time off?"

Community Member
"I sometimes have to suddenly appear and disappear" .. oops I guess I said this in this thread already, just realised. Sometimes I'm afraid to have not said it to someone who might take it personally if I connect with them before suddenly going silent, and sometimes I get so caught up in the discussion that I forget to say it. I did skim this thread before accidentally repeating it but I guess I missed it. Don't want it to sound either like I'm meaning to harp on the point! Have been working on being more succinct as I can be a babbler/careless "talker" who loses track of what my point is or whether I already made it. Looking forward to maybe hearing more from you. 🙂

Community Member

Hey if anything, this is a place to just be yourself, so don't worry what others think, just let your emotions or whatever you want to say out! Everyone here understands I think that we overthink on how we act, so it is a place that I am happy to have forgiving people!

I just wanted to update on my first two days of work at the pet store: The first day was rough: we had pets for sale (all come from registered breeders, not mills! The manager even takes the puppy home and the kittens are fostered by my coworker) but a Karen came in and complained so much about how we were selling them that we had to take them away. It was bad, everyone posted bad things on facebook, saying it was illegal to sell pets in a pet store. On one side I completely understand people want others to adopt from shelters, but on the other hand, so many people want pets from breeders because they have a much better temperament! In the shelter , it's kind of a lucky dip if you know what I mean.

Anyways, it was very good today: I really enjoy working with my other coworker who was very nice, most of the people are chinese but very kind and I tried learning some mandarin words to say good morning and "how are your baby cats?" haha!

I am very happy with the job so far, it's long hours standing, and mostly it's awesome that we have a store kpi instead of individual ones so not much pressure, but that can still change (I hope it won't). It makes me want to still work very hard to keep this shop's sales high! Whereas, individual kpis make me feel pressured, not care about the shop or other people I work with!

We still have bunnies and it's fun because my coworker and I do a bit of research each on how to care for them the best way possible. She is a science major at uni and I did 2 years volunteering as a vet nurse so they are in good hands!

We didn't have any complaints from people about the bunnies funny enough, and I explain to people the experience we have and the effort we put into them. It's fun to introduce people to bunnies and how to care for them . Of course, if someone comes for pet advice that is more medical, we are smart enough to tell them to take them to the vet! That's what needs to be done!

I am so happy with the job for now, but with my anxieties, there's always fear it can turn bad, which isn't a bad thing as it prepares me, but for now, enjoying my time as it is!

I hope everyone else is doing well, sometimes life has a way of working out!

Community Member

Yaaa! (An excited yaa, as in I'm happy to hear from you!) Sorry I missed your reply while I was afk a few days even though before that I was checking a lot.

"this is a place to just be yourself," I agree, and thankyou for that warm invitation to do so ❤️

"so don't worry what others think", I appreciate that too, and agree with the thought in certain contexts, but I do care how I make others feel, and how what I say and do impacts their lives, affects the relationship between me and the person I'm talking to, and how it makes me feel when what I say isn't heard the way I meant it, so there's no harm in acknowledging where there's room for improvement and working on it. 🙂

"Everyone here understands", I absolutely appreciate the "safe" space to be nurtured, but am also aware that it's a public forum and there may be readers who don't understand at all, and whilst any nasty comments might be moderated and deleted, I also care how what I write might affect anyone who's reading, and how being misunderstood might sometimes be an opportunity for me to improve my understandability. But I get what you meant, and thanks for being kind to me.

I'm so sorry to hear the first day didn't set a nice tone. It sounds like you have some good background knowledge of the company that's hired you and the field you're working in, in a way that allows you to do something you believe in, which is so fantastic. It's not great for mental health when you spend your time doing something you're morally opposed to.

I feel so sorry for people who's real names actually are Karen! It's a bit of unfortunate shorthand that's been developed to say that someone might have been acting in a potentially selfish way. But how rough for you, on the first day, to have to deal with abuse from the public instead of being able to just settle in and focus on enjoying the job. Hopefully it can maybe give you an opportunity to have solidified for yourself that you're working for a company you believe in, albeit through a rather unpleasant experience.

I'm glad the second day was better and super duper glad you get along with your co-workers, that is so important. And I see the word fun in there too. Yipee! Fun is the best. Finding ways to have fun is what makes life feel worthwhile in my opinion.

I agree that anxiety itself (when in proportion to the situation and not debilitating to your life) is not a bad thing, you're so right, it's there to prepare you. Keep taking one day at a time. ❤️ Check in again

Community Member

Well of course I mean that everyone should have freedom to express themselves without hurting anyone! Of course I also have in my experience, known people who get offended quite easily, and sometimes you have to just ignore it for your own good,or, if you can be empathetic and feel like you made a mistake, apologize.

I have been really happy with the job! Though I feel they are already giving me a lot of responsibilities which makes me nervous. They do want someone to be a manager there someday, but honestly, as much as I find the idea enjoyable, I don't want that extra stress behind me.

Funnily enough, even just working 3 whole days there, I am making almost the same amount in my previous job working full time!

Right now I am on 3 months probation but a bit nervous with all the responsibilities and feel like putting pressure on myself to make more sales, just because I want this store to do well! But I have to control this urge I think.

It's nice to have the two days off a week too to relax, but somehow it's still so hard to do it on the last day (my Sunday haha). I took a 4 hour nap because sometimes I just get so tired. Now, it's 5:30pm and I feel a little crap because I don't have much time again to relax.

But as you said, going to take each day at a time, working tomorrow and Saturday again and then on Sunday off again.

I did go around today with my fiance talking and saying I am so damn happy I can relax more, work around the house and have time to cook us healthy meals! (3 months we just ended up with take out and I hated it!).

A funny thing I will add, being in the pet shop is so amazing, customers show me pictures of their pets and I love it! But then I miss my cats sooo much that I go home and give them extra affection haha!

Hope your week was really good!!!

Community Member

Hey, thanks for the update! 

It sounds like your mental health is already doing a whole lot better for having made this change? That you now have opportunities for self care that weren't there before, even if they aren't always going perfectly.

Are you concerned that they are hoping that you will be the new manager? Could you possibly look for little ways to begin to communicate with those that are gradually understanding you as a person and how great you are (as opposed to starting with people just identifying you as having mental health struggles without really knowing what that means and using it to make assumptions about your personality) that you can begin to put little toe-in-the-water conversations out there in order to pave the way for a future conversation that lets them know how you feel about the prospect of management (that it is not what you are looking for because your whole aim is to lower your stress and how important that is)?

It's a very personal choice, what to share with your employers and how to go about it, (and no guarantees for what the result would be!) but I wonder if chipping away at the subject little by little early on (while continuing to show what a wonderful person you are and what a great ethic you have) might save you some stress down the road if this all came to a head because expectations were miscommunicated?

It makes me so happy to hear that you're enjoying having more time to relax and really "be" at your house. The sense of self that that must bring you can really put some colour back in your face and light back in your eyes.

Yay for pet photos that you are enjoying and sharing with people!

Thanks for your warm thoughts for my week. I'm going through some stuff. But it always feels a bit "meh" to try to explain compared to the more serious-on-paper things that other people share. Focusing on other people's journeys and getting out of my head is a bit of a lifeline to be honest. 🙂 I have a support group meeting tonight so hopefully that works out being helpful.

May I ask how to properly pronounce your name? I know it's just a screen name and you'll have to work out some phoenetics to try to tell me in text but it would be nice to know I'm saying it right when I tend to articulate it when I see a post from you lol. How does the ssksch part translate into sound? Is it a variation of an "s" sound? Or is there kind of a d or g in there too?

warmth ❤️


Community Member

Well I hope your meeting has helped a bit with what you are going through. I totally understand that some people rather work things out themselves and have their own way of helping whenever they are suffering from a dark part in their lives. And you can call me Jess, it's easier!

I have to admit, the good only lasted for so long, now it's kind of my guilt and anxiety ruining it again for me:

You see, I do get an inheritance monthly due to my parents passing, and in a way, it has been a blessing and a curse. I still think of my parents every day even though it has been over 8 years since they passed. It has been mixed feelings since they were abusive physically and psychologically, but were also kind and caring and involved when alcohol and mental illness wasn't involved.

I calculated my pay, which isn't much of course in part-time, but significantly less savings (without the inheritance). So I feel guilty that most of my savings are now from my inheritance I receive monthly, and without, I wouldn't be able to survive on part-time hours.

I guess in a way I should have expected this, but still feel a large amount of guilt.

Lately I feel a lot better though since I have time to draw, but now my anxieties have turned to worrying about my weight and health.

I am obese, and since it's winter, I want to get back into working out but really lack the motivation. I will try this Sunday to go out at least for a walk in the morning, but also cutting out snacks has been difficult.

Everytime I want to go for my walk, I get so tired and take a nap. Thankfully I only had a 2 hour nap but then I got so tired at 6pm that I went to bed still and now awake at 10pm when I have work tomorrow.

Buuut, I think it's still early to get angry about it, there are things I need to first get used to since it's been only my second week, tomorrow is work, but it's not stressful, I get there and clean cages then talk to customers, and before work I have a coffee and sit and relax. I need to start slowly with not buying junk food so often, but it's hard as my fiance can eat anything he wants and not put on weight! So being around the temptation is hard...

Anyways, I hope you are doing better and seeing things for what they are, not what the disease tells you it is.

Community Member
I have been having panic attacks at work, and needing to leave early. My work team is quite supportive, but I feel like a complete failure and like I'm not contributing anything of value to the team. I've almost quit my job a few times this week. I feel like I'm a disaster and don't deserve the job. I have very low self esteem lately.