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Random (or maybe not so random?) thoughts regarding my anxiousness about going back to work.

I recently had an opportunity to submit an article to a newspaper for publication. I've never written an article before, so this was a new experience. I found myself feeling extremely anxious about doing my absolute best on it. I worked hard on it and finished it and did well. So well, that I got to write another one immediately afterward for the same publication. Again, my anxiety was extremely high.

I never considered submitting something that was less than "as perfect as I could get it".

And while this attitude may be a "great" one to have, it's really stressful. If I feel like I have to do or produce things at such a high standard, I'm always nervous that it's not good enough or I'm not doing it right. Plus, I'm always going to spend a lot of time, energy and effort on "it". Sure, it feels GREAT when I complete whatever "it" is. And it feels exceptionally GREAT when I succeed at doing an excellent job at it. But, holy crap - it sure is draining to do everything at that level.

I think this perception of mine is one of the reasons I've been feeling much fear about going back to work.

If I put pressure on myself to be "exceptional" or "excellent", no wonder I'm nervous to go back to work. I know what it means to be competing for the "exceptional" spot. It's hard work - long hours, less eating, high anxiety, constant movement etc. No wonder I finally burned out a year ago. And actually --- I even burned out really well too! I became immobilized by anxiety, depression and sadness to the point of becoming suicidal.

I perceive that I need to do things right or maybe not at all. No wonder I've been finding the whole concept of "balance" challenging!

Anyway - it makes sense to me that I'd be scared to go back to work. When I think about going back to work, I am considering my perceptions of the standards I have set for myself. And what if I don't live up to them? I'm petrified that I'm not going to do a good job and I'll get depressed again. I'm scared I won't be able to handle it. I'm nervous that I'll forget what I've learned over the past year and I'll get stuck in my familiar mindset.

And, that's why I'm doing the articles and website first. To practice. To practice transition between activities and to practice taking breaks and to practice working again. And if during my practice I begin to notice how my perceptions are lending to (or maintaining) my anxiety, then I can work on opening my peripheral vision before I go back to the "real job".

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Re: Work and Anxiety.

That was always a problem for me with writing articles and reports, too, healthbound. It got to the point thought where I simply didn't have time to do everything to perfection and I realized it didn't need to be - I found even when it was less than perfect by my standards, people still reacted positively.
Re: Work and Anxiety.

I found even when it was less than perfect by my standards, people still reacted positively.

And interestingly, I'm finding similar reactions. I sit on a board that meets every first Tuesday of the month (I just got back from one of our meetings). Before every meeting, I get really anxious and nervous that my report about my progress in my "area" won't meet the board's expectations. And then I get there and no one else has even written a report -- much less provided any "evidence" of their progress. And recently, someone even told me that they'd been trying to get X done for 2 years now and it wasn't until I joined them that it got done. So, this is good.

Articles have that whole deadline and "distributed to xxx thousands of readers!" pressure too. I find that it's a real love / hate thing with me and pressure.

But, even though I felt a ton of anxiety (and afterall, it WAS my first article EVER) and pressure, I got it done and felt great about it afterwards. And I had never really thought about writing articles before, so it potentially opened some new opportunities for me too.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Re: Work and Anxiety.

The fact that you were willing to make that effort (and the website effort too) is a testament to your courage and determination.

Remember - there's nothing brave about doing something you don't fear or that doesn't cause you any anxiety. It's only brave if you fear it and do it anyway.


Re: Work and Anxiety.

congrats on the article healthbound!!!! that's awesome!!! I can relate w/ wanting to do things 'perfect' if at all, and setting really high standards for yourself, to the point of them being unrealistic- and risking burnout as you have experienced.... I think a big thing about work is being able to have your work be work and then have that seperation between work and your private life. I see so many people who are combining the two, willingly or not, but it is so much more stressful to always be thinking about work and always 'doing better' if you just spend 'a little' bit more time on it, if you really don't have to... would you have a job where you're not required to be say, 'on call' 24/7??? that would help a ton!!! I guess it's all a learning experince, and as you have seen, you are capable of so much and even when a challenge arises, you can step up to the plate, by doing your best which is just good enough- and much better than worrying about perfecting something while having no fun w/ it or getting nothing out of the experince except for trouble, at the cost of your health.
Re: Work and Anxiety.

Hey Eunoia,

Thanks for your comments :)

It's funny --- I just replied to your comments about the Olympics and I thought a lot about being "perfect".

I like the feeling I get when I've worked really hard on something and the result is something of good quality. But, in the past the line between quality and striving for perfection got blurred.

I'm feeling much better about returning to work lately. I'm still nervous because I keep comparing my perceptions about going back to work with some of my past work experiences. I really want to remain as conscious/mindful/present/grounded as possible. I really understand the value of balance now, whereas I did not before.

I'm trying to remember that my past does not define my present or my future. I have choices now. Some experiences I'm having are unfamiliar but, I'm looking forward to seeing how they pan out.

Today I was offered editor for the publication I wrote the articles for -with movement into desktop publishing by the end of this year/beginning of next. This is great - considering I want to incorporate more creativity into my "work". However, the money is not great...well, not what I've become accustomed to (pre-breakdown).

The company I was with before I went into this past depression (I'll call them CompanyX) has kept my "file" open for over a year and has been paying all of my medical etc (including 100% medication costs. They were supposed to stop paying the medical etc after a year, but they've extended it). They really have been excellent to me. And even though there is no "part time" work at the company, they are trying to figure something out to accommodate me.

While this is fantastic, it made me a bit nervous because I was uncomfortable with them simply being supportive and willing to accommodate me. I compared their gestures to similar ones from my past and became even more nervous because those times seemed to be more like "tricks" to get something from me. And ultimately those situations were very hurtful.

So again, I am presented with situations that very quickly remind me of disturbing memories of my past. BUT, I'm trying something different this time. I'm acknowledging that this present situation is reminding me of various situations in my past and while I can take note of the similarities I can also remind myself that this is a different time. And I am wiser woman now. I know my tendencies to over achieve and therefore can ensure that I set parameters for myself. I can also take this situation with CompanyX as well as the publication offer as situations independent of my past. I can trust that I will make healthy choices for myself now. I can also trust that I know where to go if I need support (here, my therapist, my doctor).

This week was a big insight week for me. And I'm really tired now. I hope what I wrote makes sense and isn't coming off as smug. I'm tired and was just trying to get thougths out :eek:
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