Anxiety Disease, Is It Interfering With Your Job?

Sometimes it feels like your paddling in deep water or floating above it all

I just read a very honest post by Trent Selbrede titled Living with ADHD. It takes courage to write articles and share them with the world when what we are writing is something so personal. Jeffrey Strickland also shared a helpful post about learning disabilities- I commend anyone who doesn’t worry what others may think, and share their personal stories knowing or hoping it may help another. I find these articles helpful because so many people are misunderstood or suffer in silence. No one should ever suffer in silence, I would love to see others share their stories too, after all we ALL have one.

We all get anxious when it comes to our jobs. Feeling anxious differs from Anxiety Disease — also called Anxiety Disorder which can lead to missing too much time from work, leaving work early, or ultimately losing your job.

Many people aren’t aware they have anxiety disorder until their symptoms worsen. Most people with Anxiety Disorder have had some degree of anxiety their entire lives, and without proper treatment, the symptoms intensify with age. When symptoms of anxiety begin to intensify; those symptoms will begin to affect your job.

I began working as a Respiratory Technician when I was 19 years old. I loved my job! I was so proud of myself at the young age of 19 to be working with trauma patients in the Emergency Room and Intensive Care. I was proud that I was learning so much, and at a fast pace.

I enjoyed my one on one time with patients who needed breathing treatments. I even enjoyed charting. I got along well with the many Physicians we had to interact with, which is very important when you are working in the medical field. I must admit, when we were called to the Emergency Room, a rush of adrenaline would overcome me. I believe that ‘rush’ helped me to cope during some very difficult traumas we would face. When you heard the stat page, you never knew what you were going to see until you walked into the ER.

One afternoon we received a stat page to the ER, and we were told that there two cold water drowning victims that would be transported in. The patients were still in the water, so we had to set up our equipment to be ready when the paramedics brought the patients in. We were told to go back to our floors and continue our treatments until we got the call that the patients were en-route.

I was working and heard my name being paged by the hospital operator. I picked up the page, and it was the Emergency Room Supervisor she asked which floor I was working on, and asked me to meet her at the end of the hall. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to meet me because she was not MY supervisor. I met her, and I will never forget the words she spoke. “Lisa, your brother is one of the cold water drowning victims!”

I panicked and asked where he was The Nursing Supervisor told me, “He’s in ER in shock, and he needs you.” At this point, I felt tears well up, and I asked her who was with him in the water? She told me “Bobby something.” I spouted off the last name, and she said, “Yes, that’s his name.” I ran to the Emergency Room to be with my brother. Bobby was brought in approximately 20 minutes later, he did not make it.

After this incident, every time we received a stat page to the Emergency Room I would get dizzy, worry it was going to be someone I knew, I felt nauseated and want to run in the other direction- out the door!

As time progressed so did my symptoms. I decided I needed something less stressful, so I transferred to our Cardiac Lab, and thought that would make life much easier. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I began having panic attacks in the form of extreme dizziness which I pass out. The panic attacks would come on without any precipitating factors. I thought I had a serious illness because they were so frequent; I didn’t know anything about panic attacks at the time. Panic attacks can present with many different symptoms.

After seeing many different Physicians for my dizziness and other symptoms, it was determined I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It was time for me to reassess my life.

The good news is there is treatment. Many people will have to make lifestyle changes that are conducive to their health. A lifestyle change may mean a change in career as well. In my case, it was determined that a chain of events (seeing people die, in particular, my brother’s friend), opened up a can of worms because I had lost my father 8 years prior to working in Respiratory Therapy. I found out later that I did not go through all the stages of grief. Anxiety Disease is not due to a person being nervous.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Like certain illnesses, such as diabetes, anxiety disorders might be caused by chemical imbalances in the body. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the balance of chemicals in the brain that control mood. Studies also have shown that anxiety disorders run in families, which means that they can be inherited from one or both parents, like hair or eye color. In addition, certain environmental factors — such as a trauma or significant event — might trigger an anxiety disorder in people who have an inherited susceptibility to developing the disorder.”

There is life and employment beyond the disease, and you are not alone.

Anxiety disorders “affect about 40 million adult Americans.They are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. They occur more often in women than in men.”

With proper treatment, early recognition and employers who educate themselves, you do not need to give up your job. Don’t be afraid to speak about it, because it’s an illness just like diabetes, thyroid disease etc… there is no shame in having any illness. The only shame is when it’s untreated, or not recognized.

I have found over the years that it’s good to be open with those you can trust. They may not understand what you are going through, but this is the case with any illness when another has not experienced it. A good employer along with a good support system outside of your job will help you overcome obstacles you may have thought were impossible. Remember, with diligence and faith in yourself anything is possible. Never give up, and never think you are not worth it! What I have found works very well for me and proven to work for others is some form or exercise or relaxation technique. Exercise increases endorphins and reduces stress/anxiety.

Remember, with support, treatment, education, and understanding; You’ve got this!

Originally published on Linkedin

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