No future

I apologise for the following depressive rant but I really just need somewhere to vent. I really don’t want to make anyone else feel worse through reading this post. Read it with caution, or don’t read it at all, if you have social anxiety disorder.

I started feeling awful last night. I’ve no idea why – I enjoyed volunteering yesterday but suddenly felt miserable by the evening, and it’s carried on to today. I still felt very tired when I woke up this morning, and lacked the motivation to get out of bed. It doesn’t help that my body’s reaction to getting up before 7am (which I’ve done the past three mornings) is generally this:

I eventually did manage to drag myself out of bed and go to this week’s employability session but I’m now wishing I hadn’t. We went over interview questions today and they handed us a sheet showing what employers say are the most common mistakes made at an interview. This included:

  • Failure to make eye contact
  • Lack of smile
  • Bad posture (I always sit slightly hunched over when I’m anxious)
  • Handshake that is too weak
  • Fidgeting too much
  • Playing with hair or touching face
  • Lack of confidence

All of those things are symptoms of my social anxiety. So should I then just assume that no one wants to employ a person with social anxiety disorder, and give up? It would be difficult enough trying to focus on doing one of those things, never mind remembering and trying to do them all, while feeling like I’m about to have a panic attack, frantically trying to think of how to answer a question and string my words together, and trying to actually take in what the interviewer has asked me (my anxiety also affects my ability to concentrate on other things). When we went over the interview questions, I was rubbish at them. I completely lack confidence in myself and my abilities and this would probably come across straight away to any interviewer. I just want to give up. This might sound ridiculous but going through the employability session today made me feel suicidal. I just don’t see how I’m ever going to get a job after university. And if I do get a job, I don’t see how I’m going to get a job that won’t make me have a breakdown because of the constant anxiety. The future just seems so incredibly bleak and I can’t picture a future where I won’t eventually take my own life or feel miserable and suicidal all the time. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing after my degree. I don’t even know why I’m doing this degree. Looking at the positive side of things, at least I am actually enjoying my degree subject and find it interesting – I know there are many people who end up studying something that they hate or that bores them to tears. But being interested in something isn’t going to pay the bills. I’m most likely going to end up either working in a job I hate, being poor, or being unable to work at all because of my anxiety.

I’m sick of applying for jobs only to be rejected for every single one. I’m sick of going through all the hassle of applying for jobs that I would likely hate with every fibre of my being because of the strain they will put on my SA. I hate how fake interviews really are. It’s always going to be the people who are most confident and are the best at BSing their way through interviews that are probably most likely to get the job, rather than the people who are hard-working and have the relevant skills but lack the confidence to come across really well in an interview. It’s all so superficial and so much of it is just lies. It’s bullshit. I often feel the same way about dating.

I feel like I can’t even do anything because of my mental health issues. I can’t become a vet due to the massive impact all the stress would have on my mental health, because of my self-inflicted scars, and because I have social anxiety. I can’t become a vet nurse because of my scars and social anxiety. I can’t become a clinical psychologist because (other than the fact that I don’t have a degree in psychology, of course) of my social anxiety. I can’t become an ecologist because of my social anxiety. Unless there’s a job that involves hiding under a rock, I feel that I can’t do it because of my social anxiety.

It’s extremely difficult for anyone (SA or no SA) to get a job at the moment, but it still seems that most people on my course at uni have part-time jobs. And I’m constantly seeing their photos from their travels abroad, getting their diving qualifications and swimming with sharks in Thailand, or working at zoos, or wildlife reserves in South Africa. I can’t do that stuff (i.e. travelling alone) because of my anxiety either. I really want to take a trip around Scotland next summer because there are so many places up north that I’ve never visited, and I really want to visit the Hebrides. It would also hopefully help build my confidence and independence, and ease my anxieties about travelling alone. But of course, I’d need a job to fund this and to fund driving lessons so that I can pass my test and gain more driving experience before then. But I can’t get a job because of my social anxiety, and I’m finding learning to drive tough because of my anxiety. I may never be able to pass my driving test because of my anxiety. And it’s because of my anxiety that I have no friends to travel with. Do you see how this all gets so frustrating?  Wouldn’t it be great if, y’know, my anxiety DIDN’T affect my entire life?

Sorry again for this very depressing post. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow or in a few days’ time. I’ve learned to deal with the times when I feel like this by taking things easy and making sure that I’m getting enough sleep (I haven’t been lately). I also still make an effort to exercise (which helps with my mood), though less intensely than I usually would, because I lack motivation. I just don’t see how the problem of employment or any of the other long-term problems caused by my SA are ever going to go away.


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8 Responses to No future

  1. You’re going through a really hard time! Believe me when I say you are doing all the right things by going out to groups and trying not to hide away – it’s a great show of strength even though you probably don’t feel strong. Take it a day at a time, one small victory at a time, and build up those experiences to fight back the negative thoughts with. Don’t look ahead too far. Keep going! TH

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you for the kind words. It probably is best if I try not to think about the future too much. I’ll still try to prepare for it, but I’ll try to live just one day at a time. Hopefully I can join more groups and face even more anxiety-provoking situations with the help of a befriender.

  2. charge291 says:

    I think you said a few posts ago that you could never have imagined how far you’ve come over the past year with the steps towards volunteering, driving lessons, trips for uni etc. I think it’s likely you’ll think this in a year’s time too. I know that’s an easy thing to say but it’s very likely, with the determination you’re showing.
    Also, you said you think you did rubbish on interview test. Didn’t you post a pic of feedback from a job interview previously that said the exact opposite? It said you did really well from what I remember. 🙂
    That stupid thing about having a strong handshake drives me mad! It makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Gemma says:

      This is true. I suppose it’s just very easy for me to lose perspective and discount the progress I’ve made when I’m having a bad day or going through a rough patch with my mental health. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

      Yes, the feedback I got from the interview from the temporary sales job was positive, but that was a telephone interview. Oddly, I found the phone interview easier than the face-to-face interview I had earlier this year because I didn’t have to worry about things like eye contact, posture, trying to hide my shaking, what my facial expression was doing, or if what I was wearing was okay. I could focus a bit better on just answering the questions.

      I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Would employers rather have someone who has such a strong handshake that they dislocate their shoulder? Apparently it’s because a weak handshake indicates that someone is timid and lacks confidence. It makes me mad that outgoing people are seen as superior to shy people in western culture.

  3. Without meaning to sound trite, things will hopefully get easier and you seem to be doing lots of positive things to defeat social anxiety. Also, I would echo the sentiments of the above poster. 10 years ago, I would be selectively mute in group situations, start sweating and shaking before receiving/making a phone call, and rarely leave the house apart from school.

    Looking back now, aged 29 years, there are some massive things I’ve accomplished which I never thought possible 10 years ago. This has included travelling abroad to foreign countries on my own, meeting strangers on the internet to go cycling with, and even performing stand-up comedy in front of 200 people at The Stand, in Edinburgh. I still retain some anxiety, but it does not encumber my life as much as before. Of course, there was nothing physically preventing me from doing those things, just the psychological prison I had constructed for myself. A combination of medication, therapy and forcing myself into antigenic situations helped slowly chip away at those prison walls.

    Finally, the following thoughts: – “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing after my degree. I don’t even know why I’m doing this degree,” are completely normal for everyone (anxious or otherwise). Hell, lots of people in their thirties still harbour these feelings. If you like your degree, have you considered academia? It seems much more meritocratic, so silly things like handshake and bad posture pale in significance compared to academic ability.

    Keep fighting and take small steps out of your comfort zone. Then, every so often, reflect upon how much you have regressed or, more likely, improved.

    Apologies for the overly long comment!

    • Gemma says:

      That’s incredible that you did stand-up comedy in front of that many people despite your anxiety. One of my online friends (the one who lives in Edinburgh) mentioned a stand-up comedy course that he’s doing at the moment. We’re both agreed that it could really help me if I could somehow find the courage to do it. If I can keep improving, I might do so in a year or two.

      I do take some small comfort in the fact that I’m certainly not the only one with those thoughts, though it does still worry me. I have considered going into research but I’m not sure if I would cope with doing a Masters/ PhD. And I’d still be pushed very hard anxiety-wise if I went down that road. I could never lecture and I’d find it extremely difficult to have to present my findings to other people.

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that you’ve been able to overcome much of your anxiety over the years. I’ll keep fighting.

  4. The Blonette says:

    Once again I could’ve wrote this! I haven’t even got to uni yet but I feel the apprehension about job searching already. I too want to travel on my own but feel like it’s impossible, I really want to work/live overseas but I don’t see how right now 😦 Same page with the whole driving shebang.

    • Gemma says:

      Hopefully it will be possible for you to travel one day. I suppose we just have to build up to these things one baby step at a time. It seems that you’re having to deal with a lot of stress lately so my advice (and this is probably very hypocritical of me) is to not worry/ think too much about driving/ travel at the moment. I’m sure we’ll both get there eventually.

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