Am I having anxiety issue?

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    Hi Guys, I think I might have anxiety issue which at the moment, I’m not ready to seek help from the professionals until I figure out what’s wrong with me. I am hoping by sharing with a group, someone with similar situations can actually help me by sharing your thoughts or any coping mechanisms/strategies.

    I’m someone in the mid-thirties. I would describe myself as a person who is generally calm and composed. Im a straight forward person, I say what I think because I think the world is complex enough and I hate wasting time by not coming straight to the point. In terms of stress management, I manage by not worrying about the uncontrollables, prioritising important things, not taking life/work too seriously, manage day by day if its really bad, think positive, dont take people harsh words to heart, be kind to myself even if I failed etc.

    1) So here’s the thing. Since early twenties when im studying really hard and under tremendous stress to pass difficult professional examinations while holding a full time job, I do have tendency to scream at home while studying. This is something that is uncontrollable and kind of like a burst of pent up energy that needs to be released. During years of full time job/part study life, I do go through one long period of depression and even suicidal thoughts. Nobody in my family knows my condition back then, other than thinking “she is just stress over her exams and occasional crazy shouting”.  The suicidal thoughts scare me so I manage by focusing in work and not giving myself additional stress in passing exams by setting a deadline. After I cleared my exams, this screaming stops for a long time. Maybe years.

    2) For first time in my life, I think I’ve had serious issue in 2017 when I join a startup company. I was under tremendous stress, the hours are long, people are not as professional, extremely difficult and tricky to deal with, there are alot of problems thrown onto me to resolve, I’ve no support in that company and constantly felt like I need to figure things out FAST and find solutions immediately. Yet, I’m still driven and also the kind that doesn’t like to quit on difficult situations. In that kind of environment, people kept coming to me with problems throughout the day. I get almost daily anxiety and panic attacks. My heart is always pumping very fast, even after work. I have problem sleeping at night. I take more and more frequent toilet breaks just to cool off and have 5mins of mental break and silence. Im also constantly on tip toe alert for bad people who try to bring me down. After 9 months, I hate to say that I resign because it is simply not the right fit for me and im aware my overall wellbeing is unhealthy. All the above conditions continue to persist for days maybe even up to few weeks even after I left the company because I keep thinking what could I have done better to survive in that kind of environment? I think I just don’t like to give up even if the environment is not doing me any good. I self conclude that this is purely out of stress and tension, but definitely going through some sort of work trauma and anxiety.

    3) My next stress came from a very fast paced and intense work environment. People here are more professional but work can be very overwhelming, highly demanding, very short turnaround time given and zero error tolerance. It is also an environment where they dont accept no as answer. Common cries from people are “we are very swarmed very swarmed!” Many times I have self doubt questions but I quickly dismiss such useless thinking and focus in picking up fast. For first 1 year, I struggled with not just work but with wedding plans, house hunting, renovations, financing etc. I work late almost everyday. Have late dinner. And feel like crashing on bed as soon as im home. I felt Im constantly breathless even if im not working. I start seeing doctor more frequently than ever in my entire life. Symptoms like persistent digestive problems, heart pain, headaches/migraines, shallow breathing all happen to me in just a year. I wonder whats wrong with my body and each time doctor prescribes simple medication, ask if my job is stressful and constantly remind me to drink water. Things started to improve when I start going for chiropractic sessions. After assessment, I was told that my spinal cord is not quite healthy. Scan records and photos show that even at normal standing posture, I am just not standing straight! Over a few months of chiropractic adjustments, I felt that I can breathe better and deeper, I felt freedom in easy body movements and digestive problems seem to improve. My anxiety and panic attacks however still happen on and off at work. Things almost immediately improved right after my contract role with this company ended. I concluded this is again, a result of stress and tension, accumulation of body stress from poor posture ie. long sitting hours with poor sitting posture and constantly looking down at mobile phone. and lack of exercise and poor diet. In general, with so much things going on in my life at same time, I simply have no time to take good care of myself. I think the anxiety I face here is normal and not an disorder..?

    4) Since leaving the above mentioned job, I do not have any anxiety issues. I am very happy even though I do not have a job. Even with the worrying cases of covid19 happening in my country and then followed by the lockdown, I do not feel any extreme anxiety like I do at work. Worry and concern perhaps but Im still rational in thinking and I focus in doing things I enjoy at home. However right after lockdown when I resume job hunting, I felt the stress creeping back. The thought of going back to stressful and fast paced environment just make me depressed knowing that my happy and quiet life is soon to be disrupted again. Deep down I know it is almost impossible to find work life balance jobs these days but I hated the thought of throwing myself back to that kind of torturous life again. Symptoms start showing again by having a few nightmare relating to stressful work, occasional insomnia, sometimes just feeling lethargy and just want to sleep longer and the sudden shout/scream outburst is coming back because I want to shut out negative flashbacks or negative thoughts about stressful working environment. I cope by watching comedies, gardening, positive thinking, doing exercise and eliminating any processed/junk food in diet. Im grateful my spouse did not react in overly negative manner with regards to my sudden screaming outbursts. He is however, concerned and share with me some helpline numbers, because you know, in case I need help.

    5) The night before today’s interview, I didn’t sleep the entire night. I lay on bed running through possible interview questions and answers in my mind again and again. I thought Im going crazy here but I know I needed the job so badly, especially during pandemic where many people are unemployed. Right after zoom interview, my interview smile is gone. I change to comfortable home clothes, worry about the competition and outcome of the interview for few seconds before crashing to sleep in the afternoon. I hope I dont sound too crazy in my sharing here. Im constantly reminding myself to take it day by day if the stress/anxiety is too much for me to bear.

    Im very sorry if my post is too lengthy but do you think what im going through is just normal stress/anxiety in day to day life or is this some sort of disorder?


    Dear Strawberry:

    “do you think what I’m going through is just normal stress/ anxiety in day to day life or is this some sort of disorder?”-

    – there is no clear distinction between “normal” and “disorder”- we are all stressed and anxious, some more than others at any particular hour, day, week, or year; some people’s stress and anxiety is particular to a specific situation, such as the workplace situation (which seems to be your case ?), and other people’s anxiety extend to almost all situations in their day-to-day life.

    Mental disorders are artificial categories of symptoms decided by psychiatrists- a way to sort out symptoms into groups so to charge insurance companies in an orderly, efficient way, and so to devise a plan of treatment. In reality, all humans suffer from the same core issues, to different extents, showing an almost endless variety of individuals collections of symptoms caused by those same core issues.

    Is this helpful to you?


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