Anxiety at Work: the Monster Returns

woman underwater

source: http://activerain.com

The monster returns. Last night I did an extra half shift in the Emergency Department to pick up some extra hours, and I had anxiety at work like a nuclear bomb. It was horrible. The shift started at 7pm and went till 1am.

The day at home was uneventful. Boring. I took the dog to the park, did a few errands, watched some TV. Started getting antsy, but no real trigger feelings going on. I was well rested, not hungry, not pms, not sick…

When I got to work I went to my locker to change, and started talking to one of my work friends. She went on and on about what she did the weekend before. I felt a zing of anxiety and heat up my back. I started walking down the hall to the ER, hoping she would go away. She kept walking right along side me. She kept going on and on and on and on.

With anxiety rising, I opened the door to the nursing unit and walked in. Chatter box never missed a step. she kept going on and on and on and on and on… Everyone at the nursing station looks up at us.

Then it happened. Full on, gut wrenching, 10 out of 10 full on emergency PANIC attack…and then another one, and then another one. It felt never ending.

Holy shit, holy shit. I have to leave. I cannot work. I have to leave now.

Friend: talk talk talk talking talking chatter chatter….

I’m going to die. I am having a f#cking heart attack right here. I’m going to cardiac arrest if I don’t get out of here. I cannot stay here. Oh F#CK!!

Friend: “Ok Jill, see you later!” (leaves)

Panic Attack Aftermath…

I’m standing there feeling 100% vulnerable and sensitized. I am out of my mind with panic and anxiety and now I have to work and think?

I feel like my mind is going to break.

I had cold sweat going down my back. My face felt flushed. I didn’t know what to do. To make matters worse there were hardly any patients there. Which means everyone was just sitting around doing small talk at the nurses station.


I cant breathe, I can’t swallow, I can’t think. I’m going to fall over, I cant walk. I want to die. I hate this…

If someone asks me a question I will die. I won’t be able to answer. I will not be able to form words or speak. Please please don’t anyone talk to me…

Someone is showing pictures of her daughter’s fender bender on her iPhone. I pretend to look and I hear myself say, “Oh my gosh, that’s so scary” but I am a million miles away.

Voice of Reason: You poor thing! You need to stay, it really will go away. Give yourself a chance.

Jill: I cannot stay here even one second longer. I have never ever felt this bad in my life. Never. I am going to the loony bin for sure. This is the worst I have ever felt in my life. It hasn’t ever been this bad.

Voice of Reason: Well it certainly feels that way. You really haven’t had a doozy like this one in quite awhile.

Jill: What does that say about me? I’m supposed to be GETTING BETTER! This sucks so bad. Why the fuck did this happen? God I hate this!! I really really really thought I was getting better!!!!!!!

Voice of Reason: You are getting better. This is just a setback. I promise, you will be ok.

I’m happy to say that I finished my shift, but man was I spent. The first 50 minutes were almost unbearable, and it stayed weird for the first 2 hours. I had to pull out every tool in my toolbox not to lose it on the spot. I had to reign in my thinking after it exploded all over the place and bring myself back down to earth.

I felt like I was noticeably shaking when I took care of the first few patients. No one said anything, but man, it really was awful. There is no way to sugarcoat this experience. I really haven’t felt this bad in a long ass time.

Once I started feeling better I really wanted to cry. What a cruel thing anxiety is. It really wreaks havoc.

This morning I still feel strange that I had such a massive panic attack. But I know I will be ok. I’m not in a great mood, but this is no time to get on the pity pot.

I was almost not going to even share this with you. I felt sort of embarrassed because I have been on such a positive roll lately. But I had to share it. I can’t lie about this.

I re-read this post to remind me what I need to do going forward: Braving Anxiety at Work.

And I re-read this post to give me the motivation I need: Self Motivation for Anxiety Recovery.

I am going to take the bull by the horns and be fully mentally prepared the next time I have to work.

Ok that’s it for today. God bless everyone who has to deal with anxiety at work. I am feeling so compassionate for myself, and for how I’ve had to suffer with this in the past. No wonder I was jacked up on meds. I would traded places with my numb old self last night during those 2 hours in a heartbeat. (well not really, but…)

But thank God it passed. Thank God I am recovering. Still in the trenches with you and praying for yours and my well being.

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

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9 Responses to Anxiety at Work: the Monster Returns

  1. Pam says:

    Jill, I am so glad that you are coming through this. I had written you a while back about my new job (I’m an RN also) well unlike you I did not make it. I had to quit yet another job because of anxiety. I’m not sure if I will ever work as a nurse again, it is just to anxiety provoking for me.
    Be very, very proud of yourself. You are coming through this and are going to beat anxiety, you are such a strong person.
    God bless,
    Pam

    • JillG says:

      Oh Pam (((hugs))). I know how that is. Listen, right now you say you don’t know, and I felt that way too after quitting my last job. Give yourself time to heal. Blessings to you and thank you for the kind comment!

  2. Terra says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps to know set backs do not define us. I admire the courage it took to keep at it…good for you! Isn’t that the most annoying part how it creeps up on us when we least expect it? As weird as it sounds, anxiety makes me a better woman….I am so much more sensitive to others than I ever was before…for that I am grateful. :) Have a blessed day!

  3. maz says:

    Omg Jill great big pat on the back to you for digging in and seeing it through. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come and how you kick it up the ass. I think this is all we can do kick it up the ass and pit one step infront of the other and keep moving forward. By the way had a hard one myself today nearly dropped the boss off and drove myself to the ER chest pains didn’t still got them but haven’t dropped yet thank god

    You stay strong girl am proud of you

    Maz x

  4. Tonya says:

    Thank you Jill for your honesty and sharing your story with us. I have to be honest and admit I felt really jealous when you said you were doing better, isn’t that really shitty of me, I’m sorry for that, I am so desperate for a cure, I hate this so much! I had a really bad day today too and it so sucks when you start to feel better and it comes back. How do you stay positive? I get really discouraged and frustrated and angry! I feel like I have pushed everyone away that loves me because no one understands how horrible this feels. I feel like I pretend to be happy all the time when I am miserable inside. Rereading your posts really encourages me. Thank you so much! Hope you have a better week!

  5. Megan says:

    Jill-
    I too am a nurse, and I too suffer with debilitating anxiety. I have found that once I figure out and am finally ok with my anxiety symptoms, they switch- attempting to fool me once again into thinking I am dying or going crazy.

    The other day at work- after discussing childhood traumas with a co-worker I felt my ears go numb and couldn’t hear for a second. I thought I was going to passout- (this all happened in morning report). I drove myself to the hospital- only to find what I have been told LITERALLY A MILLION TIMES BEFORE… there is NOTHING wrong with my heart.. yes I have palpitations.. but they are benign… maybe I had a vagal response.. but the more I think about it. .the more I am convinced that it is anxiety.. because now- I can’t go into work without feeling my face get numb – which doesn’t happen at home.. so I am once again left feeling as if anxiety has gotten the better of me….

    What a cruel thing to be cursed with. I am a hospice nurse and I think of all the people who would rather have anxiety than live with whatever it is that is killing them.. and I so selfishly think – but at least they KNOW.. THEY KNOW WHAT IS WRONG… me – I’m left to guess day by day if this is anxiety or really my last breath.

    It helps to know that I am not alone- but I don’t have many friends that understand. I work night shifts and on Sunday I am switching to pm’s .. I’m hoping a regular sleeping, eating, working, and exercise schedule with help me.. but I fear everyday that this is “unrecoverable”….

    Thank you so much for your story..

    Megan

    • JillG says:

      Hi Megan,

      I’m sorry you are suffering. I have discovered the same thing in my life- that what makes me anxious has morphed over the years. Boo. I guess it kind of makes sense though- lecture halls used to kill me in college, but I’m not in lecture halls anymore, so now it’s more social.

      Since you are having the symptoms when you go to work and the doctors have ruled out cardiac pathology, then it IS anxiety. You have to learn- or rather, re-learn how to be able to get there and make it through the shift. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No- I have done it myself (It took me almost 2 years to be “ok” at my present job.)

      However we are all in different phases of recovery, and everyone needs to discover what works for them, and also how much exposure work they are able to do.

      I am sure that having a regular working, sleeping, & eating schedule will benefit you greatly. Good luck to you, sounds like you are a great asset as a nurse!

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