My story: the next chapter

Apologies for the rambling story but I wanted to put my latest saga into context:

I have been doing quite well for a while, I stil have moments when I feel a bit sad but it doesn't affect me and I can deal with the sadness much better. My anxiety on the other hand, is a very different story.

I've also been quite a self conscious person and I have never liked being the centre of attention but my depression has had a big impact on my confidence so I feel more self conscious about how I look and come across etc. so when I found out I had to go to some big public events for my job the panic sirens in my head immediately went off. My manager has been good and has been trying to reassure me that I'll be fine, but I find it hard to explain to people that unless I have that belief other people's words (as kind as they are) have little meaning, does that make sense? So I have been worrying about these events and trying to work out if I can get out of them, which realistically I can't unless I go off sic which probably wouldn't do me any career favours, only to discover last week that I was mean to be presenting to a group of people on the work I had done recently. My two other colleagues were also told this at the same time and to say we weren't impressed was an understatement. Not only did we not want to present, we certainly we not briefed about what we were presenting and to just how many people would be there. We were led to believe that it would be a small internal group. Wrong, at least 50 people who thought they knew better than us were there. I was terrified but it was too late to back out without causing a scene. My legs were shaking before I'd even got to my part, I rushed through and could feel my legs and voice shaking. It was horrific. I was so angry and upset that I'd been put in that position. I had to leave after that as I could feel tears in my eyes.

Now I'm hiding away under the duvet not wanting to face the world. It's sad that a few hours on a Friday morning has had such an impact on my emotions and has stopped me from being 'me' again.

I think the most frustrating part of depression and anxiety is how easily your recovery can be tainted and how quickly you revert back feeling low when it takes such a long time to pick yourself up and get back to 'normal'

Tomorrow is of course another day and hopefully I will feel a bit stronger and at least make it out to face the world x

6 Replies

  • Hi Katie, Oh how awful stresses at work can be when they demand things of our personality that we don't do naturally. It sounds as though despite your fear and anxiety you did get through but at a price in that it sounds as though you found it almost traumatic? I used to feel like that sometimes before I did a teacher training (not realising that teaching meant standing in front of a class - how did I not realise that!). It is difficult to be in such a public position when it doesn't come naturally to you. You say it was horrific and I'm wondering what the thinking behind your distressed feelings is about, whether it was about getting it wrong, not being good enough, being looked at, being tongue-tied and not knowing what to say, etc. If you can begin to think about the experience it may help the feelings to ease a little. If you have to do a similar presentation again it might be worth asking your GP for beta blockers. I took them when I first started to teach because I was so terrified about being looked at and everyone waiting to hear what I said, also I made sure everything I needed to say was written down in very clear outline form, then made myself be detached from the audience, just look fractionally above everyone's head and talk clearly, fairly slowly and confidently. I found the beta blockers enabled me to do that which relieved the anxiety and after two presentations I was able to talk without the beta blockers although I always relied upon written information that I could fall back on if I became anxious for some reason. Do hold onto the fact that you did the presentation DESPITE feeling so anxious, which is a sign of how strong you are. You will probably feel better once you are back at work and can share your feelings about how awful you felt, probably you will find other people tell you how they feel the same when they have to present and also that they enjoyed what you presented. I remember curling up with shame inside when I had to talk to a simple seminar group in response to a tutor's question, apologised to him afterwards and he said that I was the only one who said anything worth listening to! We are SO hard on ourselves sometimes which is why we become depressed so easily. Hide under the duvet and remind yourself that you DID the presentation and can do it again, that each time it gets easier and that one day you may come to like having an audience who think what you have to say is interesting - I'm sure they did think that. Give yourself a big cuddle from me, Suexxx

  • Hi Sue, I used to give presentations to large audiences in previous jobs but because I've also felt that I've never got on well with this job and don't feel good enough to do it at times. I was nervouse about getting things wrong (and all of the above), it didn't help that my colleague who is also calm in these things faced difficult questions from the audience who were very rude to him and just watching him made me more nervous. I think if I was fully prepared for the situation I could have either calmed myself down or asked my manager to take my place before hand. Since then, I haven't managed to completely relax which has been pretty exhausting. But I don't want to give up and I am determined that one day (hopefully soon) I will be able to do the things that didn't phase me.

    We really are too hard on ourselves, and Sue you always have excellent advice so I'm sure you are great at talking in front of people - even if you don't realise it yourself!!

    Katie x x x

  • Hi Katie, your last sentence also applies to you! Take care and don't be hard on yourself. Suexx

  • All sounds quite horrendous. Good that you got through it - bad that you had to go through it.

    Tomorrow is definitely another day.

    Had a panic attack at work last week and just had to walk out of a meeting as a result ... and remind myself that I needed to breath as I headed out of the building to get some space and try to calm down. Had to reschedule the meeting - had it yesterday and attempt 2 went fine (probaby because I was post- rather than pre-menstral).

    You sound like a really strong person to have actually managed to go through and do the presentation the way you felt.

  • HI Katie,

    I wont add much as what Sue said really sums it up. Remember you got through it, you did not run out the door, you did ok. When we are stressed our percecption of how we did or performed can be skewed, we put that dirty window filter on. We are all so hard on ourselves. I had a very good therapist a few years ago and she said to try and apply the Good enough maxim to ourselves. I do this as I am very critical of myself even in silly things like keeping my apartment clean and organised.

    The more you face your fears and issues with presentations the stronger you will get,

    you wlll be great, so have your duvet snuggle time and pat yourself on the back for your performance in spite of your anxiety.

    Take care of yourself.


  • Thanks everyone. I know I am hard on myself and I do find it hard to accept praise ad compliments, unless I believe it, it isn't true, if that makes sense.

    I promised my friend that I would try and go to work today. I think sometimes I need that kind of motivation to get me there. I only managed until lunchtime though and came home feeling very tearful. I realised that I'm not always great at explaining things in words because I often end up getting tearful if I try and talk and sort of shrug things off a bit so I emailed my manager when I got back and explained how I am feeling, how I feel about work and how I want to move forward. I think it helped but I will find out tomorrow!!

    X x

You may also like...