I am so anxious when it comes to meetings, presentations, one-to-ones with managers and social gatherings. Before a meeting yesterday I tried to tell myself it would be ok, but...I walked in, put down my paper and pen and immediately excused myself as not everybody was there yet.
I went to the toilet and tried to get it together and then went back in. For probably half an hour I was in a totally anxious, panicky, sweaty state. All I could think of was how to excuse myself, get my bag and jacket and leave without having to explain. I was certain that that was what I would have to do...and that even that would go badly. Then there was a new member of staff, so the chair of the meeting wanted to go around the table and have everyone introduce themselves. I was barely able to say my name and my job title.
Very slowly I began to calm down and eventually a member of the group asked me a question and I was just about able to answer it, so further relieved I made it through to the end.
At work meetings and presentations and 'chats' have been increasing dramatically in number and there is really no avoiding them. I had another terrible meeting with a senior manager a few weeks ago. I sat there, writing notes sweating as she and a lady from HR sat there. All of this just makes things worse. These are just two recent examples, this is how my working life is..
As always, it was exhausting and distressing. I am having panic attacks of varying levels every day now. I am awaiting CBT, I had an assessment over the phone and the health worker and supervisor were fairly certain that I have social anxiety/phobia. I have suffered with this since a teen and I am now 38. When I was 26 this took control of my life and nearly entirely ruined it. Then I was lucky enough to meet my wife and we have been together for 7 years and married for 3. With her help and strength and building up belief in myself I was able to go back to work and rebuild some kind of life. But in the last year it has gone from being an issue I could just about cope with to now being very overpowering and upsetting. Last year, I became ill with anaemia and at the same time, very strong feelings of anxiety and panic returned. I had 11 sessions of Clinical Hypnotherapy and some counselling. Neither were as helpful as I had hoped/dreamed. I tried to engage and take it on board, but I don't know, maybe I was unclear in what I said. Sometimes it appears that unless I am experiencing the panic and anxiety in that moment or immediately afterward, then my way of describing it doesn't seem to across as though it were something very frightening or serious. I have spoken to some people over the years, including those at work and when I explain that I have anxiety/panic attacks, they seem surprised and think I am very laid back and relaxed. Which always puzzles me. I have a side of me that is laid back but at work, in particular, I always expect anxiety and panic to arrive at any moment. If it doesn't then I am exhausted from the expectation and if it does I am exhausted and distressed and depressed and upset and...and...you know how it is.