Let me see if I can properly define what is going on... anxiety is so hard sometimes to just pinpoint it to one thing or another. Which can make coping with it even more difficult sometimes.
I've been working where I currently am for the past 6 years. This is my first "professional" job, but it is not my career, even though I've kind of made it that way. I went to school for music business, but now I'm working at a mail order pharmacy programming databases. I don't even know what my "dream career" would be, but I know that ideally, I'd like to never work. I'm totally fine just being at home all the time, keeping the house clean, managing the home, being with other stay at home mom's, and socializing. My husband and I have no children, just 4 cats and a dog.
When I first started working here, I was very anxious about going back to work. I had had a horrible experience in college with a student manager who shook my confidence and rattled my cages constantly about the work that I did. She rode my ass constantly. She was admitedly jealous of the skills I had, the connections I had in the music business which she didn't possess, and I was younger than her which added more to her insercurities. She believed that since she was older, she should be the one with more capabilities/connections/etc, not the other way around.
She would give me projects that I was doomed to fail on providing me with unrealistic expectations. When she found out that I was next in line to be the campus concert coordinator, she grew even more jealous. She'd start name calling, making me work ridiculous shifts, giving me the hardest jobs possible to "get even". I took this all in stride until I finally started cracking. I could no longer keep up with the work she was giving me. I felt sick all the time from the anxiety of not being able to do anything right. I was anxious because she continually gave me poor reviews to our boss, even though I was doing as I was told by her, but she'd twist it so that I was ruining the project instead of helping the project. My life was hell. Eventually, at the end of my internship, I had ruined any chances of becoming the student manager for the record label. I couldn't accept the role of concert coordinator, and my anxiety was so horrible, I couldn't get out of bed in the mornings.
I dropped out of college, discontinued my degree in music business, and moved back home. At that time, my mom had just given birth to my little brother. She didn't want to put him in daycare, so I got to stay home with him and be his live-in nanny.
Eventually, I regained the courage to find a new job and move out of my mom's house. I was terrified to work in customer service, as I didn't think I could handle customers yelling at me all day long. I also knew I didn't want to be tethered to a phone all day either. My uncle told me about a position where I was making the calls to doctor's offices to obtain prescriptions. No customers, just doctors. I could handle that. And I did.
I was successful with the new job. At first my attendance was shaky because my stomach hurts whenever I get nervous. I didn't realize until I was about 23 or 24 that my stomach pains weren't from a virus, but from nervousness. I invested in gum and mints to help soothe my stomach, and ease my nerves. I also learned to tough it out through my nervousness, and was able to stay at work for full days. Working through that anxiety helped me to work my way up to where I currently am.
However, I have a new problem. During the past 5 years I've gone from calling doctors to calling customers (i.e. patients). I was OK with calling the patients, because by that time I had figured out what to expect from the phone calls, so making the calls wasn't nerve wracking at all. I did however regain a passion to go back to college and obtain a degree in something.
I started taking courses in Information Technology. I don't even know what I want to do with a degree in IT, but I know it pays well, and it's a field of work that will never go away. While taking courses, I learned that I have quite a knack for programming. I used to build websites when I was younger, and had pretty good success with it. I never thought I'd be building actual programs though.
Well, my knack for programming transferred to my daytime job. Eventually, I was able to build programs utilizing MS Access and VBA code. After 3 years of working both on the phones and trying to keep up with all the requests for databases, I was taken off the phones. I was given my first business trip including a company credit card, and everything. It felt like things were slowly falling into place.
Upon my return though, I realized how important I was to this company, and how impactful my work actually was. I panicked.
Instead of working on my programs day-to-day as I should have been, I shut down. I stopped working on anything and started playing games, surfing the 'net, and ocassionally fixing programs here and there, but never actually building anything. Anytime I built something, and someone told me it didn't work, it shook my confidence even further.
So I found that if I didn't work on my databases as I should be, and if I avoided working on anything, I was safe. That was back in April of 2010. I am still continuing this pattern. My supervisor (both my old one and my new one) has no way of tracking what I actually do. As long as I'm putting out some degree of work, and showing up to work, they don't care. As long as I follow up with emails, meetings, phone calls, etc, and show people that I've made some kind of progress, they don't care.
Now, within the last year, I have completed a few projects. So just enough to get by that I am actually working. but not nearly as much as I should be doing. It drives my counselor insane that not only am I getting away with this, but that I have so little regard for doing work and taking pride in having a job.
I took a 6 week medical leave of absence through the month of February thinking that maybe an extended break was what I needed to feel better. While I felt better when I got back, and I was able to do some work, my colleagues just kept piling the work on and I'm back to where I currently am. I'm up to my eyeballs in projects, I feel like I can't do anything right because all I get is negative feedback, and I'm only 1 programmer out of the 3 we used to have.
I realize that "shutting down" and screwing around doesn't help anything. I'd like to be able to quit, but there's no where else I can go where I will have this flexible of a schedule. My psychiatrist said that even if I did get a new job, this will happen all over again, and I'll probably end up never working again.
I'm only 29 years old. I'm too young to go on disability, and I can't give up quite possibly one of the best jobs ever. I just need to know how to deal with the negative feedback on the hard work that I do, so that I don't keep myself shut down like this. I don't want to lose my job, and I know they don't want to fire me. I almost left the company back in August/September, and they sprang into action to keep me, so it's like I'm literally trapped here.