We all get anxious when it comes to our jobs, however Anxiety Disease – also called Anxiety Disorder can lead to missing too much time from work, leaving work early, or ultimately losing your job.
Many people aren’t aware they have Anxiety disorder until their symptoms worsen. Most people with Anxiety Disorder have had a degree of it their entire lives, and without proper treatment, the symptoms intensify with age. When symptoms of anxiety begin to intensify; those symptoms will begin to affect your job.
I began working as a Respiratory Technician when I was 19 years old. I loved my job! I was so proud of myself at the young age of 19 years old to be working with trauma patients in the Emergency Room, and Intensive Care. I was proud that I was learning so much, and at a fast pace. I enjoyed my one on one time with patients who needed breathing treatments. I even enjoyed charting. I got a long well with the many Physician’s we had to interact with, which is very important when you are working in the Medical Field. I must admit, when we were called to the Emergency Room stat, a rush of adrenaline would over come me. I believe that ‘rush’ helped me to cope during some very difficult trauma’s we would face. When you heard the stat page to ER, you never knew what you were going to see until you walked into the Emergency Room.
One afternoon we received a stat page to the Emergency Room, and we were told that there were two cold water drowning victims that would be transported in. The patients were still in the water, so we had to set up our equipment in order to be ready when the Paramedics brought the patients in. We were told to go back to our floors and continue our treatments there until we got the call that the patients were en-route.
I was working, and suddenly hear my name being paged stat by the hospital operator. I picked up the page, and it was the Emergency Room Supervisor; she asked which floor I was working on, and asked me to meet her at the end of the hall. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to meet me, because she was not my supervisor. I met her, and I will never forget the words she spoke.
“Lisa, your brother is one of the cold water drowning victims!” I panicked, and asked where he was? The Nursing Supervisor told me, “He’s in ER in shock, and he needs you.” At this point I was beginning to feel tears well up, and I asked her who was with him in the water? She told me “Bobby something.” I spouted off a last name, and she said, “Yes, that’s his name.”
At this point I ran to the Emergency room to be with my brother who was in shock. Bobby was brought in approximately 20 minutes later and sadly, he did not make it.
After this incident, every time we received a stat page to the Emergency room I would begin to get dizzy, worry it was going to be someone I knew, feel nauseated and just want to run in the other direction- out the door!
As time progressed so did my symptoms. I decided I needed something less stressful, so I transferred to our Cardiac Lab, and thought that would make life much easier. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I began having panic attacks in the form of extreme dizziness which I felt I was going to pass out from. The panic attacks would come on without any precipitating factors. I thought I had a serious illness, because they were so frequent; I didn’t know anything about Panic attacks at the time. Panic attacks can present with many different symptoms.
After seeing many different Physician’s for my dizziness, along with other symptoms it was determined I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It was time for me to reassess my life.
The good news is there is treatment, and many people will have to make life style changes that are conducive to their own health. A life style change may mean a change in career as well. In my case it was determined that a chain of events (seeing people die, in particular my brother’s friend), opened up a can of worms, because I had lost my father 8 years prior to working in Respiratory Therapy. I also found out later on that I did not go through all the stages of grief; factor in the fact that Anxiety Disease is not due to a person being nervous- According to the Cleveland Clinic.
“Like certain illnesses, such as diabetes, anxiety disorders might be caused by chemical imbalances in the body. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the balance of chemicals in the brain that control mood. Studies also have shown that anxiety disorders run in families, which means that they can be inherited from one or both parents, like hair or eye color. In addition, certain environmental factors—such as a trauma or significant event—might trigger an anxiety disorder in people who have an inherited susceptibility to developing the disorder.”
The good news IS- there is life , and employment beyond the disease, and you are not alone.
Anxiety disorders “affect about 40 million adult Americans.They are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. They occur more often in women than in men.”
With proper treatment, early recognition and even employers who educate themselves, you do not need to give up your day job. Don’t be afraid to speak about it, because it’s an illness just like diabetes, thyroid disease etc… , there is no shame in having any illness. The only shame is when it’s untreated, or not recognized.
I have found over the years that it’s good to be open with those you can trust. They may not fully understand what you are going through, but this is the case with any illness when another has not experienced it, yet a good employer along with a good support system outside of your job will help you to over come obstacles you may have thought were not possible. Remember, with diligence, and faith in yourself anything is possible. Never give up, and never think you are not worth it! And, what I have found works very well for me & it’s proven to work for many is some form or exercise or relaxation techniques. Exercise increases endorphin’s, and reduces stress/anxiety.
Remember, with support, treatment, education, and understanding; You’ve got this!