Dealing with Performance Anxiety and Depression as a Web Developer

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Performance anxiety sucks

It has been a year since I had been let go from previous employment and whilst the circumstances were understandable. It really did hit me. Performance anxiety was something which was unexpected and I really thought I was going somewhere with the company. I expected to be there for at least 3 years. When they told me the circumstances, I tried to fight my corner in order to carry on working for them. But because they were struggling themselves, there was nothing that they nor I could do.

My mind was all over the place. Truly, I wanted to go Uni and achieve better results in order for something like this to not happen again. Even though it wasn't my fault, it really felt like it was. I had to keep telling myself that it wasn't my fault and that I can find work somewhere else without needing to go to Uni. Luckily, a company not too far away (literally downstairs) had an open door for someone of my level. I was excited again and turned down the opportunity to better myself at University so I could carry on improving my skills whilst under the watchful eye of the company.

I should feel better...

I already had almost 2 years of professional experience and the only reason I considered University was because I had already been let down by a few companies. I didn't want this to happen again and thought the best option was Uni. My head was literally going round and round in circles as to what I should do.

Then I accepted the position, and whilst working there for 3 months, I went through something I thought I never would... Performance anxiety.

At the time, I didn't realise it, and this was because it wasn't like an instant thing, it was more of a build up. I think on my first week of being with this new company, I was outside and felt the sudden urge to be sick. I ran to the toilet and out it came. As I cycled in that day, I just put it down to exhaustion and dehydration. Not realising that in the back of my mind, I was filling up with worry.

Constantly feeling useless

Then for the rest of my time with this company, I would be sick on the weekends because I was worried that I would walk in and circumstances could change. Whilst working, I would receive emails and in the back of my head, I couldn't help but think it was an email telling me that I'm useless and I'm fired. This was down to the fact that at an earlier stage (more than a year ago), I had a few email exchanges with warnings, then another email regarding a talk.

In this current position, I was the only developer on the team and I believed that my current situation wasn't best suited for someone my level. After 3 months of working there, I decided to jump ship and find another new development place, during my time here I was still going through my anxiety and it was slowly getting worse. If I took a day off, it would kick in and I would be sick and have a restless night's sleep.

Then, it really hit me. So bad, that I started to have random moments where I would just cry. If my partner tried to make me jump or jokingly shout at me. I would burst out into tears and she would worry because of it. It was at this moment, where I decided to take time off and see the doctors. He suggests I speak to someone and try to overcome this anxiety.

It's time to do something

I would then have a phone call with the anxiety helpline and discuss my issues. I found out I had mild anxiety and slight depression. So each week for a month, I would speak to this person and tell her what I'm feeling anxious about, what I'm doing to overcome it and how well I think I'm progressing. It was hugely helpful, but at the same, this place I started working for just didn't feel right for me. The tension and people's moods in the office were too unbearable and they wouldn't take into consideration anything I had to say.

I then thought it was best I find yet another job, somewhere where I felt I could be happy. Since I have been to many interviews now, I felt I could pick up on the atmosphere and find somewhere that not only has nice people but also has a good client base and targets. I had two interviews and chose what I thought was the best out of them. Choosing a place that was right for me helped my anxiety even more, although I still do have days where I struggle, it's nowhere near worrying levels.

How should I carry on?

So, how do we cope with performance anxiety and anxiety in general? Talk about it, it doesn't matter who to. You need to get your worries out in the open and just let it all out. If you're really worried. I strongly suggest you speak to an anxiety helpline who can and will diagnose your issues and help you through your struggles. Being in a nice calming environment also helps. If you're well and truly sick of your job, then you need to find somewhere new. Take time off work and have some interviews. When you receive a phone call confirming your new position, you should then be able to leave your current job.

Through talking about my struggle, I hope to have encouraged anyone reading this to do the same. Let me know your stories and even suggestions on helping get through such tough times.

Also, remember; Development, Programming, Accounting... Pretty much any office job can and will be stressful. Don't let it get you down and if it gets too much, just talk about it.

My personal update on this topic