Silhoutte of a person dealing with performance anxiety

Dealing with Performance Anxiety and Depression as a Web Developer [1]


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 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 to work 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 to Uni and achieve better results for something like this not to 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. Once again, I was excited and turned down the opportunity to better myself at University. This was so I could carry on improving my skills whilst under the watchful eye of the company.

Why do I not feel better?

I already had almost 2 years of professional experience, and the only reason I considered University was because a few companies had already let me down. 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.

Performance anxiety is constantly making me feel 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 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 at 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 performance 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 performance anxiety.

It’s time to do something and beat performance anxiety

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 performance 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, talk about it.

Does performance anxiety affect me in any other way?

Yes, it does. When I’m working out or competing, I often feel like what I’m doing isn’t good enough. Sometimes, my breathing will go faster and faster, but most of the time, I can feel it coming and respond accordingly.

CBT could be helpful for you

The NHS recommends CBT which has also helped me out in the past. It’s worth exploring and seeing how it can help you.

Do you recommend andy books?

My favourite recommendation is The Practice of Groundedness which has allowed me to create healthy habits such as meditation, removing distractions and much more.

What are the symptoms of performance anxiety?

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Fast or shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty controlling bladder
  • Unsettled stomach
  • Vision changes
  • Sweating
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Chills
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Increased alertness
  • Thoughts of fear of failure
  • Thoughts of negative outcomes of perceived failure
  • Difficulty being open to different thoughts
  • Behavior changes
  • Feeling of loss of control
  • Decision not to complete the task

How do you fix performance anxiety?

There’s no fix for performance anxiety, or anxiety in general, but you can find ways to cope. Here are some personal experiences that have helped.

Child battling their demons and performance anxiety

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