I recently started a job at an organization I truly do love, but the job I was hired in for, not so much. It is a temporary position for 90 days (no permanent vacancy, they just need help in that department).

Here is some background information before anyone makes a judgment :) Ever since I was little (2nd grade) I have had severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was put in a special school 7th grade because it was so severe it was making me sick to my stomach and causing me to dry heave until I would puke in class. Very embarrassing. Fast forward...I made it through high school and last May I graduated college with honors with a degree in Human Resources. I thought "great, I have outgrew this anxiety/panic attack mess.

So I became a temporary employee at this company and got my first assignment in HR...I take the bus because the company location is about an hour and 20 minutes away...My first day I felt really nervous and panicky...I thought to myself "well it is just first day jitters, you'll be fine" and pushed through...day 2 the same thing...day 3: full on panic attack, sick to my stomach, shaking, crying, etc. I went to employee health and they prescribed me a medication and suggested counseling. I went and spoke to my supervisor because I was going home...she was extremely understanding and we spoke about the potential of me quitting. I told her I did not want a red mark on my employee file because once I get control of my anxiety (which I thought I outgrew and didn't) I wanted to still apply and be eligible to work there again. She told me under these circumstances she would make sure I would be OK to be rehired and eligible for a position and that she felt really bad for me and understood as she once had anxiety too.

I spoke to the HR department who was urging me to resign and go back into the pool or temporary employees to be reassigned. She told me I would still have to report I worked that job for a couple of days on applications to them to make my application honest. Now I worry if I do resign that any recruiter there will look at my applications and not even bother calling me to even see why I left so quickly. The HR rep said that I could explain in a phone screen, but not to try to explain anything on the applications in the future.

I am so torn on what to do...continue to feel sick and anxious while there or quit and get better and try again later on. I do have my old job still, so I wouldn't be unemployed.

Any advice? :(

  • hello, consider editing the question to make it better fit site topics laid out in help center. In particular, this guidance may help to learn what is expected of questions here. Good luck! – gnat Sep 21 '15 at 12:11
  • Yeah my old job doesn't make me anxious...I have been there for almost 5 years and it is within driving distance and with employees I am comfortable with. It's hard to explain why this new job is making me feel this way... – Justin Hall Sep 21 '15 at 12:26
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    Have you seen a qualified counselor or therapist about your anxiety? The Internet is a poor substitute in your situation. About all we will be able to say is, "Go back to your old job where you're happy and seek professional help if you need it to get ahead of where you are now." – Kent A. Sep 21 '15 at 12:31
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    @Lilienthal I didn't leave the permanent job for the temporary job, just cut my hours since my perm job is in the swimming pool industry and it is off season right now...they could use me for 30ish hours a week if I leave the temp job...temp job is technically in my field of education, but I don't see me gaining experience necessary to land a job in HR...its a lot of just data entry for their department. I should have been more clear in my post, sorry. – Justin Hall Sep 21 '15 at 13:14
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    Just voicing my support :) . I know from experience that severe anxiety can, ironically, make it very difficult to get help for severe anxiety. Glad you're getting help! – LindaJeanne Dec 2 '15 at 14:04

I am so torn on what to do...continue to feel sick and anxious while there or quit and get better and try again later on. I do have my old job still, so I wouldn't be unemployed.

Any advice? :(

If you've only been there a few days, I'd advise seeing if you can stick it out a little while longer. If you can bear it for a full week, then reassess. You may find that you are willing to try to stand another week. You might eventually find that the anxiety lessens over time and you will have overcome a significant personal hurdle - and can them feel great about a huge personal accomplishment.

Know that anxiety in a new job is very, very common - even for folks without your history.

Your level of sickness and individual tolerance is something only you can decide. So, if your sickness is too much to bear then quit.

Focus on getting professional help you may need to eventually overcome your issues. Since you have a job that doesn't make you ill, you are far better off than many people in a similar situation. Take advantage of this situation and use it to make things better for yourself in the long run.

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I've suffered from crippling anxiety since my early teens, to the point that I once took a month off high school because I wasn't coping. After I started my first job, I was coping even less, despite loving said job. So I finally went to the doctor, who referred me to to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with social anxiety and depression. Therapy didn't really help, but the medication I was prescribed did. I've now been in these meds for a decade and can't begin to explain how my life has changed for the better. I only wish I'd been diagnosed earlier.

My point is that lifelong, crippling anxiety that prevents you from functioning is not normal and it's not something that will "get better" on its own. You need to see a doctor ASAP. Getting things back on track definitely won't be instant, so I would recommend quitting this temp job so that you can concentrate on recovering your health. Don't be ashamed about doing so; this isn't a failure, it's an investment in your long-term health and wellness.

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    +1 for this isn't a failure, it's an investment in your long-term health and wellness. – Martijn Dec 2 '15 at 13:03

You are doing temp work, and temp work is exactly that, temporary.

The hope is that you will do your 90 days, but it is the most non-committal kind of work there is, and if either party terminates the assignment early, little to no grudges are held.

Sure, it doesn't look great when you have a 3 day assignment, but what does that mean? It didn't work out. That simple.

I can relate. I have anxiety too. My history isn't as bad as you, but a severe worsening of my anxiety disorders in my late 20s have lead to a lot of 1-4 week work history entries. Perm positions, contract, temp, you name it, it's on my resume with an awkwardly short term.

They don't help, but they are not a death knell for your career. God would never be so kind as to let you never work again.

If it comes up in the interview "why the short term work assignments?" your answer is "it just wasn't a good fit, and it didn't work out." That easy. Any competent interviewer will leave it at that and draw their conclusion either way. If they are inept enough to push "but what didn't work out?" "It was just poor timing on both counts." Just stay vague and confident. Make it not a big deal.

Hang in there. Seek therapy and see if you can get on a good medication to help control your anxiety. Its hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


I am so torn on what to do...continue to feel sick and anxious while there or quit and get better and try again later on. I do have my old job still, so I wouldn't be unemployed.

Any advice? :(

My first thought is that the treatment for social/generalized anxiety disorder is exposure therapy. If you can ride it out, then that is the best thing. The problem is that it is VERY hard to do alone. You generally need a therapist to guide you through the process.

Remember that these things can impact your health in major ways. It is a medical condition, like a broken leg, and you cant just keep trying to march forward on your broken leg without help. You need treatment, and then you need PT.

If you can get in with a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist quick, then you might be able to hang onto this one, but if you need to step back from the assignment to get started on your recovery before you take on your personal Everest, worse things have happened.

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  • "God would never be so kind as to let you never work again." - I lol'ed at that. +1 – AndreiROM Nov 11 '15 at 19:56
  • While I understand and like your answer, and believe you have a very valid point regarding riding it out, I would be very careful in making any sort of judgement call on God's intentions based on an individual's experience. By definition, God's intentions are unknown to us, and if someone did not find a job, it would not necessarily mean that God was not looking out for them one way or another. – Juan Carlos Coto Dec 2 '15 at 13:20
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    @Juan Carlos Coto It was just a funny aside. Please do not take my commentary as anything actually theological. It is 100% humor. – user2989297 Dec 2 '15 at 15:55
  • @user2989297 ah, that's cool, I didn't get it :) – Juan Carlos Coto Dec 2 '15 at 18:06
  • @user2989297 daaaaamn I just read the double negation. That IS a good joke, I totally put my foot in my mouth on this one. Sorry!! – Juan Carlos Coto Dec 2 '15 at 19:33

Leave the job and seek professional help. As you've stated, you still have a job. If you are more comfortable and content at your old job then sticking with them would be best. Working while consistently having panic and/or anxiety attacks on that job wouldn't be recommended. This is why the temporary job was pushing you to resign/quit.

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I'm going to approach this from the anxiety side.

I've had a period where I had to face the about same challanges as you describe, with the ability to surpress it to a certain extent ("well it is just first day jitters, you'll be fine"). I'm asuming you have professional help. If not, get it!

I've found that surpressing only builds up to a breakingpoint. Those first two days, you keep it down, use high amounts of energy to not loose it. The problem is that the energy will deplete, which brings us to day 3:
No energy left and a lot of overdue thoughs and chemicals to be processed -> Breakdown.

Do not just quit. I'm kinda bothered by the answers telling you to do that, continueing to maintain a job while having these challenges is huge!
What I think you should do is talk to your boss/manager/hr and explain the situation. I've found that people think that these mental issues are people who just need to toughen up a little (and "Why don't you try to smile more?") and they have little understanding.

Stick to facts. Depression isn't just a state of mind, it's a chemical inbalance and you can't be 100% in control of it. You need to emphisize that you are giving it the best you've got given the circumstances adn that when you settle a bit your results will improve.

It's also important to try to think of solutions which might work.
Think hard about what specifically creates a problem and try to solve thát.
Is it the new job? Think of ways how to make that less stressful.
Is it the new colleages? Explain that you prefer meeeting these people one at a time, preferrably make a few people familiar first so they can help you.
Is it too noisy? Create a workplace in a calmer part of the office. Make sure you don't seclude yourself though!

Quitting is always an option. Try to make the most of it, maybe these people are very understanding and you keep a great job. Maybe they're dicks about it, but then you'll know what didn't work.

Apart from all of the above, good luck with the mindstorms :)

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Not a complete answer, but something to consider in your action:

You said that HR urged you to quit. Remember that they do not act in your best interest. They act in the best interest of their company.

You have an illness, which is unfortunate for you and for the company. But there is no reason for you to worry about the company, they can handle whatever additional cost they have to employ you, and they are likely required by law to handle this.

That's why HR asks you to quit: They have no right to fire you because of your illness. But if you quit yourself voluntarily then they are saving their company the money and trouble employing you. And that is absolutely against your interest. In your decision, decide on what's best for you. Not what's best for anyone else, especially this company. So ignore any bad advice from HR.

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