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To ask what job you do if you have social anxiety?

(59 Posts)
hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 16:02:37

Also if you don't have a degree (dropped out because of the anxiety).

Everything I've done before involved working around people and I'm not sure if I can handle that anymore, I had a bit of a breakdown last year because of it.

I'd love to do something like proofreading but not sure about freelance work, also don't think I would get any since I don't have experience or a degree.

So, if you have social anxiety, or even if you just hate people, what do you do?

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 16:58:19


Dawndonna Mon 13-May-13 17:01:48

I have a friend who works in a primary school, helping kids with anxiety. She really enjoys it.

RainbowSpiral Mon 13-May-13 17:07:51

working with computers? Certainly a lot of the guys who do computing analysis stuff at work only deal with computers and people via email.

LimitedEditionLady Mon 13-May-13 17:09:37

Somewhere very calm and not claustaphobic.carer?would a job which focuses you on someone else help to keep you occupied?people have different sorts of anxiety and you not like big groups of people?is it meeting lots of new people?build on it op

UptheChimney Mon 13-May-13 17:10:15

Get some sort of therapeutic remedy -- counselling, medication -- for the social anxirety. It's crippling your life and you haven't got the qualifications you could/should have. Try to do something about the anxiety, and then you'll have many more options for work.

LimitedEditionLady Mon 13-May-13 17:11:17

Can you be in a place near people if you work independently?do you need to have flexible hours or will fixed times relax you?

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 17:12:39

Dawndonna, do you know what qualifications she has? I wouldn't mind doing something like that if it's one to one, I think I had something similar myself in primary school.

RainbowSpiral, that's something else I'd quite like to do but have nowhere near good enough computer skills.

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 17:16:49

LimitedEditionLady, I've looked at vacancies for caring jobs, they all seem to need qualifications and a driving licence, neither of which I have.

UptheChimney I'm on medication, just switched to a new one because the old one wasn't working. My GP referred me for counselling over a year ago, still haven't heard anything back about that.

UptheChimney Mon 13-May-13 17:18:33

It really sounds as though you need to develop your skills. It's a pity you couldn't finish your degree. Did you have a disability plan when you did it? If your disability is diagnosed & acknowledged by your college or university, they can provide assistance with it, so you're on a more level-playing field with other students.

Dawndonna Mon 13-May-13 17:19:33

She actually has a degree in psychology, but she can't cope with using that, so she's doing the teaching assistant training through the school. I did just check with her on faceache, she started as a volunteer.

manicinsomniac Mon 13-May-13 17:26:15

something with animals or the environment?

how are you over the phone? - if you're ok then marketing, call centre type stuff?

HGV driver?!? (seriously, that sounds flippant but my uncle did this for a couple of years after a breakdown and said the long hours alone on the road were the best therapy in the world.)

raisah Mon 13-May-13 17:30:39

is the caring profession the right one for you if you suffer from social anxiety. maybe a job that involves setting up systems and processes such as an IT analyst would be more appropriate. As you know what your triggers are, try developing strategies to counteract them. Chase up your GP for the counselling /CBT as it will greatly improve your quality of life.

Can you do an open university degree thereby minimising the social interaction required.

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 17:47:52

In the long term I'll definitely try to get some actual qualifications, but I really can't afford to do that right now. I also know it's better to actually deal with the social anxiety rather than try to work around it, but it's pretty severe and I've had it since I was really young, so that'll probably take a while as well.

I've been applying for loads of things like office assistant and data entryjobs, but not getting any replies. I'm still applying for things like shop assistant, because they're the only ones I have any hope of getting, and have had a few interviews but managed to screw those up as well somehow.

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 18:01:11

UptheChimney I didn't have a diagnosis until after I dropped out

Dolallytats Mon 13-May-13 18:14:14

Hexagonal, if your GP is taking too long with the referral you could see if you have a branch of Mind near you. They offer counselling for a variety of issues. Also there are some anxiety charities that offer a sliding scale of fees, which means that paying for therapy may be an option (not that you said it wasn't, just that it can be very expensive).

If you are anywhere near East London, there is an organisation called Anxiety Care that offer this as well as some group therapies (I know you have social anxiety, but this might be an option at some point).

I also dropped out of university after starting to get panic attacks and it is something I really regret. I was half way through and can't help thinking that I should be a teacher by now instead of barely being able to walk to the end of my road.

Is there any way you could continue your degree with the Open University. As far as I am aware you can transfer the credits you have already got.

Good luck.

MiaowTheCat Mon 13-May-13 18:20:40

I worked in education - daft as it sounds I found that working with kids, plus the "Miss" thing really helped - I could mentally put my "Miss suit" on when I got to work on a morning and deal with stuff that would have reduced me to a nervous wreck in normal social occasions (although there aren't many normal social occasions where you have to have conversations about seeing who can piddle the highest up the wall in the boys' toilets... or I'm moving in the wrong circles)

kerstina Mon 13-May-13 18:40:08

How about a self employed artist, crafts person,gardener? I have suffered with this to some degree throughout my life but agree that working with children is brilliant as they take you out of yourself so you are not so focussed on your anxiety. As long as your co workers are nice.

ControlGeek Mon 13-May-13 18:48:19

I work in third line tech support. The calls come through to me via our online call logging software (so effectively by email) and I investigate then get back to the user by email. I have a degree, but not in the field I'm working in. I got into this from the ground up, so to speak.

Doodledumdums Mon 13-May-13 18:56:14

Hi Hexagonal. I have generalised/social anxiety, and although I am currently on mat leave, I work in publishing. I work in production, so my job doesn't aggravate my anxiety on the whole, as I don't deal with the public or with authors etc. Although there are times when I find it really stressful and tough.

I used to work with animals, and I loved it. I found them to be theraputic and all of the things which worried me before really seemed to go away. I wish I had never given that job up, but I got complacent as my anxiety got a lot better, so I thought I was ready for a more stressful job. In hindsight, I should have stuck with it!

Would animals be an option for you? I do have a degree, but it wasn't required for that particular job, so I think there are opportunities which don't require extra qualifications.

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 19:00:29

I'd love to work with animals, especially since I'm not allowed pets in my flat, I never see those kinds of jobs advertised though. I did look into volunteering with animals a while ago but there aren't any places near me and it would get expensive to travel.

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 19:11:29

ControlGeek that sounds perfect. Can I ask how you got into doing that?

SoftKittyWarmKitty Mon 13-May-13 19:12:50

OP, I'm having CBT at the moment and one of the reasons is social anxiety. It's really making a difference, although I'm nowhere near as badly affected by it as you. Definitely give the docs a call to chase up where you are on the list and when you're likely to get to the top. I was on the waiting list for 15 months but it was worth the wait.

I work in marketing at the moment but looking into becoming self employed. I second the person that suggested the OU - they have a lot of payment plans and fee reductions depending on your income.

Good luck!

Doodledumdums Mon 13-May-13 19:25:55

I think that animal jobs are ones that you have to seek out to be honest. I did some unpaid work experience in a veterinary hospital, with a view to potentially training as a veterinary nurse, and they offered me a paid job as a nursing assistant- so I was really lucky to be honest. Might be worth seeing if you can get a couple of weeks unpaid somewhere, as it might be a foot in the door?

I also had CBT and I can't recommend it enough, CBT is the only reason that I was able to finish my degree and actually get out of the house.

Mumsyblouse Mon 13-May-13 19:30:07

Can I just say that universities are now very supportive of both mature students and students with any type of difficulties/disabilities, temporary or otherwise, and I have several students with anxiety disorders. They are assessed by the student department that is set up to make things more accessible, and can have individual learning plans to help make things a fair playing field- so a student with anxiety disorder might have a plan where they attend lectures but don't speak in groups (if that is their anxiety). keep in touch with their personal tutor if it is getting worse as well as get counselling and mental health support (CBT, mindfulness, crisis management) from that team. In short, you would get a lot of support if you went back to do your degree.

Doubtfuldaphne Mon 13-May-13 19:37:16

Typing from home for lecturers/architects/bigwigs? I Did that up until this year as I had horrible anxiety and Ibs. I have now started working with the public though, even when I feel like I just can't do it- I always feel so much better for it when I've completed a shift, it's done wonders for my confidence smile

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 19:39:13

Thanks Mumsyblouse, I'm going to look into going back at some point. I was already a mature student when I started and I think that added to my anxiety tbh. I didn't really know how bad it was at the time though, for years whenever I went to my old GP about my anxiety he just shrugged it off and I never really got any help for it, or any acknoledgement that there was something wrong.

Another problem with going back to finish my degree is funding, I don't think I'll be elligible for another student loan, especially since I dropped out in the middle of the year.

nannyof3 Mon 13-May-13 19:41:07

Working with children

raisah Mon 13-May-13 21:10:37

Working with kids can be stressful :-) , imagine a room full of screaming toddlers if you have anxiety issues.

If you are in London try the Royal Vetinary College in London (part of Uni of London) for work experience/jobs. They have 2 sites, one in Camden & the second just outside London in Herts.

ShabbyButNotChic Mon 13-May-13 21:18:57

Another vote for working with children, i have mild depression and social anxiety, and have worked in childcare for 10years. I find it really good as i have to focus on others, so don't worry about my own problems too much. It also provides some light relief! A room filled with 8-12 year olds certainly has some interesting conversations flying round! I often get to the end of a shift and realise "ooh, im fine" as daft as that sounds. I basically am run ragged, and don't have time to worry!

coffeeinbed Mon 13-May-13 21:24:29

Funnily enough my job involves a lot of communication with people, pretty much all I do.
Somehow it's fine if I do it for work, but not socially/privately. I just separate the two and function much better in a professional environment.

PimpMyHippo Mon 13-May-13 21:35:06

I'm a receptionist. I can deal with the social interaction this brings by putting on a "game face" for work and basically pretending not to be me! But it's not ideal - even the slightest confrontation with a difficult client will have me shaken up for days (fortunately most of our clients are lovely) and I have absolutely no life, I literally do not leave the house apart from going to work, because it takes absolutely all of my energy. I'm sticking with it because it is related to the field I want to work in, and if I can hang on for a few more years there will be the opportunity for training/promotion to a role that will suit me much better. I am constantly debating with myself whether I will be able to stick it out for that long, and I worry that I will have another breakdown in the process, but I know I will never get such a good opportunity again so I'm trying to push on!

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 21:42:27

I've been trying to get receptionist jobs, PimpMyHippo, I figured it wouldn't be as bad for my anxiety as working in a shop. I had one interview and they pretty much rejected me straight away, didn't even bother asking questions.

I hate my life.

JambalayaCodfishPie Mon 13-May-13 21:53:56

Im a teaching assistant in a secondary school, hoping to become Asst SENCO.

Im very comfortable here now, but was genuinely terrified for my first year, and still struggle if I know I have a big, all services type meeting coming up. I have to 'prep' myself, and what i'm going to say, and have been known to cry afterwards, with relief.

Im very happy though, and my confidence has grown outside of work too. Ive trained as a fitness/zumba instructor, and in September i start my degree.

CBT helped me overcome an awful lot of my fears. That and finding a partner who REALLY understands it all, never pushes me and protects me in situations he knows i still might stuggle with.

PimpMyHippo Mon 13-May-13 21:54:39

sad It is so difficult to get a job at the moment even without the added stress of anxiety, I really feel for you. Do you have the option to take a short break from job hunting and regroup a bit, or are there time/money constraints preventing that?

hexagonal Mon 13-May-13 22:16:16

Nope, no money. Just about enough for rent this month. I'm trying to get any job I can as soon as possible so I don't have to deal with the Jobcentre twats anymore. I cried all the way home after my last appointment.

PariahHairy Mon 13-May-13 22:19:20

I'm very socially anxious, yet found caring jobs mostly ok, I was a HCA. It's totally different from free form social interaction, you mostly know what is expected of you, with regards to conversation. Obviously some patients will initiate chats, which was nice, but it's different because it's a controlled environment and you have a specific role.

If you drive, there are lot's of caring jobs visiting people at home, I would love this because you are basically working alone and also get breaks from the full on interaction. Sadly I don't drive.

HoppinMad Mon 13-May-13 22:22:09

Nothing sensible to add, but wanted to say I can sympathize. I am sahm so cannot really help with job suggestions but I have social anxiety also but in the past managed to do shop assistant work which really helped my confidence. I think what really helped was I knew I had the knowledge of the products we sold and the customers were coming to ask me about them.

I still cannot do speaking in groups or any public speaking. Get the whole blushing face, shaky voice sweats. Its the reason becoming a sahm was such a relief as I dont have to worry about all that. Unfortunately its the reason I initially didnt go on to attend uni aswell sad my best friend and I were pretty similar academically, passed gcses with flying colours. She is now a doctor and me, well I am where I am. It saddens me alot that this anxiety held me back in life to such an extent. I would love to deal with it, but I dont think they do funding for MIND anymore? My DH was referred by GP for cbt but they never got back to him.

HoppinMad Mon 13-May-13 22:27:48

Too many buts in my post, sorry horrified reading back blush sahm for too long

iworemyfringelikerogermcguinns Mon 13-May-13 22:37:19

I teach in HE. It's interesting to see that so many other people also work well where they adopt a "role" and can prepare, even though they struggle where expectations and interactions are less controlled.

stickytoes Mon 13-May-13 23:39:43

I have had social anxiety pretty much all my life (am also on the autism spectrum), I'm a sahm. Weirdly I used to be a waitress, I could manage that as it became a ritual. I was never very chatty, but was happy to have a standard list of set questions/responses. Have also done shop work and telephone work, and cope with those because they were basically routine jobs. I don't think I could do those jobs now though.

Being a sahm is probably my ideal though, just having to manage my own DH and dc! Even that gets a bit much sometimes, as I find it hard to deal with some institutional contact, like with medical/education staff or other mums. I am doing a degree p/t and the social aspects of it are hard, but I try to stay invisible during things like seminars and make up for it by excelling at written work. My lecturers have been brilliantly supportive, so if you can find a way to get funding to finish your degree, I think that would be a good idea.

I am not sure if I'll ever work after I graduate, I really like the stimulation of education and I might continue with an MA, but I think employers are just too unsympathetic towards conditions like ours. I do get DLA at the moment, and DH is able to/happy to support us, so there is no need to push myself into work as such.

raisah Tue 14-May-13 03:05:56

Try signing up to a temping agency such as Brook St (they are national & online) as they also supply temps to unis & NHS for a variety of dfferent roles. It will give you a chance to try different roles in diverse companies to see what suits you. All the temps at my workplace come from brook st & 2 have a condition similar to yours & seem to cope ok.

FunkyDiamonds Tue 14-May-13 10:53:57

Op, I think it's amazing that you are working around your social anxiety. I wish I could too, I've suffered since my mid teens and because of it I haven't worked at all.. In fact I avoid leaving the house as much as possible. It's been over ten years now and I can't see things changing, I wish I could do what you do but the longer it goes on, the more it feels like a downward spiral and nobody would want somebody without qualifications AND zero experience in anything! I just wanted to say I admire you and anyone who is strong enough to work through it and good luck in the future x

ElenorRigby Tue 14-May-13 11:19:59

I suffered from social phobia/anxiety from my teens into my thirties and was very disabled by it.

hexagonal are there any SA support groups near you? For example Triumph over Phobia or Self help services

I found support groups helped me even more than CBT or medication.

As for my work, its geeky, I'm an electronics geek, fixing stuff, which means I'm a back room person.

shumway Tue 14-May-13 11:25:38

Library assistant.

chillynose Tue 14-May-13 11:26:25

I work as a checkout assistant in a supermarket and i suffer from anxiety

LarvalFormOfOddSock Tue 14-May-13 12:34:46

Hi OP. Just want to add that you're not alone, if it's any help. I have panic disorder and it's really curtailed my life in so many ways. I was lucky enough that it didn't hit me until mid 20s though, so I got a degree and travelled etc before that.

Of course,it's best to try to overcome the illness, but like you say, sometimes the support just isn't there and it's more practical to focus on what you can actually do without starting on the road to another breakdown.

Strangely enough, in a previous life (pre DS) I was a careers adviser so I'll have a bit of a think and see if I can come up with anything more useful! At the moment I'm struggling to do my one day a week volunteering or even leave the house some days. It's so frustrating as I began the volunteering for the benefit of my mental health and it's doing nothing but adding to the anxiety and feeling of incompetence at the moment.

hexagonal Mon 20-May-13 13:26:57

Hi again, I've read everyone's replies. I've thought some more about working with children but I really don't think it's for me. I think that amount of responsibility would be really stressful. I've also had a look at volunteering at animal shelters , unfortunately the ones closest to me would be quite difficult to get to, and they don't refund travel costs.

I've had a few job interviews in the last week, two of them have already turned me down and I don't have much hope for the others. All the vacancies I see seem to want people who are outgoing and 'great communicators', whatever that means. I've also signed up to a recruitment agency but haven't heard anything back.

I do have an interview for volunteering coming up which I'm really hoping to get, if only to prevent me from sitting at home feeling utterly useless all the time.

LarvalFormOfOddSock Mon 20-May-13 13:31:02

Good luck with the volunteering OP! I agree that the job market is very skewed towards extroverts but keep trying...I hope you find something that you enjoy.

Potteresque97 Mon 20-May-13 13:32:25

Just saw this, try getting into software testing. You can do iseb courses, although its not essential, I do a lot of testing (functional) and it is good for anxiety as code is either right or its wrong and as long as you clearly document what you are doing...Take advice on the best/cheapest way to get into it though, it recruiters may be able to give some guidance, can't help with. That as had a conventional path into it.

Potteresque97 Mon 20-May-13 13:33:35

Ps if everyone that had excellent communicator on their cv really was one, the world would be a different place...

MomsNetCurtains Mon 20-May-13 13:41:19

Have you tried acupuncture? It's working for me after 11 yrs with d&a. That and citalopram.

I work in sales/marketing, but have considered becoming a remedial/sports masseuse so that I can work from home 50% and work in a clinic the other 50%.

I also write.

Going to bed now (Aus) but will check thread tomorrow.

hexagonal Mon 20-May-13 16:45:41

I haven't looked into acupuncture before, from what I know about it it's pretty expensive and there's not much evidence for it. I was on citalopram for over a year and it didn't do much for me, I've just changed to mirtazapine and so far I just feel tired and irritable.

glamstretchmarks Mon 20-May-13 16:55:46

I have social anxiety and depression and have been getting CBT for a year. It is fantastic and I have improved so so much I can't tell you... I have gone from being nearly housebound to having a good social life and actually tackling things I struggle with (unimaginable only a year ago!!!)

I am doing my degree with the Open uni so I don't see anyone else. I struggle to deal with pressure too so they two times it has all gotten too much I have dropped the courses and then picked them up again the following year.

I have just got a job in admin and am thrilled. (this totally outs me if anyone on here knows me in RL too)

hexagonal Mon 20-May-13 20:44:35

I would love to get an admin job too, glamstretchmarks. I've been applying to loads but getting no replies at all.

I'm hoping to start CBT soon as well. Just really want this part of my life to be over sad

Potteresque97 Tue 21-May-13 18:14:31

Keep trying with the admin jobs, I've heard at my firm it's normal to get 400 applicants for a position in admin so don't let it get you down, temping is a good way into admin jobs for some people too.

MomsNetCurtains Tue 21-May-13 19:34:51

Please, please hex have a go at acupuncture. It cost me around £40 per go....but, and it's a HUGE but it was and is fabulous.

Don't go with the doctor spin that it is not proven - that is a lot of crap. They say that as they don't get any money from it. GPs only get money from the drug companies - nothing really wrong with that as they also work, but they fail to acknowledge the Chinese methods. I am FAR from arty farty, but please do give it a go. I was so sceptical you have no idea. But do please try it.

PM me if you want some advice - I have tried everything over 11 years, I'm good for advice and I would be more than happy to talk to you, really!

I wish you the very best. xxxx

LarvalFormOfOddSock Wed 22-May-13 12:37:38

Momsnetcurtains, I'm really glad that you've found something that's helped with your anxiety. However, I really have to disagree with your assertion that doctors who say it's not proven are spouting crap.

There is no robust evidence that it works for anxiety. A systematic review of the studies done so far reveals this

Even the British Acupuncture Council concede that's there's no compelling research for its treatment of anxiety (apart from pre-operative anxiety).

And plenty of GPs DO make money from acupuncture indirectly. So "alternative medicine" is hardly free from capitalism and money grabbers. Our GP's wife is an acupuncturist and, guess what? He inadvertently recommends acupuncture for pretty much anything non-life threatening.

It's fine to give it a go if you have the money to spend but please don't distort the facts.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Wed 22-May-13 12:46:34

I have crippling social anxiety that makes it hard for me to go out/call/spend time with my (very few) friends and family. I'm horribly lonely and have no social life.
But I run a department of over 50 people. Very successfully.
I used to be freelance, worked from home and found it very depressing and stressful because I saw so few people.
It's possible for social anxiety to affect you in some areas of your life and not others. Socially I feel completely incompetent and overwhelmed by fright. But in my work life I have loads of experience, I've done well in spite of my social anxiety and I know I'm good at what I do.
Some of the people I work with don't understand me and think I'm unapproachable; others have realised that I'm fine if they approach me and don't wait for me to make the first move.
And they don't need to like me (although of course it's nicer if they do). They respect me as a professional,and that's all that's necessary in the work environment.
If this sounds weird, I find it very weird too. But it shows that SA doesn't have to be an insurmountable obstacle in every part of your life.

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