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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Have you or someone you know left your job due to anxiety or similar reasons, and how did you get back to work?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23275 points ) November 1st, 2010

Many of you know that I suffer from terrible social anxiety, and the combo of social anxiety and another issue caused me to leave my job. I haven’t been back to work in several months now, and although I’m not even sure that I’m emotionally ready, I still worry about how all of this time off is going to affect me when I do try to get back into the working world.

Has anyone else gone through something similar? Even burnout? Have anxiety or depression caused you to leave work? Have you taken a long period of time away from working and then gone back?
What do you put on your resume? How do you explain to a potential employer why you’ve been out of work for so long?

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9 Answers

wgallios's avatar

I have left a company due to stress and anxiety. The company I use to work for would put an extremely hard demand on its employees, and with constant yelling and abuse it really became too much. My blood pressure as high, I hated going to work, I hated every second of it. I got to the point of where I simply could not handle it anymore and found a new job.

In an interview, I simply told the new company that I was thankful they have me as an employee, I learned a lot, and I basically said, “some shoes fit better than others”, and that it was time for me to advance my career – which the old company was unable to do.

If it were me, and I took several months off, I would just say it was for personal/medical reasons, and that you were able to return, and are going to leave your current company on good terms should you be hired.

Blueroses's avatar

I’m actually in a very similar situation and I explain the gap as either “working on my novel” or “doing home remodeling projects”. Nobody ever questions either explanation.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No but I have considered it recently because of a particular co worker. I tell myself I won’t but if I have to file another written complaint then I might ask for some paid time off.

janedelila's avatar

Absolutely. I had a job that stressed me out so much, and one day I came home and my preteen children were crying because of the anxiety they knew I was about to cause them. We sat down and talked, and the next day I began to look for another job. I took a pay cut, status cut, and left my coworkers in a lurch, but the looks on my girls’ faces that day was not worth the money. Never would be.

nicobanks's avatar

My sister-in-law left her job for reasons like this. She has yet to return, I think it’s going on a year now. (She’s also a student, though, so there’s less of an identifiable gap in her time – plenty of people don’t work while they’re in school.)

When it comes to explaining this in interviews or whatever, I think the key is to think of it as a weakness you’ve improved upon. Employers love to hear that kind of stuff. Everyone has weaknesses or their own personal challenges, after all, so you’re not unique in that regard.

When you start looking for work again, that means you’ll be in a better place than you were when you left work. So, how did you get there? What have you learned about yourself, and in terms of avoidance techniques, and management techniques? If the line of work had to do with your difficulties, that’s a good thing to point to: “I realized I was in the wrong line of work, and after much self-reflection,” – and maybe you’ve consulted with employment counsellors, you should mention that too, or even discussions you’ve had about employment with a psychologist – anything – “I decided that this is the line of work I should be in, and here’s why” – and then you talk about your relevant skills, experiences, and interests.

Whatever you do, don’t make excuses or lay blame anywhere else. I’m not saying that in your personal opinion of your situation you shouldn’t make excuses or lay blame. For all I know, your situation is totally someone else’s fault! That may very well be true, but don’t frame in that way in your interview, becuase no matter how true it is, it won’t sound good. Turn it into a positive – a past problem that you have improved upon. Make it seem like all the time you weren’t working, you were pro-active in working to get back to working, you know? Even if you’ve spent many days in bed from sunrise to sunset – that may be understandable and reasonable from a personal point of view, but not from a professional one.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

My sister left her job here because everyone was driving everyone absolutely insane. There wasn’t a person in her office that wasn’t on antidepressants. Some people took up smoking just because the work environment was so stressful. She left and went back to NY because the people at her job here were so difficult to work with.

Aster's avatar

My daughter told me that all her friends are on Prozac and Xanax. I’m sure she was exaggerating but , if so, it wasn’t like her.
My other daughter left a job because she said they were pushing each other around in the office!! Literally. I had never heard of such a thing.

mistic84's avatar

I left the job because the owner was making unreasonable demands and he tended to over simplify things. Half the company left because of him and he felt like he didn’t need to hire anyone else to fill the gaps. His reasoning was “if we’re just smart with our current resources, we can make it through.” Did I mention he used to be an attorney? He was a very manipulative and passive aggressive type that it was just his way or no way at all. I mean really. He would make me send out our old marketing collateral with the wrong address, wrong phone number and dated information just because he didn’t want to print new stuff. I have a lot of white hair now due to this job. It wasn’t worth it so I left.

I got back into the workforce after about a 2 month break and went to the only thing I knew that always hired—SALES! It was a temporary stop-gap so I didn’t feel anything when I left that position either. It was just a good way to ease back into working.

JustJessica's avatar

Absolutely. I’ve left every job I’ve had because of anxiety. I try over and over again thinking it will be easier the next time. I use the tools I’m learning in in therapy, but by the end of the day,I’m so exhausted and the quality of the work (that I’m more than capable of doing well) I do suffers due to the constant self talking that goes on in my head. I’m still trying though. I had an interview just the other day, I threw up three times before leaving the house and had to pull over on the way there to do it again, I remember nothing that was asked of me nor the answers that managed to come out of my mouth. At this point I’m useless for any employer.

Question 2. I’m still trying to get back in the work force. I’m also worried about the void in my resume do to being out of work for 15 months.

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