Terrified to work — Scope | Disability forum
Find out how to let us know if you're concerned about another member's safety.

Terrified to work

Stellar
Stellar Member Posts: 19 Listener
Hi,

I'm a 23 year old woman who is terrified at returning to work and I'm not sure what to do. I'm autistic and have adhd. I also have cPTSD, anxiety and OCD which are undiagnosed and I have no intentions of getting a formal dx. I am in therapy though. apologies in advance, this is long and not fully coherent, but i hope it becomes why.

Thing is, I have a lot of experience of part time work and studying (even went abroad for a year as part of my undergrad). Though in terms of full time work I don't have much. I've never had help growing up to prepare me for the world of work either - my family were either bad role models (ie. abusive) or are out of work for so long any advice they could give is out of date.

I've had good experiences as well as bad experiences at work. My last job (prior to the pandemic) I was forced to accept it due to being failed by services to get help to leave an abusive living situation and believed working was my only way out. Unfortunately it was not a good job for me as the environment was sensory hell, the workload was too chaotic and I couldn't get the training or accommodations I needed. I also could not address my underlying situation hence I was let go after seven weeks. For the record, this situation is better now, but everything i went through (|including being repeatedly failed by services to the point where i had to move halfway across england just to try again) is why i have more than just autism/adhd now.

It's only recently did I realise that this falls under the definition of a toxic workplace. I honestly thought it only applied to discrimination (which i hadn't had), but things like sensory conflicts and being fundamentally incompatible with the culture also form part of it. so i'm having to unpack that as well. and i'm terrified of going to get another job only for that to repeat, especially as even looking at job descriptions can lead to meltdowns. so even trying to do further research on an employer before applying is often impossible. I don't even know what to do now jobswise as a result or long term careers goals. Working until i'm able to settle and have children then become a stay-at-home mum is the only plan i somewhat have in mind.

Please note that I don't want any advice relating to the Equality Act, Access to Work and similar "inclusivity schemes" and laws. I cannot trust these laws nor would I have the support to challenge any further discrimination should it happen.
I'm also not needing a lot of support from schemes aimed at disabled people to get jobs. A lot of jobs are aimed at disabled people with little experience working when I don't fit that at all. I know what these are and whenever i talk to careers advisors i get the same rote learned advice.

My issue is with keeping jobs because I simply do not trust people and services that are meant to help me actually help me. That includes employers and other gatekeepers of basic essentials. Hence I am terrified of going through the cycle of begging employers for work only to get let go then be stuck waiting 5 weeks for money on universal credit. All because fundamentally they don't want to put the work in to fundamentaly change their business practises to help disabled people work and understand social rules and expectations. 

I know I can work. I want to work, but I simply do not trust the world of work to help me. Especially as a lot of inclusivity claims are performative and used for good PR and unless I can verify this first hand I can't believe it's genuine. I am terrified of putting myself out there as i've made unprofessional social blunders before and I often don't realise it till afterwards, or sometimes things slip out and i don't know until it's too late. (one example was accidentally saying "f*ck off" in a jokey, informal manner without realising it at an LGBT jobs fair when they had a book that cited JK Rowling as an influential figure, when as a terf she is not that. I never heard back). Employers will act as if i know what im doing at all times and will punish me accordingly, even after i tell them i'm autistic. i'd rather not disclose at all, but unfortunately alongside my need for accommodations, my autism related stims and flaps are visible at times and i don't know i'm even doing them a lot, so i have no choice really.

I feel my only way to solve these issues are to go self employed because I can then fully control my environment, my hours and working conditions. I can then work towards generating passive income so then I don't have to work full time and can focus on my future and managing my mental health. I don't even know for sure what i'd do for self-employment, I just know that its a necessity more than a luxury for accessibility. However I am not able to legally go self employed from the accommodation I am currently in and I am not able to do anything about this (and i mean that literally, I do not want advice on housing at all under any circumstances. i'd not even mention it here if it wasnt relevant, but no doubt i'll get well meaning but useless advice to sort my houding out even though i cant, but also i dont want people suggesting self employment as the solution even though it is, but also it isnt if that makes sense?).

Has anyone else been in a similar position? how can i learn to manage my workplace anxiety and try to get my confidence back? how can i actually find a stable, secure workplace that actually accommodates me? how can i learn to try to trust again? 

A lot of advice i'm seeing as aimed at non-disabled people which is unhelpful. I'm at my wits end and I'm terrified i'm going to have to sign off as unfit for work as the jobcentre are asking me to look for work and i'm too scared to apply for anything. and being unfit for work and dealing with cruelty of the DWP is equally terrifying.

apologies for the length and any rudeness, even talking about this is triggering me, hence im asking for certain advice to not be given.

thanks.

Comments

  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,763 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi there and welcome 

    I'm sorry about your situation and fear 9f looking for 

    With what you have stated about not wanting advice on there is very little else to suggest 

    It is more about sorting out your fears first before even attempting to look for work 

    Maybe part time work would be a better start or even voluntary  work 

    I hope you get sorted








    I have professional experience in HR within public,  private, and charity sectors.  If I can help I will 
  • euro
    euro Member Posts: 69 Courageous
    Hi @Stellar.  I'm happy you reached out - that's a difficult thing to do when life throws so many challenges at you.  Your situation sounds quite desperate and I am not sure what advice any of us can give you without possibly triggering you.  Can you perhaps be more specific about the nature of support you would like?

    If not and that is perhaps part of the difficulty you are exleriencing right now (I've been there) maybe I can share similar experiences I have had and what I was eventually able to do to help myself or get the help I needed to overcome my challenges.

    One point you made reminded me of a similar "foot in it" moment I had in one my first jobs.  I took a call from an outraged patient whose appointment had been cancelled for the third time. I didn't deal with patients directly so knew they had the wrong extention and tried to stop their rant a few times, telling them they had the wrong extention, asking what departmet or service they had called and then, when they'd let off enough steam to pause, asked "who do you think you're talking to?"  I should add here that I'm not neueotypical either :).  It wasn't until my disciplinary meeting 3 days later that I understood my question, far from being one of genuine enquiry, was so rude that it was considered grounds for dismissal.

    At the time I was mortified that I had been oerceived as rude - I had genuine compassiom for the exoerience of the patient and had been trying my best to help as supportively and quickly as possible.  It cost me my job and a huge dose of confidence. 

    Now, I think it's quite hilarious.  I enjoy being reminded of it and can laugh about myself saying it.
  • Ross_Scope
    Ross_Scope Posts: 5,390

    Scope community team

    Hello @Stellar and welcome to the community, thanks for telling us about what you've been through. 

    I've just sent you an email from [email protected] just to check about a couple of aspects in your post, it would be great if you could reply (nothing to worry about) :) 

    Are you receiving any additional support for your mental health aside from the therapy? And is the therapy working for you?
    Online Community Coordinator

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

    Did you receive a helpful reply to your discussion? Fill out our feedback form and let us know about it.
  • Stellar
    Stellar Member Posts: 19 Listener
    janer1967 said:
    Hi there and welcome 

    I'm sorry about your situation and fear 9f looking for 

    With what you have stated about not wanting advice on there is very little else to suggest 

    It is more about sorting out your fears first before even attempting to look for work 

    Maybe part time work would be a better start or even voluntary  work 

    I hope you get sorted
    I was given the suggestion to look for voluntary work but i'm not even sure where to start with that or what is suitable for me. It feels very overwhelming, but i do think it may be more suitable than a full time job.

    As for part time work, my fear with that is I would lose all of my universal credit which terrifies me even more.
  • Stellar
    Stellar Member Posts: 19 Listener
    edited May 28
    euro said:
    One point you made reminded me of a similar "foot in it" moment I had in one my first jobs.  I took a call from an outraged patient whose appointment had been cancelled for the third time. I didn't deal with patients directly so knew they had the wrong extention and tried to stop their rant a few times, telling them they had the wrong extention, asking what departmet or service they had called and then, when they'd let off enough steam to pause, asked "who do you think you're talking to?"  I should add here that I'm not neueotypical either :).  It wasn't until my disciplinary meeting 3 days later that I understood my question, far from being one of genuine enquiry, was so rude that it was considered grounds for dismissal.

    At the time I was mortified that I had been oerceived as rude - I had genuine compassiom for the exoerience of the patient and had been trying my best to help as supportively and quickly as possible.  It cost me my job and a huge dose of confidence. 

    Now, I think it's quite hilarious.  I enjoy being reminded of it and can laugh about myself saying it.
    I had a very similar issue in the last job I had. I was unintentionally rude to people as a result of being overloaded sensorywise. It was seen as ignoring people and not delivering good customer service, even though in my head it was trying to prevent further harm to myself and them by getting them to go away (and hence reduce my sensory overload).

    I can see how your experience is funny though.
  • Stellar
    Stellar Member Posts: 19 Listener
    Hello @Stellar and welcome to the community, thanks for telling us about what you've been through. 

    I've just sent you an email from [email protected] just to check about a couple of aspects in your post, it would be great if you could reply (nothing to worry about) :) 

    Are you receiving any additional support for your mental health aside from the therapy? And is the therapy working for you?
    I've replied to it.

    I am on antidepressants but that's about it. I've not been able to attend any groups due to the pandemic (i can't access zoom events unless they are very structured) and i've been dealing with dry eyes as of late, so i have to wait till things are in person again.

    and unfortunately given how unpredictable things are at the moment, i could be waiting a long time. this uncertainty also makes it harder to apply for jobs or volunteering.

    The therapy is working though.
  • euro
    euro Member Posts: 69 Courageous
    I'll try to answer some of the questions you raised specifically without pointing you in directions you have already or are not currently able to try.

    Has anyone else been in a similar position?
    Yes, still there in some respects, but feeling increasingly less overwhelmed as I move from rejecting then barely tolerating myself and begin to learn to accept, understand and have compassion for myself.

    How can I learn to manage my workplace anxiety and try to get my confidence back?
    Have you heard of Interoception?  I am currently participating in a pilot study using various techniques to develop this skill and halfway through, I feel less tense and anxious (been out for a walk on my own without panic for the first time in over 10 years!!!) and that is having a positive effect on my confidence.  If a full trial follows and, subject to the Moderator's apprroval,  I'll post a link on this site.

    How can i actually find a stable, secure workplace that actually accommodates me?
    I think many of us struggle there.  Lots of workplaces at least have inclusivity on the agenda now and it is getting better, but it will take time as with all major social change.  I'm not in any way excusing the discriminatory practice and attitudes which are still far too much the norm, just trying to be realistic . . .  though not particulay helpful or hopeful.

    How can i learn to try to trust again? 
    You haven't said who or what you want to trust again - I gather from other things you said, that it's the services and institutions who have let you down before.  I face a challenge everytime I need help or support from others (GP, mental health services, pice, council, social services,  educational establishments and on and on).  Asking for help is really difficult for me and there are too many ways to mention in which all of the above and more have hurt me with thoughtless 'one size fits all' box ticking responses or requirements which are akin to sky high blazing hurdles for me and have caused major mental and physical health crises.    I am learning (so very slowly) that I only really need to trust myself and, the more often I take a leap of faith, that I will manage whatever response I get from them, the more oportunity I have to prove myself trustworthy and capable.

    I hope you can find so.e comfort in not being all alone.  Keep fighting the good fight - it will make you stronger xx.
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,763 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi again 

    You won't lose all of your uc if you work part time people on low earnings claim uc as a top up to their earnings 

    I'm not sure how much you can earn but others on here will know 
    I have professional experience in HR within public,  private, and charity sectors.  If I can help I will 
  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Stellar and welcome to the community.

    Being honest about your challenges and issues can have its advantages, though I appreciate why others may not think so.

    Interviews are a two way process, often we focus on the questions they ask us and do not give enough thought to the questions we should be asking them. So the process is often focused on if we can fit in with them and nothing, or next to nothing, on what they will do to ensure we have the opportunity to fit in with them.

    I am fortunate enough to be in work but currently going through a restructure. I applied for two job within the restructure, failed the first and my second was on Thursday just gone. Just before the interview I had a complete meltdown and turned everything off so no one could contact me while I tried to settle down. Knowing they are on a tight deadline to complete the process this was not helped by being angry with myself. Anyway, when I had calmed down enough to speak to my manager I put my phone on and had several messages for me to call her as she was worried. I explained what had happened and why I had turned everything off. 

    She asked if they could arrange another interview for me would I be interested. I told her at that moment all I wanted to do was take my redundancy and leave, however I also acknowledged that I wasn't in the right mind to make that decision. She spoke to one of the interviewers and the two of them went back to HR to ask. I am on leave from Monday and a new interview has been arranged when I get back. If I still want to take redundancy when I get back I just have to call her and let her know, no pressure either way as my health was what was important. 

    I did speak to the interviewer later in the day, she will also be my new manager. All she was concerned about was how I was feeling and if I was okay. This turned into a chat and at the end while I may have some concerns about the direction the company is heading one thing I did know was this was someone I would like to work for, and who was concerned about those who worked under her.  The other interviewer is one of the senior directors and of course it needed his approval, so perhaps my perceptions of the people at the top are wrong.

    One thing I am sure of, if I hadn't been open with my manager about my autism (undiagnosed but doctor has said it is likely but they would not test me as I was coping at that point) I very much doubt that the opportunity for a second interview would have happened. Nor would I know before the interview that the new manager had already heard a lot about me from other colleagues and would very much like to see me as part of her team.  So I am at least confident that it is not a token interview to pacify me. 

    I don't know if I will make that call or not to cancel the interview. At this point I am still not feeling right and don't know if I want to put myself under that pressure again. But I have a week on the Norfolk Broads and to relax.

    And this brings me back to asking questions at the interview. If you are open with your disabilities it gives you the opportunity to ask questions that might reveal the company or job is not right for you. Even if you do not want to disclose these asking about the environment, is it noisy, quite, decor, open office or small office areas etc. Or even asking as a new comer into an established team what advice they could give to help you fit in. It is thinking about what it was that made it difficult for you previously and finding out if you are likely to face these again. 

    Once things settle down and get back to more normality when asked about adjustments for the interview, if you are open with your disability, you can ask if you can visit where you will be working and maybe observe things for a little while so you can get a feel for the place if offered an interview. They may say no, but then again they may say yes. While there may be valid reasons for saying no, it could also be they don't understand your disabilities.

    Hope this helps.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Cher_Inactive
    Cher_Inactive Posts: 4,414

    Scope community team

    Hi @Stellar

    I'm just looking to find your email response to Ross and can't seem to spot it (apologies!).  Is there any chance you could re-send it to [email protected] please.  Many thanks and I hope the experiences shared on this thread reassured you, you aren't alone in the way you feel.  
    Online Community Co-ordinator

    Want to tell us about your experience on the online community?  Talk to our chatbot and let us know.

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.
  • Stellar
    Stellar Member Posts: 19 Listener
    I replied back to it saying I'm fine and I'm safe. That's all.
  • Cher_Inactive
    Cher_Inactive Posts: 4,414

    Scope community team

    @Stellar Thank you for letting us know.  If we can be of any further support, please don't hesitate to contact us.
    Online Community Co-ordinator

    Want to tell us about your experience on the online community?  Talk to our chatbot and let us know.

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

Brightness

Complete our feedback form and tell us how we can make the community better.