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September 9, 2012

WorkWise Q&A: Severe anxiety stopping me from getting out there

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I have a severe anxiety and panic disorder that stops me from getting out there in the world. Medication, therapy and counseling haven’t done the trick.

BLOCKED

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I have a severe anxiety and panic disorder that stops me from getting out there in the world. Medication, therapy and counseling haven’t done the trick.

Call me: Anxious

A: Dear Anxious, I’ve had the pleasure of finding you on the Web, where you refer to this “demon,” which harbors its presence in millions of other people. Keep following the recommendations of your medical team. I’m not a psychologist but can suggest a real-world method to build on their care.

Identify what specifically you want to do “out there in the world.” Then, backtrack to what could lead to it. For example, if you want to job hunt but don’t have a résumé, get a friend to sit down with you and start the process. When you’re ready for the next step, get a friend to accompany you.

Visualize each positive experience enhanced by a friend. Think about how every single one made you feel. Do this at least three times a day. Give yourself time to allow this process to work.

Be sure to review your digital footprint to see whether there’s information that could damage your campaign.

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IN A HUFF

Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I left my last job abruptly because my boss became impossible to reason with and was verbally abusive toward my co-workers and me. Needless to say, I advise people that they shouldn't contact the company. How do I respond when asked about my reasons for leaving my last job?

Gone

A: Dear Gone, You don’t have anyone at that company who could speak well of you? Not even another employee or supervisee, a client or vendor? If that’s the case, you’ve cooked your own goose.

Pressure cooker or no pressure cooker, you needed to button up, give two weeks’ notice and shake hands goodbye with everyone you possibly could.

While you can’t bad-mouth your employer, you could indicate that you realize now you had something to learn from the toxic environment, that lack of professionalism on the part of a person with power over you didn’t give you a free pass to be like him.

Mention the number of other people who followed you out the door. Say that you aren’t proud of walking out and that it was a first in your career (if it was) and that you learned from it.

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