Social anxiety disorder (SAD) impacts my life in many ways. It’s hard to be successful when socializing induces panic attacks. Just the thought of having to make small talk with others fills me with dread. It starts with the thoughts. My mind immediately goes to worst case scenario: “Everyone will think I am a freak and not want to talk to me again.” Then my heart beat quickens. My body begins to shake. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I get a desperate desire to just crawl out of my body. If I let this go on, it turns into dizziness and numbness of my hands and feet. Then I might lose sensation in a leg or an arm. That’s when the panic attack starts. I can’t move. My vision goes black with red splotches flashing all around. I feel like I am going to pass out and my whole body feels like it is falling asleep. Panic attacks are the scariest things I have ever experienced. It is ironic because they just make you panic even more. Once the attacks start, it is extremely difficult to get out of it. As you can clearly see, this hinders me from doing many things in life, especially interviewing for jobs.
I have always dreamed of doing something related to psychology. Right now, with only having my Associate’s degree, my options in this field are greatly limited. One job that I have found where you only need an Associate’s degree is the position of a Psychiatric Technician. This job involves taking care of patients in psychiatric hospitals. Taking their vitals, measuring their height and weight, being a friend to them, giving them helpful advice, leading group discussions, and reporting any unusual behavior to the nurses. This is the perfect job for me!! When I saw that a few places were hiring, I applied in a heart beat! However, that means that interviews are in order. Oh boy, the dreaded interviews.
My first interview was over the phone. This interview was for the job of a Patient Care Assistant. It is very similar to a Psych Tech, but it has a little less responsibility and does not take place in a psychiatric hospital. I was nervous about the interview, so I decided to pretend that I wasn’t nervous. Basically, I was playing a character. My character was named Paleeza and she does not have social anxiety disorder. She is overly excited for this interview and her voice portrays that.
The beginning of the phone interview went like this:
Interviewer: Hello. This is ____ . Is this Paleeza?
Me: Yes this is her! Hi, it is very nice to meet you! How are you?
Interviewer: I am great, thank you for asking!
Me: You’re welcome! I am very excited for this interview, I have read about the job that is offered and it sounds like something I would love to do!
Basically, sound confident. The whole time I was talking, I was suppressing all of those negative thoughts that come to mind when I talk to anyone. Interviewers are not looking for timid, shy candidates to fill the job position. Especially for a job that requires a lot of talking and close contact with the patients. I played the role of “excited and confident Paleeza” and the interview went extremely well!
Another important thing to remember when you have an interview is to ask questions! My go-to question is, “What will my typical work day be like if I have this job?” Sometimes it is good to elaborate to show that you have done your research and know what the job entails. This is what I asked during my phone interview: “I am assuming that everyday of this job will be different because there are so many different patients and lots of different interactions. However, I was wonder what the typical work day would look like for a PCA? I’m just looking for a broad overview of what will be expected of me during work.”
After I implemented these strategies, I got a second interview. This time it was in person! All of these interviews are very similar: be confident and friendly. I smiled the whole time, looked the interviewer in the eyes when I answered my questions, asked her questions, and made sure I was friendly and talkative the all throughout. And guess what…I GOT THE JOB! I am SO excited for this next chapter of my life!! I am still working for my current job because the job I got only had the “as needed” position available. So I will go into work when they need me and on the days they don’t, I will be working in Marion still.
Overall, what helped me have a successful interview for a job while having SAD was pretending I was a confident person, being very smiley and friendly, and asking lots of questions. If your dream is to have a job that SAD stops you from having, DON’T LET IT. Take control of you SAD. It is a part of you, you are not a part of it. Don’t let it take over your life and stop you from doing what you want.