Living with anxiety is kind of like being a smart phone with the flashlight left on. People with anxiety are always expending extra energy just by being. Being. Like the phone with the flashlight left on, our energy depletes much faster than a person who is not plagued by an anxious mind. That’s without any kind of outside stimulation like social interaction. Add socialization into the mix and you’ve left your Pokemon GO app running, full brightness, with your flashlight on. Bye Bye battery.
So, working in retail is like an amplification of that drainage. Anxiety becomes a high intensity electricity coursing through your entire body for the length of the shift, before, and after. Not only do you have to deal with issues and conflict in the workplace, the simple task of conversing with customers and coworkers is maddeningly exhausting.
That phone call to your boss about changing your shift, or calling in sick, becomes your worst nightmare.
Angry customers become seething monsters who feed off of all of your anxieties.
That pain in your neck from lifting all those boxes must be chronic.
You almost died putting the cardboard into the compactor.
This might all sound funny, but it is scary and it is real.
On top of all of this, it is in my personal nature to work full-tilt. I cannot slow down at work. I give it my all and nothing less. I smile, I speed walk (sometimes run), I circle the store for returns, I smile some more.
It is no surprise that a five hour shift feels like a 16 hour shift at the end of the day. All I want to do is curl up and sleep. Though I can only sleep after my brain has calmed down from the day. So, depending how late my shift goes (I work in a 24 hour store) that could be hours later.
I have worked in retail for three years and I only told one of my co-workers that I suffer with anxiety yesterday. She was genuinely surprised. I must hide it well.
The task is not impossible, but it is extremely difficult. I am not sorry I do it, I do not dread each shift more than any anxiety-less person would. Every shift I have is a battle, it is a way for me to become stronger, to overcome anxiety. If I can do it, you can too. Remember, you are not alone.
What do we say to the God of Anxiety? Not today.