Fired from job for anxiety?

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  NezumiT 10 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Hi everyone,

    This is my first time posting but I've been shadowing on and off for about 6 months.  Recently (i.e.  Saturday) I was fired form my job.  No reason why, simply stated it was an ‘at will' employment, so there was no reason why I was fired.  I know for a fact that I was let go because of a few minor anxiety related absences and that my employers didn't think I could handle the stress of the job (this is what my temp agency rep told me).  My anxiety had nothing to do with my job.  I wish they could've understood this, or at least given me a warning before sacking me.

    I guess my question is how can I cope with this?  I'm back looking for work through employment agencies, the internet, etc, but I really, really loved this job.   I had never thought I would be doing something like what I was because it was so 180 from my usual employment (coffee shops/hospitality…this job was chartering private jets!) I had been there for two months, but it was my calling.  My supervisor was so excited when I accepted employment (I was hired through a temp agency); to see him stone-faced and stand-offish when I was let go really hit me hard…I hate disappointing people who once believed in me…

    My husband and I have been living in our current city for 8 years and he's maintained one solid job.  I've had 16…it eats me up inside that I'm not really “adulting”, and I feel like I'm failing on a daily basis.

    I don't even know where I'm going with any of this…Maybe I just need someone to talk to.  Thank you in advance for your compassion and understanding.  It's much appreciated.



    Dear NezumiT:

    You wrote: “I know for a fact that I was let go because of a few minor anxiety related absences and that my employers didn’t think I could handle the stress of the job”-

    Can you elaborate on those “few minor anxiety related absences”, durations of absences, reasons, and such. I would like to understand better.




    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for your reply.  I was ill for three days, and my supervisor had told me to rest up.  A week or so later, I had a panic attack in the morning out of nowhere and they told me to go home, clear my head, and that ‘it happens to all of us', just ‘keep us in the loop' (which I did).  Last Friday (7/29) I was sexually assaulted, and that really put a bender on me…I was shaky, couldn't think, severely triggered.  I texted my HR person and my supervisor, they told me to stay home until Thursday.  They requested a note from a doctor.  I was trying to make contact with my psychiatrist but he had been on vacation.  I let my job know about it, and they said ‘keep us in the loop'.  Again.

    Tuesday afternoon rolls around and my psychiatrist calls me, says he can get me in on Thursday at 6:15am and get me a note.  I relay the message to my HR person.  She responds later that the 3 heads of the company and herself would like to have a meeting at 9:00 on Monday to talk about my performance prior to the event.  Thursday I go see my doctor, get a prescription for an anxiety medication (to show that I'm taking the initiative and trying to get better).  I email the note to HR, a few hours later she emails me back and says the meeting has been moved to 10:30 on Monday, and to not come in on Friday and just rest.   I'm sensing that the inevitable is going to happen, though other people are telling me that it's just a review.

    But on Saturday morning, I go to check my work email (because I'd like to know what's going on just in case; I'm salaried, so this is ok to do anyway).  There's a notification in my that says I've been locked out of my Dropbox.  I begin to get a little nervous, call my HR lady and ask her ‘I logged into my email and it said my access to our Dropbox has been canceled.  With all the events leading up to today, am I going to get fired?  If this is so, can I come in today and pick up my stuff so I can leave with a little dignity and not have everyone watch me on Monday?'  She tells me I'm very unprofessional by calling me on a Saturday, and I say ‘yes, I'm being very unprofessional.  I'm sorry.  My mistake.'  Then she says ‘You no longer have access to you Dropbox.  Do you have access to your email?'  I reply ‘yes'.  She says ‘ok, I'll see you on Monday.'  Not 15 minutes later, I'm locked out of my email.

    Around 12:45pm that same day, I get a text message from her asking if I could come to the office and see her and my supervisor.  They hand me a letter stating I'm fired, let me clean my desk, and I go.  I asked why the reason for my being fired, and my supervisor stated ‘At-will employment'.  HR said that she'd be a reference for me because they ‘want me to be happy and succeed'.  But I dunno about that.

    I contacted my local employment agency who got me the job and my rep said she had spoken with the supervisor and said that they had let me go because they didn't think I could handle the stressed and that I was always stressed out, which is far from the truth.  I only had these issues while working there (sick for three days, one anxiety attack, assault).

    I thought it was from absences maybe, but I'm feeling it's more like fear of people with mental health issues.  I dunno.  It's a bummer.

    Thank you in advance for your input (Sorry for the novel!)




    Dear NezumiT:

    I googled “at will employment”. It reads: “At-will employment is a term used in a U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish ‘just cause' for termination), and without warning.

    You wrote in your original post: “there was no reason why I was fired”- reads to me that there was a reason, which is the employer's concern about your evident, expressed anxiety harming your performance or not wanting otherwise to deal with an employee with evident anxiety issues. They don't have to give a reason, but they have a reason.

    It is unfortunate of course, that you are suffering from anxiety and that you were sexually assaulted recently. And it is unfortunate that you enjoyed your job so much and cannot continue it.

    It is fortunate, on the other hand, that your husband has maintained the same job for eight years. I wish it didn't bother you so much that you had sixteen jobs during these eight years. The reason you had so many jobs is not because you are “not really ‘adulting'” (what an interesting, unique made-up verb, never read it before), but because you suffer from anxiety. You are an adult and a responsible one, reads to me.

    Your anxiety, if you'd like to share its origin, history, please do.





    Thank you for your thoughtful response.  I actually just got off the phone with my temp agency rep and now she's telling me that the company said it was attendance issues…go figure.  Ont hat note, I have an interview for another job tomorrow afternoon, so that's nice.

    I've always been a very empathetic person, the one that people spill their guts to even when you don't know them (I stem from the food industry/customer service/cafe industry, so this happened frequently).  I suppose my anxiety stems from childhood, like most people?  I've never really had many friends (I have one super close friend that I've known for 22 years).  I also have Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, and other associated acts.  One thing about people with Borderline is that they are able to ‘chameleon'; they're fantastic at hiding emotions and incredibly empathetic people.  They're also incredibly unstable and volatile and have no sense of who they really are.  I feel that I lack identity, and at 33 this shakes me.

    So I suppose I've been an anxious child my entire life; I used to be afraid to go out in public (my parents thought my little crying outbursts were adorable).  I've always been shy around meeting people at parties or dinners.  But strangely enough, I wear a bravado outgoing mask when I'm out at work.  Maybe because I'm trying to impress people, maybe because I'm tying to give the impression that I've got my sh!* in order.  Because Maybe I'm afraid that people will see me as someone that really isn't any of those things.

    There's no real pinpoint to my anxiety; there's so many things that have happened in my life that I've either come to terms with or have just pushed away so I don't have to deal with it.  Even the things I've come to terms with still sometimes haunt me.  It's hard to realize that the current is the only thing I need to focus on.



    Dear NezumiT:

    I will not be able to read your latest post until I am back to the computer, in about 17 hours or so. Am looking forward to read and will reply then.




    Dear NezumiT:

    You shared that you were always a “very empathetic person”, that you have one very close friend of 22 years but “never really had many friends”, that you suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and depression, and that you are “able to ‘chameleon’; they’re fantastic at hiding emotions… also incredibly unstable and volatile and have no sense of who they really are.”

    You wrote: “I feel that I lack identity, and at 33 this shakes me”-

    I am inquiring, asking you, if I may: were you treated as a child as not important; were you given the message that what you think and feel is irrelevant, objectionable, not valid? And did you agree that indeed, your thoughts, feelings are irrelevant, not important, objectionable?

    That was the case with me: I was given that message multiple times and convincingly and I believed so. Therefore I put myself aside, denied myself, invalidated my own person. My focus became: what does she/ he wants me to do, to say… not to say, not to do… what does she/he wants my facial expression to be like, my voice to sound like.. what is her/his wants, needs, dreams, it is her/his motivations that I must accommodate, etc.

    Can you relate?





    Hi Nezume T,

    I am sorry to hear about your job. I have been “forced to resign (even when I was in training), once, I was on the job for three weeks, I was new. The supervisor was not very nice to me and made me very nervous. I got home one night after my shift and got a nasty message on my voice mail from her telling me that they needed someone to “take the job and run with it”. I have been fired from jobs without warning, if it as “at will” they don't have to give you a warning. I too suffer from (with me) debillitating anxiety and panic attacks. The panic attacks started in 2005. I was working in call centers at the time, I really liked it, I liked being on the phones talking to customers and helping them. Then, the job started to get to be too much for me, I guess. We were required to answer 100-200 calls a day. We had to get “monitored” (where our calls were listened to). The job, started becoming more stressful, the warehouse made mistakes with shipments, breakages, orders were being “padded” I think by sales department because retail customers would order 14 of a particular item and they would be charged for 19. They would call and get irate. I used to be able to handle it..then something happened, I would put my phone on “idle” alot and go to bathroom and have “anxiety attack” and the attacks got worse.

    I got hospitalized for major depression and anxiety in 2005. I was put on an antidepressant and Klonopin for panic attacks. I went back to the job, but it wasn't the same, I no longer enjoyed it. The economy wasn't that great, and I could not find another job. Two months later, the company had another massive layoff, I was layed off. 4 months later, they were bankrupt. I tried to find “easier jobs” but still got let go due to stress and anxiety and finally had to file for disability.

    Are you on any meds for anxiety? Sometimes they can help with job stress. But, yes, employers can let you go without warning unfortunately.

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by  Eliana.


    Hi Eliana,

    Your story rings similar to my own.  Thank you for sharing.  I'm actually on Vyvanse for OCD and was just prescribed generic Xanax to take if I feel an anxiety attack might be creeping up.   That whole ‘at will' things is a blessing and a curse.

    I've been let go once before from a job for my mental health (back in 2008 I was hospitalized for a break down and missed a week of work, but my manager was a jerk.  It was a coffee shop job, which I loved, but I didn't enjoy it after a few months).  That hurt a lot, but I rebounded.   Getting fired from my “dream job” because of the aforementioned and to just see someone so disappointed in me really rocked my core…I feel like I'm failing at life in general.  I think I've cried more in the past week than I have in the past two years.



    Hi NezumiT,

    I can relate very much. When I got my BA in the Psychology and Social work profession, I so badly wanted to find an entry level job in that field. Then I applied at Hamilton County, because they often hire people out of school, no luck. Everyone wants the LISW, (Master's Degree). I got accepted to the School of Social work masters program, but by this time, I was over 50,000 in student (Stafford, Perkins Loans) debt, so I dropped out. No one in my family supported me. I had to get my degree mailed to me, because no one bothered or cared that I was graduating and wouldn't come to my graduation.

    What really hurt, was when my Dad, the person I thought was my best friend, and loved me unconditionally, said “what a waste of a college education” why don't you go to work for a fortune 500 company, like I did when I graduated from Harvard”. That hurt, because I knew and felt like a disappointment to him. So, I got a call center job as a Financial representative at one of the world's largest fortune 500 investment firms. Not good enough for my Dad. So, I studied and studied, they put me through school, I hated it to get my series 7 and 63 license to become a trader/stockbroker. My third week out in the floor, we had a snowstorm, blizzard like conditions. I wanted to call off, but figured I was too I had several anxiety attacks driving the 35 minutes, which turned into two hours to get there. Usually there are about 200 people on the trading floor where I worked and because of the terrible conditions, only 30 people showed up for work.

    My supervisor/lead in the floor told me to get on the “loop” to take junk bond calls. This is very complex, and new people should not be doing this until a year being there. I got monitored. I was so frazzled and nervous and have the called the wrong information. The supervisor stood up and called me “worthless” and yelled at me, in front of everyone. I started to shake real bad. They came over and told me to pack up my stuff, and I was escorted out of the building.

    I don't really know right now what my dream job would be. I do know I like rescuing animals and animal welfare. But, every time I think about even working again, if I do get better, I'm so afraid to get fired again.



    Hello NezumiT,

    I am sorry that you were fired from your job and it is unfortunate that “at-will” employment is allowed to do that. It saddens me that in todays society, mental health is always looked down upon as if it weren't a real issue and a lot of people lack empathy in that area. They maybe able to empathise with someone who has a physical health issue but not mental health; with that being said, I too suffer from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and depression so I kind of understand what you are going through.

    A quick background on my anxiety; it first started when I travelled abroad to study in college when I was 17 (i'm 23 now), I moved to a new country without family and friends and had to start a new life there. When the workload increased so did my stress levels and I developed anxiety and depression at a relatively young age; and without understanding what was happening to me and not being in my normal state of mind, I considered dropping out and moving back home. I had lost all confidence in myself and my abilities, lost a lot of friends as I became isolated, contemplated suicide and I just felt lost. Now fortunately for me, I was able to overcome some of these feelings and got help from therapy and moral support of family and friends.

    Just some personal tips that may help you with your anxiety:

    • Instead of questioning why this was happening to me, I started to embrace it and accept the fact that this is who I am.
    • I too like you, always worried about making others feel good and try hard to make them like me but this only adds more stress and worry, so my tip is to be a bit more selfish and think about what you want for yourself.
    • Consider going to cognitive behavioural therapy, it helps you change the way you think and react about common  day to day situations that we all are exposed to, helps you deal with them in a positive way. It can help you with your next job.
    • Always be positive, even when everything seems to be going wrong, always believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Remember that change comes from within, and you need time for change. nothing happens over night, so you need to continue to work at bettering yourself and always remember that there are professionals out there to help you.

    I really hope this post helps.




    I understand the fear of getting fired.  I thoroughly dislike the idea of starting over yet AGAIN…Although I enjoy learning, this repeat of new job, new job, new job just really eats away at me.

    I find, though it takes practice, that ‘The 4 Agreements' really helps me…I read this book over 10 years ago, and my husband is an avid follower of these principles.  They are as follows:

    1. Be impeccable with your word.

    2.  Don't take anything personally

    3. Don't make assumptions

    4. Always do your best.

    There's also a 5th agreement which is ‘Be skeptical, but learn to listen'.

    I mention these because once you are aware of them they pretty much remove all of the pain and suffering from your life.  I have no way mastered these, but it's a nice reminder and something to aim for.  Basically, once you learn these agreements you're the ‘sober one at a party where everyone is drunk'…lol…You see that other's are suffering, and that's why they are treating others the way they are.   Then you have compassion for those people because they're stuck in a cycle of suffering.

    Now that I think about it, the 4 Agreements are very similar to Buddhism…

    I also find solace in just simply talking about what's going on.  This is the first time I've  ever talked about my personal issues in a chat forum, but I feel that it's a safe place (since it's a compassion forum) and a good way to get some outside input (because my hubby can only do so much).

    I have no idea what my dream job is, either.  I guess I'm still in the process of figuring that out.  I've narrowed down the things that I'm good at and the things that I like doing/have done as work in the past.  That's helped me a bit.



    Hi NezumiT,

    Have you ever read the highly popular book called “Your Erroneous Zones” by Wayne W. Dyer. I highly suggest it. It came out in the 80's, and has been updated several times and continues to be a best selling book. Chapter 6 talks about “exploring the unknown” I will quote a phrase he writes on “doing your best”

    “The push to achieve comes from three of the most self-destructive words in our culture. You've heard them and used them thousands of times. Do your best! This is the cornerstone of the achievement neurosis. Do your best at everything you do. What's wrong with taking a mediocre bicycle ride, or going for an average walk in the park? Why not have some activities in your life which you just do, rather than do the best of your ability? The do-your-best neurosis can keep you from trying new activities, or work related activities and enjoying old ones. Why should you do everything well? Who is keeping score for you? Winston Churchill's famous lines about perfectionism indicate just how immobilizing the constant search for success can be. The maxim ‘nothing avails but perfection ‘ may be spelled PARALYSIS.”

    Pages 133-134.




    I love Wayne Dyer!  I haven't read ‘Your Erroneous Zones' but that's going on my book list.

    It's interesting that Wayne Dyer wrote this, because in the late 1990's (when ‘The 4 Agreements' debuted) he gave praise towards it, also ‘The Law of Attraction' (which is an awesome book in itself).  I accidentally forgot to mention that ‘always do your best' has more depth than just the superficiality of the ‘do your best' part.   That TOTALLY spawns paranoia and self-damaging thoughts.  Don Miguel Ruiz (the author of the book) elaborates a little more on this agreement (from the book):

    “…Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret…”



    Thank you for sharing your story and giving thoughtful input.  I was actually in CBT for around 6 years and it helped me greatly.   I stopped going because I had pretty much developed the skills to function normally, had gotten back on my feet and had work, etc.  I guess when things start going well in life, I tend to forget/neglect about the coping skills I had developed…It's like exercise: you get out of shape if you don't keep on working out.  I guess I got out of shape with mindfulness and keeping my coping skills in the current.  I just need to start getting back on track and focusing on the present, meditating, journaling, etc.   Sometime's it's so hard to schedule out a chunk of ‘nothing' where I just sit quietly.

    I wanted to thank everyone for helping me out during this traumatizing time.  Your input, stories, and assistance have really helped to ground me and realize that there are good people in the world:)

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