PTSD from work - Looking for support (and a pep talk) and self help resources whilst interviewing

R

RunningPrincess89

In my past job, my boss attempted to "constructively discharge" me and then ultimately fired me. In between, I was subjected to constant bullying by boss and a coworker, nitpicking of my facial expressions or responses (including attempting to collect Intel on my "bad behavior" from other colleagues and twisting many situations to show me in a bad light, sending copious emails documenting all of my so-called issues!), and, worst of all, being subjected to mandatory closed door meetings where I was emotionally abused and screamed and cursed at, even extending after work hours. I always tried to be polite, but in some situations, I was cold toward my boss and coworker -- which seems defensible given what was going on! I was well liked by all other people and teams I interacted with and I'm very capable at my job. The rest of the organization was in a reorg with no HR and there were documented issues with both my boss and the coworker (who had been demoted from running a large team due to fraud, but I believe my boss protected them) before I joined the team. After I was fired, I ended up being able to collect severance because my boss violated company policy via some of this behavior.

I have been in a great job for a few years and recovered a lot. However, now I am looking to move on to a new opportunity and the process of job interviews is bringing up PTSD symptoms. I am struggling with dissociation, getting emotionally triggered (panic, sudden tears), and avoidance. I am especially struggling to talk about myself and my skills because I have a low opinion of myself after that experience -- who is to say the new job wouldn't trigger me and I would act "rude" or "cold" or whatever my old boss said about me (after pushing me to the edge!).

I am looking for support (and a pep talk) and self help resources. I am going to try to white knuckle it through this interview process. :)
 

MaplePancake

New Here
Wow. I used to have a boss very similar to yours. Using meetings as an excuse to verbally abuse me, nitpicking facial expressions. Since you say you have a great job and you know you are good at it why change careers?
Anyway, as to your query about dealing with job interview anxiety, something that helps me is knowing that I don’t have to accept that particular job. (I realize for people in bad economic situations they might not have as much of a choice). I also remind myself that while they are interviewing me, I am silently interviewing them. I am mentally deciding if I like the people and would feel comfortable with them. This does fix all my anxiety but it helps me to feel more of an equal in the process. I know bring new is a very humbling experience but try not to think of yourself as just a subordinate
 

Mina

MyPTSD Pro
Oi! I can see why searching and interviewing would be difficult.

Is there any chance of creating a new or revised opportunity at your current firm, or advancing your position, since you sound like you’re doing very well there? If it’s viable and could benefit the company, perhaps your supervisors would be open to discussing this. Good firms hate to lose valuable employees, particularly now, when hiring and retention are especially difficult. Personally, I have been astonished and humbled by the lengths to which some employers have been willing to go to retain me. That is to say, with PTSD, we often undervalue ourselves and don’t see what others do; maybe this is also true for you.

If you do decide to pursue new employment, @MaplePancake is right. You already have a job, and don’t have to leave it (I assume). So you’re basically interviewing THEM to see if THEY meet YOUR expectations and standards. This is your show, and you get to write the script.

Not sure what field you’re in, but I find I’ve been mistreated far less at larger companies than smaller ones. I don’t know how universal that might be, but being in a heavily structured professional organization with a real HR department, actual job descriptions, formal reporting, training, etc has always been a better experience. It’s been the smaller businesses where I’ve encountered the worst nitpicking, bullying, disrespect of my personal time, and tolerance of bad behavior.
 
Thank you for your answer. I'm sorry you had to go through it -- it's awful, isn't it?! I am finding it frustrating to have gone through it, mostly recovered, and now finding an open wound again years later. I'm thinking it is being triggered by the uncertainty (what if it happened in the new job?) and being judged in an interview feels a little like being judged by a hyper-critical boss.

I think I have a good enough reasons to leave - the new job pays a lot more, and my current job encourages us to leave after 3 years, though I would probably be allowed to stay longer.

It is a good point to think of the interviewers as (mainly) peers. That helped me calm down. Thank you.
Wow. I used to have a boss very similar to yours. Using meetings as an excuse to verbally abuse me, nitpicking facial expressions. Since you say you have a great job and you know you are good at it why change careers?
Anyway, as to your query about dealing with job interview anxiety, something that helps me is knowing that I don’t have to accept that particular job. (I realize for people in bad economic situations they might not have as much of a choice). I also remind myself that while they are interviewing me, I am silently interviewing them. I am mentally deciding if I like the people and would feel comfortable with them. This does fix all my anxiety but it helps me to feel more of an equal in the process. I know bring new is a very humbling experience but try not to think of yourself as just a subordinate

That is to say, with PTSD, we often undervalue ourselves and don’t see what others do; maybe this is also true for you.
This is so true! And I agree with large firms >> small firms, that is also my experience. My organization would retain me and I could find a more mobile role but my function would have to change a lot, so there are tradeoffs. I think it's good that I can stay longer and figure it out if I don't love this interview process, though. I'm feeling nervous, but like normal nervous now, not like "I'm a failure and I deserve to be treated bad because I am weird and can't play the politics game" nervous.
 
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