Stigma still exists about anxiety disorders

I urge employers to show patience and kindness toward those with anxiety disorders. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images or feelings. Compulsions are used to get rid of the obsessions.

It drove me mad as I tried to reach perfection in the workplace. Employers have fired me in two days because I didn’t catch on quickly enough. I became so focused on performing a task perfectly, it slowed me down. I could feel the tension in the managers’ voices as they became impatient and frustrated.

More than anything, I wanted to please my managers and customers. I wished they understood how hard I was trying, how much I strived to succeed.

A stigma still exists toward anxiety disorders. They are not always visible to the eye. It’s a build-up of emotions, a constant fear of waiting for something to go wrong every day. Anxiety is the voice in your head saying that’s not good enough, but it doesn’t have an off button.

Here’s the thing: It is embarrassing to say you have a disorder. I feared if I told my employer, it would be seen as an excuse. So I kept my mouth shut to be fired two days later.

The stigma needs to end. Those with anxiety are often the most conscientious, detail-oriented people I have met. Albert Einstein, Howie Mandel and Charles Darwin all had or have OCD.

Look what they accomplished. Einstein gave us the theory of relativity, Mandel is on TV and Darwin gave us the theory of evolution.

So, employers, please be patient with us. If you give us a chance and forgo the initial judgment, we have the potential to be the Einstein, Mandel or Darwin of your company.

Cheyenne Keith