Job interviews, mental health, and aspergers

I have been job hunting for months now, and it is an exhausting, demoralising, confidence destroying, seemingly endless process. Filling applications form after application form, sending out CV after CV, day after day, week after week, it has ground me down to a state of apathy. With anxiety making the thought of how my application might be received overwhelming, and depression sapping away my motivation to nothing, I find myself missing more deadlines than I meet, and it seemed for a long time that no one would ever even consider employing someone as useless as me.

And then… an interview invitation. For a job I actually really really want. My first response it to have a panic attack, and 10 minutes later I’m lying on the floor calming down and thinking “I can’t do this”. But I can, and I did.

It took me a while to get my reply email done. The most difficult bit was deciding whether I should ask for any accommodations for having aspergers. I had declared this on the application form (I am very hit and miss about whether I do so, it is generally entirely random when I do), so I had the option. I decided to ask to have the interview question written down, as I have difficulty processing auditory information, especially in stressful situations. This request caused me a lot of anxiety of course, as I was worried about what it would make them think of me, so many people having such misinformed and negative views of Autism Spectrum Conditions. Actually managing to send the email was something of a personal success.

The next hurdle is interview preparation. Identifying possible questions and scripting answers, researching the job and the people involved. This is surprisingly hard with depression making even opening a computer seem like more effort than it’s worth, and anxiety making me over think every single thing and having to stop regularly to calm down (and then find the energy to start again). But I managed to get that done too, eventually.

Then the day of the interview itself. All I can say about this is ALL PRAISE DIAZEPAM! I would not have made it through the day without this wonderful drug. I have always rejected offers of pills to help with my mental health in the past but experiencing the difference a couple of pills make in my ability to function has made me seriously reconsider this, and I am going to talk to my GP about the options available. I took a couple the night before in order to get some sleep, and two more an hour before the interview, and the difference it made was immense. I still stuttered, and sweated, and felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, but I made it through the interview, answered all the questions in an intelligent manner, and walked out the door actually feeling good about myself. Asking to have the questions written down was definitely a good idea, and I think that being aware of my aspergers made the interview panel more understanding of my obvious anxiety, and knowing that they knew actually made me feel more confident.

So… now all there is to do is wait.


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