Looking for Work and Managing Anxiety and Trauma Symptoms – Interview

Being multilingual and digitally adept can enable one to work from home as a self-employed person but, as this interview suggests, maintaining a stable income can be difficult. Whilst the social demands of office and other types of job can be difficult for someone who experiences anxiety and/or trauma symptoms, an isolated work environment presents its own challenges. The following is a collation of answers provided to me via an online interview with a multilingual individual who has been self-employed for the past few years and experiences anxiety and trauma symptoms and who is currently looking for a full-time job.

I am technically self-employed and have been for a long time but I’m currently not getting enough work to actually make a living. Therefore I’ve been applying for jobs as I’m hoping to find a full-time job. I look at job advertisements at least once a week, usually more often than that and see if there is anything interesting. I normally use Google search to find ads but I sometimes look at more specific websites, such as Reed. I also have a Linkedin profile and I think it’s pretty good for finding ads for roles that match your experience. The role I’m looking for doesn’t necessarily have to be similar to my earlier jobs. I am hoping to find something office-based and the most interesting sectors for me are IT, languages and finance.

I had a video call interview some weeks ago. I remember being awfully nervous but once it started everything went quite well in my opinion. The person who interviewed me was very positive and smiled a lot which I think made it easier for me. There were a few questions about what I’m currently doing and what I know about the role so far. In terms of experience and language skills it would have been really ideal for me as they were looking for a bilingual person. I still don’t know the actual reason why I wasn’t put forward to the next interview, I imagine the recruitment agency had already found someone suitable as I soon noticed the ad was not open for applications anymore. It came as a surprise and I obviously wasn’t happy about it but job search has never been particularly easy for me so part of me is aware that things like this can happen.

They hadn’t scheduled a second interview with me but I received an email saying that I’ve been successful and they’re happy to have another interview with me. I received this email from the recruitment agency. Then a few days later I received another email telling me that there is no interview due to an earlier application for a different role I applied for directly with the same company and that because they already have my CV and profile on their system the recruitment agency cannot do anything about it. It sounded quite bizarre but I think they already found someone for the role as I saw the advertisement wasn’t open for new applications. Or maybe they simply didn’t like my earlier CV.

My experience includes working in customer service in call centres, sales and a short while working as a market research analyst. I’ve been self-employed for almost three years now I think although it hasn’t always been a very stable income as there’s not always enough work or projects. I enjoyed the freedom it gave me but it also made me quite isolated as I’ve been working from home. My work has involved different types of language and IT projects, such as audio transcription, search engine result evaluation and data entry.

I feel I got lucky. I was headhunted for my first (self-employed) project as they were looking for people with specific language skills. They must have found my details on one of the job sites. Once I took part in more projects I would get contacted by companies. There are also websites where I have applied for similar work. I didn’t require any other financial support until recently when my health got worse so I was on Universal Credit but I am feeling better now.

I am a native speaker of Finnish. I also speak Swedish, Russian and French although not fluently. I’ve always enjoyed learning languages. So I guess that makes five languages with English included. It’s mainly been language-related work but I guess good knowledge of grammar and writing skills can help too. Although those are related to languages.

I suffer from anxiety and trauma. I have had to leave a job before when I was feeling too anxious. There have also been managers who have not understood mental health very well. My energy levels have not always been great either because of not getting enough sleep so keeping a full-time job often has required a lot of effort. Currently I am in a much better place. Last winter was a difficult time for my mental health but I’ve had some therapy since then which has helped me a lot.

I have worked in call centres before so I should be used to talking on the phone. It really depends on the type of phone call. In call centre jobs it wasn’t as hard as I learnt what I was meant to say in each situation. However, I once had an analyst role where I had to make phone calls to companies and request data, that made me very nervous and I had to leave the role in two months. Social interactions in general can be difficult too with colleagues but it really depends on the type of people I work with. There was once a colleague that could be considered a bully.

I mentioned in some of my jobs that I have issues with anxiety but there was no particular support that I wanted. In one company the HR person was very understanding as she had similar issues herself. However, I ended up leaving that job in two months as it was very stressful. I was never directed to any kind of therapy or counselling by managers or colleagues and to some of them I had already told I was getting therapy through the NHS. My symptoms would include sleeping difficulties due to anxiety and feeling very tense.

 I did really well in school until around the age of 14 or 15. I struggled a lot with presentations we had to make for school as I got really anxious. Exams weren’t that easy either. I had some friends but they changed throughout the years as I went to different schools. I went to university in Scotland and I studied economics. I didn’t do well at all. I felt tired most of the time.

I grew up in Finland and moved to the UK to go to university at the age of 19. Whilst culturally those countries aren’t that hugely different as they’re both in Europe I still found the transition of moving here difficult because of anxiety issues and low energy levels. I feel comfortable these days.

The only support I had was the GP clinic. I wasn’t very well aware back then how bad my mental health was and I was more focused on physical health and energy levels. I only got help for mental health after I had graduated from university. I’m glad I have more knowledge on mental health these days.

I probably got into photography when I had my second mobile phone and the camera it had was much better than in the first one I had. I started making YouTube videos one winter as I didn’t have many other interesting activities or hobbies. The frequency varies depending on if I have work and my energy levels. I often run out of ideas on what type of videos to make. Some other interests I have would be museums and I guess languages.