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joystones
Community Member

Panic attacks when deadlines are close

I have been a freelancer for a long time and joined upwork in 2020. I worked with and maintained three amazing clients for the better part of that period and have worked with lots of new and amazing clients since then. However, I have now noticed that over the past few months (5 to 6 months) I have not been able to complete my contracts and have had to close the contracts prematurely.

I really hate this. I hate that I cannot live up to my end of the bargain. I do not like it one bit and I am seriously at a loss of what to do. 

I write novels (love the romance niche) and this usually sees me having to write around 10k words in four to five days. At the start, this wasn't so much of a big deal. But now, I have the ideas but can't seem to have it arranged and out of my head.

Then come the deadlines and I begin to experience panic attacks. I get periods of short breaths and I can't for anything check my emails. I become scared. 

I hate disappointing people, especially after making a commitment.

But now it seems like it's all I do.

My JSS is tumbling down in spiral dances and I now relent from applying for jobs. I have the idea that taking on less cumbersome tasks might just be the thing, but then again I think to myself - what if? What if the cycle continues? What if I just can't get the creative thoughts out in time to meet the deadlines?

 

N.B- And just for perspective, I do start on these jobs and continue on till when the deadlines are close. But all of a sudden, it's like a brain freeze and nothing else comes out.

I have been concerened about whether or not putting this out here is best (reputation wise), but have come to the conclusion that someone might have experienced something similar or has a few pointers that can really help me out.

Notifications are on, I hope you be honest and kindish

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martina_plaschka
Community Member

First of all, you need to see a specialist. This is not about deadlines, there are underlying issues you probably need to address. 

From a practical standpoint, my assumption is that a serious client doesn't expect you to finish a 10K word book in 5 days. A serious client doesn't want to rush you and get a sloppy result. 

So, if you believe that you can do it in e.g. 7 days, tell the client you will need 14 days. That way you don't need to stress yourself out and have enough time to polish and finish the text. 

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7 REPLIES 7
moonraker
Community Member

First and foremost, please speak to a professional. I am not qualified to give advice on mental health.

Although I can share something from my experience... Try to manage your contracts so you don't end up panicking when deadlines get close. Avoid having 'easy' days because you're deadlines aren't due yet. I'm not suggesting you're doing that, but it's a mistake I've made in the past. And don't take on clients that expect work done quickly.

But, again, I go back to my initial point... please speak to a mental health professional.

Thank you. I have booked now an appointment after reading the suggestions. To be honest, there have been some things that have happened over the past year that cumulated around the period when I first began noticing these changes. 

As regarding the deadlines, I usually started way before the deadline approached. But when the day began to draw nearer, I would notice a surge of adrenaline, kind of urging me to be more creative on the spot (at least it felt that way to me at the time). And then after that, I would sometime be eager for that surge of 'inspirational energy'. 

Well, whatever.

Thank you so much for taking out time to respond, and for the manner in which you did. 

martina_plaschka
Community Member

First of all, you need to see a specialist. This is not about deadlines, there are underlying issues you probably need to address. 

From a practical standpoint, my assumption is that a serious client doesn't expect you to finish a 10K word book in 5 days. A serious client doesn't want to rush you and get a sloppy result. 

So, if you believe that you can do it in e.g. 7 days, tell the client you will need 14 days. That way you don't need to stress yourself out and have enough time to polish and finish the text. 

Thank you Martina. I have scheduled a meeting with a someone. I had suspected at first, but I brushed it aside. I have reasons to believe it stems from my desire not to disappoint - is why I agree to those incredibly tight deadlines. I know there are other foundational issues which I won't mention here, but they could be having direct and indirect effects on my personal and work life.

I really appreciate your response. Thank you.

colettelewis
Community Member

Let us know how it went Justice.  You are not the only person to get panic attacks, particularly when deadlines approach - not necessarily work deadlines.  I got some help when I was getting them when I was in a particularly toxic job. So good luck, you are not alone. 

joystones
Community Member

Thank you, Nichola.

I talked to a professional and was advised to stay off freelancing for a while. During this period we went over my past and how/why I went into ghostwriting in the first place (seeing as I'm a trained engineer). Turns out I used writing as a coping mechanism to express myself. As I was helped to realize, I had made writing my escape from reality, etc. I relied on talking through novels and stories because it was where I could exhibit some sort of control over the narrative (my life and environment as lived by the characters I created/helped create).

In the end, I had become too attached to the imaginary world that I neglected some aspects of my life in the real world. And when it got to a time where I could no longer ignore the real world, both worlds began to collide. Not that I began imagining things, but my expectations for one became fused and interfered with the other. And reality doesn't always fancy taking a back seat.

I am getting better. Way better than I was before. I still get sharp breaths and my heart beats really hard when I'm trying to write a proposal. But it is less of a panic now. I expect it, and I let it out. 

Same as I'm writing this. I know everything would be fine. I might be a whole stairway off from my peers, but a step it is at a time.

 

Thank you for the update! I'm glad you are doing better and were able to address the underlying causes. 

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