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Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Hi all!

So last September I decided to intermit my university cause for a semester to help get my mental health back on track. I had such a paralysing fear of failure (basically anything less than 100% in my eyes) that writing essays became to feel like pulling out teeth. In the end, I was getting extensions for every single assignment until it came to the point that I could barely write more than a sentence. I'm a high-achieving student and I really want to do well, so it was for the best to take some time off for myself.

But because I took time off, I was cut off from my student centrelink payments and now I have to be on a job search payment (which I need to be on to help support my family). I feel like this is hindering rather than helping my mental health: rather than allowing myself time to focus on the positives of who I am and heal, it puts my difficulties in the forefront. I've never worked (apart from year 10 work experience), I'm in my twenties and still can't drive due to anxiety, nor could I have a role in any kind of customer service ('good teamwork skills'... I can barely make eye contact). I just feel completely worthless. Not to mention rejection after rejection after rejection, adding to my feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness due to fear of failure... 

I'm just in a really difficult position and I feel worthless no matter what I do. I'd probably still be paralysed by fear at university and I can't find work so I just feel useless and worthless. 

Thanks for reading. 

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Hi @Hozzles! Wow. I don't have much experience with Centrelink but that sounds really tough. It was probably a good idea to take some time out for your mental health though. I was doing around 45 hours of studying a week, including in the holidays, during my university course and was really glad when it finished because I felt like I needed a break for my mental health and to get some practical experience before postgraduate study. I was studying so hard trying to get good marks and keep my place in the dean's list that it was almost impossible to do anything else.

If it makes you feel better, I am also in my twenties and still can't drive. I have a lot of anxiety about whether my health problems will flare up when I drive. My sight also hasn't been stable and under control until recently, so I couldn't even pass the sight test. I'm going to take some professional lessons soon because my parents are too scared to get into a car with me. I think it's best to start off with small steps such as just being in the driver's seat and learning the controls. It's never too late! I know someone who didn't drive until they were in their forties, another person who didn't start lessons until they were around 30 and a few other people who didn't start driving until their twenties. Just know that you're not alone Smiley Happy

It's really painful to not be able to get a paid job. Are you able to do some casual volunteering in the meantime? I'm an introverted person and I learned a lot through volunteering. Your university might have some opportunities. I'm also having a lot of trouble finding a paid job in my field so I'm doing a lot of volunteering in the meantime, which I can put on my resume. I have also taken some other courses, webinars, seminars, etc. They usually give you a certificate that you can put on your resume and a lot of them are free and online. You might also be able to put academic achievements on your resume as well as your Year 10 and ReachOut experiences. Additionally, you can try getting a reference from volunteering work or from someone at your university.

Good luck! I'm rooting for you! Smiley Happy

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

hey @Hozzles, I'm sorry to hear that you've been so stressed out and I hope that you're getting support in addition to talking to us at RO. 


I understand why you feel the way you do because of your situation, and it's really strong and thoughtful of you to recognise and make a decision to improve your own health. In addition to taking some time off, I think it could be really helpful for you to see a counsellor or a psych of some kind using the mental health plan to help you cope during this difficult time. It can also be really helpful to address your perfectionist tendencies in your writing...know that you're not alone in this situation, and there are also lots of online resources that you might find helpful if you don't feel up for seeing a psych (like this one). Another great way to get some more support is to see if there are any local groups for anxiety or depression in your area....I was part of a group like that for about a year and the members were super supportive in both 1) making you feel not alone and 2) giving really helpful advice.


Job hunting can be such a soul crushing and depressing experience for even the healthiest of people, and it's super hard for young people like us trying to just get a chance. @WheresMySquishy has also given some really great insight, and I hope that it helps in making you feel less worthless and useless, because you are absolutely not!! You are a hardworking and caring person who is struggling in a way that lots of other people are struggling, you absolutely deserve tons of validation and support.

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Hey @Hozzles !
Let me first say that I admire your choice to intermit your university for a semester. Those decisions can be hard to make, and recognising and responding to your needs is a big accomplishment!

It sounds like you are going through a tough time at the moment and the added pressure of looking for work is understandably taking a toll! I just wanted to reassure you that are you absolutely not inadequate or worthless! Finding a job is just one of those things that is tough for everyone. Unfortunately rejections are common, if not entirely inevitable, no matter what stage in your career you are in. I understand that even knowing that it can he hard to not take those rejections personally.

I was wondering what kind of jobs you are interested in? Having this in mind, it might be good for you to try writing down some of your motives and strengths which make you a strong candidate. I did this recently for my job hunt and it didn't only help me speak more confidently during interviews, but having a premade list of why I could be a valuable employee helped me take the rejection that little bit less personally. It may or may not help you too, but hopefully you find something that works for you!

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Thank you so much guys, you're the best. Heart I haven't been on for a while as I've been feeling quite ill lately (physically) but I'll try to respond all at once!

Firstly, thank you for praising my decision to take some time off. It's been super hard recognising that this is what is best for me. As I said, I'm a perfectionist and if I'm not out doing anything I feel miserable and get really hard on myself. 

I'm looking to see a psych soon. The few problems are: 1. I'm a psychology student and I feel like it's 'wrong' to go see someone when I should know myself what's going on. I know it's really wrong to think this way because everyone deserves extra help, and every psychologist specialises and has knowledge in different areas. 2. is that I've been through so many psychologists/ mental health specialists in my life that I'm just exhausted of having to relay my story over and over again whilst nothing really seems to change. I'm trying my hardest not to lean on these excuses and I'm doing research to see if I can find anyone in my area that specialises in treating OCD. I've been letting friends and family know how I'm feeling, for a start. Groups sound like a good idea, too, I'll also do some research for those. Thank you for the link @DirtWitch, those exercises made me cringe when I read them so that probably means they'd be really good and helpful. I'll be sure to look over them more later. Smiley Tongue 

As for the job search I'm feeling a little better, for now. I am doing quite a bit of volunteering that helps me a lot both socially and in my areas of interest (e.g. here + my local headspace). I'm looking into doing a few online courses, as well as physical courses (first aid etc). I'm not really sure what kind of job I'm looking at right now... I've been thinking something along the lines of sales or admin to get my social skills up and help people. In saying that I'd love to be working in disability/elderly support but, again, I don't have the right certifications as of yet. 

You're all awesome, thanks and thanks again! Heart

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Hey @Hozzles 


I'm glad to hear that you found the responses on this thread useful. 


It's really good that you are reaching out for help! I also really admire how you are being open to your friends and family about your difficulties. It can be really hard to admit and discuss one's own challenges, so it's super brave of you to do so. 


What sort of courses are you considering at the moment?

Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

@Hozzles  thanks for updating us on your situation and I'm glad that you were able to have a look at the exercises!


I get that seeing a psych can be really difficult, and I think all your concerns are valid. As someone who is also a psych student, I want to say that unfortunately stigma against mental illness in the community is real, but the proportion of psych students/psychs that experience mental illness is actually much much higher than what people think. At some point most psychs will probably have a mental health crisis; it's estimated that rates of mental illness are even higher in psychs than the general population because of the stigma and the pressures of their jobs. As you know, because psychs specialise in helping others they tend to prioritise their own wellbeing last, and honestly I think lived experience of mental illness can actually make you a better and much more compassionate practitioner.


I'm so glad that you are taking the steps to reach out and talk to your friends, and you should feel proud of yourself for having the strength to recognise what you need and act on it. I agree that it can be a really exhausting process to find the right practitioner for you, and it's an unfortunate reality that it takes work to find someone who is a good fit. I think talking to friends (and possibly attending a group) is a great way to find support in the meantime, and I'm glad to hear you're feeling better about the job search also!


Re: Job search while trying to get better - feeling worthless

Hey @Hozzles 

The joys of Centrelink, as much as I am thankful to having access to them, they can really drive you mad at times. 

I am actually in the reverse situation of you, I was a job seeker and then I went back to study as my job prospects weren't great. I am almost finished my studies and I am dreading going back to being a job seeker. 


There is nothing wrong with being a psych student and seeing a psychologist. My psychologist has said that the best psychs are the ones that have seen someone their selves as it means they have lived experience and know what it's like to need help. 

Finding a psych can be hard, especially as you want to be able to connect with them, could you maybe ask around and see if anyone in your networks knows of a good psychologist? 


Once you have found a good psych get them to write you a medical note to suspend you from job seeker activities temporarily (I think there may be a special form they need to fill out to but look online or ask at your local Centrelink office). This is what I did and I was paused for 6 months and then when I went back I was with a disability support job seeker agency which meant I had different activities and they took into account my mental health. It's been worth it for me and the extra support has been really helpful. 


In terms of looking for work my tips are:

  • It's not what you know but who you know - let people know that you are looking for work and you never know what jobs will come your way.
  • A lot of jobs like admin jobs require a TAFE certificate - its now a mix of experience plus a formal qualification. There's no harm in applying for those jobs but it's something to keep in mind.
  • Disability support is a great job and you don't need any formal qualifications to work in it if you know the right people. I did it for a quite a few years as I knew the right people, maybe look at volunteering with a disability support agency?
  • Just because you don't have a uni degree doesn't mean your completed studies are worthless - a lot of places see a part degree as something of value especially mental health organisations and support organisations plus you are only taking a break so it's not like you have walked away from studying.
  • Just keep applying for jobs - the more jobs you apply for the more chances you have of getting a job. It can be hard to keep going at times but eventually things work out even if they aren't what you expected.

Hopefully this all helps, I'm also always up for answering questions about centrelink/venting about them Smiley Happy


Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!