Fear and trauma cut off access to the cognitive/ thinking part of the brain. So, when your mom was being critical it triggered fear, which sort of hijacked your brain and your cognitive brain was offline, which is why you felt you couldn’t think clearly despite having taken your medicine.
On of the best was to get past specific anxieties is to put yourself in the situations you fear and have a good experience. When that situation was painful and traumatic, that sort of imprinted on your brain: workplace = pain and discomfort and abuse. Now you need your brain to equate positive experiences with being in a workplace.
For example, I have anxiety, especially social anxiety. I wanted to major in communications in college but I felt I couldn’t because there was one public speaking class required and I had a paralyzing fear of public speaking. I did not major in communications.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m an author and parenting coach for ADHD. I want to give talks and presentations but I’m still terrified of it. I’m over 40 and the fear has not gotten better. But I’m really determined that I want to take on speaking gigs. So I accept an invitation to speak to 80 people. I was beyond terrified, especially when the event expanded to an audience of nearly 200. I literally felt like I was going pass out in the hour leading up to my turn to present. I was walking the halls in the hotel and giving myself an impassioned pep talk, freaking out. I gave my presentation, shaking the entire 45 minutes, but the audience was very receptive and it was impactful.
Since then, I don’t have the same severity of physical reaction and anxiety because doing it showed my brain that the outcome is more positive and my fear was irrational. My brain and nervous system just don’t react the same way to the idea anymore.
In your case, I’m wondering if doing some volunteer work before going back into the workplace might help. People are usually much softer and kinder to a volunteer and that positive experience will let you, your brain, and your nervous system know that you can have positive experiences in a work environment.
You have value to add to any workplace and they’d be lucky to have someone as thoughtful and caring as you. Remember that when the doubt creeps in.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism