Holy nerves! I had my first in-person interview today and I was so freaked out last night and today. I was tossing and turning most of the night (shut off, brain!). I couldn’t even stomach breakfast.

Thank God for coffee.

I spent time the night before prepping: reviewed industry news, reread the job posting, clicked every single link on the company website. I made sure I had crisp copies of my resume. I tried on my knock ’em dead outfit. I checked the directions to the interview. I was ready.

And I was slightly terrified.

Keeping my nerves in check is a lot of work. I’ve suffered from bouts of anxiety and panic attacks off and on for the past 20 years. I’ve learned verbal and mental coping techniques that usually work. There was a time, though, that the panic attack would take over and I was left powerless, breathing into a paper bag and reaching for Xanax.

But that was, thankfully, a long time ago. I’d actually gone years and years without an attack. If I ever felt the anxiety creeping up on me, I was usually able to fend it off. But just this year I had an actual panic attack at work. It came upon me like a slow-moving fog, thick and consuming. I was unable to stave it off – a sure sign I was over working myself (mentally at least)…nerves shot to hell. After that, I was hyper-vigilant any time I felt the panic coming back. But I was worried.

Then I was fired.

I feared the anxiety would be out in full force, ready to pounce…and it was. But I was ready for it and I did surprisingly, pretty much, ok (ish) – no hyperventilating or full-blown attacks. I used all my coping techniques and talked myself through several close calls. I had a To Do list at the ready to keep me from feeling overwhelmed. I could do this.

Then the time came for interviews.

And the anxiety flared up like a flame. I needed to tamp it down and fast. More coping. More lists. More deep breathing. More introspection.

Then an epiphany.

It occurred to me somewhere in all this that the core of my attacks seemed to be a feeling of being out of control. Maybe that’s a “duh” and not an epiphany, maybe it should have been obvious. But it was my turning point, nonetheless.

I realized I need to find control, even a tiny bit, and grip it tight. I need something tangible I can do or act on that will allow me to be in charge, even for a minute. I need to grab my fear and be its boss, not the other way around.