Hey everyone! I'm Beth and I've been needing people to talk to who understand anxiety. I originally developed anxiety when I was away at college. I lost 10% of my body weight (a very bad thing for me) and was on medication. I had anxiety for about two years until I gave up caffeine and met my husband. Everything was going great but as everyone knows it just doesn't go away.
Well 6 years later I get a new job, my dream job really. I'm a primate keeper at a zoo (I worked in many other divisions throughout the zoo, but primates were always my passion). But unfortunately this has caused a whole new kind of anxiety.
In June of 2012 I was potentially exposed to a zoonotic disease from a group of monkeys i work with. The disease is fatal in 80% of human cases. While the risk of me actually contracting the disease are very low there is still a risk. I had to see an infectious disease specialist and be on antiviral medication. The fear of this disease caused such anxiety in me that I have never truly recovered from the stress of the situation. I work with the monkeys that could potentially carry this disease every day at work. And what's worse is my anxiety symptoms mirror the symptoms of the disease.
I wear personal protective equipment (much more than any of my coworkers) but the anxiety is so intense that I'm hyper aware of every little thing that happens when I'm around these monkeys (it's only 1 species, I work with many other monkeys/lemurs and I don't worry about them at all). Things race through my mind worrying about if water from cleaning is going to splash in my mouth or if the monkey shakes its head will saliva splash in my eye. Sometimes my mind tricks me into thinking i can feel drops on my face. Two weeks ago i got a puncture wound in the display (through two pairs of latex gloves) and the medics had to be called and the wound flushed and documented. It's horrible to work this way, my hand washing is starting to border on OCD. But I would never quit because I love every other part of the job and it took me so much time and effort to get here.
The anxiety from work holds over into my personal life now. I constantly think I'm developing symptoms of this disease which I know is completely unreasonable but I just can't help it. None of my other coworkers seem as concerned as me but According to our protocols we have to treat this species like it has this disease (there are false negative tests for it). i feel like its making me crazy and I wish I could just get over it. I'm kind of at a loss at this point.