I associate work with anxiety and depression. I have just done four days' work and I feel pretty anxious and depressed. I haven't got depression, though. I passed the NHS online questionnaire with flying colours so I know I'm not depressed.
Before I was made redundant in June I'd had two years of worry at work. The company was insolvent and it was my job to decide which Peter to rob to pay which Paul. The creditors all took their turn to be Peter or Paul. I had sleepless nights and panic attacks, finally culminating in a redundancy ending 25 years at the same firm, the first 22 years being reasonably happy ones. There were plenty of other redundancies too and our working family had been destroyed. It was a hell of a wrench leaving but a hell of a relief, too. My emotions were all over the place.
And so to jobseeking. I was calmer on the dole, though sleeping too much. I went through the jobseekers' hoops, applying for jobs I didn't want just to get their measly £67.50 a week. But I wasn't getting shortlisted for these shit jobs, anyway. After 100 applications and three failed interviews I was giving up hope of getting one. I didn't need them, anyway. I had money in the bank to keep us going for some time.
Then I struck lucky. I got two interviews in a week. Shit money, highly pressurised. I couldn't believe my luck. I had a bath, dressed up in my suit, had a shave, combed my hair, just like they advised me to on the Getting a Job course. I got on well with both the interviewers. They both said how extremely busy the jobs were and I said I don't like sitting around doing nothing. They reiterated just how busy and stressful the jobs were. One of them said she'd been to see the Foo Fighters at the O2 with her daughter. I said I would have liked to have seen Nirvana at their peak. She said she really liked Seasick Steve. I said I had a friend who used to like Seasick Steve! We were getting on like a house on fire.
She didn't get back to me but the other woman offered me the job. I accepted and told everyone I knew that I wasn't a loser any more, after five months' unemployment I'd got a job and I was back in the land of the normal.
I received congratulatory texts and cards. I geed myself up for the job. I'd have to start sleeping less. I did. I had hardly any sleep for the next six nights.
My manager worked from six in the morning till eight at night. There were two other staff in the office. Nobody spoke to anybody else about anything other than work, and that was a rare occurrence. The three of us had our desks facing in the same direction, one in front of the other. My desk was in front of the window, looking out on miserable buildings, cranes and piles of skips. Most of my job involved matching up copies of purchase invoices with purchase orders, scanning them and sending them to other members of staff to authorise, then when I'd received the go-ahead to pay, initialising the original invoices and filing away the copies and purchase orders under the relevant job numbers. All very simple except looking for the purchase orders on the server was complicated by the fact that every purchase order initiator had his own way of saving them or didn't save them at all. Oh, and we were two months behind with entering invoices on Sage because my predecessor had left without warning at the beginning of October.
I had half an hour for lunch and nowhere to go for a sandwich. I made my own sandwiches to bring in - cheese and piccalilli, cheese and Branston pickle, cheese and Vegemite. I ate at my desk, reading Twitter on my phone. Nobody spoke in their lunch hour. Nobody had anything to say about anything. The world outside did not exist.
On Monday I had another batch of invoices placed on my desk. I looked in vain for the purchase orders. I stared at the computer screen for five minutes, stared at the miserable buildings and the cranes and the skips for five minutes, holding back tears of frustration. I decided to leave that evening and never come back.
So since then I've got all emotional. My anxiety is back. I can't imagine a job I'd be able to get without the result being this reaction. I've booked an appointment with my doctor for next Tuesday. I've never met him before. I don't know what to expect from him.
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