Work has been on my mind a lot lately.
The "bi/Lib Dem Singularity" that was August and September (between Prides, BiCon, Lib Dem Conference, and so on) made a hectic few weeks, and most things broke me at least a little. I missed some things (like Cumbria Pride and northwest regional ldconf), which was disappointing but I'm confident I made the right decision in not going and overall I'm happy with what I've been able to contribute to and enjoy along the way.
After Conference, almost two months ago now, I said "I'm not well enough to be working yet. I wonder about this every so often when I get restless or when I slip into the notion that the only way to lead a worthwhile life is via gainful employment (or something else inapplicable to me, like having kids or being a student)."
While I was away in Birmingham for that, Andrew told me he was having migraines nearly every day for a week. He woke up screaming once because his head hurt so badly, and finally went to the doctor. The stress of the immense amounts of overtime he'd had to do for us to be able to afford seeing my family at Christmas had increased his stress and thus his blood pressure to a dangerous level. He worked reduced hours for a while, and then had a couple of weeks off work, and now is on a phased return to work. I'm very proud of how well he's doing, and relieved that he's finally concerned enough to be more careful than when he thought he could just push himself infinitely hard forever.
He's made it clear he doesn't want to work in the sense people usually think of it; he wants to write for a living. So far his income from that is not enough to support himself, much less the both of us while I'm not-even-good-enough-to-be-a-benefit-
scrounger. He's written five books this year in his copious spare time and I'm proud too of how hard he's working on this despite work and stress and other health issues and every other kind of distraction a person has in their lives.
The last time I saw my nice lady at the jobcentre was at the end of September. "Have you thought about going back to work?" she asked me. She's kind and gentle, but the only thing that keeps me from throwing a tantrum is that my body could not express all my frustration and disappointment, even if I lay on the floor and pounded my fists and kicked my legs, even if I dissolved into a puddle like Amélie
Of course I've thought about working. I think about it all the time.
Mostly what I think is about what I a failure I am, and how I hate being dependent on other people, and how angry I am, and that I am
working to sort out the benefits, and in more than two years now have made exactly no progress. I think they're right and I don't deserve anything because I'm useless and worthless, or because there's probably nothing really wrong with me. I've been depressed my whole working life, and I've worked. Why should now be any different? I've been so ill and crazy I hardly remember my first job in the UK, hardly remember that whole year. I'm not even sure I'd want to remember it.
I think about all this, all the time.
And yet I think about the money I need. I think about the structure my days are lacking. I think about having something respectable to tell my family I'm doing when I'm over there on that unthinkably expensive Christmas trip.
And then I think about the insomnia and migraines, how there's been something wrong with me practically every single day. I cry at nothing, or anything. I don't look after myself or my surroundings very well. And these thoughts chase each other around and around.
I don't know what to do.
But I'm officially off the grid now. Last Friday was the deadline for me to have completed my Atos questionnaire and sent it back. My third in a year and a half. I can't bring myself to list everything wrong with me again (my focus and concentration are so bad now that filling in the section that asks about those things takes me the longest; the irony is not much comfort).
The nice jobcentre advisor has given up on me; I haven't heard from her since she fobbed me off on that lady who's supposed to help people get back into work or training -- but it's for people on JSA -- as you'd expect -- so no use to me. I don't want to go on jobseekers' because I'm afraid I'd have to end up accepting a job I hate or that is bad for me. and in the meantime I probably still wouldn't get any money for the same reasons I'm not now. I have fallen between the cracks.
So then I thnk about getting a job. Part-time, few hours a day, something desperately easy and monotonous.
And then I think about being ill. And I think about how the first panic attacks I had, before I even knew that's what they were, were when I was jobhunting.
And these thoughts chase each other around and around.