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We got Christmas plane tickets yesterday. Less than a grand, which is a lot less than we'd been fearing. But not much less than a grand, so still involves juggling money around and me being so stressed I not only make Andrew sort it out, I don't even want him to give me options or ask me questions unless it's absolutely necessary. It was a vague relief that it wasn't any more expensive than it needs to be.

I still haven't heard back one way or another about the job I interviewed for last Thursday. I told myself I'd email them today to ask but then didn't because just the thought of doing so made my also in prickly and my stomach clench. My anxiety is still on a hair trigger right now. They can tell me later why I didn't get the job, if they want, but I don't expect to get much useful feedback from these kinds of things so I won't mind if they don't.

Todsy I idly tweeted that I follow so many linguists that I'm starting to be jealous I'm not one. Andrew took this and ran with it, researching what kind of student loans/grants I could get and whether local universities have linguistics courses on clearing. He's even set me up a UCAS account, bless him. It's always bugged me that I never finished my degree, and that I was doing the wrong degree, and at the wrong time. But none of that has ever made me feel like I can do anything about it before, so I don't know what's feeling so different now. A little part of me is really loving the possibility, though.

Interview

Jul. 20th, 2017 03:36 pm
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I told people I didn't have my heart set on the job I interviewed for today, but they ended up running a half hour late by the time I got asked on, and I spent that half hour in the café talking to the finance/admin person, who was basically there to open the door before the café opened and chat to people. We talked about our dogs (she has lurchers!) and bringing family over to visit (she's Dutch) and what this place is like to work for (friendly and relaxed, and it seemed lovely when I saw her interacting with co-workers). I saw the person I vaguely know which is how I found out about this job, and she chatted with me about the local Pride planning since that's how I know her, and she complimented the brooches on my waistcoat (well, neither brooches nor waistcoat are mine, [personal profile] mother_bones loaned it to me so I didn't have to wear a suit jacket in heat or humidity) and...

In one way it was really nice not to have to just sit and wind myself up while I waited. The bus timetable meant I got there about fifteen minutes early, too, because it was either that or be late, so I'd actually been sitting quite a while and it didn't seem like it at all with someone nice to talk to.

But it did mean I ended up really really hoping I get this. Which is really really inconvenient.

I had vague answers at some points where I think specific ones would be better. But the interviewers seemed more impressed with me than I would've been if I were them, so I dunno if I'm being too hard on myself or they're just really nice. Well, they are really nice, but I don't know how much that was masking their thoughts!

They said they hope to have an answer for us by the end of today or else tomorrow. So at least I don't have long to wait.

I woke up long enough before my alarm this morning thst I was both extra-bothered by needing a haircut and actually had time to do it. So I did, and I took picture after I got dressed (in my fancy clothes, not the grubby ones I walked the dog and went to the post office on first) and put it online and have had a lot of nice and supportive comments. I know selfies can boost self-esteem but I don't think I'd ever actually had it happen to me before! So that was fun.

hollymath: (Default)
...I will go to another job interview and pretend I am not the kind of person who starts their interview prep the night before.

Ugh. I have to do a presentation and I hate presentations. At least it doesn't have to be powerpoint.
hollymath: (Default)
I didn't get the job. Boring details about that. )

Anyway, almost as soon as I got home from the interview, it was time to leave again. Part of me wanted to sleep for a week but I'd arranged to go to the theatre with James and Jennie and Other Holly back when I couldn't have known what a tiring week this was going to be, and the rest of me knew that I'd feel better once I got myself there.

And I did. We saw "The Play That Goes Wrong," which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it. [personal profile] miss_s_b's review is here (very slight spoilers) which is lucky as I think I'm getting a migraine so should get off the computer before I could write one myself.

To hers I only need add that she was awesome for giving me a little impromptu audio description, which especially at the beginning of the play where the gags were all visual was very welcome because we were sitting way at the back and so I was doomed to hearing people laughing a lot and having absolutely no idea why, which wasn't exactly the mood-lifter I needed. I was worried someone would tell us off for Talking During the Performance but luckily no one did and it totally made the experience for me. There were lots more dialogue-based jokes later on and some of the phsyciality was stuff I could just about discern, but I still would have felt like I'd missed out on a lot if it weren't for my kind friends.

We were a pretty noisy audience eventually anyway, so maybe I needn't have worried. Some asshole to the left of us started shouting "funny" things (as opposed to actually funny things) almost right away, and continued to throughout the first half. And eventually, the po-faced actor/director-playing-the-inspector's tantrum included "Despite appearances tonight, this isn't a pantomime!" and I feel I earned all my British-citizen cred by being the first person (from what we could hear, anyway) to shout "Oh yes it is!"
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And it's just as well I've got my passport and marriage certificate and stuff back, because I'm going to need them tomorrow because I've got a job interview.

For a job helping disabled people get jobs, so I think I'd be the best at it frankly, but we'll see.

Cue me finding this out at 4:30 this afternoon, it being at 11:10 tomorrow morning, and me wishing I could spend the rest of the evening looking for suitable clothes and identity documents and stuff (honestly, we get all our bills paperless if we can; it's hard to do this these days!).

And also having a big WI event to help with, starting in about half an hour, so I can't even a) properly devote myself to this or b) go to sleep, which is what after all this overwhelm I really want to do.
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2015 was going to be the year of sorting out.

A couple of friends and I told each other this as we were around each other's houses, helping with DIY or painting the kitchen, accompanying each other to scary meetings and helping each other write scary e-mails and catching each other up on the progress we'd made in getting counseling, going to the gym again, talking to the GP about that thing that'd been bothering us, making difficult phone calls about money...

I started the year with two big things pressing upon me: Get A Job, and Get Registered Blind.

Cut for ridiculous length. )

Tuesday

Dec. 2nd, 2014 09:56 am
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So, here's what I said was my accomplishment for yesterday:
Finally started the grim process of signing on, throwing myself on the dubious mercies of the DWP a few months later than our bank balance could afford, but as soon as my mental health would possibly allow. I've only begun the process and it still made for a draining, miserable, headache-inducing afternoon.
I have a lot to say about my job-hunt and jobs and work, and what I want to, can and should do with my life (and whether there's any overlap between those three things)...but I'm just way too tired for that right now. I've swung back to insomnia from hypersomnia (it's always one or the other, lately) and I had an incredibly demanding (though good!) weekend before this grimness yesterday, so this is all you get for now.

I just wanted to say I still feel pretty rubbish today, which I think it might be related to all of this, and there are a ton of difficult or dull things I should be doing today but so far I've only been able to eat leftovers and watch DVDs, and feel small and lonely and cold.
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I was asked at work Friday if I want to go on the train-the-trainer program my work is doing next week.

(I was already going along anyway: in my role as office manager, it was thought good for people to meet me and stuff. I know some of the soon-to-be trainers but not all, and the ones I know, I know in different roles than the one they'll be taking on, which will involve me being kind of a communication hub and keeping tabs on them.)

When I was asked I thought, "sure! Why not?" I have seen the course being delivered (all the way through over my first year in this job, and we're halfway through it again now) and I thought from the very beginning that running it looks like a pretty interesting and cool and fun job to do.

I've never done facilitation or training on anything like this level, which would make it good fodder for my CV (especially because as well as the explicit standing-up-there-with-a-flipchart stuff, there's tons of one-on-one coaching and stuff that go on, especially between the residential blocks of the course, and that too is good skills I don't see how I'd acquire otherwise). My boss has talked about funding me going back to university, but it doesn't sound like we have the cash for that right now, so I should be looking for other kinds of "personal development" stuff like this. And of course it'd mean more money, and since our costs will shoot up when we buy this house, that would be especially welcome now.

But this obviously gives me a lot more work to do, in both the short- and long-term. Short-term I'd be much busier this week, of course. I have to prepare a session to facilitate for half an hour, on a random subject of my boss's choosing, as well as be, y'know, engaged with everything everyone is doing throughout the week, rather than just hanging out at the back daydreaming about how much I'm going to enjoy my weekend.

Longer-term, of course, this'd mean I'd be traveling across the country running this course. Or, as I immediately thought, perhaps more likely to fill in, definitely at first anyway, if someone's sick one day or something. I like the job I have now and would want being a trainer to supplement it, not take it over.

And it would be pretty long-term: After this upcoming week, I couldn't possibly be a trainer until May at the absolute earliest, and that'd be unlikely (considering that I'd be expecting to be last-minute cover); I'd almost certainly not be doing this until autumn, or possibly even next year.

Yet by the time I was on the bus home from work, I was already wondering if I'd made the right decision.

I hope not too much of that is because of the short-term considerations. I am and have been, since November or so, feeling particularly overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by the prospect of this week away even when I thought I wouldn't be very busy for it.

It's not by any means only work that's leaving me feeling overwhelmed, but work's one of the few things asking if I want to take more on, the rest of the world just seems to be demanding all I can give it, if not more. So even if the work offer would be more beneficial to me than some of the non-work demands, the work one's the easiest to say "no" to -- I don't think there would have been many negative repercussions if I'd said I didn't fancy it on Friday, and I don't even think there'd be a lot now if I told my co-workers I'd changed my mind after some thought.

And I'm particularly wary of agreeing to travel, even as an infrequent but regular part of my job. I'm conscious of how much the travel is wearing on me lately. It's not great for my mental health, it means nothing at home (from food shopping to dishes to buying more toothpaste to sorting out house-buying) is getting done for days at a time while I'm away, it's very hard on Andrew, it's even having a negative impact on my relationship with James.

But it's frustrating because possibly the single biggest thing my mental illness has taken away from me is the ability to judge things like this. If I'm dithering about whether I want to do something -- it can be as small as "go out tonight with friends" or even, when I'm really bad, "get dressed and leave the house" -- I don't know which narrative to follow. It could be argued that jollying myself along and pushing through will be better for me: I'll be happy I did it once I have, I'll be better off in some way. Or it could be argued that by giving in to sofa and pajamas (or whatever "not doing that thing" looks like, depending on what the thing is) I'm in tune with what my body and/or mind need, I'm pracicing good self-care. The more ambitious thing could seem masochistically foolish, or the easier thing may be construed the worst kind of poor character and laziness.

I can make either argument for pretty much anything -- at pretty much anything I've gone to, you can bet that I'd previously nearly convinced myself not to go. Somtimes I'm very glad to have done whatever-it-was, but I remember many times I've gotten home, kicked off my shoes and thought "well that was a waste of my time and efforts!" And of course I'm racked with guilt nearly every time I stay in, I'm worryingly incapable of enjoying indolence. So it feels like I can't win, sometimes, and there have been periods in my life where I'm sure I'd have better results deciding what to do by flipping a coin, rather than bothering with my careful deliberations that always seem to bring me to the wrong conclusion.

I really don't know what to do about next week now (which effectively atarts tomorrow evening, as I'm getting a lift to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we'll be spending the week). I have Yet Another Sinus Infection, which on top of previous and concurrent overwhelment means all I want to do is go to bed and stay there until something else seems like as good an idea as staying in bed now seems to me. This is no way to make a decision about my future career goals and skills.
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I read this today and, though I'm not at home with babies, it resonated with me a lot.
How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I'd explode...I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband -- when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I'm not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don't try to FIX IT. I wouldn't have my day Any.Other.Way. I'm just saying -- it's a hell of a hard thing to explain.
I'll not comment too much on how my workmates and the people on the course we run resemble "tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats" (who my days are sometimes "completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of"...!), I'll just say that I feel very well understood by this -- I feel, as the article writer says, "really being seen and known," and she talks about precisely the importance of feeling known and seen. Which I don't, really, when I'm away for work, and which I think made it so welcome and so soothing for me to read today, a day when I was strung-out on the effects of insomnia and mysterious abdominal pains that have been with me off and on for a week or more but were Very Much On today. As she said, it's lonely not to be able to explain how you feel, even if it's just because you're too tired or too inarticulate or because you're not even sure yourself how you feel.

I don't think I can use the same solution that the article writer does here -- I can't imagine taking very well to being asked "when did you feel loved today?", nor asking anyone else that (though I do try to be aware of what I'm asking and making sure it's appropriate: I already explicitly don't like asking "How are you doing?" of some people because I know that crafting an answer can be such a burden in some contexts (it certainly can be for me!) and I'd rather say "I hope you're doing well" because that's what I really want them to know, not "you owe me an update"). But sometimes it's worthwhile to see your thoughts and feelings so well represented, even if there are no ready solutions.
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I love, love, this meme going around my flist/circle where people offer dates they can write blog entries and ask for suggestions of things to write about.

I keep thinking I'd love to participate, but then I keep reminding myself that I write as much or more than almost everyone else, and clearly don't need any more incentive to do so!

But do feel free to suggest stuff you'd like to see me write, if you'd like.

#

Meanwhile, I really should be asleep. I need to be up early for breakfast -- I'm away at a hotel/conference centre for three days for work. Tomorrow's only the second day and it already feels like I've been here a week. This always happens: they're packed, busy days that leave my brain feeling so Full of Things that I worry some will slosh out my ears if I move my head too quickly.

I'm not looking forward to the trip home -- I got a lift down here but have to get a train to London, two tubes across to Euston, wait for the off-peak train at seven and then get on a train back to Manchester that will no doubt be rammed on which I cannot have a seat reservation -- but I'm looking forward to being home again. Life's been so hectic lately, I'm glad I've got a nice chilled weekend to look forward to.

I do miss Andrew but it's lovely to have the cricket on as I go to bed without him whinging and making me turn it off.

lately...

Dec. 2nd, 2013 02:20 pm
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I seem to have the work/life balance of a Mars rover.

Exciting!

Oct. 30th, 2013 05:52 pm
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My boss just asked me what I'd like to do a degree in, if I could do anything.

"Linguistics," I said right away.

"You can think about your answer first, if you want to!" he teased.

But I have! I've been thinking about it for ten years!

He's told me to look into what I'd need to do that at one of the local universities or the OU or whatever.

I don't know how likely this is to happen, but it makes the 3.5-hour drive home (well, to Stockport where I have to get a train) a little more fun.
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Today I'm not writing about house viewings, or anything about buying a house really (it's the most malevolent barrel of monkeys; I can't dredge up any little bit of it without all the other bits attacking me), or how my boss's certainty that we're forgetting something major ahead of the big deal that is work next week is no help to my anxiety at all, or the breathtaking incompetence of NatWest, or that I've been so exhausted this week I tried to use the phrase "losing coherence on what feels like a molecular level" to describe it, or how dismayingly hard I find it not to talk about stuff I have been asked not to talk about, or the way my life is bringing me amusing meaningless coincidences -- you're not all flirting a lot more lately, but it does kinda seem like it -- or how I can tell how badly I'm doing by how overwhelmed I get when anyone anticipates even the most minor thing that'd help me and offers it to me.
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I'm feeling ridiculously run-down lately, and having thoughts that I think are indicative of me needing a little holiday.

But I find myself with the same problem with that I had this summer: I don't have any mental energy to put into planning one, I just need it to appear fully-formed in front of me.

That actually kind of worked out this summer, in that BiCon gave an arbitrary time and city to aim for, even if I ended up not actually going to it. So I can hardly expect such luck again!

I don't really know why I'm crashing so hard lately. I had a much easier September than I might have done -- I avoided all the bi/Lib Dem Singularity this year, however unintentionally, and work was a lot lighter in September than I'd originally anticipated it would be.

Part of me is thinking, if I feel this shitty now, what will I be like in a month when work finally starts the next round of the course we run, this time not 20 minutes' walk from my house but far enough away that I'll be gone for three days at a time every six weeks or so.

The other thing is, the house-buying plan hasn't made any actual progress but the psychic pressure has increased enormously because of a couple of things. One is the government moving the 5%-deposit scheme, which we're planning on exploiting, forward from "January" (which I already thought was frighteningly soon) to "a few weeks from now."

The other is Andrew having lots more conversations with his dad about everything from practical considerations (how much we'll be lent, what it'll cover, plans for getting any work done that the house needs before we move in, etc) to some fairly heavy emotional components in why it's so important to Andrew's dad to help us get our own house...about which I will only say that they're more than enough to have dissolved any internal resistance I had to the idea. I was feeling a bit sulky and wanting to drag my feet before, but now that's all gone.

Still, the reason for my resistance -- that there's tons of mental and emotional as well as pragmatic work involved in buying a house that I don't feel Andrew and I are best equipped to do at the moment, what with him still ill from stress as he recovers from the coping behaviors and habits his shitty previous job instilled in him, and me just, well, being me -- is still there.

I recognize this as a subject likely to make me anxious, so am using some of my tricks for dealing with anxiety. The one that's working best at the moment is Thinking Around Corners. I can't think of "buying a house" full-on, but I can think of, say, trying to declutter before we move as something managable I can be getting on with in hopes of making the actual moving process a bit easier or less stressful when it happens.

So I'm inadvertently starting to think of all our possessions as burdens to be packed and moved soon, and while this has inspired me to fairly ruthlessly clear out clothes I don't or can't wear any more and help Andrew sort through his comics -- both of which have been a great relief -- it's generally a big stressor for me anyway, the clutter and how I feel kind of powerless about it. There's a whole nother post about that, though, which I started the other day but stupidly lost. I want to go back to that, though.

And other things too. Pretty much all the logistics of buying a house are hugely intimidating to me, which makes me feel like a huge failure as an adult. But Andrew promises to sort out the bank/mortgage stuff, though obviously I'll have to be involved too, and [personal profile] magister seems conveniently interested in actually thinking about what kind of house would be good and furnishing the house, which dovetails nicely with Andrew's complete lack of interest in those things and my unwillingness and/or incapability (I don't even know which it is, at this point) to be left to determine every single thing about the house basically all by myself. [livejournal.com profile] haggis has also made extremely kind offers of help, as someone who's recently bought a house (and not just that but roughly the kind of house and location we'll end up with too, so the situation's as parallel as it can be).

We'll get there, I know it. I just...yeah, I could do with a break. And nothing much has even happened yet, work- or house-wise.
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My boss was heaping praise on a piece of work I did, the other day. Which was nice to hear, because I'd worked really hard on it and it ended up being a bigger and more time-consuming task that I'd thought -- and that's before I factored in the week that was basically lost to the internet/phone problems, the dreadfully blocked sink, looking after Andrew who was particularly stressed about the lack of internet and about having to shout at a lot of people who work for BT, and going out in the evenings in a desperate attempt to patch together my sanity.

Anyway, it was a relief to hear good things about my work, because I wasn't feeling many of those. Particularly with this being just a bit of an even bigger piece of work, which I had said I'd do but had achieved very little despite many hours of stubborn effort and many days of constant stress about it.

So clearly when he said all these nice things about what I'd done, I must have replied with something about how much longer it took than it was meant to, and how much there was still to do. Because he made a point of turning to me and saying "Take the compliment!" with a little laugh.

I laughed too and held up my hands in surrender, but I was thinking Damn, it's been years since someone had to say that to me. I've consciously made an effort at not arguing when people say nice things about me. I'm a lot better than I used to be. Or I thought I was!

It's a sign of how much I'm struggling lately, that all I can see, all I have time or energy for, is what still needs doing, what crisis needs managing today, what has taken too long or not been done well enough. It's difficult to accept a compliment on something you've done if your sense of achievement is in negative figures.

At the beginning of the second meditation class this week, we were asked to chat to someone else about how we were doing. The guy next to me and I sarted talking about how easy it was to see everything still left for us to do and how little attention we pay to everything we've achieved already.

This is a well-known thing about me, putting my self-worth into what I can do, so having little when there's lots left undone. Dwelling too much on how stupid that is will only make me feel bad, and that won't help anything, so I'm trying to just be aware of it. And of having to again be really careful with not arguing when someone says something nice about me.
hollymath: (i love)
Today I have been mostly getting really excited about a work thing coming up in a couple of weeks.

This time I do actually get to go to London with my colleagues, for a two-day conference.

"I have never really done an exhibitor stall at a conference..." my boss said. I laughed bitterly. It seems all I do for LGBT+ Lib Dems sometimes. So I went through the list of stuff the conference runners could provide for us, made suggestions of what we could put on the stall, and felt pretty good about that.

But then I found out that the posh dinner I'd been told we were signing up for on the evening between the two nights at the conference wasn't just posh ("have you got a posh frock?" my boss asked me. "Or can you sort one out?" which I waved off with all assurances) was a really posh dinner when he asked my colleague later "have you got a black-tie dinner suit? it's black tie." Suddenly I have to find out what the girly equivalent of black-tie is, and get it!

I texted [livejournal.com profile] greyeyedeve, with whom I'd already been planning a clothes-shopping trip, and predictably she said this sounded like fun.

Then I got another text from her that said "and you'll need shoes!" Oh god, I replied. I hadn't thought about shoes! "And a bag!" she texted soon after. Jeez, I'm glad I got help in this. I've never had to deal with anything like this before.

It sounds fun.

But weird.

But exciting. As long as I have help!
hollymath: (i love)
Since I started working, I've started doing a lot of other things too.

Looking for a book on a shelf one day, I ended up knee deep in stuff I'd unearthed from our understairs cupboard, never finding the book but inspired by untidiness and poor organization to make things as much better as I could. I threw away broken musical instruments, stacked up dead computers to be taken away for recycling at some point, even got Andrew to help in culling a few books, and have much unburdened myself to charity shops.

I have made more conscious efforts to keep on top of household things like doing the dishes, taking out the bins, and other menial chores I sometimes look upon with despair. I slide back into bad habits sometimes but overall there is marked improvement. Anyway, the general message of it not mattering whether I hate to do something or not is good for me.

I've finally gone back to the gym, after months of thinking "but I'm too tired anyway, why would I go somewhere just to tire myself out?" and other such unhelpful nonsense. Of course I feel good for it; what I really miss on grey days isn't the vitamin D from the sun but the idea that it can be welcoming to go outside, take a walk, or whatever. The gym replaces some of that (though I keep meaning to get myself a lightbox to help with the genuine dismay I feel at four o'clock when it's getting dark out).

And I have promised myself I'll stop drinking soda, at least in the house. It's so awful for me and I like it so much. It was only earlier this week I decided this (after drinking too much on a stressful day did actually make me feel ill and then I didn't like it so much!) but it has made me feel better: I can see now how people like the sense of control that restriction diets give them, so much that I'm not letting myself think any more about what foods might be "good" or "bad." I've never had an eating disorder but, once I knew what they could actually be like, I have retrospectively recognized habits and thoughts that come close; little wonder when my culture so encourages disordered eating in everyone, especially women. But I feel there's no downside at all to giving up fizzy drinks! I did have Pepsi with my fast-food dinner yesterday (which caused me no anguish, I'd already expected to allow myself that little bit), and it was pretty delicious; I enjoyed it guiltlessly and thought no more of it, which is a good sign.

Generally, for all the bad days (and I'm writing this today partly because today is one: not only do I have time admist all my lounging around but also because I want to remind myself of the general upward trend), I'm doing really well lately. I think it boils down to the job, which doesn't mean I think ill people should stack shelves in Tesco for no money because of "the dignity of work" or other such rot, but because I'm doing interesting, challenging work in which I am respected and well-paid. I'm very lucky in that.

But that working, which has eaten a lot of my time and energy, has also inspired me to take on so many other, new or long-neglected, endeavors means that I am overwhelmed by work and worthiness, and waiting for fun to appear as if by magic (I have no energy to expend on arranging it!), but for the most part I am happy.

Work

Nov. 16th, 2011 02:33 pm
hollymath: (down)
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.
hollymath: (i love)
"Haven’t heard from you for awhile," the e-mail started, "so am wondering if you have fallen back into your funk?""

Yes, I've gotten uncharacteristically bad at answering e-mails. Even this one languished in my inbox for several days before I got around to reading most of it, much less replying (good thing too, as it reminded me of fairly important stuff I'd forgotten all about!). It didn't help that, I think, that first line put me off.

I guess a word like "funk" is open to interpretation, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. Funk sounds like a mood, or an illness like a bad cold: annoying but self-contained and relatively brief.

I know this person well enough to be confident that she doesn't mean to be flippant or dismissive. It's far more likely that her choice of words is due to the Minnesotan tendency to not talk about stuff like this, and to downplay it if you do talk about it.

Still, I start to wonder if one of the reasons people with mental health issues seem to be wallowing, overstating their case, self-pitying or looking for sympathy, is that we so often have to try to explain ourselves to people who think we've chosen to indulge a bad mood or the brain's equivalent of a the sniffles.

I was, again uncharacteristically, blunt in my reply: "I didn't have a funk to fall back into. I have either crippling anxiety, keeping me uselessly jittery all the time, or paralyzing depression, leaving me all but incapable of doing the simplest things."

It's kind of ironic, really, as my poor e-mail correspondence of late, my altogether patchy presence online for that matter, is not due this time to my being an inert ball of flesh but quite the opposite: I've been busy.

I've been helping to encourage and arrange bisexual presences at local Prides (Oldham last week! Liverpool this week), debating whether to go to the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference, playing my first gig ever with the band Suzie Does it and practicing for loads more... and getting jobs!

For most of this year I've done a couple of hours a week helping a friend of mine to clean house. It's unknowingly become the trend I'm following now, as i've got two new part-time jobs working, basically, for friends of mine.

At a friend's suggestion, I'm applyinng for carer's allowance for a friend of mine who's eligible for it, whose partner couldn't get it for what seem like silly reasons, so I was asked. I'm rather touched and honored as well as doing my best to formally take the responsibility seriously. The reasons for my friend needing a carer are related to mental health, and while this might seem like the blind leading the blind (ha) since i hardly have the best track record in that area myself, I like to think that my experience as a mentalist myself, and in working on a psychiatric ward, will actually lead me to be better able to respond appropriately and helpfully.

My other job is really exciting, and I'm very pleased that the person I'm doing it for is also excited and went to a lot of effort to help me get it. This other friend of mine is a disabled student who is allocated a note-taker for his lectures. This means i get to go back to university myself! And I'm getting paid for it. Plus I'm helping a good friend, who last year had to worry about a note-taker who was sometimes unreliable or wrote unintelligible notes, thus rendering his lectures useless. It seems a big deal for him to have someone he can trust taking on the role... and if nothing else, he knows where I live!

It's also partly at the instigation of this friend that I'm starting to think seriously about what it would take to get me going back to university myself. One of the things I'm hoping to do with the money I make from these little jobs (after all our credit cards are no longer maxed out!) is apply for British citizenship, something i have been meaning to do anyway but which I haave a lot more motivation to do now that I found out it'll give me access to funding and grants and loans and things to go back to school, rather than being a foreign student with all the exorbitant fees that implies.

In looking online at the lectures I'll be taking notes for (history, rather than something impossible to transcribe like linear algebra) my mouse wandered towards the linguistics section, and absolutely all the courses listed there looked delicious to me. I don't know what on earth I'd do with a linguistics degree, but I'd at least not have to feel restless and unsatisfied with myself every time I think about academics or look at my CV or any of the million other little ways that not having finished my degree now affects my life.

It's all looking stupidly straightforward and wonderful now. After months of languishing in despair about my nebulous future, things suddenly fell together in such a perfect way for me that I'm almost spooked, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which is not like me, and I think is evidence of how big a change this represents -- if not in my day-to-day life at this point (term hasn't started yet and my other two employer-mates have been on holiday!), certainly my thoughts about the weeks and months ahead, which has been exactly what has been most uncomfortable to think about.

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