Today is payday. It’s my first payday since December 2009, which was mainly notice pay because I hadn’t worked for some time when I received that final pay. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my experiences of my first 3 weeks at work. Please forgive me if it’s a little bit muddled – it feels a little bit like a whirlwind.
So, my anxiety/panic levels continued to be quite unmanageable for the first week. I had many panic attacks, sickness etc. It was grim! However, after an increase in the Pregabalin I started taking recently it has really settled. It’s now back at my usual level, which I can manage. Such a relief!
However, despite this anxiety the actual work has been going well. My line manager said that I (and my new starter colleague) have taken to the job “like a duck to water”. Of course my head has other ideas but when I look at things objectively, he’s right. I’m doing a role with which I am familiar – Gateway Assessor, I’m good at it and I’m enjoying it. Yes, I’m having to learn about the resources and support available to people in the Rochdale, Middleton, Heywood, Oldham areas but the general knowledge re benefits, debt, employment, housing, and more is something with which I am comfortable. I love the CAB and I love being able to help people! In a way, I can’t believe I am being paid for a job that I love 🙂
In terms of my colleagues? I couldn’t have hoped for better. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and friendly. It’s a lovely, supportive environment and (to an extent) I have been open about my mental health. This came up in the context of a conversation in the office when the mental health caseworker was talking about one of his clients. No-one batted an eyelid and I’ve not been treated any differently.
What has surprised me over the last 3 weeks is the level of tiredness. I expected to be tired given I have a 1hr 50 min commute both ways each day and with it being a new job and not having worked for quite some time. However, I was not expecting the level. I’m absolutely exhausted. I spend the rest of the week recovering. I’ve had a lot of judgments of myself for this but have allowed them to come and go through my mind, observe them as it would be said in mindfulness circles. I’ve validated my difficulties and practised a lot of self-compassion. I’ve been kind to myself, taken the time needed to rest. This is effective for me. If I spent my time engaging with the judgments instead of validating truths and being compassionate towards myself I would quickly find my mood deteriorating and spiralling into a low. Being low is not going to help me stay at work; it wouldn’t allow me to enjoy work as I currently am.
But it’s not just work I’ve had to deal with the last few weeks. When I came home after my first day of work and having been out of the house for nearly 12 hours, I was greeted with a letter from the council notifying me that my housing benefit was being suspended. Given that I was going to have no income anyway this month due to benefits stopping and nothing ‘til payday, this made me panic. How on earth would I be able to pay my rent this month?! I spent some time curled up crying before realising that I never do well whilst hungry and fixed dinner instead. I have had letter after letter, many conflicting, from the council, and now from HMRC. I’ve had to spend time during my days off work going to welfare advice so that the adviser can scan in documents to fast-track changes to my housing benefit and I’m having to do that again today. Now I just laugh at the absurdness of it all. I’m still getting letters. It’s going to take a while to sort out. I’m awaiting a tax credits decision. I’m also having to sort out my tax code; I had a mahoosive chunk taken out of my pay this month. I really didn’t need this on top of the stress of starting a new job but I’ve managed it, accepted it.
Outside of work, as many of you know, I’ve had my discharge planning meeting and yet again more (serious) chaos within my family. This is life though, isn’t it and I’m so glad to be a part of it again!