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Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Un-Working Girl Writes Again!!

Sorry it's been a while since I last updated the Blog. It appears that some people were worrying it had ended up in the Hobby Box, so here is an update on what's been happening since my last post:
1) I almost had a nervous breakdown!
2) I quit my well paid job.
3) I became an aunty to the fabulous J.Edwards. He's obviously been tipped off by my other nephew as he cries every time I pick him up, clearly fearful for his life.
4) Another of my friends had a gorgeous baby girl, Maya Gold.
5) The Evening Herald have ignored my pitch to become a columnist for them. (I'm annoyed about that. Part of the reason I have not written for a while, being a bad loser.)
6) I have applied (and been rejected) for countless new jobs.
7) By a weird twist of fate, I am now back working for the employer I took voluntary redundancy from, on a temporary contract, entry level job. Obviously it was not part of my 5 year plan to go back to the beginning of the career ladder and halve my salary, but since I can't afford to live off JSA (nor would I be entitled to it since I resigned from my job), I had no choice. In the current climate I am grateful for the job as I clearly can't get one anywhere else, but it's the hardest thing I've ever done and I have to admit I am finding it really tough. I won't go into it too much as I am just thankful to have a job but I have a new found respect for the people I used to manage and the work that they do.
8) I have not won the lottery. Sadly.
So I suppose I should back up the extraordinary claim that I nearly had a breakdown...
It all started so well at my last job. I couldn't believe how lucky I had been to get such a great job that suited my strengths so perfectly, and I was really enjoying the responsibility of setting up something by myself, managing my own workload and creating new processes. I recruited and trained 50 people, who were all ready to start work at the beginning of the university term, providing enabling assistance for students with disabilities. I was learning loads about different types of disabilities and how they affect peoples lives, I also heard many inspirational stories about students who, in spite of either severe physical or mental disabilities, were determined to get their degrees, and I was feeling really good about the work I would be doing to enable them to achieve this goal.
A couple of weeks before the start of term, it became apparent that most of the students who needed our help did not yet have their timetables, and I was unable to schedule someone to work with them until I knew when they were needed. And THIS is how I managed to become caught in the middle of a logistical nightmare that pushed me to the brink of destruction...
On the one hand I knew about all these students, some of whom couldn't actually attend university without an enabler, and on the other hand I had 50 employees desperate for work, wanting to know what hours they were going to be doing, and in the middle was a massive void where the one piece of crucial information I needed was missing. I was going home from work stressed and imagining blind students feeling their way round the university campus because I hadn't provided any support for them. During the day, I was still getting more students being referred to me, again without their timetables, so I was getting more and more worked up every time a new name got added to the list. By the time the weekend arrived, I would spend most of it on the verge of a panic attack, sitting in a trance or sleeping, and worrying about going back to work on Monday. One day I went to the park on my lunch break and just sat on a bench crying for 20 mins, then went back in and got on with my work.
At the same time as all this going on, we had a few family emergencies, which meant that my spare time was spent rushing around visiting poorly people and worrying about others.
It all came to a head one Monday morning when I was just about to set off for work. Mr G, who over the past 6 years has never failed to provide me with his shoulder to cry on, rang me to say his Nan had passed away.
All Mr G's family live some distance from us and he understandably finds it hard being away from them. He also rarely opens up about his feelings, and on the occasions where he does he certainly wouldn't come to me. So on this one occasi0n, that also happened to coincide with the first day of the university term, Mr G asked if I would mind waiting for him to come home from work. I could tell he was devastated, so I went to collect him and get him down to the train station so he could go home to be with his family. Whilst he was making the necessary arrangements, I found myself getting really stressed with him and snapping at him to hurry up because I knew that if there were any emergencies at work, I would be the only person who could sort them out.
I raced him down to the station and then sped off to work in a huge panic. When I got there it occurred to me that there may well be occasions in the future when I might need to take time off, but how would I be able to do this when I was the only person who knew what was going on with my little department? It struck me that the one time Mr G had needed me for emotional support, all I could think about was getting to work and I started feeling really trapped by my job. How would I be able to attend the funeral? I couldn't possibly take a day off work!
At that moment, the phone rang and I was given the names of another three people who desperately needed support in place by the following day and I just couldn't take it any more.
I sat at my desk crying my eyes out until someone took me outside to calm me down. The rest of the week passed by in a bit of a blur, I spent most of it in tears, I couldn't eat anything (the sign of a significant problem, in my opinion), and I was a nervous wreck. If I drove anywhere near the university it set me off into an anxiety attack and by the time the weekend arrived, I knew I couldn't carry on.
I couldn't take any time off as there was nobody else to do the work if I wasn't there, and even if I did ring in sick, I would have spent the whole time worrying about it and that wouldn't have helped me either, and when I got back to work there would have been twice as much work to do and I would probably have imploded with stress.
I felt that the only option I had was to hand in my notice, which in itself was obviously a dangerous thing to do because I had no other job to go to, I wouldn't be entitled to any help from anywhere and there was no guarantee that I would be able to find another job.
It was a huge decision to make but for the sake of my health I honestly felt like I had no other option, so on the Monday morning I told my employers I wanted to leave but that I would work my 4 weeks notice as I didn't want to drop them in it.
I took a huge knock to my confidence as I thought I had done a really bad job and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do any new job that involved even the tiniest amount of stress. By the time my replacement arrived for a 2 week handover, I had started feeling a lot better and I was reassured to notice that all the things I struggled with were things that she also found difficult too. My replacement is someone I have known for a long time and whom I consider to be very organised and logical so to see her raise her eyebrows at some of the obstacles I faced that I thought were just because I was crap at the job made me realise that whoever had done the job at the beginning would have found it just as difficult as I did. They might have dealt with the stress in a different way, but I realised that I did a good job up until that point.
So there we go. I finished that job about 3 weeks ago and went straight into the temp job I'm doing. I feel a lot better about things now, but for a while I was a bit of a mess.
Obviously we need to keep paying our mortgage and at the moment I am not earning enough to make ends meet but I just have to keep hoping that something will come up soon.
Needless to say, whilst all this was going on I did not feel like writing much and I know that this post is probably really boring but I thought it important to explain what's been happening.
Ok, now onto the fun stuff...


  1. Emily, you did a fantastic job setting everything up and if hadn't been for the outside work issues you would've been fine - anyone would struggle with the timetabling! We miss your bubbly self around the place. Hope you find something soon and don't be afraid to go for the same type of job, good luck. Jan x

  2. Aww thank you Jan for putting up with my hysterics when the going got tough! It's a shame things didn't work out and it was nothing to do with the company or the lovely people I worked with, I think it just wasn't meant to be! Miss you all. Miss having a cup of tea on my desk! Hope you are all ok xxx