First, stay alive. Second, get out of the place you’re in.
—Quake instruction manual
Today seems to have represented both the worst and the best emotional states I’ve experienced recently. To summarise my current situation: while I may not like the job I have right now, the next worst thing happened on Monday when they overheard me saying I was searching for another job, and they told me I was on my one week’s notice, and that Sunday will be my last shift.
It’s probably for the best, as the shifts have been making me ill: not having evenings or weekends takes a massive toll, especially on a possibly-autistic routine-craving person like me, and I’ve ended up not having a free evening since last Friday (the only two free evenings I’ve had, I’ve done social stuff on). I spent two years sorting out my physical and emotional health, and in a couple of weeks it feels like both have been almost wrecked… mind you, I was becoming desensitised to the sordid nature of the material we deal with, and perhaps a normal 9-to-5, Mon-to-Fri job at the same company would have been fine.
(The sickest thing of all, which could only have been conjured up in the depraved imagination of the most perverted lunatic… the NIGHT SHIFT!!!)
Either way, I’m having to search for work all over again, and it’s not going as well as it did during that week in October when I kept my grandmother company… I’ve applied for far, far more jobs and called up far more recruiters this week than I did last month (not helped by the fact that 3 Mobile can’t provide a decent signal in Finchley at the moment — thank $DEITY for Bluetooth headphones), yet I feel I’ve got less to show for it, and every day I’ve felt a great deal of anxiety about the future — worse than I was feeling at my job, when I thought I was helpless.
But hey, even if I don’t get an IT job right away, I can always do a temp admin job, right? Well, direct me to the nearest high street temp agency, then… I got very frustrated tramping around North Finchley on Wednesday afternoon, discovering several restaurants where Google had told me these agencies existed, and although I later found one right around the corner from here, today I went in and discovered, er, I shouldn’t have been able to go in at all (someone had propped the door open with a fire extinguisher), because they don’t take visitors.
This seems to be the way things are now: if you want temp work, instead of handing your CV to a temp controller on the high street and waiting for them to find you work (which I used to do back in the days of the dinosaurs), you have to sign up to every website going, phone up recruiters in these closed offices and chase, chase, chase, the same as I’m already doing with “proper” jobs. It feels like applying for jobs is itself a full-time job for me — and worse, unpaid…
There must be a way out of my situation, there simply must be. I’m planning to visit a Citizens’ Advice Bureau next week, to find out what my options are: does temp work still exist as something you can be put forward for without having to interview like everything else, or can I sign on the dole? My anxiety won’t go away on its own, I have to remove the cause — but can I count on getting a decently-paid job in time to save myself from running out of money?
Actually, something my doctor gave me this morning seems to have helped: there I was at work, on my third-to-last evening shift ever, feeling depressed about my situation, and then I read through the pamphlet he gave me on anxiety, and it seemed to help. Not so much in terms of its advice, but rather, er, the fact that I was able to write on the back of one page and try to calculate a puzzle I’d seen on Facebook!
Yes, much like my yoga class on Tuesday night, the movie I saw with “best mate” on Wednesday night, my boxing session with my personal trainer on Thursday morning and my attempts to study SQL during my Thursday evening shift, distraction was what I needed — my anxiety reduced, my mood levelled out and my stomach stopped misbehaving. And on this occasion, I was able to marshal my thoughts and vow, out loud (well, whispering), that I would carry on, that I would get a job in IT and earn enough to stay in London and carry on doing the things I enjoy — and that even if the worst came to the worst and I had to move back to Worthing, it wouldn’t be forever, because I’d keep applying, and one day go back, even if I had to stay in a hotel for a few weeks…
Perhaps my mother was right, and what I really need to do is get a job outside London, most likely in Surrey — I’m not so desperate to remain in this exact house as I was before. There’s the mobile coverage issue, and the fact that British Gas won’t be able to survey our loft for free insulation until January (maybe by then the landlady’s men will have cleared out the junk that’s up there?) after I postponed them; it’s almost as though Finchley is trying to convince me to move on. In an ideal world I could move somewhere on the Jubilee Line (sharing with “best mate”, of course) and commute down to a good IT job in Waterloo, and have my mother move up to Surrey somewhere on the Waterloo train line. That’d certainly be the best of both worlds…
(Okay, in a truly perfect world I’d have the job of oiling up bikini models in Hawaii, but I know when I’m asking for too much!)
Anyway, I felt strangely better after vowing to myself to carry on — to stay alive and see through whatever’s coming. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep properly tonight — and hopefully next week I’ll be able to re-establish my old routine, and not have to miss out dinner (or have it at lunchtime) because of evening shifts. And at least at the weekend I don’t have to apply for jobs — instead I can, er, play games and relax. Well, until my evening shift, anyway…