So I got a new job. It’s all very cool and very exciting. I’m incredibly happy and a big grin spreads over my face whenever I remember. I’ll be providing practical support for people who have a mental illness and who also live in supported accommodation. I’m taking a hefty pay cut and will be working shifts over 24 hours. Our lives are going to change! Bring. It. On.
This post isn’t about that so much because I have another post planned. Sort of. In the way that I plan anything, which I don’t really. This is just a splurge post because argh and weirdness.
My mental health went tits up around three months ago and I didn’t tell my boss regardless of who advised me to, not husband, not mentor, not therapists. I can’t trust him. Thing is, the cognitive effects of mental ill health have a delayed effect and they are slamming in now. They were ramping up in the few weeks before I went on holiday but I trudged on and tried to fight them. I got back from holiday to a couple of pissed off bosses because I had forgotten to do one thing I had said I would do, and was late with another. So poor academic boss had to do some work for a couple of days and wasn’t best pleased about it. Professorial whinging aside, fair enough. Once the stomach lurching and uncomfortable meeting with the other boss, the main boss, was over, I sent the required grovelling apology. I am gooooooooooood at apologising. In fact, I have been trying to stop, my therapists were trying to help me to stop. Now, as I am faced with an increasing list of things I have forgotten to do in recent weeks, and the consequences of being too scared or depressed to do a list of other things, the only thing left to do is apologise.
Such an emotional meltdown this week. A day and a half on sick leave – with the work related box ticked. Last week, in the uncomfortable meeting, after being told I need to communicate better, after nodding and smiling and knowing I won’t, I was told to provide drafts of things for things that have an actual September deadline. Right, OK. So I didn’t for a couple of days because I knew they wouldn’t be good enough and I’d be criticised. My first meltdown happened on Friday. Finally on Monday, when I became more scared of being told off for not doing them than I was of being told I’d done them badly, and after I had already stumbled upon something else I’d forgotten to do, I sent them to my boss. Naturally, they weren’t good enough and I received a terse email in reply. “I am surprised this is so sparse.” I don’t remember much of the rest but I know it contained a list of all the things wrong with it and expectations for improvement, which is a bit odd because why should it be good enough? It’s not due until September. I dissolved in my office, shut the door, hid in the blind spot and proceeded to break down in style. After a while I knew I needed to get out before I was spotted so I slapped more makeup on to hide the swollen eyes and dashed round the corner, found a seemingly quiet spot of pavement, sat down on the fucking floor in the middle of London and sobbed out my fears and failures and can’t-cope-ness in a ridiculously high-pitched and too-fast voice to the friend I know who understands me the most. On a pavement. With people walking past. Staring. That’s a low point right there.
Of course, it didn’t help that I was waiting to find out if I’d got this awesome job and had convinced myself I hadn’t got it and would be stuck in this nightmare job for the rest of my life. I did the most sensible thing I could have done. I went home. Later that day I was offered the job. God only knows what the woman thought of me, she had to repeat it three times before I understood what she was saying.
I went back to work yesterday and quit my job. Whoop! Boss was visibly relieved. He’ll be as glad to get rid of me as I am to get rid of him. The pretence can be dropped. This is the wrong job for me and I’m messing it up. I won’t have to work my full notice period (three months, FFS) and I have to come up with a list of tasks, do what I can, hand over the rest and leave. Excellent. I still have to get through what notice period is left though. More fucked up things have come to light today and although my boss is being quite nice, quite jovial in a condescending way, with his acknowledgement that I’m in the wrong job, that makes it quite easy for him to place responsibility for fuck ups firmly on me. He ain’t going to get away with that. My mentor is continuing with her advice – keep him at arm’s length. Good and necessary advice for this job. But she has now expressed such happiness for me that I am not entering a third year of intolerable pressure from a boss who remains wilfully ignorant of what it means to line manage somebody with a severe and enduring mental illness. He will know on Monday that I have been ill for some time and hiding it from him because our working relationship has been so fraught since I got ill last year that I don’t feel comfortable telling him anything. He will know that I am not forgetting everything simply because I’m bad at this job, I am forgetting everything because that’s what happens when I get ill. The cognitive problems that accompany and follow episodes of mental illness last. They never really go away. Each time I seem to lose a few more brain cells and I’ve now reached the limit of how much I can function in this job. There are just too many things to juggle. And I have no support.
Our disability advisor at work died last month and I have missed her so much this last week or so. I am so sad that I can’t tell her what I’m going on to do. She would have been so chuffed for me. And when I broke down on Friday and Monday I had nobody to call. She would have known exactly how to help me. She was my only support in this job. I see my mentor once a week and she is a lifeline, but on a day to day basis there’s nothing and no one. He will know what he has done. It will be brief on Monday because all I really want him to know is that I have been ill and I will continue to struggle keep up with what I need to do until I leave and I have deliberately kept this from him because he is untrustworthy. The full exit review will happen when I leave. That will be delicious.
Mental illness doesn’t go away just because things are good. Mental illness goes on holiday with you. It goes to the pub with you. And it follows you to work and fucks you over even when you’re so happy you could burst. But I am so happy I could burst. :)