I’m Back.

I keep making promises that I cannot keep – and I apologize for that. I keep saying I’m “so busy but I’ll write soon!” but then I just don’t. My advice is not to have any real expectations when it comes to me and my writing. Sometimes I will write, sometimes I will not.

Pardon my mental illness, but it’s all part of it.

I’m overwhelmed with life. There’s nothing more I can say than that.

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This is how I nap: beautifully: topless with my hair strewn gracefully across the pillow on my clean, crisp white sheets, a faint smile on my lips….

When I started my blog, I was on sick leave. I had nothing but time on my hands, and reflection was a big part of my healing. Writing helped that.

Now, I do have enough time to write. I still spend a lot of time napping, watching hours of Netflix and make terrible television program choices, and I read a lot, and I bet I spend more time than anything scrolling through Pinterest, not looking for anything in particular. Not even pinning anything. Just kind of looking at things.

My point is that I have not added anything significant to my life aside from a regular old 9-5 job, which we all have, and which I have had in the past as well without incident.

But after the humiliation I experienced this fall (I can’t believe it was like 6 months ago now…), life has changed a lot for me. I feel like talking about it today because I am home sick, but I am actually well enough to sit up and feel boredom.

You can tell you’re really sick when feelings of boredom don’t arise. You can tell when you’re (hopefully) getting better when you are bored.

I have technically – on paper – put my old job behind me. I made my arguments and made my peace as far as anyone on the outside is concerned, but things have not settled for me in my mind.

It’s something I’m working on ignoring. Not in an unhealthy “swallow it all down and deny” kind of way. Just in a “these feelings will pass, don’t focus on them, don’t think about last year’s incidents constantly” kind of way.

But it is still very present in my mind, and therefore, in my life.

I have some severe scars following my dismissal from my job (read about it here if you have no clue what I’m talking about). The very short version: I was on medical leave for 6 weeks for my anxiety and depression, and on what I was told would be my first day back at work, I was fired instead. This multiplied my anxiety and depression in ways I’d never experienced, but I did find the courage to hire a lawyer, settle out of court, and move on.

The scars have two main branches, I’ve noticed. One involves my new work persona. The other involves being in public.

Don’t Talk To Me

I’ve been at my new job for almost three months now, and despite a couple of very unfortunately-timed bouts of illness (it is nerve-racking to have to call in sick when you’ve only been there a month; aka PLEASEDON’TFIREME), things are going well there. The job is a breeze so far, the people are nice, and my boss is really great too. There’s nothing I can complain about – so why am I so unhappy with it?

I go to work, do my work, actually take my lunch break, and then clock out at precisely 4:00 and head home. I used to work through every single lunch hour, and I never left when I was scheduled to be. There used to be (and still is, I hear) a dust cloud of gossip and stories hovering in the office at all times – I can’t recall a day I went in and didn’t hear some story about someone. Now? I really haven’t even overheard anything. People exchange recipes, ask about vacations, and update one another on their spouses’ medical issues. People certainly aren’t gossiping about me (although right now? I’ve been away sick for more than a week so they may be wondering if I have Ebola or something).

I’ve noticed, though, that I am reserved. I am not funny at work anymore. I am not trying to make friends, and I don’t start conversations. If a few people are sitting in the lunch room, I quickly go in, get my food, and hurry back to my cubical to eat alone. I never ask my group about their home lives or families. I never go out of my way to compliment anyone. I smile when I enter a room, but I don’t say anything or make eye contact. When group events arise, I opt out.

I don’t want to make friends when I don’t actually have control over whether I will ever see them again. I lost nearly everyone (except Work BFF) at my old job – poof, gone. No one reached out, myself included. I know they must know I was fired, and they’re not going to compromise their own jobs by befriending an employee who was fired.

I have thought about connecting with a few of them, but I can’t handle the potential for being ignored. Being ghosted. Being rejected. And now, so much time has passed that it would just be straight up weird to contact someone.

Those people, who I felt were my family, are just lost now. Just a memory. I am trying to come to grips with that, and I am discovering that I am certainly not cultivating friendships at work the way I used to, in all of my past working career.

Now, my job is just a place where I work.

Don’t Look At Me

I now work in the same downtown district as my old work’s offices. We are only about two blocks away from one another. Every time I am near their offices, I can’t ignore the heavy feeling that there is an invisible dome surrounding it that signifies it is Their territory. Not mine.

Now, this is our busy downtown core – the business district, the shopping district, the tourist district. It is an area that belongs not only to this city, but to everyone.

But not me. I walk swiftly, hunched, eyes darting from side to side, head down, just trying to get to my destination as quickly as possible without being seen. I feel like someone in exile, someone who isn’t allowed to be there, and that I’m doing something wrong or dangerous. Like the police could arrest me at any moment and humiliate me for thinking I had any right to come anywhere near this area of downtown. I don’t belong here, it’s Their territory.

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All I see is Them. Somewhere, probably. 

Every time I enter an downtown establishment, I search the room – not for my companion, but for Them. Are They here already? Had They had the same idea for lunch today? Is that Them, also here for the movie? Are They also picking up bread at this bakery?

A couple of times, I’ve met up with Work BFF for a coffee or to drop something off. She knows the drill now – I can’t come onto Their property. I can’t meet at a Starbucks on the same block. We have to meet at a spot well out of Their Zone. She asks me where I’d like to meet, and makes sure “it’s okay” with me before we meet up. She knows I can’t be seen, and I love her for understanding.

One time, as we were walking to a coffee house, we saw Them walking ahead of us about a block ahead. I felt like the blood had drained from my body and couldn’t figure out what to do. I stopped momentarily, my eyes wild, and Work BFF calmly told me it was okay, and that we could still go. That They weren’t going to the same shop as we were.

In my mind, I couldn’t take that chance. I wanted to call the whole thing off – not go for coffee after all. It was freezing cold out, but I thought perhaps we should take off in a different direction, add 10 minutes to our walk, and go to a Blenz in a totally opposite direction. BFF gets me, but she also knows how to handle me. She didn’t give me a hard time as we kept our distance, ensured one full block separated us from Them, and let me be sure they were indeed headed into a different shop.

As we sat and drank our coffees, I ensured I could see the entrance to the coffeehouse so I could monitor each person who entered, always watching for Them.

“They don’t ever go to Starbucks – don’t worry. I promise,” Work BFF told me, and she was right. After a while I did see Them – they passed by, just on their way back to their office.

Disaster averted. But panic attack, although low-grade, not averted. It has the best of me. And it’s constant.

What would happen if I ran face to face into Them? Would I die? Would I be injured? Would everyone stop, stare, and listen intently as He yelled at me, telling me what a horrible employee he thought I was? Would everyone agree? Would He shove me aside? Would He give me a dirty look? Would He stare at me? Would He nudge his friend, point, and whisper something about me?

No, probably not.

In fact, he’s a pussy and would likely pretend he didn’t see me, leave if possible, or just get his shit and leave.

But I react as those all those things are possible. I still can’t face Him. Not after what he did to me. What he took from me – what I’ve given up, what I’ve lost, what’s changed.

I am missing a large part of my confidence, my sense of belonging, and my sense of security. I haven’t taught myself how to regain any of that yet.

I am not whole. Despite things turning out in my best interest, all things considered, I still feel like I am the loser in the game I played with Them.

It’s really, really hard.

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Yeah, So Sue Me.

*Potential Trigger Warning*

I’m going to talk about scary things involving mental illness and suicide.
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I have a confession to make. I have been holding out on you!

Before I get into that, I wanted to point out that I am very aware that I’ve also been really bad at writing, at looking at my social media (which I hate doing anyway), and keeping up with my favourite blogs out there. Christmastime is a real time vampire.

But also, I have a job now.

Say whhaaaaat?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a job. As in, a thing I have again. A place where I have to go to and stay at all day and think and type and talk and have a coffee break and then I get money.

I almost feel like a normal human being!

The best part is that I’m actually making more money than I did before (because I now work 260 fewer hours per year than before, and let’s not even get into the amount of unpaid out-of-the-goodness-of-my-heart overtime I will no longer need to work in order to “get ahead”). My boss is very smart and doesn’t say “supposably.” I have encountered exactly zero instances of nepotism, which is an added bonus.

Also, I have a reason to shower and wear makeup again. I don’t smell like a homeless person anymore and I don’t resemble Joaquin Phoenix! So many benefits!

But I wanted to talk about something else today. And that is standing up for your fucking self when it’s hard.

I got a bunch of messages back in November about how I should sue my old work. Well, obviously I was on the same page as you guys on some levels, but it’s not something I could (or will) write about…. in much detail. But let’s just say I did pursue a thing or two, because fucking obviously, and settled the matter before it got to the point of going on the public record and needing to visit a judge. Avoiding that portion has been great for my anxiety and my soul.

The week after ShitEaters Incorporated canned me, I went though a lot of crazy emotions. I couldn’t figure out who I was supposed to be mad at: myself? Them? I felt foolish, embarrassed, angry, sad. I wanted to cause them pain. Then I wanted to disappear. I wanted the owner to call me and tell me his son was an idiot and I certainly was not fired. I wanted to let bygones be bygones. I wanted to move away. I wanted them to pay for me therapy bills. I wanted them to have to job-hunt for me to save me the work. I wanted it to be a dream. I felt bad for them. I wanted to get on with my new life. I wanted their business to fail. I wanted everything to have never happened. I wanted to work in a dark corner of a used book store where no one would ever see me and there was no pressure to do anything except organize things. I hated myself.

I started to spend a lot of time thinking “you should have just swallowed your emotions and just pushed through it and stayed miserable and that way you’d have a job.” My mind had changed: I truly felt that they believed they hired a person (me) who was both capable physically and mentally to do the job at hand. I clearly fell short of that in the mental department. Didn’t they deserve to have a good employee? Why should their company have to suffer the consequences of MY emotional reactions? Why couldn’t they just get rid of the loose cannon that I was, and move forward with a more productive person who would not hide in the bathroom crying 1.2 times per day (rough estimate)?

I felt that way. I sided with them on a majorly self-deprecating level. It caused additional stress and compounded my emotional distress in a way I was not aware was physiologically possible. More guilt. More anger. Less self-worth.

One afternoon, I was texting a good friend of mine. She was horrified at what happened, and she told me she was super pissed that they’d let me go.

“What if you went home and killed yourself?”

Those words were harsh and uncomfortable. She is a fiery redhead, you see. Reading them on this page right now, I cringe. But you know what? Those words are a perfectly real, true possibility in this world. If someone with a mental disorder of some sort (especially depression) was in my position, that person very possibly could have been suicidal. Being misled and fired unexpectedly very possibly could have been the thing that pushed that someone over the edge. What made my boss think that that was not within the realm of possibility for me? I didn’t even know that I would be physically safe in the end until afterward when I noticed that I was indeed still alive. Will I still feel strong tomorrow? I don’t know.

The thought disturbed me.

What made my boss think that his business endeavours were more important than a human life?

As far as I know, robots have not replaced humans in the workforce (entirely). We hire humans to work for us. They are not perfect. Humans have a lot of baggage. Therein I found my resolve.

Humans have feelings. Problems. Families. Histories. Plans. Celebrations coming up. Disasters trailing them.  Annoying voices. Messy hair. Weird shoe choices. Too much cleavage. Tendencies to be late (ahem). Sick kids at home. In-laws in town. Spouses who are leaving them. Fathers who suffered heart attacks. Sisters who died. Wives who gave birth.

Humans have mental disorders. Depression. Anxiety. And any of the million other mental health issues I could name here, none of which truly impedes that person’s ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Depression itself doesn’t stop you from crunching numbers, pushing paper, or serving customers. We are all equal the way. No mental disability dehumanizes or minimizes a person’s worth.

These humans, these wonderful, disastrous humans – they are the only choice. And they are worth so much more than some CEO’s bottom line.

They’re worth more than the inconvenience of being a body short in the office. Than deadlines not being met. Of workloads piling up. Of having to hire a temp. Humans are more important that money.

If your company enjoys a $20,000,000 windfall because you got rid of some pour soul who went on to take his life after being let go, then go fuck yourself. You aren’t the kind of human this world needs right now. Seriously, get off my fucking blog page, and fuck yourself repeatedly.

On that note, I’ve come to realize that money is the only thing that matters to my old boss. It’s the only language he really speaks. Compassionate and progressive he is not.

Emotion is my language. Positive change is important to me.

I began to feel that if I didn’t pursue things, I was tacitly condoning those actions and opinions that hamper our society. I was agreeing that people don’t matter. The thought of laying down and essentially saying “you win, I’m not even going to try to fight back” made me feel ashamed of myself.

It was the best shame I’ve ever felt.

Don’t I advocate for mental health? Isn’t that, if nothing else, the only thing I feel truly passionate about in life?

I think that society accepting mental health in the workplace without the stigma has made a good start – but it’s got a long way to go. I am proof of that.

The only way to change society is to be that change. If the minions of the world don’t stand up to their bullies, there would be no progress. That’s where #MeToo and other campaigns truly originated from – the little guy going up against the beast, over and over until everyone else starts to take notice.

So after thinking about it really really hard, I did what I thought was right. I stood up to them. I decided to force them to turn their minds to the aftershock of their actions. The result didn’t matter. Their attention did.

A million dollars can’t make things better for me. What I truly need is impossible. A law court can’t wave a magic wand and erase the humiliation I felt (and still feel). It can’t restore my self-esteem. It can’t allow me to walk down the street without feeling terrified that I’ll bump into someone from my old office. A court can only award money.

But money is the only thing my ex-employer values. The only thing that gets his attention. The only way I could get his attention.

I’m not going to get into any details. There was no clear winner, and no clear loser. But in and of itself, it was another step toward destigmatizing mental health in the workplace.

I’m going to share the experience here in the coming weeks. No details will be revealed: no dollar amounts, no steps I may or may not have taken, no names, no positions, nothing.

What I can share is my emotional experience. What my hopes are. What my sociological goal was.

I hope my actions can help evoke positive change.

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The Atomic Bomb.

This is Part II in my little I Got Fired + Swearwords story. Here is Part I.

Quick catchup: We left off when my supervisor and the company owner had just handed me my the proverbial pink slip.


Between hyperventilating breaths, I told my bosses that I couldn’t believe they were firing me because I’d been on medical leave. Amid a hurried exchange of glances, both of them quickly claimed it had nothing to do with my leave of absence. Nothing. They shook their heads determinedly, like two kindergarteners lying to the teacher about eating paste.

Of course, I think they are full of shit. And I am pretty certain that my facial expression at the time let on just as much. But I also knew there was no point in arguing. They’d certainly rehearsed what they’d planned to say to me if I questioned them anyway. There was no point in standing my ground.

Mostly, I just didn’t have that vitality left in me. I was depleted of any energy I had mustered for the day, like a burnt out light bulb hanging in the room, completely useless. Here I was, experiencing a collaborated effort to squash me run its course successfully. My soul felt crushed, and the somber cloak of dejection wrapped itself around my hunched shoulders. I knew depression was present. I’d never felt it come on so rapidly, so surely. It owned me.

In a room that was now so unwelcoming to me, so uncertain, depression felt so safe. Depression understood. It was there for me, and it was all I could rely on. In the preceding moments, I’d so swiftly been taught that I couldn’t rely on my bosses treating me with compassion. I couldn’t rely on a tacit respect of the law or even of human decency. None of that was within my grasp. I let depression stroke my head and tell me everything would be okay. I could rely on its presence.

The two men left the room, awkwardly aware that there was nothing left to say, and closed the door behind me. And I sat there, feeling like a fool. How had this happened?

Immediately after everything went down, I realized how painfully obvious it all should have been to me in the days leading up to doomsday. There we so many God damn signs: My boss was keeping me at arm’s length. No one from the management team contacted me to ask how I was doing. The email responses leading up to my final day were more and more uncertain. For once, my anxiety disorders were right. Why hadn’t I just quit while the ball was still in my court? How could I have been so stupid?

We all routinely look at signs and overreact, don’t we? Especially the anxious. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to tell myself not to jump to conclusions. Hundreds of times any given worst case scenario that I so often felt so strongly was imminent had never even happened, in the end. Like a teenager who drives like a daredevil, I began to feel immune to anything bad actually happening to me. It was always just in my head.

My headspace has never been a safe haven. Although tragedy never really struck, so many impending situations played out so catastrophically in my mind over the years that it almost didn’t matter whether something bad actually happened to me. I still go through the trauma all the time. If I were to meet someone at a bar, for instance, I’d still go through the very real experience of my friend not showing up, strangers turning and laughing at me, telling me to leave, that I didn’t belong. I’d experience it all while I sat waiting in my car, twenty minutes before I was due to walk through the doors. That’s kind of what anxiety is. It’s a bad reaction to an experience that isn’t even happening.

And so, I grew to experience that worst case scenario, but never have to live with the actual consequences. But now I know that living in the reality after the bomb goes off is just so much harder than I ever thought it could be. I’m left picking up shards of my life without a plan. I don’t know how to deal with this. What do you do when the nightmare comes true?

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Pictured: The outcome to every situation I’ve contemplated, ever.

The thing is, looking at perceived signs and overreacting is an anxiety- and depression-prisoner’s worst downfall. In therapy, one of my monster challenges was rewiring my brain to essentially not jump to a horrifying ending every time a difficult situation arose. While that is a positive thing that I still know I need to work on, and still believe in, it really didn’t help things this time around. It kind of worked against me.

I spent so much time over the past couple of months reassuring myself that the disastrous consequences I’d invented in my mind were not real possibilities. That they couldn’t possibly come to pass. I mean it when I say that I did not, for one minute, believe that I could lose my job after taking medical leave. I’d just worked far too hard training myself to be rational about it. And it left me completely unprepared for this. I’ve found myself suddenly climbing Everest wearing a pair of Chucks.

I can’t help but feel angry with myself for not listening to anxiety back at the end of September. It was telling me all of the right things, trying to protect me, and direct me toward the safest pathway. But I didn’t listen. Now I’m left doubting my ability to read the signs and act appropriately. I’ve realized that I don’t know anything.

So the last couple of weeks have been hard. Really, really hard.

A real live actual worst case scenario is so hard to deal with, because it crosses over into your physical experience. It’s so much more than simply contemplating an outcome and living it in your mind. Simply put, not only do I have to deal with the emotional issues, but now I have to deal with the physical ones. I don’t feel capable of showering, let alone accomplishing anything that would make any normal human stressed. I need to do scary things like job hunt, to appear intelligent, groomed and put-together, and capable of doing the professional job I am trained to do. And I need to accomplish small things. Today, I burst into tears while I waited in line at the post office to buy a single stamp. I’m failing badly so far.

For me, this stuff feels insurmountable.

I know it’s not healthy, but I hold so much resentment toward my ex-boss right now. Let’s face it; I have zero control over my thoughts these days. Usually, I try to take responsibility for my emotions. But I just don’t feel like I brought this on this time. I was good at my job, and acted reasonably in an effort to mend myself. I didn’t fire myself. It was all him. The humiliation and indignity he’s caused me… it just hurts so badly. I relive the meeting every single day. I can see my supervisor, eyes downcast, and hear him say “we are terminating your employment” all of the time.

Every time I go out of the house, I feel terrified that I will see him or someone from the office. I’m frightened about my future, and how I might react if things start to get intense for me again at another job. I was trusting and was so wrong once, so how can I be sure that it won’t happen again? I can’t fathom taking risks anymore.

I want to live in a different city, in a different country, and I never want to have a boss ever again. Depression and anxiety are ruling over me right now.

I just want to disappear.

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Don’t Shush Me.

The other night, I was having a much-needed glass of wine — I switched early to iced tea; I’m a bit scared of having more than a glass or two right now, lest I start gushing tears in an inappropriate setting — with the in-laws.

One of my lovely family members was recounting a story about her aging mother. Once upon a time at a graduation event, Granny had just commented on her ex-son-in-law’s lack of hair. Loudly. He was several rows away, but they could tell that he had definitely heard her. Her granddaughter turned and told her to keep it down. Exasperated, the old woman retorted, “don’t shush me!”

I have never met this old lady, but I fucking lover her. The only thing I love more than old ladies who swear is old ladies who speak their minds and demand to be heard. Maybe hurling insults isn’t the best example of this. But still. Say your words, ladies.

Several years ago, I was too timid (read: anxiety-ridden) to ask my old boss for a raise. I was too scared of a lot of things. For me, talking to any authoritative figure about anything was as terrifying as telling your dad you just dented his beloved sports car.

In my defence, that damn car was really hard to park.

It took a lot of fucking courage to get to the point where I did ask him for that raise. I researched my position online, as well as salary reports to ensure the dollar figure I wanted wasn’t outrageous. I asked friends with my job how much they made. And I didn’t just back up my argument: I groomed my mind, too. I watched some TED Talks because I am a millennial. I re-read Lean In, and flagged helpful chapters, which I read yet again the morning I had the conversation. I even went into the ladies’ room to prep: I did a power pose with a stupid grin slapped on my face while I counted to 60.

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“Sir, I’d like a 20% raise. Also, tell Judy she can’t make popcorn in the staff microwave anymore.”

I’d love to report that all of my gimmicks worked. But they did not. I was counter-offered a typical 2% cost-of-living raise. I died on the spot.

Just kidding. The thing is, I’d done a really good job of tricking myself into being ambitious and goal-driven. For the first time in my professional life, I’d been assertive, and requested what I wanted.

Despite what my anxious self told me, I did not melt on the spot and the world did not stop turning when my boss turned down my request. A crowd of peanut-eating gawkers did not appear and start cackling at me. My boss just said no. That was all that actually happened.

Now, defeat hurt. It hurt a lot, and it was hard to deal with. I won’t sugar-coat that fact. But I did recognize that I’d done the hardest part: asking. And it didn’t kill me. So I did what the average individual without soul-crushing anxiety would do: I applied for a new job elsewhere. Anxiety screamed at me not to, but I did it anyway.

Imagine how thrilled I was when I got my asking wage at Shitty Assholes Inc. (I mean, little did I know how things would turn out) and saw a real future for myself on the horizon. I was so freaking pumped. I had done the hard thing and asked for my worth, and it had actually worked. They were like, “Mm’kay. When can you start?”

Once I started at Assholes Inc., I didn’t stop negotiating. I decided ahead of time that I wanted a raise after a few months, and checked that off my list. I made myself follow through in approaching my boss when I felt under-utilized, so that I’d shed administrative tasks and further my career with them. I marched into his office when it was bonus time.

Over and over again, I was successful. It was weird. I was disappointed in a way; I would have much preferred to have been handed all of these things on a silver platter. It would have been nice to coast through life on my stunningly good looks. It was like when you start dieting and exercising and actually lose weight. Part of you is like “oh. So yer saying I can’t sit on my ass and get skinny?”

But alas; I learned that you must actually climb corporate ladders in order to get what you deserve. Sitting around waiting, whether it’s because you’re lazy and think the world owes you everything, or because you have anxiety and climbing does not come naturally to you, is probably not gonna pan out the way you want it to. You will miss out on everything.

So I did the hard, uncomfortable thing*. I didn’t let anyone shush me.

If I want even a tiny chance at getting back to where I was three months ago, I need to not shush myself. I need think critically and act accordingly. I need to be my own cheerleader. I need to keep doing the things to get back to where I used to be: the worthy, capable, efficient, and dare I say happy employee who run the world like Beyoncé.

I can appreciate that many readers could think “hey idiot! Don’t keep taking your own advice. It got you literally nowhere: (A) you didn’t get that raise from Boss #1 and (B) you got fired by Boss #2. TAKING YOUR ADVICE = NO JOB. Obviously anxiety is the clear thinker, and you are delusional. Stay in bed forever.

I agree with your logic, dear reader. Yes, I am almost certainly an idiot. I once scratched off the entire surface of an It’s My Solo Cup because I thought I’d win prize money. I am sitting here blogging because I have not worked in two months, and the only reason I am not a street person is because Boyfriend thinks I’m pretty. I love my bed more than anything and your advice is very persuasive on that basis alone.

But even today, notwithstanding the fact that someone snuck up behind me, inserted an egg-beater into my brain, and went to town with the crank, there is residual “I did that hard thing that one time!” floating around in there, intact. I wasn’t shushed then, and I won’t be shushed now.

It is a fleeting thought. And writing this post is my attempt at catching it with a net.

Because as you so astutely pointed out, I don’t have a job. And I need to go find one.

So don’t shush me.

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*that’s what she said.

My Ex-Boss Thinks “Irregardless” is a Word.

This will serve as Part I in How I Lost my Fucking Job, I guess.

My mind has settled, relatively speaking (major disclaimer there), although I am extremely susceptible to panic attacks right now. I have had several every day, all lasting a really long fucking time. Today I was trying to do the whole “5 senses” routine, but couldn’t remember what the senses are, aside from seeing. Which is the easy one. Suffice to say, it didn’t work out. And the depression? Good lord, I will write about that another day. Anyone who’s looking to fester in a pool of misery, stay tuned for that.

But tonight, I’m feeling a little feisty and a little angsty in a non-teenage way. For no good reason; I have received no good news, had not had any revelations, or experienced any profound mindful meditation sessions that have eased my tension. I’m still fucked up. But I’m in a writing mood, lucky for you.

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my boss. I scribbled his words down as he explained to me what my position would look like when I returned to work. I had asked him how hiring a second “me” would change things.

there will be changes – nothing drastic – won’t be switching my job – nothing huge

If you’ve been reading my blog, you might recall that I’d seen a job posting for my own position online part-way into my medical leave. Naturally, I panicked immensely, doused the underside of my tongue with a hit of Ativan, and connected with Work BFF to get more details about the posting. She assured me that they couldn’t possibly be replacing me; that they must be adding to my understaffed department.

I calmed down (to the best of my ability), and eventually scheduled that call with my boss. He assured me that they were only adding another member to my department – just as Work BFF said.

But my boss ex-boss is not, as it turns out, a forthright fellow. At least, not in the strictest sense.

The thing I’m having the hardest time reconciling is how blatantly he lied to me about things. Both over the phone, and over an email. Both times, he assured me they were adding to the team. That there would be no changes to my position. I believed him.

I mean it. I really truly believed him. Like, in the way a 15-year-old believes her 17-year-old boyfriend.

It made sense, especially from a legal standpoint. Because, math. I’m no mathemagician, but adding is not replacing, as far as I know. And everyone in my life – Boyfriend, family, friends, even my therapist – agreed. I guess, though, that lying over an email and even over the phone isn’t out of the realm of possibility for an executive, is it?

I spent the following days thinking and writing a lot about trusting in myself. I reminded myself that when Fear is here, I need to observe it and let it pass. Recognize that it doesn’t know the truth, and focus instead on the fact that I trust myself. Love, belonging, safety.

But this time, Fear was right. And everything I, foolhardy, had so carefully built, came crumbling down the other morning when my boss and supervisor told me my position no longer existed.

So here’s what happened, in case anyone cares (or in case I’m ever in the mood to relive a nightmare and, as usual, Netflix doesn’t have any good horror flicks on rotation).

My two superiors got straight to business when the three of us sat down at the table that morning, It was me, my supervisor, and my boss.

I noted that my supervisor looked like shit. He looked like he’d been up all night with a sobbing infant or like he’d just been dumped before prom, neither of which scenario was probable. But I honestly didn’t think much of it. It was kind of an awkward time, and he was likely worried that perhaps I’d be standoffish or have a panic attack during the meeting. And, sometimes he just looks like shit.

My boss (the CEO) looked like a dead fish: grey colouring and big dumb eyes that moved spastically. They darted from me, to my supervisor, to the table, unsure of themselves, looking for some kind of an auxiliary in anything they focused on.

He started sputtering out a few token buzz words and business idioms. He is one of those guys who tries really hard to sound like he knows what the fuck he’s talking about by saying things like “paradigm shift” and “synergy,” and is especially prone to using those words in the wrong context. And words that don’t even actually exist. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad to watch.

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I am 90% sure he once said “moo” instead of “moot.” I spent the afternoon trying to discern precisely what I’d heard.

Enough about what a dum-dum he is.

After explaining that they were doing the usual “checks and balances” (a turn of phrase I hadn’t heard since 1993), he told me that they’d hired another supervisor and that my role was no longer available.

In that moment, my brain worked more quickly than it typically does in that type of setting. I stumbled over my words, interjecting, “wait – are you guys firing me?”

Fish-eyes fixated on my supervisor, who immediately filled in the gap and did the dirty work for him like an ever-loyal henchman.

“We are terminating your employment.”

For a nanosecond, it felt like someone sped up the track like in one of those dub-step songs right before the beat drops (*I do not recommend relying on my understanding of musical vernacular). I know that sounds contradictory. But for that fraction of a moment, my mind raced around every corner of itself like a pinball, searching for some way to truly cipher what had just occurred. Somewhere in there, my Ego was shouting “No no no no no” all the while, just in case I thought this was a positive situation. Was this even real?

This was supposed to be my first day back in the office. Not my last.

But then the beat did drop. My supervisor slid a manilla envelope across the table like a tiny bald mob boss, which I grasped with trembling fingers. I felt all of the blood drain from my body and my beating heart somehow maneuver itself up and into my throat as I clumsily opened the envelope. All I saw on the letter was a dollar figure, which I immediately recognized as severance pay.

And suddenly, I was Taylor Swift at the Grammys (you know the one).

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Pity.

It’s been a couple days since I was terminated. During that time I’ve cried a lot, medicated, and hidden in my bed. My brain is not currently a place I want to be in. I have felt a multitude of feelings and emotions in the past day. Feel free to choose any synonym for “sad” and I can assure you I have felt it. But in the end, all I feel is numb. Losing my job has put me right back into the deepest crevice my depression has to offer me. I’ve never felt it this badly before. The despair, the guilt, the shame, the fear – none of it can hold a candle to the nothingness. The emptiness. I’m afraid of my own heart right now.

I tried to overcome it today, I really did. I told myself that I was in charge of my own emotions. That I could choose to be okay with the way things panned out. So I went to the grocery store. I made dinner. I laughed while watching The Office. But as soon as it was over, I was right back in the middle of my head again. It’s not somewhere I want to be. I want to turn out the light, and just stop feeling. I want these feelings to stop. I feel like depression is a disease tattooed all over my body and there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. It’s spreading. I has already enveloped everything I know. Every thought, every feeling, every idea I have.

That first night as I lay in my bed and told myself not to take another sleeping pill, I just gave in. My depression gets to win, at least tonight.

I never, ever thought this would be me. But is that even the truth? I should have seen it coming, shouldn’t I?

Letting people go is something my organization has done many times. It’s somewhat habitual, actually. The words “termination” are words I’ve personally written in many letters to unsuspecting employees during my career there. I always felt sick doing it. Did my employer ever think about how easily they choose to fire people? How it affects these people? What is it about them that makes them come to the conclusion that severing ties with a living, breathing human being is a better idea than trying to work it out, give warnings or second chances? Work on the person rather than replacing him or her? Or is my employer’s quest for gold just too intoxicating? The prospect of walking down that path they’ve cleared for themselves must be much easier than walking up a mountain road to fix a problem. Do they know that the organization is known as the company “where [redacted job title]s go to die”? You can insert three or four specific job titles in there. Mine too, I guess.

And while I’ve now lumped myself into that group of those who were doomed, I can’t help but take a disparate view and say to myself that “I am different than all of them.”

Because I never fucked up on the job. I had glowing reviews. They gave me raises when I requested them. They praised my work, and even flaunted their achievements to their rivals while giving me due credit. More than once, they told me that certain projects were in the best shape they’d ever seen.

But they fired me anyway. I went on an anxiety- and depression-induced medical leave of absence, and the day they told me was my first day back in the office, they fired me. They replaced me. They lied to me when we discussed my return to work plan. They had a minion lie to me, too.

Aside from how abject my mind is, and how wronged I feel, I feel sorry for them. If there is one emotion I feel from the bottom of what’s left of my heart’s ability to feel, it’s pity.

My boss is a kid. His dad created this company, not him. He never had to work from the ground up. He was given opportunities to succeed that millions of people would never have been given. Deep down, I know he knows his privilege and advantage in life.

The next day, when I came to pick up my things, I noticed that he avoided eye contact. He shot the shit with a random dude and excused himself to make a “conference call.” But I know his game. And I feel bad for him. Because he’s playing the “fake it till you make it” game. And it’s not working. He hasn’t enough experience to face things and man up.

The worst part is that he is playing that game with peoples’ lives. He has taught me nothing but the fact that mental health stigma is still very real, and that people who try to get better are going to end up fucked over. 

That’s the golden rule in action, isn’t it.

This post is a mess. I’m sorry. But my mind is a mess, too.

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Office Space.

I’m freaking out.

I’m trying to tell myself I’m worrying over nothing, that these are just feelings that aren’t a part of me, and that this will all pass.

But I’m freaking out, and it’s all about work. As usual.

One of the first things I ever did when I was hired a couple years ago was compile an Office Wish List, as instructed by my boss, for myself and all of my coworkers. We were beginning to outgrow our office space, and they were planning on moving. Fast-forward a couple years later, and it’s finally happening.

In fact, when I return to work (after 7 weeks away), I will be walking into a brand new office.

When I say brand new, I mean brand new. My boss purchased the building, and it’s being renovated to suit our needs precisely. The space is pretty enormous and has been under construction for months, now. It’s pretty high-tech and progressive, with lots of fancy bells and whistles. Bells and whistles that I don’t particularly need or want.

Everyone asked for similar, boring things when I sent around the Wish List – more space and storage, privacy, security. Things like that. No one said they needed anything fancy or silly. I need and want more filing cabinets, a bigger desk, and a working table because I push a lot of paper. That’s all I asked for in my Office Wish List.

When I first saw the layout plans, I was excited. They’d tentatively assigned me what I wanted and needed: an office with a lot more space in it. As it stands, my office is tiny. It’s very cramped; to the point that I suspect that fire marshal would not be pleased with it. I have three large filing cabinets taking up the majority of the office. If they’re open, I can’t get out from behind my desk. So when I saw that my office would definitely have room for a table, and perhaps some built-in cabinets and shelving that would take up less space, I was thrilled.

To me, the size and location of my office suggested that they valued and respected my work. As a severely anxious individual, affirmations like this are a big deal to me. I am working on detaching from these things, because they can come and go in and out of my life without notice. It’s hard to deal with the disappointment that accompanies not getting it, or losing it.

Which is what happened.

A few weeks later, the plans were revised and my office size was cut in half. Not only was it smaller than the office I currently have, but it was smaller than all of the other offices in the entire building!

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Yup. I am Ryan Howard from the Office.

Feelings of dejection and embarrassment swept over me like a tidal wave. I immediately felt stupid for ever thinking they’d assign me a nice office that would actually fit the work I do. I felt like they assigned offices based on how much they valued people. Honestly. I don’t even TV in mine, like many others do. Clearly, they do not like me too much.

But somehow, I began to make peace with it. I reminded myself that the plan wasn’t final (although, it was), that there were many other ‘collaboration’ spaces I could use if I needed them. Plus, I was one of the few people who was getting a window.

And you know what? I didn’t want to be that guy. The one who bitches about first world problems and can’t see the good in anything. I knew I needed to be thankful for what I was being given: a brand new office. I still get to work in my own office, not a cubicle. And it’s not outside where it’s either crazy hot or crazy cold.

After a while, though, I was given a bunch of shitty news within a couple of weeks. One was that we were not getting bonuses this year. Another was that some of us (myself included) would now be responsible for paying for parking. Finally, they denied my request to be paid out a bunch of overtime I was entitled to.

I felt slapped. They’d hired some fancy design firm and builders for our office space. It’s got silly things like plants growing out of the walls, a java cafe, and TVs inserted into the walls that cost 6x the amount of a normal mounted TV.

They cut down a thousand-year-old tree to make our boardroom table.

When my boss told me we weren’t getting bonuses, I actually told him directly that it was very disappointing to hear this, especially when I knew how much money was being spent on a new office with a lot of pricey non-essentials. The conversation did not go well.

Now that I’m on the eve of returning (less than two weeks away), all I can think about is how small my office is and how it’s a reflection of their feelings toward me. How cramped it will be. How my stuff won’t fit. How I will still have piles of paper and files on my floor since I’ll still be out of desk space. I still won’t have room for someone to actually sit in my one guest chair for a meeting.

Now all I can think about is how shitty this new office is. I just want my old office back. It was shitty and small too, but at least so was everyone else’s. At least parking is free.

And I’m worried. What if they set up my desk with my back to the door? That would make the most sense space-wise, but it causes me a lot of anxiety. I can’t handle that kind of vulnerability. And what if my door is glass and transparent? One thing we talked about in one of my reviews what that I needed privacy since people tend to just barge into my office all of the time.

Now I’m picturing myself spending the first few days moving shit around and buying a crappy curtain rod so I can hang up a curtain in my doorway (I am 90% sure it’s a glass door).

I’m already picturing myself hiding in my office, not wanting to talk to anyone, just wanting to get my work done and go home. Work. Home. Work. Home.

I don’t want to see the stupid java station, or see the gorgeous dead tree in our conference room. I don’t want to look at my boss’s 4 in-wall TVs. I don’t want to walk several blocks to get to work after paying for parking, only to see my boss pull up into his free parking spot, even though he makes 4x my salary (if not more – who fucking knows).

It’s just shitty.

Today is a shitty morning. I’ve dedicated 3 hours to thinking about all this crap. I don’t feel like working on myself today.

I just don’t want to go back to that silly office.

It’s stupid.

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