Handbag and lunch-packed.
Me? Sitting here, delaying going to bed, feeling nervous.
I’ve cleaned my home, gone for a run, listened to podcasts (I recommend this and also this ). I’ve filed my nails, slapped on a face mask, cooked and eaten a nutritious dinner, stroked my cat, paid bills and attended to paperwork.
All in all, an ordinary day. The kind of day which people who do not have depression or anxiety or a history of alcohol abuse experience day in, day out. They get up in the morning, do what is expected of them and retire to bed at the end of the day, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow they’ll do it all again. Why wouldn’t they?
I’m nervous because tomorrow, I start a new job. A job which I will be expected to turn up to, several days a week, each and every week. Day in, day out.
Part of the nervousness lies in the ordinary- having to meet new people, learn new skills, make a good first impression. I’m generally pretty good at those things. I’ve worked a long time in my particular field and I’m well used to picking up fresh knowledge and skills quickly. I can project a confident, relaxed and friendly air, which makes me easy to get along and work with day to day. I am good at my job and enjoy it (most of the time) and this is apparent to those who work with me.
A long history of depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse has also meant that I leave behind me a blazing trail of being unreliable, unpredictable and unable to sustain the initial good impressions and good work. I start out strong, each and every time and sooner or later, I crash and burn. I turn up late. I don’t turn up at all. I turn up hungover and crawl through the shift. I have excuses, so many excuses for my lateness or non- attendance- physical illness (so much illness), family disasters, broken down or stolen cars, ‘forgetting’ I had a shift, tsunamis, rabies, the apocalypse. Anything and everything. So many lies, so many occasions of letting other people down.
I’ve managed to get away with this for the last six or so years, as I’ve been employed on a casual basis. It’s easier to duck and weave and spin the web of deceit when you don’t work set days and shifts. Also too, when deep down, you just don’t care about any of it anymore.
But I do care now. I want to do well, I need to do well. This is the first permanent job I’ve had in maybe 10 years? I was employed as a casual for so long partly because I was busy having children and raising them while they were tiny, partly because I was in a relationship and my income was just one of two, and partly because my depression and anxiety and alcohol abuse did not allow me to contemplate having a permanent position, as that would mean having to be responsible and accountable.
So I’m nervous that I’m going to fuck this up. That I’ll start out strong but that sooner or later the depression will become unmanageable, again, and I won’t be able to will myself out of bed in the morning. Or that the anxiety will ramp up a thousand notches, again, and I’ll be sitting here on my couch, fully dressed and ready for my day at work, but unable to call in sick or walk out of the door because of the suffocating panic. Or that I’ll start drinking one night, again and wake up the next morning, filled with such dread and nausea and the pounding, pounding, pounding head that I cannot possibly fathom standing upright, let alone heading off for a day of gainful employment.
I’m so scared that I can’t do this. That I won’t be able to sustain and maintain wellness and sobriety. That I will sabotage myself once again. That it will all start feeling too hard and I will turn to alcohol to block out the despair and fear and end up back on the never ending merry go round.
So, this is not just the night before I start a new job. It’s a leap of faith. It’s the first real, concrete step of building belief in myself, in believing that while yes, I do have a history of shooting myself in the foot and of being overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, and of choosing alcohol over earning money and (self) respect, that history does not need to be repeated or perpetuated. I can get off the old, tired merry go round and head off in a new direction.
Wish me luck.