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Up and Up

I have good news for anyone who reads this and cares about my life right now: I have a job.

I’ve only just started, so I’m still kinda paranoid that it’ll disappear from under me any minute now, but it’s a job, which is honestly great.

Before getting this job, I had a few days of training last week. Honestly? Ever since I found out about the training, I’ve been feeling a lot better. I had a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I was getting out of the house, being social. I was talking to people who aren’t the same few people (Okay, I love my friends, but sometimes you just get tired of talking to the same few people every single day with no variety).

I’m noticing huge changes in my behaviour. The fact that I’m actually talking to people at work is honestly shocking to me. A couple of weeks ago I was so down that I thought for sure I’d be dedicated to my “spend all my time that’s not working in a corner reading and ignoring everyone” plan. Instead, I’m talking, making jokes, and I think I’m actually socialising properly? Is this how you make friends and such? Weird.

Two days into working, and I’m already doing so much better. I haven’t even been paid yet. I may already be planning what I’m going to do with that money. Mostly saving and getting my P’s. Getting ready to stand on my own two feet. Hopefully. At the very least being able to start driving myself around. Which will be great, then I won’t have to deal with waiting for someone else to be able to supervise me driving every morning.

Progress, right?

Anyway, that’s really the biggest thing that I can comment about right now. I’ve mostly been going through general induction things the last couple of days. Mostly, I just wanted to share how much better I’m already going, mentally, than I was last week, and have been in general for the past few weeks. Hopefully things will only go upwards from here. And, funnily enough, being in a positive mindset is something that often helps when you’re down. Which is incredibly hard to do when you’re down. Just like how many of the best money-saving tips don’t work if you’re poor.

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No, Really, Need to Work

I can’t believe I forgot to do my review on Friday. I fully intended to. I’d read an amazing book, and had written part of my review out (in my head, at least) already. Then it came to Friday, and… I don’t even think I was that busy, so much as it just didn’t really end up happening. Although, I do think that I did have a few things on.

Realistically though, the main reason I didn’t write it up and post it is the same reason it’s taken me until almost 7pm today to start my blog, despite trying to prod myself most of the day to do it. I am not doing so well right now.

I mentioned last week how I really want a job. It’s not even just want. I need a job. Not just for the money. Though the money would be great. I don’t know how many of you have ever had to live off of Centrelink, but for your sake, I hope it was long enough ago that the allowance was at least livable. It’s funny how the government’s always happy to increase costs and prices and taxes, but they’re not happy to raise things like wages and pensions. Let’s be realistic, we’re not asking for that much. All we’re really asking for is enough to be able to live off of. Centrelink isn’t the reason for this blog, however.

I am… Not doing so great at the moment. And there are quite a lot of things that are contributing to this, of course, but let’s break it down, shall we?

– I’ve been ignoring my 8am alarm, to instead sleep through and wake up randomly throughout the day. This could be 9am, 10am, 11am… The other day it was a little after midday. If I don’t have anything to do on a day, there’s no reason for me to get up. So, instead of getting up, I lie in bed, and try to go back to sleep. Getting to sleep, and getting back to sleep, are quite hard tasks for me. For the most part, this is just me being awake, and not acknowledging it until I give up.

Having a job would give me something to do on a day. It would give me a reason to wake up of a morning. Even those mornings where I didn’t have to work, I’d feel inspired to get out of bed to spend time with my friends, to relax, to do the fun things that I’m not really finding fun right now because it’s all I can do.

– I barely leave the house. To be fair, having a job will (for the most part) only increase the time I’m out of the house to the time I’m working. That being said, having more money will likely also increase the amount of things I can do with friends, and further increase the time I don’t spend at home.

– My room is a mess. Okay, so this isn’t exactly something that having a job would fix. At least, not directly. The main reason my room is a mess is because I’m a mess. If I start getting better, I’ll be more inspired to keep my room tidy(ish) and organised. Then there’s the other thing which I’ll get to in a moment which would also be beneficial in this regard about getting a job.

– My Grandad (whom I live with) drives me crazy. I love him. I don’t know what I’d do without him in my life. But spending every day with him, he can get on my nerves. It won’t be immediate, but when I get a job I’ll be able to afford to move out. (At the moment I’m missing the whole bond, and first month’s rent thing that most places ask for, so it’s more or less impossible.)

Now, if I got my own place, or at least found a place with a friend/some friends or some new housemates, there are quite a few things that would change. I wouldn’t feel like I can barely leave my room. Another big thing would be that my room would be bigger. Calling the room I spend 99% of my time in at the moment a shoe box would be an insult to larger shoe boxes.

I’d also be able to interact with more people. Anyone I happen to move in with, and of course anyone I’d be working with. If you’ve ever spent too much time with one person, you’ll know how exciting it can be to spend time with someone different.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that having a job is a lot of work. I know that in my current mental state, it’s going to take a lot to get through things. That being said, having a reason to get out of bed will be a big improvement. Getting out of the house will be an improvement. Other things, I’ll be able to work on. I just need someone to give me a start, so I can start my recovery.

Blog Posts

Need to Work

I would very much like a job. I really would. I would like to have something to do with my time. That’s one of the things about depression, or at least with my depression. Not having something to do makes it worse. Holidays are something entirely different. Not having to do something is entirely different to not having something to do. Isn’t it funny how a simple rearrangement of words can change the meaning entirely?

Depression and anxiety are things that affect different people differently. In one of my recent blogs I talked about how everyone should take advice with a grain of salt. What works great for someone else won’t necessarily work well for them. And I cannot stress enough how important that is to keep in mind. I am not currently seeing a psych, and one of my main reasons for that is that I haven’t found the right one for me yet. The ones I have found have mostly tried me on CBT. Cognitive Behavioural Treatment is one of the big trends in psychology at the moment. It’s hardly the be all and end all, and it’s definitely not for me.

A lot of CBT is about recognising your behaviour, and trying to change it, or change how you see it. Maybe if I weren’t already hyper aware about every little thing I do, it might have helped me? Or maybe I just don’t have the right mindset to get behind it. Either way, it hasn’t worked for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell people not to try it. (Nor will I say that if you haven’t already tried it you should definitely try it. It’s not for everyone, and you should seriously take some time to think about whether or not it’s right for you, or you think it might be beneficial to you, before you try it or not.)

I’m already rambling and getting off track. It’s a good thing I’m currently trying to keep this as a personal opinion and experience blog rather than something overly political or professional. I mean, hey, maybe if I upped my game and made really professional posts I could woo in potential employers. Well, unlikely with my meagre reach, although perhaps people might be more inclined to share it.

Though, again, not what I’m trying to get at. Which goes to show how bad my mental state is at the moment. I’m an absolute mess. Why? Because trying to find employment is incredibly stressful and depressing.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got restrictions. There are some things that I know I just won’t be able to do, thanks to my anxiety limiting me. I could never work in retail, for one, when I know just how stressful those jobs can be. Nor could I do something with high KPI requirements, or that’s extremely commission based. There are other people out there who can take on those jobs, who won’t burst into tears at a raised voice when someone isn’t 100% happy and decides to take it out on a retail worker. Someone who won’t panic and feel their throat closing up when they realise they need to make ten more sales in order to just keep their job. Who won’t spend their break picking at their skin, their nails, or pulling their hair, because they’re just not sure that they’re doing well enough that week to make rent.

There are jobs out there that I know I could do. I would like to think that I’m a great writer. I’m quite a good communicator. I’m a very pleasant person. As much as I’d be incredibly nervous to go to an interview right now, I’d love at least that chance to put myself forward, to prove to employers that I can do what they’re asking. That I’m capable, and a quick learner, and that it wouldn’t take much for me to be able to fit in to almost any work place.

Instead I am just applying for jobs, left right and centre, and finding myself sick to the stomach every time I get a new email from Seek telling me that my application with such and such a company won’t progress. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s no reason for the companies to tell me why my application won’t progress. They don’t need to take time out of their day to tell me that I’m the most inexperienced candidate they had, that they just weren’t quite sure about me from my resume, that they felt I might be bored in the role with my qualification.

I mean, I can hardly expect them to. What Seek does offer, are some insights to the jobs I applied for. It shows me how many people applied, how many attached a resume, and how many attached a cover letter.

I’m one of those who attaches both. I try to tailor my cover letter, because I genuinely want every job I apply for. I don’t see the point in applying for one that I’m not interested in. I know many people (particularly those who fill the 1% who don’t attach resumes, or the larger 20~% who don’t attach cover letters) are only applying for those jobs because they have to. I am not one of those. I want employment. I want to work. To do something with my life. I don’t want to just skate by on Centrelink. Even if I didn’t want to have something to do with my time, I would want work for nothing more than to be able to have some actual money that I could spend.

So, I look through my emails, and I see: 205 people applied. 115 matched all the employers requirements. (I did not, because I had no experience in such a role). 844 applied. 62% attached a cover letter. (No experience preference listed for which I was explicitly rejected.) 203 candidates applied. 65% attached cover letters. 175 people matched all the employer’s criteria. (I also matched their criteria. No rejection for lack of experience here. At least, not explicitly.)

23 candidates applied for the role. Only 6 matched the employers criteria. I did not, because I have no experience in the publishing industry, and apparently didn’t hit their “magic number” for salary expectation. (Is it bad that I honestly have no idea what to expect? At this point, I don’t care. Pay me enough for me to have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, food for myself and my cat, with enough left over to pay bills. I haven’t had a job before, “salary” means very little to me.)

The most positive response I’ve had recently unfortunately ended up being something that was just impossible for me to achieve at the moment. I got through the first few tests to be a captioner with a company, only to reach the hurdle of the interview. I would have loved to attend, if only I would be able to get to Melbourne by the morning of two days after I was told I had the interview. Getting a flight to Melbourne would have been doable (barely). Accommodation when I got there on such short notice? A fair bit less so. Long term accommodation should I have done well in the interview and gotten the job? Doable, but fiddly on, again, such short notice. Flight back up if I didn’t do so well in the interview? Not so doable. I had to think long and hard about it on Monday when I found out I had gotten the interview. It would have been a great opportunity that I would have loved to go for. Unfortunately, given I currently have a grand total of $300 in my savings, because for those of you who aren’t aware, it is very hard to save when you’re on Centrelink, it wasn’t really worth going down for the interview. Given I couldn’t do it over the phone for whatever reason (I asked, they said they had something that “had to be done in person”) and I would have been reliant on the interview working out to make it possible for me to even temporarily move down to Melbourne, I had to turn it down.

So, yes, I’m not in the best of headspaces right now. Each rejection hurts, and given I have to keep applying for jobs, both to keep being paid by Centrelink, and to potentially get hired by one of the many jobs I’m applying for, I am not likely to be in a good headspace any time soon. I wanted to look into more of the factors that make it really hard for people to get jobs, but this ended up being a very rambling and personal story. It did however get across one of the points that I wanted to make, which is just how many people are applying for jobs. With companies being overwhelmed by so many applications, it’s inevitable that a lot of people have to lose out. It just hurts that I don’t even make it as far as getting to sell myself in person with an interview. That, and not getting feedback really brings me down. I try to put my best self forward, only to be turned down without explanation. Of course, I can hardly blame companies like the one that likely rejected hundreds of applicants and weeded down to a couple of dozen of the most qualified for the interview process. Just because I can’t blame them doesn’t mean it helps my mental state, however.

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Christmas (Part 2)

It’s that time of year again. Officially, this time, given this post is going up on the 25th of December my time. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who read this.

I mentioned in my last blog how Christmas is more for young people, and why a lot of older people don’t really tend to have the holiday spirit as much as they once did. I also mentioned that one of the reasons for this is probability. This is what I will discuss today.

The more Christmas’s you experience, the higher the probability is that you’ll have a bad one. And I don’t mean that you don’t get the present you want, or you end up feeling sick from eating too much food. At the end of the day, that’s not what you’re going to remember. I don’t remember ever being upset at what I got for Christmas. The only gifts I remember vividly are the ones which stunned me. I remember going to New Zealand for Christmas one year. I remember my Nana and Grandad buying me the Charmed Book of Spells Box Set. Countless Angus and Robertson or Dymocks gift cards. I remember lovely clothes that I wore to death, or the Game of Thrones Monopoly set Mum bought for me one year.

A bad gift, or lack of an exciting one isn’t what ruins the holidays for people. What ruins it for a lot of people are car accidents. There are many statistics online that show that Christmas and New Years are when a large percentage of car accidents happen. People are in a rush to get places, or to buy last minute gifts, and they let down their guard when driving.

Another thing that can be problematic is family. As you grow older, you sometimes find that you don’t necessarily fit into the neat puzzle your family makes any more. This is particularly a problem for LGBT+ people who might not be accepted by all of their family. It’s also annoying for those unemployed, or single people, who constantly get asked questions they don’t know how to answer, or don’t want to. It can be hard to feel people picking you apart, insecurity by insecurity.

Suicide rates are high around this time of year, and no wonder. People stress about buying their friends and family the perfect presents. Some people can’t deal with their family when more and more alcohol is introduced to the mix. Some people don’t have anyone to spend the day with, and find themselves alone while everyone around them seems to be busy and happy.

Last year, 2017, a couple of weeks before Christmas, my stepdad took all of his medications he could find around the house. He tried to kill himself. My Mum called the ambulance, and followed him as he went walking around the streets, staggering around. The ambulance arrived not long after he collapsed, in the middle of the street, when she was about to try CPR while all her neighbours just watched.

He was in a mental health ward for a week, before being released. He hasn’t tried to kill himself again, although his depression is still high, and he doesn’t do anything about it. Mum now has to monitor his pills, and keep most of them hidden, so he can’t take them all again.

In November 2012 I fell off of a bus. Anyone who knows me likely already knows this story. I was on my way to the library in the morning, and just stepped off the bus. After falling, I looked down, to try to right myself, and noticed that my right foot looked to be at a rather odd angle. I said “I think I’ve broken my ankle.” As it turns out, I had. I had broken three bones in my right ankle, as well as dislocated it. When I got my cast, I got it in red and green for Christmas, and spent that Christmas hobbling around. It wasn’t until looking back on it later, and how hard walking was at that time, that I realised I must have broken my left ankle at the same time.

In 2009 I had an absolutely lovely Christmas. I had just finished high school, and was planning to go to TAFE, since I was just shy of getting into the university course I really wanted to do. All our family came to our place, and we spent time in the pool, or just spent time together. I remember Nana asking me the day before if Mum and I were going to get dressed up, or if it was going to be something casual. I told her we were going to get dressed up, although in the end Mum went for casual so she could be more easily in and out of the pool. I tried to be dressed up for solidarity with Nana for a while, before I changed to swimmers so I could escape the heat.

She looked beautiful that day.

The day after boxing day, Grandad started driving up to Cairns to visit some friends. One of my Aunts went to Melbourne to visit her husband’s family. My other Aunt went somewhere else. Meanwhile Mum and I were sitting at home, having a very quiet day, after receiving some sad news. My other Nana, Nana Mary, had passed away that morning. We knew it would be coming sometime soon. Nana Mary had been sick for a while, after dealing with a second bout of breast cancer. She had chosen to not continue chemotherapy after a while, since it was making her feel unwell, and she wanted to enjoy the rest of her time.

That evening, Mum got another phone call. Grandad wanted her to go check up on Nana. He’d tried everyone else he could think of, but it being Christmas time, no one else was around. Mum drove off to check on her. A little while later she called my stepdad, and he took off. For a while, I was home alone with my anxiety, wondering what could have happened. Then Mum’s friend, who had been over earlier in the day, came back and sat with me for a while, which only really served to ramp my anxiety levels up.

When Mum came home, it was with the news that my Nana had passed away this morning. Grandad was already on his way back, and I was left feeling shell shocked.

It had been hard knowing that I’d lost Nana Mary earlier that morning. I hadn’t known her all that well, and felt as though I had lost a lot of potential, that I would never be able to be as close to her as I was with my Nana over here. Then to hear that Nana had passed away as well?

I was very close with my Nana. I used to stop by her place after school on Friday afternoons, and we would go shopping together, then spend the afternoon together. We would talk about books, TV shows, and movies that we liked. We shared quite a similar taste. I still have moments when enjoying something and I think “Nana would have loved this”.

Christmas has never really felt the same for me since that day. I was 17, and the oldest child in my family, though the youngest was only two years younger. It wouldn’t be until a few years later when I would spend time with younger children who still enjoyed Christmas. Though personally I’m at the stage where I’d prefer not to celebrate it, and to instead just have a quiet day at home.

These are my personal experiences with Christmas. Everyone has their own. The older you get, the chances of a less than happy Christmas increase. It’s a simple mathematical fact that not every Christmas can be as magical as the ones we experience when we’re younger.

I would like to end this blog by asking everyone to try to share that magic with others today. It might be hard, but if you find someone who loves the holiday, who has stars in their eyes as they tell you what Santa gave them for Christmas, smile at them. If you’re having a quiet holiday by yourself, then share that magic with yourself. I might not be able to advise buying yourself something you might enjoy, but at least do something fun for yourself. Play a game. Go for a walk. Read a book. Watch a movie. Just be sure to spend some time doing something that could bring a smile to your face. Even if it feels as though smiling is the last thing you could possibly do, please try.

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Unemployed Woes

Being unemployed is so fun, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. There’s no job demanding my time. I’m able to just sit back and have fun on tax payers’ money. Said virtually no one ever, let me assure you.

Certainly, there are those out there who do work the system. They exploit what they can, so they don’t have to work. They almost make an art form of it, with Centrelink believing they live somewhere they don’t, they pay X amount of rent when they actually pay Z, they aren’t in a relationship when they are. They spend their money on drugs, and alcohol, and plead to their family for bread to feed their children.

Most people aren’t like that. Most people living off of Centrelink are out there, applying to every job they can. They’re forcing themselves to go to interviews to jobs that they don’t want, because it will be better than nothing. It would certainly be better than relying on a system that doesn’t care about you.

I’ve recently finished my study. This means that I have to make a transition from one Centrelink payment to another. I’m going from Austudy to Newstart. Just as I went from studying full time, to realising that I’m unemployed and virtually unemployable, I’m now having fun dealing with the monetary side of things that will allow me to keep myself under a roof, with enough food to live.

Barely anyone on Centrelink wishes to stay on it. I have many friends who have no choice, who are unable to work more than they do due to chronic illnesses. Most of those would much rather be able to exist on their own and cut out Centrelink entirely. If only it were an achievable option.

Going to work everyday can be easy compared to meeting the expectations of Centrelink. At least then your free time is actually free, and you don’t feel any guilt for spending your money on something fun, something truly for you. I know that right now I would certainly much rather have a job, or at least one waiting for me, than deal with Centrelink. At least if I had a job on the line, I’d know that I’m going to be paid sometime soon. Whereas I am currently sitting in a well of anxiousness with no idea if I’m even going to be able to pay my rent next time it’s due.

Centrelink is supposed to be a system that’s there to support those who are down on their luck. It should be there to lend strength to the weakest members of our society. As such, you’d expect that it would be easy enough for people to reach out and get help from them. If only.

My own tale is just one example of how hard it can be to deal with this system that doesn’t care about people. The fact that I have spent the past two weeks on edge and close to tears more often than not because of it. That I have another two weeks likely to be spent the same way.

Going from one payment to another should be simple. I already exist on their system. I’ve been on Newstart in the past. The only thing that has changed is that I am no longer studying, and instead looking for work.

Towards the end of my time studying, I had a “to do” task on Centrelink’s website. It wanted me to arrange a phone meeting, regarding my switch from Austudy to Newstart. Except, I wasn’t able to arrange the meeting. I tried, multiple times on multiple days, but it was only offering me two days for the phone meeting, and telling me that both those days were unavailable to have a meeting on.

I called up at 8am, to speak to someone. I have had issues in the past where if I try to call even a few minutes later, I will simply hear a busy signal, and not be able to get through at all. It has been a while since I have needed to call at all, perhaps they have fixed whatever issue was causing that. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Over the phone, I managed to schedule an appointment for the next day, between 1 and 2. I spent most of that hour with my phone in hand, only leaving for a few minutes to hang my washing out, at 10 to 2. Naturally, that’s when they rang.

So, I rang Centrelink to try to make another appointment. I was told that the “to do” task I’d had wasn’t meant for me, that it was instead for people under the age of 22. The lady I spoke to this time told me that the phone call I’d missed would have informed me of that, and that instead of having a phone appointment, I merely needed to wait until my study finish date, then make a new claim for Newstart.

I did as much. This time, I had another phone appointment, which I made certain my phone never left my hand for the entire hour I waited for their call. It was short, simply making an in person appointment for me at my nearest office (after being convinced that an office nowhere near me was my nearest). The appointment wouldn’t be for another couple of weeks, and in that time I’d need to get a medical certificate (to prove my anxiety and depression to them) and a form because I’m now a sole trader trying to sell myself as a writer and editor (which is working so well that I’ve had one job in the past few months since I got my ABN).

I showed up to my appointment on time, with my forms in hand. I waited in a rather long line to see the person who was organising where everyone should go to wait for their appointments, or to help themselves at the self service stations.

When I finally got to see her, I was told that I didn’t have an appointment. She double checked with her team leader, who agreed that I didn’t have an appointment. They told me to go home and just upload the forms I had to hand in. I did so, though I was worried about not showing up for the appointment that I knew I’d had.

I missed a call from a private number while I was walking out of the Centrelink office. When I got another call from a private number yesterday, however, I barely gave it the chance to ring.

Hello, I’m ringing in regards to the appointment you had on Friday which you didn’t show up for.”

Can I see the future, to know that I was going to get such a call?

I was so miserable on Friday that I wasn’t able to write a review. The weekend didn’t help me feel much better. Even today, I’m feeling utterly miserable. I have another two weeks before my next appointment. My anxiety is convinced that something will go wrong. That I’ll be denied Centrelink. I have no money to my name until I get paid by them again. Any savings I had was spent on rent for the fortnight. On bills. I’m currently looking at two weeks of barely doing anything. Of existing on two minute noodles. I’m glad my cat has enough food to last the two weeks, or I don’t know what I would do with myself.

Anxiety is a horrible companion, and it only weighs heavier on me at the moment. I don’t know that I’ll be writing my Friday reviews for the forseeable future. Indeed right now it’s hard enough for me to get this written down, to explain why I can barely breathe, let alone write.

There are those who might exploit the system, and use Centrelink with no intention of ever getting a job. Those few are the reason the rest of us struggle to afford rent. To buy food.

The system is broken, and it’s not the only one. It’s a broken system that doesn’t care about those under its care, reliant on it in their moments of weakness. As a broken system it does its best to break those honest few who are reliant on it. It can be hard to realise the truth, to know that you are trying your hardest to look for a job, when people look down your noses at you, and the very system in place to help make this time easier for you is insistent on putting you down, on making you feel a drain on society.