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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.

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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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My Mind Won’t Change

“You’ll change your mind.”

I am sick and tired of hearing that phrase. Thankfully, there’s only one person in my life who says it to me with any regularity. Unfortunately that regularity is “every time I see them.” I know that I am not the only one dealing with such people, and that I am honestly lucky to only have the one person openly saying that I don’t know what I want to my face. Plenty of other people have to face the same or worse.

For one thing, I’m not trans. There are so many horror stories out there of trans men and women who aren’t accepted by their family. They’re being told that they’re “just going through a phase”. Some are lucky enough to have supportive people in their life, but not everyone is that lucky.

No, what my Stepdad thinks I’ll change my mind about is that I don’t want to have kids. In his mind, every woman must want to reproduce. To settle down with a husband, and have kids. That’s what life is about. Then again, he also can’t understand how lesbians get by because “everyone needs a good dicking” (and no, he fails to see the irony when I point out how he thinks gay guys are unnatural).

I don’t want children. The idea of being pregnant and putting my body through all of that horrifies me. I don’t just mean the childbirth part, either. That would be nine months of my hormones being more messed up than they already are. I’m barely keeping together as it is, I don’t want to even think about what that would do to me mentally.

Then there’s the fact that I’m currently unemployed, and very much single. I’m hoping to fix the first part. Ideally, I’d like to be employed quite soon. Being on Centrelink doesn’t exactly do much for my mental health either. That being said, it’s a lot easier said than done. As for the second part, I really don’t know.

I’ve tried to be in relationships before. I don’t know that it’s for me. Yet another thing my Stepdad would never accept as a life choice. Just as clearly I’ll change my mind and want kids, I just haven’t met the right guy yet. Yeah, right.

A lot of people my age don’t want kids. There are plenty of examples out there for the curious mind to explain why. The truth of the matter? When you get right down to it, we just simply don’t want kids. An absolutely mind blowing thought, I know.

It’s one that’s so hard for a lot of people to accept. The problem is, it’s hard for a lot of people to understand that not everyone has the same desires as them. Some people want to do the best they can in their jobs, and have high goals set for themselves to achieve. Other people honestly just want to get by, and live peacefully. Similarly, some people want to have kids, and other people just… don’t.

Just as there are many people in the world who don’t want kids, there are still plenty out there who do. If everyone wanted to have kids, and did so, the world would be a very bleak place with a vast population problem. Honestly, it’s bad enough as it is.

I am 26 years old. I’m not a teenager, or a child. People accept (by now. At least partially) that I want to be a writer and editor. Something I have been talking about since I was in high school. Why is it still so hard for some people to accept that I don’t want kids? I think I know my own mind a bit better than they do.

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Blue Screening Mind

Without a routine, days can so easily bleed into one another. Outside of any university or work which can remind me what day is what, I completely forget what day it is. I can tell you the date, since it’s sitting there on the lower right hand side of my computer screen, but the day itself is a mystery to me. Which is how it wasn’t until I was lying in bed last night that I realised I’d missed my self appointed day to post a blog.

Unstructured days can be the enemy when you have a mental illness. I usually try to do things when I’m on holidays, so I have certain days to do certain things on. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to do those things when they require at least some level of money and you have none. As such, most of my days at the moment tend to be structured by incidental things. Whether one of the webcomics I read has updated. Whether the friends I talk to online are working. Whether or not my Grandad goes out for dinner.

Another problem I face with getting my Tuesday blogs out at the moment is that I’m finding it difficult to come up with topics when I’m not going outside and doing anything. Perhaps one week I might inform you of the struggles I face with playing competitive Overwatch in a low tier. Or I could discuss how easy it can be to open up a beautiful game, and realise hours later that you haven’t had a break.

I could talk about how hard it is for me to read these days, when that means pulling myself away from the only human contact I really have access to, which is playing games with friends. I have resigned myself to knowing that I won’t reach my reading goals for the year. There are so many unread books currently sitting in my room, calling out for me to read them, yet how can I do so?

My mental health is currently hanging by a very thin string. A single wrong word or loss in a game can send me into tears. I hate it. I feel so miserably weak. I’m working on it, I am, but it’s so hard to do so when the thing you’re trying to fix is the very thing that’s stopping you from fixing it.

A brain is very much like a computer. Except, it’s the only one you have. When you are unable to connect to the internet, there is no way for you to search for a way to fix the problem. When you face your fourth blue screen of death in a day without any improvement or way to get help, giving up can seem like your only option. For me, it’s not an option. Because when it works, there are other computers on the network that rely on mine to be functional. They can work in the meantime, but I don’t want to leave them without my computer in the long run. My computer has suffered sudden losses of others on its network, and I know how hard it is for people to deal with that. I can’t do it to other people.

I especially can’t do it to the people that I care about, who are of course the ones who would be most affected.

So this week’s update is that I’m working on my mental health, and struggling quite severely at the moment. Hopefully next week’s update will at least be on time. I’ll try to talk of happier things as well.

In the meantime, if you’re facing blue screens of death yourself, don’t forget you can always reach out to people. It can be hard sometimes, when your only means of contact keeps blue screening. You simply have to take those functional moments. Hell, sometimes you need to remember that before the internet there were other ways we talked to people. Try to reach out to those close to you when you’re stuck staring at that dreaded blue screen. Even if they’re not experts, they can often provide some sort of solace or distraction, which can help you get up the courage to restart, and try again.

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My Mental Health

So, I started writing this a bit later today than I originally intended to. Hopefully in the future I’ll be more on top of this, have blogs and Books books ready to go up regularly. Now, however, I am not that organised.

I already started writing the blog I intended to put up today earlier, unfortunately, I encountered the dreaded blue screen of death, and none of my work was saved. Thankfully, it was only a few hundred words, so it’s not as tragic a loss as some I have already suffered in the past.

Ultimately, the reason I ended up not posting anything last week, and why I didn’t start writing until later this evening (into this night, even… Okay, it just ticked over to morning), is due to my mental health. Those of you who know me, know that I am an open book. I am entirely unashamed to talk about things that other people might prefer to not talk about. Mental health and sexuality being among them. My sexuality may be a topic for a different blog. For now, however, my mental health.

I have been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. Anyone out there who has experienced the same at any point in their life can understand me when I say how hard it is to live with this. Many of you will also be aware of how these illnesses aren’t just in the heads of those who are affected. My brain simply doesn’t produce the same chemicals that most peoples brains produce. No free serotonin for me. Similarly, my brain reacts to situations that are perfectly normal with a fight or flight response, pumping unnecessary adrenaline through my body. This is sadly a fact of life for me, just how my brain is wired. I will live with depression and anxiety throughout the rest of my life. Therapy and medication can help, though that’s really hardly an ideal way to live my life. For one thing, it can be expensive. For another, people can take it the wrong way when you say you have to take medication everyday just to exist in a way that some people could consider normal, or when you say you need to see a psychologist.

Living with depression can be very hard. Most days, when my alarm goes off, I just lay in bed with my eyes still closed, wondering if it’s even worth the effort of getting out of bed. Inevitably I do. Sometimes it just takes longer than others. On days when I have to go somewhere, or do something, I will sometimes feel compelled to get up because of this. Other times, however, even the necessity of getting up is unable to persuade me, and I feel overwhelmed by what I have to do. On these days I get out of bed, and don’t leave my house. Which is sadly how I exist most of the time when I don’t have to do anything or go anywhere. Chances are also quite high that if I don’t have to leave the house, I’m still in my pyjamas. (What can I say, they’re comfy! Particularly my onesies.)

I’m not exactly the most hygienic person, sadly. I don’t shower every day, although I know it would be good for me. I did, for a while, but then I just let the habit slip, and it’s really hard to get back into it. My room is quite messy (a kind of organised chaos most of the time, although sometimes it does delve into straight chaos) because I can rarely find the effort to clean it. When I do my washing, my clean clothes will sit in my hamper for a few days before I can be bothered to fold and put them away. Which inevitably means that my old clothes lie on the floor waiting for my hamper to be free. It’s a whole cycle that I go through.

My room isn’t the only thing that’s hard to clean. I am so lucky right now that I live with my amazing Grandad and that he’s able to put up with me. Because I know that I’d hardly be the best roommate. (One day I’ll probably get into a story about that, but today is not that day.) Sure, he might make pointed comments now and then about the fact that I don’t always do the dishes, or tidy up, or that I buy too many books, but he still puts up with it, and understand that things can be hard for me sometimes.

With the cleaning though, a lot of it isn’t just my depression. That’s one of the things where my anxiety kicks in hard. So, a story for another day can be summed up in that I used to live with a neat freak. Who would yell at me if I did even the slightest thing out of the way he thought was best. To this day, dishes are my worst enemy, due to how many times that would have started an argument. (The water I used wasn’t hot enough. I used too much soap. I used gloves which meant I couldn’t feel that while appearing clean, some of the dishes were still greasy… The list goes on, and repeats a fair bit.)

I also have anxiety catching public transport. To be fair, I’ve had a few bad experiences of falling off of public transportation. Including that one time, often told, when I broke both of my ankles (and dislocated one) while stepping off of a bus. I’m a clumsy person. Stepping down almost always gives me a miniature heart attack. Stairs are my absolute nemesis.

The small step to get off of public transport isn’t my only problem, however. I also have quite high social anxiety, and being around too many people can be incredibly draining. When I get on a bus or a train, I need to find a seat where I can sit by myself. I always feel uncomfortable when I sit next to someone I don’t know. It gets worse when there are more people, and during peak hour I find myself unable to even get on trains. They tend to be so full that I can hardly breathe.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m in my final semester of uni. Not just for the year, but potentially for life. It’s quite scary. And I want to do well. Or at least, I want to pass. I want to have it all over and done with. But I have to rely on other people because three out of four final assignments are all group assignments. Always the worst part of any uni coursework. I’ve got a couple of decent groups, but then I had another where the communication was miserable, and teammates contributions felt quite weak to me.

Last week, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with all of that, and with my fourth piece of assessment, which while an individual piece, was also quite upsetting to me as I had to miss the tutorial where I could have gotten any feedback on my work due to the fact that I had to be on set for another assessment that day. Sometimes things can be annoying like that. The fact that there were only three face to face tutorials in the entirety of that subject really annoyed and stressed me out, as well.

This wasn’t the only reason, of course. As mentioned previously in this very blog, I’m not exactly the most organised of people. My medication ran out on the Sunday. Due to various circumstances, I wasn’t able to get it filled until the Thursday. For quite a lot of last week I felt oddly woozy and not quite myself. It likely exasperated my stress to the nth degree. Even though I still feel quite stressed now, I don’t feel nearly as bad as I did last week.

Again, apologies for the late post, and the lack of post at all last week. Hopefully things will change looking in the future. Posts in November may also vary quite dramatically due to the wonderful and terrible thing called National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) which I shall be participating in as I have for the past four years.

Anyway, for now, good night!