The day I went for my job interview I felt sooooooo peaceful. I was nervous but I had this song on over and over and I went in smiling and I came out smiling and I went home smiling and I sat in the garden that evening smiling. I knew that what I was doing was right. That if I got the job it was right and if I didn’t get the job that was right too.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

That’s what I listened to and what I felt and knew to be true.

Then I went back to work and had a horrible summer, filled with stress and unhappiness and fright.

During the month I took off work I tried to brush that old job off me. It wasn’t easy. What I did right at the end of the job caused more stress, mixed with pride, and I came to some painful realisations about the two years I spent there. I was a mess by the time I left. I struggled to be around people, to cope with noise and movement. I tried to let it go but every time I’d stop thinking about it for a few hours, I’d get a text or an email. Something silly like being asked where a key was. And it was all back. I got an email from HR and felt flustered. I got an email from a colleague and I felt angry.

There’s a bit in the Bible where Jesus told his disciples that if they went to a town to preach and the people rejected them they were to leave and brush the dust off their feet. I can’t be arsed to go into that passage and that’s not what this blog is about anyway, but I that’s what I was trying to do during the month off. Brush the dust off. When my mum asked me if I was looking forward to the new job and I sort of hesitated she said, don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

I hadn’t thought about it like that before. During the summer, when I had to do a thing, I thought a student would be really angry with me for doing it. It took me an hour and a half to pluck up the courage to do this small thing. An hour after doing it the student thanked me. I dissolved into tears when he left my office because I realised that two years in that job had left me metaphorically walking around with my arms in front of my face in case someone hit me. Only six months ago I thought I wasn’t capable of doing any job, that I would always be inept and unhappy. This last month I had started to become scared that I wouldn’t be capable of doing this new job. I was scared that I’d have a bad boss. I was scared I’d have unwelcoming colleagues. I was scared I’d be unhappy.

Don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

This week has been wonderful. Leaving aside what I’m actually doing, the people, wow. The people have welcomed me. They’ve smiled at me and chatted to me and explained things to me and showed things to me and helped me. They welcomed me. It’s not right that I should be so overcome by this but I am because that didn’t happen in my last job. My boss there welcomed me, kind of, but days went by without any other colleagues talking to me in my first week. I was left to sit at my desk and read papers. That was my induction.

It’s silly but when I first walked into this new job I was nervous because the loo is outside the office and I thought, oh no, people will know when I go to the loo. Because in my last job I hated anyone seeing me go in or out of the loo. I hated anyone seeing me make a cup of coffee. I hated anyone seeing me eat. That’s how uncomfortable I was there for two and a bit years. It’s not like that in this new job. After a couple of hours I didn’t mind going to the loo. I didn’t mind nipping out to make a cup of coffee. I didn’t mind walking into the office. In my last job I had to brace myself before going into the main office. People tended not to look up or acknowledge me when I said hi. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say hi or walk in silently. I ended up like I was at school – when I first went to sixth form college the other students said I was the ghost. I’d learned how to walk without drawing attention to myself and two years in that job turned me back into the ghost. I smiled to myself on the bus home from work one day this week when I realised that I’m already fine with walking into the office and saying hi. I couldn’t say goodbye in the last place. I sloped off without anyone noticing, because when I had said goodbye to people, they’d acted like I wasn’t there. Now I can even leave and say something banal like, right, I’m off, with a smile and not afraid that I’ll be ignored.

My new boss is so friendly! And competent. She can teach. She can teach and smile at the same time. She asked about me, how I’d ended up in this job. And you know what? I just told her. I told her about some of my experiences with mental illness and how that has increased my compassion so that now I just want to help somehow and not do a boring admin job that doesn’t mean anything. That wasn’t disclosure. That wasn’t me gently walking some ignorant twat through the process of disclosure and managing his fears about having a mentally ill person contaminating his office. That was just me talking about myself. Her face didn’t cloud over. She didn’t stamp MENTAL to my forehead. For the first time, being a bit mental is working in my favour. I know some stuff that they don’t and people listen to me. They value my observations. Each time something like that happens I have to squish back tears. Tears of relief and happiness.

I’ve finally realised just how bad it was in the last job. Nobody should ever have to be that unhappy at work. Nobody should have to hide, to be scared to go to the loo, to say hi in the morning, to walk into a sodding room. Nobody should have to eat their sandwich on the floor of an empty corridor because there’s nowhere else to hide. Nobody should ever, EVER, have to hide anything about their disability because they’re judged for it. Nobody should be surprised when someone is nice to them at work. Nobody should be so crushed that they beam with delight when their tiny observation is greeted with respect because they’re so used to being criticised or just plain old dismissed.

Just as I was leaving the other day, the manager briefly chatted to me. He had such a gentle smile as he quietly reassured me that two very experienced staff members will be with me during my next shift and that I’ll be fine and not to worry about anything. Wow. I beamed at him and beamed all the way home.

Now I get to do something that helps people. I’m crying just from writing this post so I’ll leave that for another time.

I’m so happy. The dust is finally being brushed off. On the way home from work a couple of days ago it was raining on one side of the train and sunny on the other side. I looked out of the window and saw a stunning rainbow and knew that God was saying to me, see? I keep my promises.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

Advertisements