I felt exhausted this morning despite having slept for over seven hours.  I cried on the Tube into work and found it hard to read.  I was feeling a lot of despair about my (barely-existent) career and (non-existent) relationships.

I did actually accomplish some things at work, but there were difficult times too.  My line manager is really pleased with my work, but she seems very sure that the funding isn’t there to extend my contract beyond March, although she said she would check.  I think she was surprised that I want to continue in the role, probably because it is only two-days a week and therefore low-paying and perhaps not so challenging for me as one might expect.  The truth is, I haven’t felt this confident in a job for a long time, and I feel that I need some stability at work while I pursue an autism diagnosis and take time to decide what I should do with my life, given that autism and depression both seem likely to be here for the indefinite future (autism unless I’m really wrong about my understanding of myself and depression unless someone finds a miracle cure soon).  So finding a fairly basic and undemanding job with nice people and an understanding boss who understands depression is a big plus for me and I don’t know how I will find anything remotely like it again, especially as I got this by luck as much as anything.  I know that this is further disrupting my career and also making it ever less likely that I will ever manage to get married (because my low income and stunted career makes me unmarryable to most women, if only for practical/financial reasons), but the alternative is repeating my previous two jobs and pushing myself full out in an environment that makes me unhappy and very, very ill, psychologically-speaking.

I stood in for my line manager at an inter-departmental meeting (literally in Room 101, amusingly).  It made me feel important, but also reminded me that other people my age and with my background have much more responsible jobs than I do and are on better career trajectories and I’m stuck where I am because of autism, depression, being out of the job market too long and going to a not-so-good university for my professional qualification (the latter two being the result of the first two).  To be fair, not many people in the meeting were actually my age (to be honest, I got preemptively depressed before even entering the room), but just being with various department heads many of whom are not that much older than me did make me reflect on how badly I’m managing my career, if ‘managing’ is even the right word for something so laissez-faire.

My line manager’s line manager asked me what other jobs I’m looking for.  I don’t know if it was autism (executive function impairment) or just plain social anxiety, but as she asked the question my brain just shut down and I failed to say anything at all coherent beyond that I want to continue to work in higher education if possible.  And then a few minutes later I nearly managed to forget my job title when introducing myself at the meeting.  I think other people can probably see that my career just isn’t important to me, or at least that it isn’t as important as Judaism or Doctor Who.

LinkedIn keeps trying to get me to congratulate one of my ex-colleagues from my old job in further education (the other trained librarian, who looks like David Tennant) on three years working for the super-college.  He is doing what I would have been doing if I had felt able to stay there, but at one of the other colleges in the super-college.  It feels a bit like rubbing salt in the wound.

A post I read today would indicate that I have a problematic narrative of my life by pointing out negative things to myself (pretty much this entire post in fact), but I find it hard to change my narrative from “I was happy.  Then I went to school, and was bullied and lonely and probably not really happy, but competent and coping and basically content.  Then I went to university and was less competent, but much more depressed and eventually not coping.  And then I tried to build a career and a life and was completely incompetent, not coping and still very miserable.  And also unloved throughout.”   I suppose I have perseverance to get this far with all my issues, but I suspect that’s just a fancy word for “too cowardly to attempt suicide.”  That’s probably too harsh, but I do feel that perseverance isn’t really useful if you’re just persevering with unhealthy behaviours.  I just don’t know what healthy behaviours would look like for someone in my situation.

2 thoughts on “Unhealthy Narratives

  1. I wonder what proportion of professionals see their career as being their top priority in life. I suspect for people without mental health challenges career advancement may come without too much effort even if their main interests are outside of work.

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  2. Maybe. Very successful people give the impression of being very career-focused. I don’t know if that’s just my perception. It may also be different for the VERY successful (people at the top of very competitive fields) compared to averagely successful people.

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