Brown Bagging It (part 3) – Getting the Job & Landing on My Ass

In Part 1 & 2 – I spoke about Mental Illness in the Workplace, seeking employment, the job hunt and the job interview.  Now comes the really difficult part…..THE JOB.

I was so excited by this new venture; I could hardly sleep at night waiting for the first day.  That ‘first day of school’ feeling.  Luckily, the dress code was business casual otherwise I would have had to purchase an entire wardrobe.   Training would begin at 7:00 a.m., which practically killed me getting up that early in the morning, but I knew I had to get used to this.

The first day was a disaster, as it was essential to become accustomed to their internal computer system, and I sat in confusion having problems with straightforward tasks such as passwords and locating screens.  A panic situation ensued immediately, causing me to actually vomit in the washroom for the first three days due to this.  My thinking pattern was in a ‘frozen’ mode, with no new information able to funnel through.

On one day in particular, I was actually in tears in the washroom, so completely frustrated and angry at myself for not grasping anything.  Why did I continue?  I didn’t want to be a failure again, I suppose, and thought if I failed at this – where would I be then.  So I plodded on. 

The remaining two weeks met with more perplexity, and slowly my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-doubt tumbled downward even further.  I was the slowest and oldest in the class. But, I forged ahead, bull-headed, passed and began the position.

 The position itself was not too difficult, however, I encountered problems with their computer system practically every shift.  The Help Desk was there for Q & A, but after awhile they tired of my Q & A and became unfriendly and not very “helpful”. The position was in sales and customer service.  I was to learn a script to implement during a customer’s call – this was an impossible task.  My memory is impaired at best, never mind learning a script for sales on the phone.  So I basically read verbatim, and though it may have sounded as if I was reading from a sheet, it seemed to go over ok.  My stats weren’t wonderful; yet they weren’t the worst either.  That was another thing; I had to worry now about stats.  People were counting on me; managers, their managers and so forth, for stats. I had to produce good stats so my manager looked good.  The everyday routine felt so bizarre after years of illness at home and in hospital.

Enjoying the job to a degree, I was discontented with management and other factors played, and so, unfortunately after three months I discovered this job just wasn’t for me.

My stomach did flip-flops over this.  I was frightened to quit this position, yet I was unhappy there also.  The job did provide some experience into the working world, brushing up on computer skills (will always have trouble), day-to-day routine and learning how to mix with people again.  I could have given up at this point – but didn’t.

Now the time came for my search for greener pastures.

To be continued……….(see last part 4)

Brown Bagging It (part 4) – Keeping the Job – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

In Part 1, 2, 3 – I spoke about Mental Illness in the Workplace, Seeking Employment, the Job Hunt, The Interview, Looking for a Job, now part 4.

 

I was sort of in a quandary and very nervous; do I seek further employment or take some time off.  It was November of 2005, and pdoc and my husband were in cahoots, both advising me to wait until after Christmas.  But, I resisted and applied for some positions.

There was a hiring blitz at two financial institutions and I e-mailed my resume.  One never called, the other phoned the next day and an interview set up the following afternoon.  I wondered what was happening here, and surmised that having the last position’s experience counted for something on the resume – perhaps all of that turmoil was possibly worth it.

The interview went smooth, the manager pleasant, no tests and they advised me “we will let you know by next week”.  I thought “I’ve heard that before”, but by the next afternoon – I HAD THE JOB.  Wow, I was to start in two weeks – but….there was a two week training session to be completed first.  My heart sank.  Here we go again.

The training session was taxing, but this time around, I wasn’t filled with as much panic.  As usual though, adapting to their computer system was again complicated for me to grasp.  Also, learning their policies and procedures also presented somewhat of a challenge, and at the end of the two week session, a quiz was necessary.  I froze at the very mention of a ‘quiz’, failed the first time out, re-wrote and passed.

The monthly reviews I dread so much though; always expecting the negative, and ultimately surprised by the positive.  I feel sometimes like a little kid waiting for a pat on the head saying “good girl, you did a good job”.  Self-confidence and self-esteem have returned to some degree, but I’m still working on it.  I am meeting company stats and competing with the younger folk there – I’m in the running every month.  Depression leaves a scar, but I have learned that a scar can fade.

I do not share my past with co-workers, due to the fact of **stigma.  I recognize I would be treated in a different way, as the general public does not comprehend mental illness.  In secret, I wish my co-workers/management to be acquainted with my triumph.  Existing under a veil of blackness for so many years, then at last standing upright and functioning in the ‘working world’, I feel,  is something of a phenomenon.  I do experience a sensation of gratefulness for this company, as they took a risk hiring me with a resume packed with holes.  They apparently saw the potential I forgot I possessed.

So there are steps: having the strength in preparing to look for a job; the job hunt; the interview; landing the job and most of all keeping the job.  Every step is a difficult step.