Thursday, December 01, 2016

Bark: The Rim of The Pit

Well, it's been a while since I've been here, both figuratively and literally.

It's been quiet around here lately for a few reasons. Firstly, because I ran out of short stories to post, and secondly, because like a coral sponge that's been put through a liquidiser, I've been slowing trying to self-reassemble the neural pathways in my brain to get them working in a way something approaching normal.

As I intimated in one of my last non-fiction posts, way back in April, I was quitting my job in teaching and finding a new career to help me climb out of 'The Pit'. I handed in my resignation, gave myself a short break and went jobhunting. The intention was to get the hell out of teaching and back into industry, preferably as a Business Intelligence Analyst, which might not be the most thrilling job in the world, but it does pay well. Of course, after 7 years in teaching, the only interest my CV was getting was not coming from the IT industry. I've disappointed a lot of Educational Recruitment Consultants over the last six months... (Thanks, I've got a new job now, you can stop calling and leaving me messages!)

Then something interesting dropped into my inbox: a teaching position in a psychiatric unit for adolescents. It wasn't anything like my original plan, but I thought it had possibilities. So I applied for the job, and wasn't entirely surprised to get it. (I probably didn't have much competition, to be fair - you'd have to be crazy to work with mentally ill teenagers, right?)

Now, for obvious reasons that are obvious, I'm not going to talk much about the job itself, other than it's actually been a bit better than my preconceptions about working in a unit like this, except in one respect, which is logistical, and is being sorted, so I won't address it here. Any gripes I do have should be kept in house and go up the chain of command, rather than get bandied about in public - that's just how it should be, for the best interests of everyone involved. (That's my way of saying "don't ask"...) And anyway, they're only one small part of the biggest picture of why I'm feeling the need to write this now.

It's not been a great week. One of the issues surrounding my job is that I have very little opportunity to get things done in a reasonable time. For example, arranging a repeat prescription takes a lot longer than the two or three days it normally would, because I can't drop off the repeat instruction and pick up my meds within office hours. So at the end of every month, I always seem to be eking out my citalopram supply for an extra few days until I can get to the chemist, which isn't ideal. So I was already feeling a bit on edge when Tuesday happened. The commute to my new job is much better than my old one. On a good morning, it takes 15-20 minutes, less than half my old commute to work. Unless, of course, the police close the road because of a hit-and-run. So instead of having a straight run to work, I have to go the scenic route, via roads that are already clogged up because of the road closure on my usual route, plus all the traffic detouring around an accident on the M3. So all the time I'd hoped to spend preparing resources for my lessons that day immediately evaporated in a 90 minute hell-drive to work, precipitating a bit of a meltdown, as it happen almost a year to the day after I had a similar nightmare commute that resulted in my Head of Faculty sending me home to make an emergency appointment with my GP.

So after a year's steady progress hauling myself up an out of The Pit, all it took was a coincidence of bad timing, an unpleasant anniversary and running low on medication to have the black tendrils reach back up and try and drag me back down towards the bottom, to the ravenous insanity beast waiting for me there, kind of like this:
Or possibly like this:
(Yes, that is a cake - had I ever gone onto The Great British Bake Off, something like this would have been my cake week showstopper - possibly including Jabba's Sail Barge as well... but I digress)

As has been noted before, the brain is a fragile and complicated thing - it appears that I've still got some way to go before I've built back the levels of mental resilience that I used to have. It was quite a shock, because over the last few months, I'd been feeling good - happy in my new job, relishing the challenge of helping set up an independent school entirely from scratch, and being my own boss taking responsibility for how the Science and Computing departments should be set up and run, and not least working with the kids themselves - some of whom are great fun and amazing characters in their own right. I've even been able to do stuff and get training in things that I'd never be able to make time for in a mainstream secondary school, like attending a Raspberry Picademy, which was definitely my highlight for the entire year. (Buy a Raspberry Pi! And a PiTop!)

I've even made good steps with my insomnia, cut down my alcohol intake massively, and started getting a bit more exercise (not that my mobile phone thinks so - it spends its days sealed away safely in a locker, since smartphones are contraband items on the wards at my new workplace; I don't even look at it anymore during the week) - and even after the collapse of Western Democracy following Brexit and The Orange Terror, I'm remaining amazingly sanguine, if not exactly thrilled about it - the Generalised Anxiety Disorder is definitely under control. So the lapse this week came as a nasty surprise. Still more work, self-therapy and catharis to be done.

There's only one thing for it. I'm going to have to write another novel...