Sad boy

Today I’m home and will be for the rest of the week. That’s the arrangement I came to with my manager last night. Officially I’m on sick leave, in reality, it’s all about my mental health.

I hate admitting to that, but I guess the admission must come before the cure. I took a day off last week to deal with my issues. I returned on Wednesday but left mid-afternoon, overcome by fatigue. I battled fatigue the next couple of days at work but soldiered through. Then on Sunday night, I felt a form of dread thinking I would be back at work the next day. I was once more heavily fatigued, but also reluctant to engage or interact. Very aware of my situation I forced myself to knuckle down and do things, but the effort only emphasised the deficiency.

I got home from work last night and felt as flat as a pancake. I knew I couldn’t go back to work. I had forced myself thinking it was the right thing to do, unwilling to concede to it. Fact is I was not nearly as effective as I would normally be, and the effort to appear normal drained me. I realised I wasn’t going to get better without being proactive. I contacted my manager to explain, as I had briefly the week before. She was sympathetic and suggested I take the rest of the week off.

I’m sceptical that I’m going to be right come next Monday. In the past, I’ve endured episodes that have gone on for 24-48 hours, and each time come out of it. I’ve always had that natural bounce, but it was always kicked along by an attitude that would refuse to submit to the demons. I would overcome these episodes almost by force of will, but effectively all I was doing was grabbing them by the throat and locking them away. I didn’t beat them, I just put them behind me. Now they’ve caught up again and it’s time to face up to what they are. This time I don’t want to put them behind me; I have to beat them.

That’s a tall order in six days, but I hope come Monday morning I’ll have a clearer idea of what I need to do. That’s what I’ve set myself these next few days. Part of it is simple replenishment. I need to recharge my batteries. Beyond that, I need to figure things out, and the first thing that involves is a psychological stocktake.

That involves appraising honestly who I really am these days. The good, the bad, my strengths and weaknesses. With that understanding I can go to the next step, which is to review what gives me comfort and pleasure, what stimulates and excites; and all that doesn’t. Together this will give me a clearer idea of the direction I should be heading in. Is it true that I’m a different man from before – and if so does it mean my expectations should be different too? Does it mean I need to reframe my whole sense of identity? A re-assessment of my strengths may lead me towards a different professional pathway, not to mention set me on a different journey. And by understanding my weaknesses I can begin to address them.

As you can see, I take a methodical, intellectual approach to this, which is ever the way with me. That’s my fallback. Right or wrong, my starting point is always the rational.

As I sit here I have a few ideas of where this will go. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t mean a new job, among other things. This whole episode has exposed the abject poverty of my life these days. The one thing I could always count on before was a sense of self-worth, much of which was generated by an ability to make a difference professionally (along with some native obstinacy). I don’t have that now, which is what has triggered this whole episode.

It’s not that I doubt myself in that way, but I feel unvalued, even disrespected, and perhaps even irrelevant. I was in a meeting yesterday morning which crystallised the reason in my head.

You may recall earlier this year I tried to flag to the higher-ups at work a situation where as a company we were making misrepresentations. My claims were met with hostility or indifference. I made a song and dance of it and was threatened. Ultimately nothing came of it. The very issue came up in the meeting yesterday and as I expounded on it I saw the news catch alight in the people I spoke to. I know that now something will happen because they must do it as part of their project. That’s well and good, but it seemed another instance whereby it means nothing coming from me, but from them, all roadblocks will be removed.

It’s amazing how many things I’ve proposed or suggested over the last 18 months that have been dismissed or ignored or have been told it’s too hard/don’t have the time or resources – and then eventually have transpired. Of course, when they happen, there’s little if any reference to me, and certainly no credit. I feel as if I’m ahead of the curve all the time, but because of who I am my voice is dismissed. It’s demoralising and demeaning, especially when you see your idea taken up by someone else and executed. There must be about 15 occasions such as this, a fucking plethora.

I don’t doubt my ability, but in this environment, I question my relevancy – this is not something I’ve ever had to deal with before. It’s an assault on my self-worth and identity. With that shredded, there’s little else in my life to fill the void. That’s where I am today. I’m damaged by what happened before, confused in trying to be a new person, and bitter by what has happened to me at work. In total that makes H a sad boy.

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