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I need the money. I'll be fine

In December 2012 I was made redundant like many others in the worst recession in recent history. I haven’t admitted this before, but knowing that lots of other people were in the same position didn’t console me at my bleakest points.

‘Stay in the moment’ is a frequent chant in the zen world of mindfulness. But what if the present moment is full of uncertainty, worry about money, fear of not getting another job, or falling back into the black hole of depression again?

In an attempt to find something positive, I decided to focus on getting a job. As I was writing (another) application form, I would hold onto the hope that this would be ‘the one’ until it became clear I hadn’t been shortlisted. I did get to the interview stage several times, but I found sitting at home in a vat of dark feelings was not conducive to getting a job. I tried to be upbeat and perky, but in retrospect, I think there was an air of desperation emanating from my pores.

I started Project: Self Employment in an attempt to take control. It took up a lot of my time, gave me a focus, distracted me from my low mood and a lot of the grumbling anxieties that were a constant companion. It seemed like a good idea, but all the energy I had put into generating work for my business came to fruition at the same time. I found that for three months I was working seven days a week. I thought to myself 'well, it isn’t for very long and I really need the money. I’ll be fine.'

Famous last words.

Before long I was working in six different workplaces, doing five different jobs, four of which were roles and places that were new to me. I had to write my schedule on flipchart paper and hang it in the kitchen, so I could remember where I was supposed to be. My cat became ill and needed to go to the vet and the water tank in the loft sprung a leak. My car kept breaking down and I was travelling 200 miles a week. I spent three months becoming more tired, stressed and anxious. I found I couldn’t sleep and had to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I felt increasingly overwhelmed and small things like running out of milk became major disasters.

I have not quite recovered from that time. I am still getting used to the changes in my life. I secretly believe a ‘normal’person would probably have managed that time without ‘batting an eyelash’ and that how I cope is somehow ‘wrong.’ I think that echoes the negative perceptions in the wider world of both mental illness and being unemployed. I had to be strong, so I wasn’t thought of as feckless. Either way, I need to find away to balance the books and take care of myself. If you have any ideas, please send your answers on a postcard to…

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