It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog.
It’s been a time of big decisions for me. One decision I’ve made is that I am going to attempt to return to the world of work, whether I am ready is a matter of discussion. I feel ready but until I actually return to work I do not know.
My work experience with the Hull Daily Mail shows that I am capable of getting up and going to a place of work.
To be honest the prospect of work excites me and scares me in equal measure. The fact I haven’t worked for close to 5 years may not work in my favour. Mental health issues not withstanding, it’s a long time not to be in a paid job. It’s not as if I’ve been idle – I have been active. Active as in my photography, education courses and volunteering.
Being in the benefits is a trap. One that is difficult to escape.
The pros are I would get my dignity back and to be honest there is no greater therapy for people like me with bipolar, depression and anxiety then that of activity of work.
The cons are I would lose the benefits I have come to rely on. One of the benefits I would lose would be no more free medicine. But in the same breath, and this is contradictory, I want to pay. I want to pay into the system that has helped (and hindered) me and my family.
To this end I have applied for jobs online. 4 jobs so far, not a lot but small and vital steps. One at a supermarket, one working on the trains, one in security and one in a call centre. One rejected almost straight away (the security job), I am still to hear about the from the supermarket and train jobs but the call centre job I heard from almost immediately (I will come to that later.)
Whilst I am job hunting I have decided to apply for the return of my Category “D” driving license or Bus / Coach driving license to the rest of the world.
I decided to telephone the DVLA and ask what the chances of getting my bus license was. Their answer was simple – I could apply for it (doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll get it though).
All I have to do is fill in the correct forms, have a medical examination and a eye test. The medical will cost approximately £80 and the eye test £15. On the scale of the world £95 is not a lot of money, but it is if you haven’t got £95 to spare however I am getting help with these costs. I do not expect it to be a smooth or easy process. I have to prove with evidence from the doctors that I am psychologically stable. I am confident and optimistic that I will get my license back. I have to be.
Well back to the call centre job. I am not naming the company for reasons of etiquette and legality (I don’t want this blog to come back to haunt me). I will say they are a company local to Hull.
I saw the advert for the job on a job search website late on Sunday night, read the criteria for the job and what was expected of me. I read it and thought to myself – I could do that but I have doubts. Noted the telephone number and rang them Monday morning. They were as keen as mustard to speak to me and interview me. This felt a little rushed to me, I said I’d forward my CV (resume) to the email address supplied.
With in hours they rang up and asked me if I’d like to do an interview over the phone. Which I did. I did point out that I had bipolar, which didn’t seem to phase them. I was asked if I could come in for a group interview on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. Knowing I would need time to physically (ironed shirt, polished shoes and clean myself up) and psychologically (anxiety can be debilitating) I elected for Thursday.
In the meantime Sarah and I discussed the pros and cons of working there. Sarah was concerned that it was a busy, pressurised, target driven sales environment that I might not be mentally resilient enough to cope.
That the basic wage of £17,000 would not be enough to sustain us financially and keep the roof over our heads. The fact we have the bare minimum of savings to rely on until those wages should I take the job finally be paid.
I pointed out that it was just an interview, nothing more. If nothing I would get valuable experience and practice of being in an interview.
Thursday came and I arrived an hour early in town. I get anxious about being late to the point of it almost being a phobia. It’s a hang over from being in the military. Always 5-10 minutes early for a parade, always!
I got to reception twenty minutes early and joined six others there to be interviewed. There was so many of us in the reception that they had to move us to the canteen to wait. The interviewers finally arrived and took us to a training room as opposed to the interview room that they usually use as it was being used for a meeting. Çe la vie.
In the group we had to introduce ourselves and give some background on ourselves. Then we were given a laminated piece of card with a random item pictured on it. I had a black and gold watch. We had to give a sales pitch for the item. So proving one can think on their feet.
Then I was taken on my real test- the call centre floor. It was busy, crowded and noisy. A true test of me and how I deal with my anxieties and the methods I have put in place to deal with them. I was put with a young lady to listen in on the sales calls. Lets just say – I coped.
After which I was asked if I could do a one to one interview with one of the managers. I was asked how my mental health issues would affect me working in the call centre. I was open and honest with them. I said I had things in place in my mind to help me cope with the demands placed on me.
They seemed happy with that answer, usually I get a glass eyed look.
They said they would be in contact the next day. With that experience behind me I left with a positive step in my stride. I had not cracked or crumbled in the face of a difficult and testing environment.
The next day I got the call- I did not get the job.
They didn’t think I was suited for sales but I would be more suited to customer services for which they had no placements. My name would be kept on file.
Am I disappointed? I am a little as I had put effort in to the task at hand but from every negative you must draw a positive.
The positives are I went to an interview early, clean shaven, smiling and I presented myself at my most confident and able light.
Now this proves to me and hopefully to you the reader that having mental health issues is not something that can hold you back if you apply yourself.
Well if you think this has been any help drop me a line or two. Follow my journey on twitter at @lash1978. Thanks for reading if you got this far. Have good mental health.