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Monday, 2 July 2012

100th Post - reflections on work

I guess this ought to be something earth shattering as my blog moves into triple numbers with the 100th post.  It should be about looking forward to a brave new future with a new job, but I have doubts that I feel that confident about the future which is, I suppose, why I do not really focus on it very much.

There are a couple of things that have made me feel a bit more reflective recently.  One is that I have been told that I have to clear my stuff out of the office where I have worked for the last 6 years as someone else will be taking over the office now that the Attendance Team, as such, is to be dismantled.  It feels rather strange to be doing this because I don't know where I will be moved to, or even if I will have a permanent place to work from.  Where will I be able to put down my teapot and mug?  Where will I be able to keep my organic green tea?  Where can I keep a few bits and bobs? 

If I don't have anywhere then in some ways it will be quite nice.  Everyone knows that I keep my stock of envelopes etc replenished, and consequently they are always coming to ask if I have such and such.  Well in future they will have to make the effort to go and get it for themselves.  When I got back to work after my recent bout of depression I inevitably found that everything had been used up and not replaced, so one of the first things I had to do was go down to Reprographics to restock because those who have no problem walking can't be bothered to do so.  It has however made me get rid of some junk that has been hanging around because I might need it some time.  Well actually, no I won't, and today I wasn't feeling in the mood to pass stuff on to others in my area but returned envelopes I won't need to Repro.  In some ways it has been a bit unsettling as I feel a little bit as though I am just being chucked out because in the future I will be the lowest of the low in the area, and on the lowest pay grade and with my hours cut by a third.

The other thing that makes me a bit reflective is wondering what the future at work holds.  None of us really feel that the management who have masterminded the restructure really have much of an idea what they are going to do with us all now that this has been achieved.  I don't think this has unsettled me as much as it has other people.  To a certain extent I just go with the flow a bit these days, but almost inevitably you pick up vibes from others in the area.  I have been trying to convince them that it is up to our employer to tell us what they want us to do, and to train us to do it; but the whole not knowing what will be going on is really starting to get to us.  In someways it is not as immediate for me as it is for others as they will be rolling straight from their current to their new posts on 1 August, whereas I won't be back until the beginning of the new academic year, after the end of the staff training day next week.  But still it makes me wonder if I will be able to do the new job, whatever exactly it is, and whether I really want to do it.  Do I need this hassle?

A major part of my job will be phoning students and parents about any attendance issues.  Do I have the temperament to do this?  Do I really want to listen to their angst about various issues?  In so many ways I can understand why so many students get anxiety and depression, but I also know that it is the student themself who is the only one who can really do anything to control the problem.  After all I stopped going to school when I was 14 years old because of depression, but in the mid-seventies there really wasn't any help and support, whereas now they seem to have it coming at them from all directions.  In some ways that angers me because I feel that I was deserted by my 'friends', who completely forgot that I existed, and by the education authorities.  I don't want the learners at college to end up as I did because I don't think that enough is done to make them realise that they are not alone, and face the fact they are the ones who have to deal with this.  No one else can do it for them.  At University in my 40s I began to have another breakdown, but this time there were counsellors to talk to and it was only then that I realised that I was not the only one who had that kind of experience at school.  In fact I was about 40 before I became aware that there was such as thing as school phobia, and that it was a recognised problem.  When I stopped going to school it destroyed my life in so many ways and it took me 25 years to get the courage to try to get the qualifications to get to university.

It is a classic case of 'if I had only known then, what I know now'!  I feel that the students are now being isolated in a different way, by laws of confidentiality and giving them too much control over what others should, or should not, know.  I feel they are also being let down by there not being a central place where staff can go to find this information because different people record things in different ways and different places of the student's record.  They want the best of both worlds, that no one should know, but then they and their parents get upset when no one knows that they have a problem.

One thing that I really feel quite passionately could be of great help is Mindfulness Meditation as a coping strategy.  I have actually even considered offering to teach this.  I have found it to be such a profoundly useful technique that it should be passed on.  Also I feel that if there was a way for them to find out other students in the same position it may help to decrease their isolation, and thereby their anxiety and depression.  I know that the sense of isolation of being Stage IV is very difficult.  I really wish there were others who have mets that I could speak to about this whole thing.  Forums are really helpful, but they are not quite the same thing as the immediacy of talking face to face with someone experiencing the same thing.  However this doesn't seem to be a very British thing to do.

So there you are.  I am a bit adrift at the moment, but in the end I just can't allow myself to focus on this too much because it is the here and now that matters...and I need to get to bed.  I have work in the morning.

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