Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The hidden reality of being unemployed


Some of you may or may not know that when I left university back in 2013 I was unemployed for around 6 months, I spoke about a bit at the time in posts such as 'keeping an active mind whilst unemployed' and 'educated and jobless' both of which gave a small indication as to how much I disliked the situation. However I released a short while ago that I'd never properly discussed just what it's like to be unemployed and given that I highly doubt my feelings were unique I thought it was important to discuss it and bring the hidden reality out into the open in the hope that at may help someone who is struggling like I was.

In July 2013 I went from having had the most amazing time at uni, living with Josh, pretty much doing what I wanted, with very little to worry about to living back at home with the huge pressure of looking for a job as well as having to sign on at the Job Centre. Basically everything I'd known and loved had come crashing down, all I'd known for 18 years was the education system and all I'd loved and enjoyed in the 3 years at uni had disappeared in the blink of an eye. I was completely lost.

For me the worst part about the 6 months I spent unemployed was definitely the Job Centre experience, I personally think there's so much stigma attached to claiming benefits that your confidence really stands no chance. Now I can't speak for all Job Centre's but my local one was not a very nice place at all, I don't mind admitting that I don't live in the best of towns so it's very much the stereotypical people you see at my Job Centre and I feel the staff tarred everyone with the same brush, they pretty much didn't give a crap about any of my qualifications past GCSE's and were often very rude and abrupt when dealing with me. In all they did absolutely nothing for my self confidence.

Shortly after I started attending the Job Centre one particular job with a company the Job Centre was partnered with was being constantly pushed on me, it was a job I really didn't want and I'd heard quite a few horror stories about the company too, one day a woman from the Job Centre phoned and basically told me that unless I had a disability that prevented me from doing that job then I had to apply for it. After the phone call I just broke down in tears, I was a wreck. From that moment on every phone call from an unknown or private number filled me with absolute dread and fear. Every time I went to the Job Centre I was a nervous wreck and I could feel my anxiety levels building.

Things really came to a head in the October, just short of three months since I'd started attending job seekers appointments, I couldn't sleep because I was so worked up about my situation and my hatred of the Job Centre, I remember staying at Josh's one week whilst his parents were on holiday and I'd not slept properly for over a week at that point, the exhaustion just hit me one evening in the bath and I fell asleep right there in the bath, something I'd not done before and haven't done since.

Looking back I think I probably should have talked about my experience more and in all honesty if things had carried on the way they were I probably would have gone to the doctors because the lack of sleep and my high anxiety levels weren't healthy. I know everyone's experiences are different but unemployment isn't a nice time for anyone, I was lucky in that I got to sign off from the Job Centre after only 5 months of attending. I thought I would share my story so other people who are in the same position don't feel alone. I also want to say I am in no position to offer medical advice, if you are suffering from anxiety please don't put off making a doctors appointment.


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