Should you quit while you’re ahead?

English: Keep Calm and Carry On UK government ...

English: Keep Calm and Carry On UK government poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or in my case while you are behind!

I’ve never been one to have much luck as it is, I’m sure some of my readers would even agree that is an understatement of epic proportions, but it just keeps on happening…

When I started my new job at the beginning of April it was meant to be the first step in a major ‘life overhaul’, a fresh start in pastures new, putting the past behind me and exploring new, exciting challenges and roles…

I should be so lucky…

The job itself, I love, it’s in the NHS again, admin work as part of the ‘new’ NHS England (or the Commissioning Board seeing as NHS England doesn’t really say what we do! lol) the work is interesting and varied, lots to keep me busy, just the way I like it!

The people I work with are great – the best team I’ve ever had the pleasure to be part of. Kind, supportive and understanding. they are so good they have even been trying to help me as best they can with some of the problems below, by at least giving me a laptop so I can work from home a couple of days a week to ease the burden… I feel so comfortable with them I even gave a presentation about my own mental health problems to the whole team during one of our clinical meeting days – how many work places could you do that and not be afraid of being treated like a leper from then on?

All sounding good so far right?

Problem number 1 – Location

The new job is in Oxford, now you may wonder why a girl who lives in Redditch would apply for and take a job 140 miles away from home. Well the intention was to move down to Oxford which brings us to…

Problem number 2 – Accommodation

I put in an application for housing with Oxford council before the job started, I knew this wouldn’t be a quick route to finding accommodation but if you don’t get your name on the list you have no chance at all. I was told it would take 8 weeks to even process my application, so I have not even heard back from them yet… I looked at house-sharing like a student as a temporary solution, so I could have somewhere to stay in Oxford during the week and come home at weekends whilst trying to find a more permanent solution, but I have not been able to find anything affordable when considering I still need to pay the rent etc on my home in Redditch on top. So, I went to lettings agents to find a home… only to discover I don’t earn enough to rent anywhere, by the time accommodation becomes affordable for my single salary it’s pointless moving 10 miles down the road from where I live now. In the simplest of terms salary must be 30x the rent, which given the high rents in Oxford and surrounding areas means salary needs to be close to £30k a year – this may be achievable if you have two incomes or a high paying job, but I’m a single parent on a not so high salary, no allowances are made for sole incomes…renting privately not through a letting agent is also drawing blanks. So, this leaves me stuck with…

Problem number 3 – Commuting

While the first, obvious thing about this is that travelling 140 miles a day is very tiring if nothing else and if the traffic is bad or there are accidents on your route the length of time this takes increases dramatically. On a good day it is a 3 hour return journey… the worst day I’ve had to date it took 3.5 hours coming home one day. Add in the other 1.5 hours from the morning journey and 8 hours at work that made for a 13 hour day, no wonder I went straight to bed when I got home! So, this brings me to…

Problem number 4 – Exhaustion

I’m shattered all the time, I get up at 05:30 everyday during the week and leave for work at 06:30. By the time I get home, I really just want to go to bed, even just getting a meal first is too much effort most days. And then of course there are day when I do have other things to do, well actually most days I have to do something else, Monday  it’s Pool practise, Tuesday studying for either my OU Research Course or Business Admin course, Wednesday Pool matches, Thursday studying again, Friday a night off, go for a drink, dance and socialise – and I think I have more than earnt it by then! Even so I try to get to bed no later than 10pm on week-nights so I can get enough sleep to drive in the morning, but most days I still feel like a zombie when I get in the car and I’m pretty sure this is contributing to…

Problem number 5 – Physical health

Now, I know this started before this job, while I was in the last one, where I was suffering from working overtime and long journeys in freezing weather with constant train delays and cancellations so my working day was pretty much the same length in my last job as it is now; even though I was only working 15 miles from home in Birmingham. I had never been someone who gets ill, colds and flu were things everyone else got, not me, I couldn’t remember the last time I had properly suffered from being unwell since I was a kid, but in January this year I had the flu twice, and colds, coughs, sniffles, aches and pains (on top of my ‘suspected’ mild fibromyalgia and hypermobility pains) and this has not let up, every other week I am dosing up on painkillers and lemsips to get through a day, glands up, temperature yo-yo-ing etc etc I have never been so ill in my life as I have this year, but as much as possible I have not let it affect me working, only taking time off when I physically cannot make it in at all. On top of this I have been waking up in the middle of the night in agony with kidney pain, this happened about 4 times before I gave in a made an appointment with my GP. I’m now awaiting x-ray results as it is suspected to be kidney stones… Of course exhaustion and poor physical health increase the likelihood of having an accident when you are driving long distances, but my risks are clearly increased even further because of…

Problem number 6 – Car

My car had always been reliable, it’s not the cheapest car to run but it does get pretty good mileage per gallon of fuel and it’s comfortable. It would appear though that my car does NOT like travelling 140 miles a day and showing this by becoming unreliable and constantly having faults, in the 6 weeks I have been in this new job I have had to take her to the garage 4 times 😦

  • first the ‘engine management symbol’ lit up on the dashboard just as I was almost home on my second week in the job, it turned out to be the glow plugs so I got them sorted
  • then I was almost home one day in the third week and I had to drive the last 5 miles with my hazards on because she lost power and  just would not pick up speed at all – she was fine when I started her the next day and took her to the garage, they said it was most likely just a computer glitch as they could find nothing wrong (and no warning lights had come on), had I turned her off and restarted as if I had stalled she would most likely have been fine at the time…
  • Week 4 and I blame the exhaustion, almost home (again) and the car in front of me slams his brakes on as we are already slowing on approach to traffic lights, my reaction is a split second too slow as I am so tired and – smack – fender bender 😥 we agree we’d like to see if we can sort it cheaper without involving the insurance companies so we go together to get a quote, only to be told by the garage it will be too expensive so we need to go through the insurance after all – shocking how much minor body work costs to get fixed!
  • This week (week 6) once again I’m almost home when another warning flashes up on the dashboard ‘battery not charging, make a safe stop and contact service’ so today I take it back to the garage yet again to discover it’s the alternator…Great! :/

People have been suggesting I need to get a cheaper more economical car, even the garage advised as much today, but can I afford to do this? Will I get enough money for mine to be able to replace it with something ‘better’? and those people who say about car finance deals – sure, yeah, you paying that bill are ya? I don’t care how good the deals are I can’t risk taking on a debt – I don’t do debt and in a couple of months I may not be able to keep up repayments so would lose the car! I need to pay in full at time of purchase or forget it… I’m not risking debt on top of everything else!

Now considering I’ve been driving 140 miles a day fuel in the first month cost me almost £500, add on to that the costs of all this work on the keeping the car running (and some new windscreen wipers!) which comes to almost £700 (not including the insurance premium increase I will now face due to having made a claim!) and £1200 spent on the car in 6 weeks (also not including the fuel of the last two weeks) – well let me tell you this much, I did not bring home that much on my pay-cheque at the end of April… :S bet you can guess the next problem…

Problem number 7 – Finances

While this new job pays a lot more than my previous job, having jumped from band 2 to band 4, the costs involved have also shot up so much – well as above shows just the car has cost more than I earnt in the first month! Oh, and of course I still have to find the rent, council tax, cover the bills and put food on the table. I don’t get any housing benefit or council tax benefit to help out because I ‘earn too much’ and what I get in top-up from working tax-credits that has helped me survive this last month is going to disappear next month because of my son approaching 20 and finishing college. Then I have the complicated battle of helping him apply for ESA due to his disabilities and from what I’ve heard of ATOS not only will he not get ESA but they will take away his DLA too… in all next month I will lose £130 per WEEK! Who can afford that much drop in income? I’m terrified of what it will mean for us, how will we survive?

So, this brings us to my final problem…

Problem number 8 – Mental Health

I burst into tears when I took the car to the garage this morning. And when I realised just how much I’ve spent on the car in the last 6 weeks, on top of already being upset that it had yet another problem I could not control my tears at all. The whole walk home from the garage I cried my heart out, by the time I got home and logged on to my work laptop I felt physically sick I was crying so much so I emailed my line manager to ask if I could have today as a sick day rather than work from home.

The worry over finances and the car has me in tears often already, add on all the other things and is it any wonder even I think I am heading for a relapse into the old BPD ways? and what happens if I do?

The thing is it’s hard enough managing starting a new job when you have a mental health condition as it is, coping with change, fear of failure, worry about whether you will fit in and be accepted, it’s all very triggering. I only realised this last week when replying to an email off someone asking for advice. But to face none stop problems on top of managing the ‘new job’ trigger is just so difficult – even in an environment that has turned out to be as supporting as where I am now. If anything the support makes it worse because any slip makes me feel like I am letting everyone down 😥

I’ve made an urgent appointment to see my therapist again and forced myself to indulge in some ‘self-care’ activities. I think I should write a post about my ‘coping strategies’ as people are always asking how I manage to keep going in the face of so many problems all the time and while the slightly unconventional techniques I use normally are enough to get me through a rocky patch. I know I am failing this time, so I have also booked myself in for another tattoo (even though I shouldn’t really be spending any more money) but I need it as a ‘safe’ alternative to self-harm, I can get the release needed of being bled and feeling pain when I am otherwise numb without taking a blade to my own skin…

And so we finish where we started, should you quit while you are ahead? or behind in my case? but what is there to quit and where would it get me if I did?

No answers? I didn’t think so…

And so that ‘strength’ everyone praises me for keeps me surging forward against the tide…

Wave after wave crashes down upon me and I keep on swimming for my life, never getting anywhere, but never quite drowning nor getting washed ashore either – can someone send out the lifeguards to rescue me? I don’t know how many more years I can keep on treading water before I sink…


12 comments on “Should you quit while you’re ahead?

  1. First, where do you find time to write this blog? (Seriously-geez.) Second, this is truly vexing. You have a dream job but the logistics around it are impossible, and you are suffering healthwise (mentally and physically) as a result. All I can suggest, knowing that this may not be all that helpful, is to step away from the problem a bit. I am just now working on a report about women who are taken as slaves by their husbands in the DRC, forced to work and raped regularly against their will, and have no choices of their ownin their life, at all. They can’t decide when to have kids, how many (mostly they have 6 or more and 1 in 100 dies in child birth), they cannot marry whmom they please, are regularly beaten, etc. So right now, I am not saying all this to say “see how good you have got it?!” but rather I seem to be on a kick of “choices are glorious, even when they are $%&& difficult!”

    So looking at the issue of choices, here are my thoughts:

    1-Have you exhausted all housing and transport options? If not, fpcus first on doing so. If you find something, you don’t need to go to my other points! 🙂

    2-Once exhausting all housing and transport options, if nothing is viable, this is where a choice must be made. Can you find something less desirable but closer to home? This would seem like the only thing left at that point.

    I realize this is not all directly helpful but I guess it is just a thought to systemically approach your options, be grateful that you have options at all, and be grateful that you have such good skills and freedom to allow you to search for and land jobs that give you a living wage…. that is all I can think of for now.. I hope it helps a tiny bit. I wish I lived in your area then I could think of more practical ideas!


    • As writing is very therapeutic for me and helps me process and deal with what I go through I make time to write when I can. I understand what you are saying about those women but I don’t live in that reality so while my problems may seem like nothing in comparison, we live in a different world with different problems that are just as difficult to deal with especially if you have a mental health condition as a result of having experienced abuse (sexual, physical and or emotional)previously yourself, as I have.
      I have been doing all I can to tackle the problems, and keep hitting brick walls every turn I take 😦 The job market closer to home is dire, while the housing situation close to work is dire – rock and hard place! lol
      I’m battling on checking out all options and choices and trying new things as ideas or suggestions come up… hopefully I will find a solution one way or another soon!

  2. I pressed ‘like’ because your words will resonate with so many people. As someone who wore herself out a few years ago, the driving so far every day bit sounds familiar and not good, for a start. Birmingham 10 miles away – that sounds more do-able, and Birmingham needs you! Sending supportive hugs x

    • Thanks Julia, indeed I think far too many of us take on far too much for not enough return at the expense of our own health and wellbeing! x

  3. I can really Identify with “swimming for my life, never getting anywhere, but never quite drowning nor getting washed ashore either”. I hope that you can find things that help you stay afloat.
    Be kind to yourself.
    I wish you good luck and the strength to keep going.

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