What Did I Sign Up For?

I feel so out-of-place today. Nothing has gone right and I don’t feel right.

To start the day I was kind of excited, as I finally had a meeting with Shawtrust; an organisation who specialise in helping disabled people find their feet again and get back into work.

I was excited because I finally felt like I was getting somewhere but as always, there was anxiety.

I wasn’t excited to the point that I felt brave enough to just skip down to the meeting place alone so, as always I asked Glen to walk down with me.

Knowing how much I wanted to try to do this alone, and how annoyed I was with myself for already needing his help to just get there, Glen walked me to the appointment, gave me a reassuring pat on the back, then left me to fend for myself.

I sat waiting, picking at the skin around my thumbs, anxious to the point of feeling sick, whilst listening to the negative thoughts that seemed to be rolling in like thunderstorm clouds.

After about five minutes I was greeted by my new adviser and as soon as they started to talk, my mind began to be distracted and my negative thought path was disrupted.

Slowly my anxiety levels started to dissipate and I gladly started to relax.

As always though, this soon changed.

About 15 minutes into the meeting and I was becoming petrified.

Now, I don’t really know a lot about Shawtrust… The mechanics of it? How it actually works? What they can do for people? How they cater to individuals? Who gets in contact with who? Weekly or monthly meetings? What people in return are expected to do?

Nothing.

Zero.

Zilch.

Not a thing.

Not a clue.

Yet my adviser, Mark, assumed I knew the inside of a bats arse and everything about Shawtrust without even being told!

Magical aren’t I?

Erm, no.

I was recommended Shawtrust by a friend, all I knew was what they had told me, literally what I said earlier, that it’s an organisation that specialise in helping disabled people find their feet again and get back into work.

That’s it, don’t know nothing more about it.

Silly me thought that’s what the meeting would be about, apparently not though.

Mark skipped this whole section, intent on getting to the nitty-gritty bit and bombarding me with questions…

‘When did you last work?’

‘When did you last have an interview?’

‘How many jobs do you apply for each week?’

WOW! Slow your horses there mister!

My last job was nearly four years ago, my last job interview would have been for that job and I haven’t applied for any jobs because I can’t get out the house alone, therefore don’t see the point.

Mark spends all of two seconds to nod at me and write on his bit of paper, to then continue with his Spanish Inquisition.

‘Would you like some practice with interviews?’

‘Does your CV need any work done to it?’

‘Do you have some clothes suitable for job interviews?’

OK, either this guy hasn’t got a clue or he is Santa Claus and is very pushed for time.

I’m sure he should already have noted down my conditions and how they affect me, for example anxiety and panic attacks? Did I not just clearly state that I can’t get out the house alone due to my agoraphobia as well?

Surely this isn’t the right way to go about conducting a first meeting… Scaring the absolute shit out of the client.

Seriously, where’s the exit?

Maybe I’m in the wrong, assuming too much and wanting too much?

The meeting ends an hour later with me signed up to do a mock interview, a confidence building workshop and a disabled people job seekers group.

SERIOUSLY, WHERE’S THE EXIT?

I had an idea in mind of how the meeting would go… Talk a bit, learn about the organisation, share details of my conditions and the fears I have, find understanding and feel excited by the prospect of having help… Never did I expect what I got.

I left the meeting feeling miserable.

I’m terrified. The fact is, fear controls my life. It’s hard for someone who doesn’t ‘get’ mental health or who hasn’t experienced it themselves. I don’t expect people to understand. I wouldn’t have before I became ill.

Think of the bravest thing you could ever do. Something that evokes so much fear into you, that you start to tremble. Throw in a few physical symptoms like wobbly legs, nausea, palpitations of the heart, sweating palms and the feeling of unrealness.

That’s just the panic attack part, I couldn’t even begin to tell you about the thoughts and the constant worry.

Well, my bravest thing isn’t just a once off it’s a daily challenge… It’s called living with a mental health condition.

A condition that means I endure all these symptoms on a daily basis, with the constant negative thoughts and worry, for no real reason other than, that I suffer with panic disorder.

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