Friday 1st May (Continued)
So I asked my Mum to go with me. Not to the interview, obviously! But just to accompany me so I knew she would be near by in case I needed her: part safety behaviour / part reassurance / part coping mechanism.
I got there early and scouted out the area to help calm me a little, then, when 3:45pm came, I reported to the customer service desk.
“Yeah, yeah. Please sign in and just stand over there with the rest.”
I looked to the left to discover a group of 6 nervous looking people, all wearing interview clothes.
“Erm, I’m sorry, I think you’ve made a mistake. I’m supposed to be having a one-to-one interview with Claire the manager…”
“No. I haven’t. Stand over there with them.”
Anxiety waves rushed over me like nausea. I stood with the group. My thoughts tumbled over each other. All panic driven. All telling me to run.
I looked at the door.
My legs trembled with fear. I was certain I was going to collapse.
I looked at the door again.
I didn’t know what to do.
The ‘lovely’ customer service woman walked over.
“Okay can you all follow me please.”
Bile rose in my throat.
I swallowed hard and somehow managed to put one leg in front of the other.
Anxiety waves kept rocking me and I was sure my legs would crumble beneath me.
My whole body screamed ‘RUN’.
We came to the back of the store and entered through two big double doors which read “staff only”.
The suction between the doors created a vacuum. It felt like the air had disappeared.
A huge anxiety wave rushed me. I clutched the wall and practically dragged myself up the hallway.
We came to the staff canteen and where told to be seated and wait.
I was grateful for that seat. So fucking grateful.
As I sat and waited, my thoughts where out of control.
I experienced anxiety wave after anxiety wave. I don’t know how I managed to sit there without bolting for the door. I did consider the fire escape but that was padlocked… Which brought on more anxiety waves, and fears of not being able to escape.
After around five minutes of waiting (which felt like an hour of pure torture) a man entered the canteen and told the group to follow.
Again I didn’t know what to do.
I tried to catch his eye with a fierce anxious look of ‘HELP ME’ but he just disappeared out of the door.
The group began to follow. So I did. They was entering a meeting room.
As I got nearer to the door I felt like a corned animal about to be attacked. My hairs stood up and I went into total defence mode. I couldn’t see the man anymore but a woman was approaching down the hallway. I all but dived out-of-the-way of the meeting room door and ran to the woman exclaiming that there had been a mistake.
“You must be Charlotte.”
Oh. (I didn’t know whether to be insulted by this or totally and utterly relieved.)
“Go back into the canteen and she’ll be along in a minute.”
As I walked back, past the meeting room, everyone stared at me – me the panic disordered freak.
It was like a walk of shame. My bullying thoughts revealed in it.
I sat twiddling my thumbs, waiting, trying to avoid my own thoughts.
I waited 5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15. Then 20. Then 25. Then 30.
I was sure I was in hell being tortured.
A woman then breezily walked in.
“Hi! I’m Claire. Sorry I’m so late. Would you like to follow me?”
(At this point I would have followed her anywhere just to get out of that damn canteen!)
We entered a small office and I immediately began to relax – then I remembered that I was there for an interview.
All the torturing anxiety had exhausted me and I couldn’t remember a thing of my research or prep work.
“Relax. Breath. I’m just going to ask you a few questions…”
And so I answered her questions as best as I could. I mucked up my words, I forgot my planned answers and I even talked about my anxiety disorder.
All the things I shouldn’t have done.
But I actually feel like it went okay.
I went home exhausted, overwhelmed but above all PROUD.