A Year in Review (Better Late Than Never).

I have been debating about this entry for a while. I haven’t really wanted to write over here, actually. I’ve been told that all I do is “complain.” Even though I have a little caveat on the side bar that clearly indicates that is the point in this entire blog, I’ve been keeping myself away even though I’ve been at near-explosive levels of irritation and rage in the last month alone. I’ve also been accused of using this blog to belittle and angst at people. Again, I have to point out that it clearly states on the side bar that if you don’t like what I have to say here then don’t fucking read it. With that, let’s talk about this passed year.

There is no other way to put it: 2012 sucked for me.

For almost the entire year, minus the month of November, I have been unemployed. Most people would assume that being unemployed would be “fun.” I’ve heard people discuss the whole unemployment thing like it was a game. “A bit of time off to get your head in order and then you find a job.” The reality is that unemployment is extremely boring and beyond terrifying. For months on end, you are endlessly hunting for something to replace the last position you had, at a similar pay rate and with similar hours, only to find that there are twenty people in line with you for the same position for the same reasons. And invariably, you don’t get the job and you’re left angry, depressed, and beyond upset at the callousness of your situation.

It may take a while but the “joy” of having some time away from work is quickly replaced with nothing but negative emotions that you have to try to constructively get rid of, otherwise you’re bound for depression town with no way out. Medication is all well and good, but to remove yourself wholly from the depression, you have to get out of the situation causing said depression. How do you do that when 7% to 9% of the entire country is in similar boats? There is, unfortunately, no quick fix for these situations, either. The government keeps going on about how they’re “fixing it,” but the reality is that most of the unemployment numbers are as low as they are because people have lost their benefits and are no longer eligible for any sort of assistance outside of state welfare programs.

I bet if anyone stopped to look at the numbers of welfare programs, state by state, we’d see the reality of the unemployment numbers. I wrote about this in October or so, in which I wrote about my frustration and angst. I was lucky, unlike a lot of people in that situation. A job opened up with the temp agency I had been “working for” since August and I was able to actually take it. For a glorious month, I knew where the money to pay my bills was coming from. But then, the unemployed thing happened all over again, only that time, I wasn’t eligible for state unemployment benefits.

What has made our situation all the more devastating is this fiscal cliff shit that has been going around and around. I watched as the unemployment aid that TH was receiving completely dried up. That’s right; for the last half of December and thus far into January, TH has not had any unemployment benefits either. In all honesty, I think unemployment for construction workers, painters, and other trades should be calibrated differently than other workers but they aren’t. So, we have been literally living entirely off of what is left in my savings account. It got us through Christmas; it got us through no state aid in health insurance, food stamps, or cash assistance. Every now and again, I think ruefully of being denied Head Start funding for my son and wonder, if things had been this dire in August, would we have gotten more help?

Throughout the entirety of 2012, I have felt very much as though a large round mill stone has been around my neck in one form or another. Aside from constantly going to interviews – success; someone wants to talk to me about my qualifications – I have had more rejection E-mails than I can count. All of that has really added up to fray up my confidence. I’m not exactly the most self-confident person in the world, so in either receiving the “thanks, but no thanks” E-mails or no responses at all… it’s added up. I’ve constantly felt as though I am completely inadequate, unable to take care of my family, and just a complete failure in every sense of the word.

What really irritates me about this whole situation is that I have only, ever, applied to jobs that I felt I was qualified for. Occasionally, on a whim, I would fill out for jobs I had no business looking into. Mostly, I’ve been looking in the customer service sector since I know that job backwards and forwards. And for the most part, I’ve been informed that since I don’t have a college education, I can’t possibly get the job. Since customer service really has no business being a college course, I’ve been at a complete low ebb, flowing from anger and irritation to depression and inadequacy.

In early December, I loss a childhood friend who was very dear to me. I’ve written of this friend before. She was “BFTX.” Since she started her path into Christianity, I’ve been waiting for the inevitable fall out that would happen between us. I am distinctly pagan, specifically polytheistic, in my practices. I’ve known that there would come a time when I would lash out or she would. I tried very diligently in giving her advice regarding her “darker moments” and I had tried very hard to maintain a friendship that was slowly falling away into a crumbling heap mess. I won’t get into the specifics, if I ever will. But, the loss of my childhood friend because of a difference in religion really hit me square, center over my heart.

I always thought that our friendship would slog through every possible hook that could be thrown our way. We past through hell, ten times over, together and we managed to come out, not whole, but at least relatively safe on the other side. We stopped talking to one another quite a few times since we started our friendship at eleven, but no matter what, we’ve always managed to pass through the sinkholes and come out all right. In this one, however, I don’t really think that could possibly happen. She’s since blocked me on Facebook after claiming to have apologized for being a bit of a jerk regarding our differences in opinions. Since the words, “I’m sorry I was a dick,” have not reached me, I don’t consider anything she has had to say on the matter properly closed.

I have yet to heal from this loss, in all honesty. It still tweaks at me in ways that I cannot convey. When it comes to soul mates, you just think, Forever and ever, but that’s not always the truth of it. There must be reasons why we are constantly searching for the soul mates. And even sometimes, it doesn’t really matter what the situations are… maybe you find them and maybe you don’t. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be with them forever. Fairy tales have passed out of this world for a reason and reality is a lot of things from happiness to pain. In this particular instance, pain is what I’m learning and what I will, hopefully, one day be able to recover from.

In the mean time.

This past year has been literally awful in so many different ways. I’ve felt, very often, misunderstood, unwelcome, disliked, and unqualified for various reasons. I have felt like a complete failure in religion, friendships, family life, and on a personal level. I have felt as though everything was going to fall down around my shoulders and without my being able to fix it. I think after time goes by and I move further away from this past year, I’ll hopefully be able to look at it more subjectively than I have in this entry. Right now, I simply can’t. There has been too much heartache and too much pain for me to look for all the good things that have happened. Good things have happened in various ways, but the overwhelming feeling of 2012 has been a complete nadir.

As everyone else in my situation has said, or people giving advice to me have said, it can only go up from here.

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Depression is The Inability to Construct a Future.

I haven’t been in the best of moods lately. Since I’ve noticed it, I have watched how everything is impacted by these emotions. As far as I can tell, this has held me off from doing much of anything. I’ll reiterate: My bad mood has infected me so thoroughly that I don’t want to do anything, in any way. I don’t want to read, write, take pictures, eat, sit, stand, clean, mother, blog, shower… in other words, I’m pretty fucking miserably depressed. I just want to be in a single, dark place and stare moodily.

I’m pretty fucking good at that.

I really began to notice the change in mood about a week ago. I chalked it up to a lovely cased of seasonal affective disorder. Everyone, I believe, suffers from it if they live in an area that “enjoys” winters with snow. There’s just something dark and depressing about the little to no sunlight, snow, hail, and temperatures low enough to freeze the snot in your nose. There’s some fun, of course. There’s sledding, snow forts, snowball fights, snow angels and snowmen. But, the all-pervasive glum can ruin any kind of good mood. Just ask anyone who lives around here come February.

To stave off true depression, I went about rearranging my cabinets.

This should have been a very clear indication that my depression was more than just a little seasonal thing. When I begin to rearrange things in my house, it’s usually caused by feeling out of control, as though my life has been suddenly wed with chaos and no one is stopping to let me off the merry-go-round. This, in turn, makes me crazed with worry and stress, which in turn, makes me crazed with the need to rearrange my entire house. I figure it’s kind of like: I have no control over my life right now, so I’ll force some control on the items around me. It’s cyclical. It’s unbeatable. And it’s a clear fucking sign that my depression has an actual cause this time around.

A part of it is the job. It really does get to you. At first, it was because of the horror stories that I continuously heard. There’s only so much of the most horrific moments in a person’s life that they can relive before they begin to break down, which makes you break down alongside them. I’m not the only temp who has had this issue. There’s at least two other people who are having difficult times listening to the sob stories. However, now, it’s worse because the initial claims have been pretty much taken. Now, we’re getting nasty remarks from the people who filed the claims who have still not heard back from a claims adjuster. A part of that is because of how much damage there really was and another is because there isn’t enough man power to go around and mostly, it has to do with the insurance adjusters being douchenozzles. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve had to field because an adjuster’s phone was disconnected or they don’t return phone calls or they can’t even remember who they’re talking to or they don’t show up to appointments… Yeah.

But now, I keep getting sent home early. This is part of the job. I’m a temp; it’s a call center. They have full-time employees that can handle the queues when a natural disaster or BP doesn’t fuck up. It’s part of being a temporary employee. Our contract is up with this particular company on the 30th. No big deal; a new job on the horizon and… But, nope. There aren’t any new jobs on the horizon. There is literally nothing in our area for the temps that our at this job. (Well, for the agency I work for.) All they do is administrative and office staffing. And there is nothing for the ten of us, or so, that work at this job. Let me reiterate that: AFTER THE 30th, I AM UNEMPLOYED AGAIN.

Gee, I wonder why I’m getting so fucking depressed.

I mean, I’ve been looking. I had a bite a while back from McDonald’s, but we couldn’t get our schedules to connect for an interview, so I had to beg off. Aside from that, I’ve been trying. I’ve been trying so fucking hard that, fuck it. LOOK. I FUCKING APPLIED AT MCDONALD’S. That’s where I’m at. And as of Friday, I’ll be right there yet again. What am I supposed to do in the mean time? I get to be that asshole that hopes the state will give me enough money to help me pay for rent. I can figure shit out for other bills; I will go hooking if I have to so that the bills get paid. But what do I do? What am I supposed to do now?

WHY IS THIS MY LIFE.

The Land of Claims.

I think one of the major reasons this job grates on me is the bureaucratic bullshit I’m hearing about. I get about three to four calls, a day, in which I have to listen to an irate policy holder complain to me. They almost all are usually demanding to know when an adjuster will be coming by to view the damages to their home or calling to set up an appointment to come by to see the damages to their home. From what I’m seeing and hearing, not just from these people but from other people in the center, it would appear that this particular company is sitting on their ass and busily doing nothing.

It drives me insane.

It’s not that I’m being yelled at (although that is extremely irritating) but that I can’t assist these people. They are calling me for the answers that I have absolutely no access to. All I can do is give them a telephone number (usually the one that they called to get a hold of me to yell at me) and update the information to be sent off to the main branch. I can’t give them absolution or a time limit on how long the travails will be happening to them. And usually, that’s all they’re looking for. They want to look at their shit time as being finite and I can’t tell them that.

I am really good at customer service, if I do say so myself. I know how to foster a relationship. I know how to smile even at four in the morning when I’m dog tired. I know how to troubleshoot. But, here, I can’t do that – my hands are completely tied. I can only respond with, “I don’t have that information. I apologize.” And then, give them a useless fucking telephone number that will probably bring them back to someone else in the call center.

It’s fucking maddening.

I am rapidly beginning to realize that I am a “soft touch” as Tony from The Tenth Kingdom would say about his daughter. I want to help these people with their problems. I want the good feels of a job done well. I want to be able to say, “Hey, I know this is awful right now, but it will end around this time,” and have it come true. I want to help, help, help.

And I just don’t feel that I will be able to do that here.

After work, I am just completely grateful that I survived another day.

And that, my friends, is a huge fucking problem.

The Interesting World of Insurance Claims.

After feeling like the largest failure for having been on unemployment long enough to actually stop receiving it, I got a phone call from the temp agency that I’ve been “employed with” for the last few months. Every time they would call me, I would be unable to do what they requested. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to because, you know, bringing in an income is really fantastic. However, they always seemed to forget that I’m a single parent and that I can’t just drop everything to run to work. I have to make provision for my son and set up things like that. And I know how competitive it is to be working for a temp agency, so I had no illusions about them “holding a spot open” while I settled my son into an unfamiliar new environment. Since TH is now out of work, I can drop everything now.

The job is… well, it’s very taxing.

I work at a claims outsourcing group call center. In effect, if you have an accident or something happens to your home, then you call me and I end up boring you with a hundred questions about where you live, your number, and the incident in question. Then, I give you a temporary claim number until a real adjuster can call you back and make everything wonderful again. The reason I’m working for is because of Hurricane Sandy. So, while I would normally just be sitting around all day and listening to people talk about car accidents or bitching about their neighbors’ children throwing a rock through their window, I now get to hear every possible scenario of horror story out of Staten Island, Long Island, the Jersey Shore, and various other hard hit areas. Most of our calls are out of New Jersey and New York.

Everyone else in the country gets to watch the news and read the newspapers to click their tongues at and feel absolute sympathy for these people. I get to do it while speaking with these people. To say that I come home completely drained is an understatement. There is no diminishing of my well of empathy or sympathy for these people and that’s why. As a friend of mine said a while back, some people are cut out for this kind of job and some people aren’t. And I am woefully not. I’m sure, over time, I’d begin to develop a clinical type of detachment to the stories. But, in reality, I just don’t see myself as that kind of person. I spent a lot of my childhood filled with clinical detachment. For whatever reason, I finally actually have some kind of sympathy for others – I’d like to keep it.