Why I am unable to work

Anxiety makes it difficult for me to perform simple tasks. It is happening now because I am worried about the letter. I am finding it difficult to focus and concentrate, which in a work environment are key skills. When I am at home writing blogs or doing research I am able to stop and watch tv or go for a nap. I am able to switch off. This is not an option in a busy office.


2 hours later

The television has worked its magic. My mind is clear and my thoughts unjumbled. My creative juices are flowing again.

I have resolved not to edit the first paragraph as it was written in a moment where I was not at my best. I want it to stand as a reminder of what I am able to achieve. Reading it now, it’s not too bad. It is coherent and grammatically correct, but what is different is the feeling inside. It is difficult to explain. It is the like the difference between sailing on rough seas and sailing in calm waters. In rough seas you manage, you survive. You do what is necessary to bring you to shore but it is a constant battle between the elements and your own inner strength. In calm waters the boat practically steers itself. There is very little effort involved and the journey is filled with joy. (Ha, now I’m starting to worry about my sailing analogy.  But this worry is not like earlier, it is just a momentary thought rather than the all encompassing anguish of two hours ago.)

And this is the reason why I am unable to work. Yes, I can survive the rough seas and the work I produce during those times is acceptable. But the toll it takes on my mind and my body builds up over time until there is nothing left. I start to drown. This is a process which is endlessly repeated. The drowning man comes back to life and lives again. But inevitably the rough sees return, the boat sinks….

I worked for over 20 years. I don’t recall the total amount of weeks and months I spent at home, ill with depression. And the times I worked from home because I couldn’t face going in. At home I did actually work, but I was able to pace myself a little more effectively. At home it didn’t matter if I was still in my pyjamas and if I needed a couple of hours to revitalise myself I would make up for it in the evenings. This would have been a perfect solution but my job was office based – meetings had been scheduled, help from colleagues was needed, documents needed to be printed and signed. There was always a reason for me being there.

The letter I received from the Job Centre, the reason for my anxiety, tells me that one of my benefits will end in February. I will still have my PIP, but my income is being cut by about 50%. I have savings, I own my own home, I am nowhere near destitute. My family will step in if need be. So what am I worrying about? Are my concerns justified?

I don’t think I really know. At times I am able to accept the situation, it is the way of the world, it is as it should be. Then there are times when I feel a sense of injustice. Earlier today these contrary thoughts were raging simultaneously in my head. This is the curse of being able to see things from other peoples perspectives. It leaves me confused and lost.

My solution is to see if I am eligible for other benefits. This might help in the short term. The long term solution is less clear. I do not feel ready to return to work. The idea horrifies me. It isn’t that I can’t apply myself, I am able to do “work” on behalf of CMHS.  But the key point is that CMHS is my hobby. I choose when and how I devote my time to it. If there is a job out there that allows you to do as you wish and turn up whenever it is convenient, I’ll take it. Sadly I think that the person paying my wages would want a little more from me.

Citizens Advice has a page with information on benefits which may help if you are in a similar situation: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/

One Reply to “Why I am unable to work”

  1. I think there are certain jobs that can be broken down into component parts that you can take when you have those windows of calm that you speak of. With the “gig” economy growing I anticipate these will grow more and more, of course independent contractors need to provide their own health insurance and pay self-employment tax so there are trade-offs (talking US here).


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