I've been on job seekers now for just over a month. Currently I'm actually on a break after seeing the doctor. It's only a 1 month break and I still have to attend weekly appointments to see how I'm getting on and soon I'll be back to actively looking for work.
I have huge mixed feelings about going back to work. It's not nerves or a thousand butterflies fluttering inside of my stomach anxiety I'm experiencing; it's full on terrified panic.
Confession time. I have never had a job. I had my daughter at 18, my son at 21 and always been supported by my now ex husband. It worked well for us and we managed without problems for me to be a stay at home mum. Now he's left I had little choice but to sign on and I really hate it.
I don't mind working. I know it'll be so good for me and I'll change as a person in so many ways. I know it'll give me purpose and pride and stop me being bored or wasting away my day. I've still been looking online at jobs even though I'm signed off, I just end up doubting myself and then having panic attacks when I go to sign those application forms. I have managed to submit some though, not that I've heard anything back.
The thing I really struggle with big time isn't the job searching, or the stigma of being on benefits, or being a single mum. I do struggle to find jobs that don't require flexibility around nights and weekends as I don't have the child care for that and according to my workings out online I won't have the money for that either.
The thing I struggle with the most is the job centre. Everything about the job centre sucks.
The security guards that don't smile at anyone other than their colleagues. They make you feel like they're waiting to pounce on you because you're going to kick off at any second. I get that some people do from shear frustration but most people don't.
The whole atmosphere is depressing as hell. It's like there's a room full of Dementors lying in wait to suck your soul and any happiness you have out of you upon entry. I bloody hate it. There's nothing remotely inspiring about the wall to wall notice boards, the miserable faces, the stupid red sofas and sea of computers. It's depressing as hell.
I haven't met a single member of staff I like. I confided to the lady who was signing me up in tears. I explained I wasn't feeling well, I was terrified and panicky and very worried. She didn't care at all. No empathy there whatsoever. I tried to keep quiet and stay strong and just sign on but I couldn't. I was given a tissue and told I was just stressed, it was probably due to my counselling appointment coming through. No it wasn't. I left that afternoon, newly signed on, feeling incredibly low and ignored with tears in my eyes but desperately holding on to my dignity. I had the strongest urge to just throw myself off a bridge. Three days later I saw my GP who signed me off.
So I hate it. I hate being on job seekers. I feel pushed and ignored by the people who work there yet I feel it's so crap it spurs you on to want to leave, find employment and never return to that place ever again. That can only be a good thing. It's terrifying though and I really hope I can push through all of my social anxiety, meet the right person who is willing to give me a chance and leave this part of my journey behind for good.