Following on from my University experience admist my addiction, and before I discuss my latest problem at my new workplace, I thought I’d write about how my addiction affected my work. At my previous workplace, I started to become very inept at my job, because the drugs were pulling me back. Not only that, but the manipulative friends who drove me to the drugs in the first place, the unhappy lecturers who believed I was trouble-making by telling people what I really thought about University on social media, the self-belief that nothing I did was good enough and nothing I ever do will be good enough. All of that was holding me back, pushing me towards the negative things in life, and away from the good; the family who loved me so much, the loyal friends who wanted to be there for me and the lecturers who truly wanted me to pass my degree and be happy while doing it. Everything pulling me back from a life I wanted, a life I could have had.
Sorry, went off on a tangent there, but it’s true. There were so many bad things holding me back from living my life, and drugs were holding me back from doing my job, amongst other things. It got to a point where I was rarely attending work, I was constantly late to shifts. I’d be up all night downing pain pills and mixing it with alcohol or valium (which combines complete opposite effects together, making the mixture conflicted but also very dangerous.) Then it would come to the morning and I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. Many of my shifts started at 4pm, so I would lie in bed til 3pm, then run around like a headless chicken trying to get whatever semi-worn top and ripped black trousers I could find, with a black cardigan or jacket to hide my arms and its scars- as usual.
Most days I’d make it a few minutes late, looking terrible, hopped up on a cocktail of benzodiazepines, xanax, and some tramadol or pregabalin for good measure. Other days I’d be dressed and ready, get to the door, and think; “fuck it” and i’d go back to my room and back to bed. I was, or at least felt lucky at the time, because my parents weren’t around. They’d ask how my shift was and I’d tell them fine, sometimes narrating imaginative details. It was only months later I found out most of the time, they called bullshit on my lies, but then, what could they do? Any time they tried to speak to me about my issues I’d deny it and clam up. And as everybody knows, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I was nowhere near that stage.
After a while I knew they would start having to discipline me at work. Yet instead, my floor manager spoke to me and told me she had dealt with depression in her life, and knew how I must be feeling. So she gave me unpaid leave, or ‘compassionate leave’ for a couple of weeks. That was lovely of her and I’ll never forget that she gave me that opportunity to try and get better… except, I didn’t. This is when I went on that trip with my family and had some pretty bad experiences with codeine- check out my other blog post to find out more.(opens in a new tab)
After I came back from my little holiday, I came back to work. Nothing changed really. I have lots of gaps in my memory from this time as I was off my face most of it. To this day, I’ll never know how they didn’t once catch onto the fact I was absolutely drugged up to the max on most days. I won’t talk much more about my old job, but lets just say, my manager (that nice one who let me go on leave) left. Not only that, but she took the visual merchandiser and supervisor with her. The exact two other people who knew I wanted to go into visual merchandising, and who were helping me work my way up in the company. So them leaving, was like back to square one for me and it crushed me.
I think that was the point where I stopped caring. Over the next couple of months I had collapsed, at work, in front of customers. TWICE (on two separate occasions). And another time after hours, where I had to get a bus home and meet my parents, barely being able to speak due to slurred words, barely being able to walk. I had to meet friends that afternoon, so my Mum took me back to my University flat, and she told me the whole journey there I was rocking back and forth and leaning over her and myself and could barely speak. That was probably one pill short of an overdose. I don’t remember that journey, nor do I remember the days after it. Apparently I didn’t go meet my friends, either, so I have no idea what I did. This, believe it or not, was a frequent occurrence.
I will post more about the effects the drugs had on me, in the future.
So work was a mess, I was depressed, I was regularly thinking about suicide. I took extreme risks, I was purposely not calling in, because getting fired at least meant I didn’t have to tell them face to face that I quit and awkwardly work a notice. So, my solution? Just stop turning up. So I did. And yes, the calls came, text messages from worried colleagues, emails, and finally, a letter. The letter just told me it presumes since I have not attended for weeks, that I must have quit. They said if they have made a mistake, to call them, but if not, just await my exit paperwork. I was honestly overjoyed. I didn’t have to speak to them, or see them, I just had to do nothing. The best part was that the manager who left, didn’t know anything about what had gone on since, so she agreed to be my referee for my next job.
THE NEW JOB
It would not be until 6 months later, where I received an offer for yet another retail position. This time in a smaller store, unlike the department store I’d worked in for the previous two years, and the other larger store I’d worked in the 2 years before that. It was a change of scenery, and they seemed to be nice and kind, so I accepted.
You see, by now, I was living back with my parents. I’d quit that job, quit uni (technically, I graduated with a diploma of higher education, but that’s worth 2 years, I was there for four, so seems a bit of a waste to me), and basically I was back to where I was four years ago. It’s part time, so I am working my way into a full time position somewhere, if not here. I felt like a full time position might be too much, considering the excessive drug usage period was the same time I was working at my previous job. I’m a strong believer that job satisfaction helps motivation which, for me, helps me not rely on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and painkillers.
However, this job, is basically standing around, greeting customers who look like they’d rather be slapped than be spoken to my us measly employees. Yet, you gotta keep a smile on your face, beat unkindness with a smile and complaints with an apology, even if it is a stupid complaint. I’m okay at that. All my life I have been a faker. I fake smile, I fake happy, I fake caring about celebrity gossip… so I can easily fake caring that you have come allll this way to get a product that is sold out, or fake knowing what you’re talking about when you’re discussing something I’ve never even heard of. In fact, I think the majority of the role of retail workers, is fakeness.
Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to customers. I don’t think I am better than them, and I like the ones who don’t think they’re better than us. We are all human beings. Why dodge me when I say hello? Sure, if you say hello back, maybe I’ll continue to talk to you and even maybe try to help sell you something, but that is our job. You don’t have to be rude and ignore us, just maybe tell us you’re browsing. Or, better still, why not just tell us what kind of product you want? Maybe we’ll actually help you find something you might want! You don’t have to want to buy it, maybe just think about it? Or maybe it gives you inspiration for a gift, but you don’t want to pay the price of this one, but even just the fact it has given you an idea, means we have been of service. Dodging our glances and not even giving us the time of day means we feel awkward. At the end of the day, however, we move on, and understand each person has different needs and different ways of shopping.
Anyway, after moving to this new job, with different roles, I feel kind of trapped. If I am on one part of the store, I am stuck there for at least 2 hours, then for the last two, i am stuck at the other side of the store. At the front, I stand there, basically still with my hands behind my back, and greet customers. Sometimes they ignore me, sometimes they smile and walk off, and other times they see me and walk any possible awkward angle do get away from my area. It’s disheartening and makes me feel embarrassed.
What’s worst is my feet ache, after even an hour, my feet want to shrivel up. My back arches and makes all sorts of cracking noises, and my neck and shoulders hurt so much, especially when my hands are behind my back. Sometimes I spend my shifts with tears in my eyes because the pain is unbearable, and sometimes I have to run to the toilet to stretch and relax and let go of some of the pain and panic I feel. Last week I took an oxycontin at work, and it really seemed to help. It was 5 hours on my feet but it only hurt the same as if I had done two hours, so it did the trick. When I got home that night I also felt great- that high I hadn’t felt in months.
So, back to square one? We’ll have to see. I don’t want to become addicted again, but I want to be pain-free at work and not feel so anxious.