My plants are thriving now because I take care of them. I am present in all my interactions with people, not wishing I was home in bed all the time. Volunteering at the local soup kitchen makes me feel useful. I go to night school and keep my IT skills up-to-date. I no longer get a surge of adrenaline each time I hear a phone ring or the ping of a text message. My body is ridding itself of years of toxic build-up.
Rewind 12 months and I was in a job which was slowly suffocating me. The psychological pressure of dragging myself through each day, month, year was taking its toll. My job was restructured without consultation and my already fragile relationship with co-workers and senior management deteriorated. I was at rock bottom, having panic attacks, and getting pains in my chest. Once, in early 2018, I woke up in the throes of a mild seizure. I spent the night in hospital and a few days later I made the decision that my job was not worth the loss of my mental, or my physical health. I threw in the towel and quit after 11 years as a private school secretary.
Emotionally I am in a better place, but admittedly, looking for a job in the 21st century has its challenges. It takes hours to craft the perfect job application, to create online profiles, upload links to CVs, and social media pages, and the reward for all this effort? A bog standard "donotreply". There is virtually zero human contact anymore. Your life history is reduced to the mechanics of cold hard data-crunching, processed like a Tinder algorithm.
I was prompted to write this blog because the expression "Arbeit macht frei" popped into my brain, out of nowhere. Roughly translated, "work makes free" didn't make a lot of sense, so I tried forgetting it; but it kept popping back into my head, so much so, that eventually I started turning the phrase round in my mind and looking at it from every possible angle. Also, intrigued as to why it had wriggled its way into my consciousness, I went onto Wikipedia. It says that the expression was first coined in 1845 by Heinrich Beta in Geld und Geist (Money and spirit):
"[...], but it's work that makes you happy, because work makes you free. [...], it is a general law of humanity and the sine qua non of all life and aspiration, all happiness and fulfilment".
After reading this, a lightbulb went off in my brain, hence the eureka moment. "Arbeit macht frei" epitomises the emotional turmoil I am going through. Deep down, what I really yearn for is a sense of purpose, belonging and meaning in my life. Being unemployed I have a lot of free time at my disposal, as you can imagine, but I don't feel free, I feel the exact opposite, trapped; and filling my days with stuff only seems to exacerbate the void.
A Moodscope member
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