I have learnt today that my employer will not be paying for any more counselling sessions. I learnt this because my counsellor texted me to let me know. I am extremely unimpressed that the company let her deliver the news instead of communicating with me directly. She said that she asked if I had been informed, and HR lady replied that she intended to speak to me later this week.

I’m disappointed but not surprised by the whole thing.

I asked my counsellor to forward me the first email that she received from my employer. I vaguely remembered she read it out to me at the time, and it seemed nice and supportive. The meat of it reads:

We very much care about [my] wellbeing and mental health and we are
aware that the is going through a difficult phase at the
current moment and we would like to support [me] as much as we can.

We would like to pay for 5 counselling sessions for him to start with
and review this at a later date to see if [I] needs further support from
the company.

I will be printing a copy of this email tomorrow morning and I will be asking what prompted the change in company policy. I will express surprise and disappointment and see where that gets me.


Hmmm so…

Once again, nothing has happened. HR lady was in the office today and yesterday but has not spoken to me. I saw my counsellor this evening (and had to pay for it myself(!)) who agrees the situation is bizarre.

I was talking over the whole thing with my counsellor and I said that if they do withdraw the paid counselling sessions, I’m going to find it very hard not to hand in my notice shortly afterwards. The money is trivial, but the message matters. They aren’t supporting me in any other way and I don’t feel valued. Over the past four months, literally the only support they’ve given me is five sessions of counselling.

HR lady was put in charge of my situation back in February after I complained about it to my boss. I objected to the formality that her involvement would imply, but it wasn’t the first complaint I’d made and he told me, in his words “if you left right now you could take me to court for unfair dismissal which would cost me a shit load of money, so I have to do this properly and protect the company”.

I get that. But what I really can’t get my head around now is that HR lady is adding fuel to that fire. I’ve asked for a meeting and been declined, I have had one meeting cancelled without explanation or any communication whatsoever, and HR lady goes out for lunch with Becky. All of this gives me grounds for constructive dismissal (not unfair dismissal, apparently my boss doesn’t know the difference).

Boss probably doesn’t realise HR is making such a mess of this, and my counsellor raised the possibility I could go back to my boss and let him know all of this.

I’m reluctant because it’s all politics and stress. If he looks at this and is as alarmed as he should be, HR lady might find herself on the receiving end of some kind of disciplinary action. It would be her fault, but she would probably blame me. I don’t need more enemies. But the flip side to this is that I am protecting HR lady at my own expense, and that’s kind of dumb.


Having thought over the interview from last week more, the chances of me accepting if offered are quite slim. The company has just been acquired, so it was announced a few days before the interview. I asked them about this and they said it was business as usual, but…  that department could disappear very quickly, so it’s hard to justify at the moment, particularly as the job isn’t very appealing except as an alternative to my current workplace.

The weekend was mostly good. I went to a guitar shop with someone from work yesterday afternoon, which was fun. It’s unusual for me to do things with people outside of work because I get a lot of social anxiety, but I found it quite easy to do this for whatever reason. I’ve been in the market for a new guitar for a while anyway and I needed to go and try a few so it made sense. I crossed off a couple of possibilities, one of which I was really disappointed about – the Ibanez JEM 77p BFP. It looks beautiful, but it just doesn’t feel like a £1300 guitar.


Once again though, I am expecting THE chat with HR lady to happen this week. The reason I expect it to happen imminently is that my counsellor texted me to tell me that she’d informed HR lady that I’d use the last session of paid counselling, and HR lady replied to say she would have to discuss whether they wish to proceed further. I’d like to think that might involve me, but who knows.

I don’t know how to approach any meeting with her anymore and I’m pretty stressed about it at the moment. I don’t feel supported by the company at all. I am not really greatly interested in them continuing to pay for counselling, to be honest. It seems to me that they pay for a few sessions of counselling and they think that’s their part done. I voiced this all to my counsellor at the last session, and she agreed. She summarised it as saying that the counselling is very separate to what’s happening at work and she can’t fix Becky. You can’t outsource the problem of fixing a toxic work environment – you can outsource the problem of repairing the damage it’s done, but you also need to address the source of the problem internally. By offering me counselling and nothing else, it implies my employer thinks I am the problem.

I am going to try to express that I don’t feel the situation has improved much, and, importantly, I don’t see any reason to believe it will, but ideally, I need to do that without making an enemy of HR lady. I am not sure how to do this currently, because she’s only added to the problem by refusing and cancelling meetings. I mean, I’d be totally justified in putting in a formal complaint against her, but I don’t think that would be tactically sound. I don’t think she’s malicious (unlike Becky), I think she’s just incompetent. This brings complete unpredictability.


How are you supposed to feel after an interview?

Did it go well? I don’t know. It didn’t go terribly. I was actually surprised I was given an interview because I didn’t have familiarity with their main technology, so if I don’t get the job, I will expect it’s just lack of relevant experience.

The job is OK. Not amazing, but OK. Their technology is probably not going to be a valuable addition to my CV.

If I get offered it I am pretty sure I’ll accept.

But I still feel deflated.

I’ve been at my current employer 7 years, so… that’s a big thing. It’s almost a quarter of my life. OK, a fifth. It’s a long term relationship! I don’t want to bounce between jobs I don’t really like for the next few years. But I’ve only spent an hour in the building, I’m scared of commitment!

That’s all normal I guess. To some extent.

But I’m more scared of being offered the job than not being offered it. Is that normal?

My brain hates this. I woke up in the early hours and felt stressed and nauseous. That’s how my brain works. You have an interview in 12 hours, let’s throw up. Why is throwing up an evolutionary response to stress anyway. In what situation would that ever be helpful? My brain is terrified of interviewing. It’s terrified of change. God knows how I’d deal with actually starting a new job. Even in the interview room I could feel all the uncertainties creeping in. All the new faces, new routines, new cultures, new expectations. You’d be safe at your desk on the first morning… but what about lunch?. Would I even get to work on the first day? I’m not sure if I’m mentally healthy enough to start a new job without causing myself a breakdown. And then I have months of ‘new job jitters’. Can I do this? REALLY?

You know… if you’d killed yourself in December like you wanted, you wouldn’t have to deal with this…

Not being offered a job is easy. It’s safe too. While I was sat in the waiting area, I was aware of this. I had to kick my brain a few times and tell it not to sabotage the interview just because it hates uncertainty.

I don’t know.


I’m just writing this to take my mind off the fact I HAVE AN INTERVIEW in a few hours, for the first time in seven years.


Something bizarre is happening at work.

On Tuesday I had a phone call from “Adam” who works for “Recruiters R Us”. Becky took it, and just sent me an email asking me to call him back, which I didn’t because… who are you and what do you want?

On Wednesday it happened again. I didn’t phone him back but I did ask Becky whether he had said what it was about. She gave a generic response which didn’t quite admit to not having asked him. I knew she hadn’t; I only asked to be awkward. She is very professional – when anyone else gets a phone call she says “can I ask what it’s regarding please?” before going over and speaking to them and asking if they want to take the call. With me, she doesn’t ask what it’s regarding and doesn’t ask if I want to take the call. I just get an email telling me to phone someone back. This is one of the things that really grates on a day to day level with Becky – everyone else gets professionalism, I don’t.

Thursday, again! But this time she got some details. He says my name has been given as a referee. I find this extremely unlikely – I still think he’s tactlessly cold calling my employer because he’s seen me online and wants to speak to me about a job.

So I did the sensible think and CCed HR saying “if it concerns references this would be better handled by HR”. I wish I could listen if and when HR does phone him.

I did some digging though.

“Recruiters R Us” are based in central London, and the phone number given has a Cornwall area code. I found “Adam” on LinkedIn and he actually works for a different recruitment agency. In Cornwall. Except… he lives in France. What’s going on here?

Sleep is important

I slept about 3 hours last night because of the heat/thunderstorms/work stress, but I felt today OK until I left work. I didn’t have any anxiety incidents. I crashed when I got home and felt really, really hungry, which probably isn’t good (hello, anaemia).

Work was OK. Becky was ignore-able. She sent me an email this afternoon following up some kind of review she’s supposed to be doing. She had asked everyone to reply and answer a few questions about the software installed on their computer. She sent it when I was off sick and I ignored it. She sent it again to me but also asked me to do it for another computer, which is… uh, how about do that one yourself?

I didn’t even consider replying and I wondered later why that was. I think I find it irritating that she expects a frictionless professional relationship to exist between us when she wants something from me, without her having to invest any effort in rebuilding it. But if I don’t reply will she complain… or will she send it again and CC my boss…

I’ve booked off some holiday for the start of September and I’ve set a soft date of 7th August for giving my one month notice, if I’ve seen no reason to think things will improve by then.

A day in the life of me

7:00 Hmm, that’s blood.

8:00 Get to work, but the gate is closed (it should open at 8).

8:20 Gate opens because accountant lady appears with a key fob (by this time there are four of us standing outside). There are three people in reception, none of whom appears to have thought “maybe we should open the gate”. I can tell this is going to be a productive day.

9:30 find out manager has been in a minor car accident and needs to wait for his car to be towed before getting a taxi into the office, so much for not having to do his job today.

10:00 Hmm, that’s less blood. That’s good.

10:30 Becky comes into kitchen while I’m in there alone. She eventually says ‘morning’ after I look at her. This is the first time she has spoken to me in two months. I say ‘morning’. End of conversation. I put the milk back in the fridge without asking if she wants it.

11:00 Why am I here?

11:10 Email from Becky saying she’s taken a call for me from someone from somewhere that sounds like a recruitment agency who is asking me to phone him back. Totally unprofessional for a recruiter to phone my employer, but ignoring that… Thanks for giving me the option to speak to him?! I can’t resist a snarky response “looks like you’re not the only person to find my LinkedIn profile interesting”.

12:30 Becky has loud conversation about sandwiches standing about 2 metres from my desk. It grates a lot when she does this because we had a ‘mediation’ in March after which we agreed to ‘make an effort with each other but also give each other space’. I thought this was a dumb and all-encompassing statement which in no way helped to clarify acceptable conduct, but she has actually managed to find a way to violate it. She has been doing this a lot lately and it really stresses me for whatever reason. I could feel my anxiety rising rapidly and I had to go for a walk to convince myself not to hand in my notice there and then (serious).

13:15 Back from my walk, haven’t handed my notice in.

14:00 Spend the next few hours with my manager trying to find a workaround for a really annoying bug in other people’s software. Literally the only productive thing I did today was to work around a problem inflicted upon us by someone else.

17:15 See my counsellor and recount what seems like an extremely eventful two weeks. She thinks I should email HR lady to make something happen, because my constant wondering of whether this supposed meeting is ever going to happen is causing me a lot of day to day anxiety, and I’ve had a lot of promises from HR lady with no actual follow through. It’s true. But HR lady is usually in on only Mondays and Thursdays, and I don’t want to trigger anything stressful this Thursday as I have an interview after work, and then Becky is on holiday next week, which gives me some breathing room. So… yes, but not immediately.

20:00 I have to do this all again tomorrow?!

22:30 I don’t think I can do this all again tomorrow….


I have been offered an in-person interview following a phone interview I had last week. I’m surprised that of the 3 phone calls I’ve had so far, this is the one that turned into an interview, but whatever, I’ll take it. I would like this job for the simple reason that it’s a 20 minute walk from my house.

I was feeling stressed about work, but suddenly now it seems far less important. I am not really sure what I’m going to be walking in to tomorrow, with having two days off… will be my boss be upset I didn’t inform the customer I was off sick? Will he think I’m having too much time off? Will HR lady start taking an interest now? Anxious thoughts, some catastrophising, but I don’t feel too apprehensive.

In less good news, I’ve been bleeding again. It only looked like a small amount, so I decided to run this morning as I planned to, but I kept the pace low and didn’t go as far as I had intended. I might regret this tomorrow. I suspect I have some kind of gastritis that is occasionally triggered by exercise and causes my stomach lining to bleed, but that’s me guessing – doctors haven’t managed to diagnose me, they just stick cameras in me (weeks or months after the bleeding has stopped) and scratch their heads. I think I need to assume I’m right on the gastritis front and start altering my diet to reduce stomach acid. I really don’t understand how I can go months without it and then it happens twice in a few weeks, though.

I felt unusually hungry when I got home, which isn’t really a good sign that my stomach is functioning properly, so I had a few slices of toast before eating quite a big lunch. I feel a bit sick now, but take your pick from possible causes: 1. Bleeding, 2. Eating a lot, 3. Stress, 4. Heatwave, 5. Running in a heatwave…


The weekend was mixed. I did Parkrun on Saturday but I felt quite sick afterwards, and whereas I’d normally continue running another 8-10k, I just walked home. It was the first time I’d run in almost 2 weeks because of an ankle injury, so that was disappointing. But I ran 16k on Sunday just fine, so I was happy with that. It was probably still a side effect from the Citalopram.

More generally I felt pretty bad on Saturday but much better on Sunday.

I elected to take Monday off sick from work. Uh oh, sick day #7 this year. My manager is back on Tuesday, and I’ve run out of motivation for dealing with the client myself when it’s not my job and things aren’t going well. On its own, it wouldn’t be such a big problem, but I feel so uncomfortable in the environment at work anyway due to the whole Becky thing. I think that taking sick days just because I can’t face going to work is a strong sign that I’m not going to be here much longer.

But I did some ‘work’ over the weekend for myself. I am forever recording (guitar) stuff on my phone and then never listening to it or sorting it out because it’s too much effort to get it onto my PC. So I started writing an app to record and automatically upload to a cloud storage provider. In only about 5-6 hours, I’ve got it working end to end, so now all it needs is some GUI polish and I’ll stick it on the Play Store. I have an existing app out there that makes me a few hundred pounds a year, so hopefully this will add to that.

It’s interesting to compare this with work. At work lately it’s been a struggle to achieve anything at all, but here, I’ve got something complex working in an unfamiliar technology in around 6 hours. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I don’t have to waste energy on office politics.


I took today off sick because I felt that life had got a bit on top of me again. This is now the sixth day I’ve had off sick this year. My contract says I will be paid for ten, but I still feel like I’m taking too much time off. Work is a pain at the moment anyway because my manager is on holiday and the customer is expecting me to do his job to keep them happy. Unfortunately, I’m not a manager and I don’t have the authority to make things happen. I’m also pretty demotivated by being unhappy at work, so… I’m not exactly going above and beyond here.

I do still feel a bit off it, though, which I think is the citalopram. I only took it to deal with work so it’s fair that my employer absorbs the cost of me not feeling well.

I feel content and perhaps slightly relieved that I’ve chosen not to continue with it. I think I had been stressing myself over whether or not to take it. It might have helped but it raised so much long term uncertainty.

Now I feel like I’ve worked my way through that crisis.