First, job-seeking stuff: I have a pretty good looking lead on a job from a recruiter. He sent me the job spec and I look almost perfect for it – there’s a lot of boxes and I’m ticking most of them, including a few of the “nice to haves”, so I’m feeling quite optimistic with this one. The only downside so far is that it’s based in a little village about 4 miles away, which means… I need to buy a car. But that’s OK, I think. 4 miles on quiet-ish roads sounds like something I can cope with. (I think this is the anti-depressants talking – I have always found the prospect of driving quite scary)

I have another couple of leads too. One requires a long winded application process, which I’ve been trying to do in work time today, and some of that I will be able to recycle for another one (which seems less good, because the commute is longer).

Second, work: I’ve had a huge conflict in my head about what to do about the Becky situation after the salary negotiation (which hasn’t moved on yet) and I’ve settled a bit as I’ve come to a conclusion. When the time is right and opportunity provides me with context (and I expect two such opportunities within the next month or so), I’ll be cryptic and remark that it has become clear to me that my efforts seeking improvement are better spent elsewhere. I’ll have to think about phrasing, but I like this approach because it’s just a statement of fact. It expresses that I am unhappy but I have come to accept that is not under my control. It’s an ultimatum, and my employer’s response dictates the outcome. I definitely feel calmer for reaching this decision. Of course, I need to see the outcome of the salary ultimatum first.

Third: I haven’t slept properly since last Tuesday. With all the running I do, I sleep about 9 hours a night usually. Lately I’ve been anywhere from 4 to 7 hours. 7’s not too bad, but it’s not what I need, and my resting heart rate is up which isn’t good. I feel a bit happier tonight, so I’m hoping tonight is the night…


I thought the anxiety of the last few days was finally passing, but here I am, lying in bed on Sunday night with my heart pounding as I try very hard not to think about having to go to work tomorrow.

I am not sure I can keep doing this.

Citalopram week 6

Or: I lost count of the days, so we’re on weeks now.

I don’t feel like I’m doing very well. I was miserable at work today; stressed, tense, wanting to be anywhere but work. I am stressed about this salary negotiation, which has gone very quiet. Usually my boss is quite efficient and prompt. Long periods of silence usually imply HR lady’s involvement, who is not efficient at all. What’s going on? I am worried they are going to be holistic and make the connection that it’s really about Becky and the fact she’s made the workplace quite unpleasant. There have been hushed voice meetings between the usual suspects. I don’t know what’s going on.

I’m trying to put myself in my boss’s shoes. Here is someone who’s obviously not been happy and who has had meetings with HR and burst into tears over nothing very much. This employee is not mentally well. They go on holiday for two weeks then out of nowhere they put out a very assertive ultimatum over salary. My boss isn’t stupid, HR lady isn’t stupid, they both know that Becky has pissed me off enough that I’m prepared to walk, but the sudden calm and self assured assertiveness is probably a mystery (thanks anti-depressants). So they think “how do we defuse this if salary isn’t really the issue here?”. It’s not an easy situation to navigate for them. And let’s be honest, they weren’t really up to the job of navigating it when it was much simpler. If they want to retain me they need to solve both issues at once, but they can’t, really, can they?

I feel anxiety at not having any real indication of how the company is playing this. I’ve partially revealed my hand, but they’re making me wait for theirs. But no, they can’t solve both issues at once, because I haven’t given them an opening. It’s all implied subtext which is purely their own interpretation. Which is good, because I expect better outcomes if I keep them separate.

I was upset by the email I drafted the other day. I was angry at the time and I went all-in. It ended up a long-ish document of all the things the company has done wrong in the past six months. All the times they’ve said they’d do something then done something else. All the times they’ve committed to doing something and then not bothered to do it and just waited for me to complain before giving me excuses; the total lack of professionalism and respect shown towards me. It reads like a constructive dismissal case. It upset me. I shouldn’t still be here. The company does not deserve me. It’s not really ‘the company’ though. My boss is mostly straightforward in his dealings with me. The problem is HR lady, who just seems completely inept on every level.

Supposedly HR lady is working on some kind of mental health/well-being initiative within the company. The snarky response to that announcement writes itself…

I came home today and I cried. It’s been a while since I cried. I am glad I have a GP appointment in a few days to discuss the antidepressants. I don’t feel I’m coping as well as I could be. But maybe that’s OK, because anti-depressants aren’t supposed to fix shitty employers. That’s more alcohol’s domain.

But I am coping well enough to keep pursuing other jobs. I’ve had a lot of contact with recruiters in the past few days. That’s a big thing for me. Social anxiety used to make me a bit avoidant. I’ve started replying to any recruitment email I get, even ones that aren’t relevant, and telling them exactly what I’m interested in. I’ve had a couple come back and say “Oh! Actually we have clients in your area”.

One told me that the way tech recruitment tends to work at my level is that a lot of employers are willing to interview candidates when they come onto the market rather than posting adverts and waiting for responses. So it’s worth spending time getting my CV and requirements in front of recruiters. Even if they are a bit spammy.

Posts from the email drafts folder

Yesterday I saw my counsellor for the first time in about a month. For readers who aren’t aware, my employer is currently paying for a block of five sessions of counselling for me because they don’t really know what to do about Becky and it’s kind of a token gesture that they give me a bit of external support instead of having to actually do anything internally. I probably sound ungrateful but there’s a lot of politics involved here and it’s not a straightforward case of “employer does the right thing”, because actually, they cancelled the sessions and didn’t even tell me (they left it for counsellor to tell me, which I found very unprofessional and disrespectful) and then re-instated them after I queried how that was consistent with a previous assertion they’d made about wanting to support my mental health. It’s frustrating that they can’t do the right thing without first doing the wrong thing and forcing me to confront them over it.

Everything is always a fight with this company.

And on that subject…

One of the things that came up with my counsellor was the impending confrontation between me and my employer when they inevitably decide not to renew the funding for the counselling, again. Yesterday was session three of five (I thought it was four, which was why I was getting a bit nervous). Talking it through with her, I came to the conclusion that by the time it comes up, it’s the right time to start pushing for some improvements internally. She has previously pointed out that it’s HR lady’s job to smooth things out between me and Becky. I’d been thinking about that. It is her job. I’m actively job-seeking again now, just because HR lady isn’t giving me any route towards de-escalating tensions. HR lady has the authority to change this. I don’t. So the company is going to lose me, just because… she can’t be bothered? She doesn’t want to aid confrontations? I don’t know, but she’s not acting in the company’s interests and she’s not acting in my interests.

Essentially it’s phase 2 of the salary negotiation. First we secure a market-rate salary instigated by means of a “We both know I can find something better” ultimatum, then I start another negotiation instigated by a “we both know I can find something better” ultimatum. It’s kind of cocky, because my position in the first negotiation is helped by the subtext of the Becky situation adding credence to my implied threat to leave, and then afterwards, I’m going to say “oh also, I need this completely separate situation fixing too”. But it works, because they’re both valid and stand-alone points. Anyway, the company has given me this ammunition; it would seem impolite not to use it.

I actually started actively job-seeking again today and had a call with a recruiter, so I’m comfortable making ultimatums.

I was thinking about it today and ended up drafting an email in anticipation. I feel a bit happier seeing my points laid out on paper, because it shows me I can form a convincing argument. Once it’s written down and it still looks convincing, you know you’re onto something.

But… Let’s be honest, the reason I’m writing this is because this whole subject gets stuck in my head and it makes me angry. The antidepressants aren’t really helping with this, and maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe my anger is justified and normal, and it would be unhealthy if I wasn’t experiencing it. I think that’s probably right on some level, but… I don’t want to be angry.


This weekend has been a bit different to normal.

Saturday AM: Parkrun (Okayish time, wasn’t pushing it, but got overtaken on my sprint finish by somebody doing a more impressive sprint finish, which I was a bit miffed about).

Saturday PM: Went to see Downton Abbey. It was my mum’s birthday on Friday so that was part of her birthday celebration. I love Downton Abbey and I enjoyed the film. My one criticism is that I’m pretty sure that Maggie Smith wasn’t just a walking punchline in the series (though she did get a serious scene towards the end). I liked that despite being a film, it was still Downton as usual. It continued naturally from TV, and it also wrapped itself up in as much as a series about a family’s progression through life can ever be wrapped up. They could easily follow it up with more films (and I hope they do!), but they didn’t set it up for a sequel.

Saturday evening: Then we went to a restaurant for dinner afterwards. I had a burger because I’m doing a survey on burgers (actually because when you run as much as I do, burgers being full of protein, iron and calories make a lot of sense, but as this means I virtually always choose burgers when I eat out, it feels like I’m doing a burger survey). It was by far the worst burger I’ve had when eating out. It was small and burnt on the bottom; I was underwhelmed and had it not been for a mix up with the chips giving us a double helping, I’d have been left hungry. I did not leave full of iron and protein, I left full of chips. But I do like chips, so…

Mum had salmon though, and she was quite happy.

(note: the best burger I’ve had is in a fairly expensive restaurant near Torquay, but in second place, and not requiring me to travel 200 miles, is The Boss Burger from Boston Tea Party)

Sunday: 10k race – the reason I wasn’t pushing it at Parkies yesterday. It was a tiny local race that I only found out about a couple of weeks ago because I saw a sign on a lamppost. The course was two laps around a few little country roads and then around some housing estates – not the most interesting course, but not the least interesting 10k course I’ve run recently (cough Birmingham). Not flat but not hilly either. The weather was promising rain and threatening thunderstorms, but we’d had a lot of rain ahead of schedule overnight and at the start time it was just cloudy and muggy. Not exactly warm, but the sweat just sits on your skin so it’s not ideal running weather.

There was a water station half way around and I elected to pour the cup over my head, slightly underestimating just how wet I would get and feeling faintly ridiculous for the next few minutes as all the spectators presumably thought I’d fallen into a river along the way. By the end of the second lap, however, everyone else looked the same because it started raining very heavily. I was ahead of the curve. Someone tried to overtake me on my sprint finish but I was having none of that today, thankyouverymuch. Overall I smashed my previous 10k personal best (from May) by a minute and a half, taking it down to 41 and a bit minutes.

I’ve done a few 10k tempo runs lately which have all seemed like harder work than they should have been for the paces I’ve been hitting, so this was a nice confidence boost for the half marathon in three weeks today.


The events of this week have sunk in a bit more now and I feel OK about it all.

The salary/promotion thing is essentially me cashing in some political capital that I’ve been sitting on for a long time. At my last performance review, in March, I was told that the company isn’t doing well and that was used to justify reducing my pay rise this year. They repeated this to me again in August over a different matter involving a trivial amount of money, which they really made a mess of. I don’t like work politics, but I seem to have been forced into playing that game and I’m playing it better than my employer at the moment.

I don’t know whether this will actually result in anything tangible, but the fact they have decided to review things is an implicit admission that money isn’t quite as tight as they led me to believe.

But that in itself is kind of weird, because it means that the company just lied to my face twice, and they have only been spurred into doing the right thing by me laying down an ultimatum. Am I supposed to just forgive that? I have real trouble with dishonesty. It destroys trust and respect. I forgive very easily when people admit guilt and show an understanding of wrongdoing, but people often don’t, and that makes it hard for me to trust they won’t do it again.

I think a problem for me is that I’m usually quite agreeable and mild mannered, so if I find myself laying down an ultimatum, it’s probably because my trust in the other party has been seriously damaged, and it’s hard to recover from that.

So, as yet, nothing has changed and I have decided to restart my job-search next week. I have had 4 relevant leads from recruiters over the past couple of days so I’ll kick those off over the weekend. I hope I can keep my anxiety in check better than I could last time around. At the moment it seems very simple and unintimidating, but my self-awareness on anxiety triggers has not been very good lately. I’ll be honest though, I really think the citalopram will greatly improve my interview performance this time around. Anxiety or not, I am functioning a lot better socially.


Today was the dietitian appointment. She basically told me I wasn’t eating enough, which is both true and something I should listen to, and also missing the point slightly. It’s true because I’m so active. According to Strava I burnt 1000 calories running today. That’s a lot of calories that I need to replace. She suggested sneaking in extra calories with things like full fat milk, which is good.

But my weight was increasing slightly until I went back to work. It’s very suddenly dipped again, so, the GP was right, anxiety is driving my weight problems and the diet is probably not really the issue.

I was a bit mischievous today as I emailed in this morning to announce I was working from home due to an “appointment” which would have me away from my desk for a few hours this afternoon. I had informed my project manager (not my boss) yesterday it was medical, but my boss doesn’t know that. So given that I’ve started a salary negotiation, to him it’ll look a bit like I might be interviewing. I did that on purpose. He also arrived early yesterday, just as I happened to be in the corridor making a personal phone call, which is very unusual for me. It was to my GP surgery, but again, he doesn’t know that.

In related news though I’ve had a bunch of relevant-looking opportunities come through from recruiters and I think I’ll respond and signal interest over the weekend.


SO! Salary email reaction: It didn’t go as planned, but my boss thinks I have a reasonable point and is going to implement some kind of pay grading system and a more formal review process. I don’t know what to expect from this yet, but it seems at the moment that I am being taken seriously.

For now I feel calm and happy. In fact, I feel confident and a little voice in my head is saying “hey, you’ve done well, but cast your net a bit wider and start job-seeking again”.

I don’t understand my moods. I am surprised just how bad my anxiety has been over this. I have booked an appointment with my GP to discuss as I don’t really know how the anti-depressants should be fitting in with this, but I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t take the edge off this at all given that they do seem to be effective in other ways.

For example, I found the discussion with my boss very easy. I felt stressed but I wasn’t distracted by the stress. I think I probably appeared more relaxed and comfortable than I do usually, even though it was a high stress situation.

Citalopram day 35

Or: Apparently I can’t count. I realised something was amiss as I started on a Wednesday and today is Tuesday and 38 isn’t divisible by 7. Thanks, maths degree. It turns out it’s day 35.

So, I’ve had no response from my boss, but he was in the office today. He had a closed door meeting with Becky earlier which makes me a little suspicious. I wouldn’t be surprised if the delay here is because he forwarded my email to HR lady for her take on it, and she told him I was still upset about the Becky situation, and now he’s trying to get a feel for it via her. I didn’t refer to that situation at all in the email, I kept it strictly about salary and professional opportunities, so any such interpretation is purely his and I couldn’t possibly comment.

I could easily be wrong on that though. I usually am wrong about these things.

I have not found the stress any easier today. I barely slept again and my GI system is distressed (like the rest of me). I actually put on some weight when I was on holiday; I had my BMI up to 19.6, but now it’s back down to 19.2.

So I still feel my stress responses are out of alignment. Worst case scenario: my boss comes back and says “no”. Then I’m no worse off than I am now. Some anxiety is understandable, but I shouldn’t be losing sleep (and weight) over this.

I am confused because I’m not sure if the citalopram should be giving me better results than this. The GP told me that you often have to try a few antidepressants to find the right one. I think I should make an appointment to discuss this.

I have noticed something though: I find it a lot easier to just speak to people. There’s no feeling of awkwardness about it anymore. So… I am still experiencing a lot of stress but I seem to be functioning better socially at the same time?

Citalopram day 37

Or: these things aren’t as strong as I thought they were.

Today has been stressful. It was the first day back at work today and this afternoon Becky was wandering around the office making sarcastic comments about bullying and how it “wouldn’t be the first time” she’d been accused of it. I didn’t hear the context that led to her being in such a conversation, but her remarks were obviously aimed at me because I made it clear on one occasion in the past that I considered her a bully. I should have opened the pack of fruit pastilles in my bag and had one at that point, because that’s what my counsellor and I discussed – when she does these things, reward myself with sugar. Reframe it. But I totally forgot about their existence until later, and instead I escaped to the toilets.

How to prove you’re not a bully: Make sarcastic comments belittling someone else’s feelings over something they said a year ago.

I did email my boss regarding salary/promotion. He had sent an email before I got in saying he wouldn’t be in until the afternoon, so I hesitated, thinking “do I want to be waiting all morning for a meeting?”, but I pressed ahead anyway and sent it first thing.

The final email went like this:
Paragraph 1: Recent achievements, observation that I’m functioning well above the role I was hired for 7 years ago
Paragraph 2: Recent complimentary comments from him and HR lady
Paragraph 3: Say “it is therefore hard to understand” why my achievements aren’t being recognised professionally and my salary has fallen behind its market value
Paragraph 4: Close by saying I hope the company will resolve this “confusing inconsistency”.

I read it back later just before I left and I was pleased that it was diplomatic while also pinning it down tightly. There’s no real wiggle room; any resistance will devalue the words in paragraph 2. A valuable tip I’ve picked up from my counsellor is when someone’s “words and actions don’t align” (a phrase of hers), the way to draw attention to this is to focus on the confusion it causes.

My boss replied shortly afterwards and said “thanks for your email. I will respond in due course – lots of meetings this week”. It feels like “thanks for your email” is slightly undermined by then not bothering to write in full sentences.

He then decided he wouldn’t be in the office after all today. Coincidence? Who knows.

I am anticipating resistance. I expect him to tell me that the company’s not doing well and the currency is causing us additional expenses, because I’ve heard all this before. I’m not sure where this goes if he chooses this route, because the job ad I saw yesterday for an assistant role advertised a generous salary higher than mine, and the exchange rate argument is unsupported by the actual exchange rate.

I very much hope that he doesn’t put me in a position where I have to find a way to diplomatically call him dishonest, but if he does I’ll throw in the facts (job ad and exchange rate data) and again express my “confusion”. But at that point the negotiation will have taken a sour turn so let’s hope he doesn’t lead it down that path.

Overall I have found today quite difficult and I am not sure if the citalopram has really helped much.

My watch’s interpretation of my stress level today is pretty bad:

My sleep last night was dreadful – I slept from 10:00PM – 1:00AM then woke up and only started dozing at about 3:00AM, with frequent waking up for the rest of the night.