Soo, I saw my counsellor today…

I think the main things that came out are that I feel let down by work, and it feels like I’m leaving with unfinished business.

I feel let down by my boss specifically, because I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. I’ve always had a view of my boss as being intelligent, professional, high achieving, etc. The people I’ve had trouble with, not so much, but ultimately, it’s his company and it falls upon him to sort out issues. I’ve had higher expectations of a number of people than it turned out were justified, but he’s the one that disappoints me the most.

The unfinished business factor is still an argument going around my head. I want to say what I’m really thinking about everything even though I have nothing to gain. This will subside very quickly after Friday, but, at the moment, it’s still there.

She re-assured me a bit on the HR front. The thing with HR lady is that she has no HR experience outside of this company, and, I think it would be naive to say that she was hired here for any other reason than she’s a native Russian speaker and most of our ’employees’ are off-shore Russian contractors. It’s actually only been a very recent thing that she has any involvement in UK matters at all. My counsellor assures me that her behaviour has been bizarre and I could usually expect a lot more support from HR. I have no other experience of dealing with HR, so it’s useful to hear this. It certainly fits my perception that HR lady doesn’t know what she’s doing, but it’s useful to get someone much older and more life-experienced than me tell me this.

I don’t know when or if I will see my counsellor again though. She said she didn’t think I needed any more counselling (and I pay her £35 a session, so this is a genuine opinion) and I agree with that at the moment.

I said I’d contact her again after I’ve started my new job and let her know. But whether that will be to make an appointment or to tell her I don’t think I need to see her again… I don’t know, we’ll see.

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.


So it turns out that my company has funded another five counselling sessions.

I decided on Friday afternoon that come Monday morning I’d just hand in my notice and be done with the ridiculous situation, but over the weekend I softened a bit and decided to just write an email to HR lady expressing my ‘surprise’ at support being withdrawn without discussion.

So we had a meeting. HR explained that The Boss had just decided to withdraw funding and that was that. Reasons stated were brexit, currency devaluation, and the fact we have a lot of costs in external currencies. I wasn’t very impressed with this, as you can imagine.

But HR lady and I had a long chat about mental health and how I was doing (answer: not great). She is actually quite good at this stuff; she has recently completed a qualification in mental health and has struggled with it herself – she told me she had been on anti-depressants for a few years because she was suicidal. She offered to go back to The Boss and ask again.

Which she did. And then five more sessions opened up.

So on the one hand, I’m grateful for that. On the other, it just seems ridiculous to me that The Boss caused resentment over such a trivial amount of money. The company lost far more than £150 between my time, HR lady’s time, and The Boss’s time just discussing the matter. The brexit argument was hard to sympathise with; I didn’t benefit when the currency was stronger, and there are plenty of other local companies who don’t have high costs in foreign currencies, so it’s unclear why I should accept that.

So I don’t know how I feel. I was close to quitting, and now I regard this as a temporary counter-offer. But it still damages trust, which is hard to rebuild. The last year at work seems to have been a sequence of people damaging my trust and then being surprised when that causes problems.


I’m still struggling with job seeking. I am getting so much low-effort spam from recruiters that it’s overwhelming. I am getting emails from recruitment agencies saying “thank you for your application, please phone me on this number” when I haven’t submitted any applications, and “I tried to phone you but couldn’t get through” when they don’t even have my phone number. I’m not dealing with recruiters who are dishonest right from the start, but separating spammers from possible leads is energy and time consuming, which is demotivating.

I don’t get it. If there’s a strong market for my skills then make it easy for me. If there isn’t, then why are you spamming me?

I did get one from an in-house recruiter which looked a bit more promising but the location isn’t great.

It’s Sunday evening again

Tomorrow is Monday (obviously) which means HR lady will probably be in the office. She still hasn’t spoken to me about the ‘late-June’ meeting we were supposed to have, and it’s very much mid-July now. She has a reason to speak to me soon though, because the company is actually paying for my counselling at the moment.

The subject of counselling was raised when I complained about Becky, and I said I was already seeing someone. They offered me 12 sessions, on the condition that it was with a counsellor chosen by my boss, which I politely declined. The company came back and offered to pay for 5 sessions with my current counsellor, which they’d then ‘review’. I accepted, but I didn’t feel grateful because the whole thing irritated me. Asking me to break off my established and trusting relationship with my counsellor was extremely insensitive; asking me to see a counsellor chosen by my boss was clearly inappropriate, and knocking it down to 5 sessions after I declined this is just a bit… I don’t know… I was very underwhelmed.

Anyway I had number 4 last week and my counsellor has kept the company updated on this, so it would be appropriate for HR lady to speak to me this week.

I’ve lost faith in HR lady, so I don’t know what will happen. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if nothing at all happens, but I find it quite draining to be mentally prepared for this meeting all the time. My current feelings are that the situation has not improved much and I will leave because of it, as soon as I have something better lined up or maybe before. I don’t really know how much to say to HR. I think it’s right to make it clear I’m uncomfortable here, but I’ve done that before and it hasn’t yielded any improvement, so…

The other big thing this week is I have a gastro appointment. At the moment I feel that I can’t start taking SSRIs because they come with a warning about stomach bleeding, which of course I have experienced before. I need to discuss this with the gastroenterologist. I keep going hot and cold on whether or not I want to start taking them, but if there’s a significant risk of heavier or more frequent bleeds then they’re not worth it.


I saw my counsellor today and went through the way I’d been feeling lately. Her opinion is that I don’t express anger; I keep it inside and it becomes intense anxiety because it gets too much and I don’t know how to cope with it. She is right in as much as I do feel anger and I generally don’t express it, so I need to think more about how I can express it healthily.

She also reminds me that I’ve been through a lot and I shouldn’t feel bad about having a slight set back.

In related news… Becky viewed my LinkedIn profile again today! We have a fairly bizarre history and an extremely unhealthy current relationship, so I’m unsettled she’s taking an interest in my social media. Nobody else I work with is repeatedly looking at my profile. It’s just… weird. She’s doing it in work hours too while sat at her desk, which is very odd. My counsellor suggested that maybe my boss, knowing I’m not happy, has asked her to do some digging (she’s his PA) and see if I’m at risk of leaving. I had thought of too but I’m not sure it’s likely.

If I could do it without visiting her profile, I would block her.

I’m going to give her the wrong impression tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment. It’s not an interview, really.

I don’t like Wednesdays

I often find Wednesdays a bit harder than other days. Last Wednesday I woke up at 4:00 AM and had some intense stress and nausea over the job seeking, which surprised me a lot, because the previous evening I’d been telling my counsellor all about it and feeling happy and optimistic. Based on that I decided to just suspend any active effort on my part last week, and based on that I decided to see her again this week instead of leaving it another week.

I felt fine at work yesterday. Even my watch agreed my stress levels were low.

So I felt quite content and secure yesterday evening telling her all about my change of plans, and she agreed that avoiding unnecessary stress for the next few months was probably a sensible thing. She thinks I have a bit of PTSD, which seems like a serious term for being a bit stressed… but I don’t know. There’s a thin line between being a bit stressed and having a meltdown. I’m never quite sure where I am on that spectrum anymore.

Fast forward to today and I feel unsettled again.

Maybe it’s because my counsellor asked me about the future. Where do I see myself in two, five and ten years? I’ve been seeing her for almost a year but she surprised me with that question. I think I said “errr”. I don’t have plans for the future. My current plans for the future are limited to:

1. I should buy some Bluetooth headphones but I’m not sure which ones,
2. I am going to buy a new guitar but I’m not sure which one,
3. I need to sign up for a new investment fund but I’m not sure which one,
4. Maybe I’ll get a new job but I’m not sure which one.

There are things I haven’t done which seem like “grown up” things that I should aim to do, but I’m not doing them because they wouldn’t actually improve my life. Maybe I felt a bit guilty about that. Maybe I feel guilty I’m not actively looking for another job like I said I would. She reminded me that I’d previously said I’m not paid enough and I’m not challenged. I did say that. And it’s true. I’m coasting in a job I’m not sure I want to stay in.

She also asked about romantic desires. I drew a blank on that as well. I said that if the right person came along then I could see myself in a relationship, but “the right person” is an abstract idea right now. Maybe I feel guilty that I’m not going out and putting myself in situations where I might meet “the right person”. To be honest I just never think about it. I just don’t feel the urge.

Plus, my recent forays into “people” have not gone very well, all things considered.

So also.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the Becky meeting. I had ’27th June’ in my head, but I wasn’t sure why. Today I checked through my emails and there it was – a calendar invitation from back in May for tomorrow afternoon. Cancelled – that’ll be why it was only a vague idea in my head. But no, wait, it says it was cancelled at 2:00AM today!

HR lady works strange hours. She has sent me emails at gone midnight. When she’s in the office she usually turns up at about 11, takes lunch at 3 and seems to leave about 7. I don’t know what compels a 40 year old woman to run her life on those hours, but anyway…

So I’ve no idea what’s happening here. Why was it cancelled? The communication at this company is non-existent really. I expect she’ll be in the office as planned and she’ll speak to me about it… but… who knows? I went through it all in my head while I was running this evening. I feel prepared for it, but I also feel so pessimistic that Becky and I are going to reach an acceptable outcome for me that I just don’t really want to deal with it.