Life After Patrol Store
There is life outside of Patrol Store, even if at the time I was there in the early days I didn’t think so. The early days were the best times; I remember quoting I was that happy working there that I would have done so for free. It’s funny how things have a habit of changing, just like people do. The Monday after I was made redundant I headed straight to the Job Centre in Redhill to ask about Job Seekers Allowance. I was greeted by a really rude, abrupt and unhelpful lady who shoved a card in my hand and told me to call this number or go online to make an application. Great, we have no landline or internet at home, all I wanted was someone to give me some advice on what to do in my situation. I went straight home and listened to the radio, pondering what to do next. That evening Daniel and I went to use his parents’ computer and I applied for JSA. I was granted an interview at the centre the day we were going to Yorkshire to visit my Dad and Step-Mum. I was put on to contribution based JSA and given my signing on booklet. We then headed up to Yorkshire. We had already told Daniel’s parents and my Mum that I was expecting, now it was time to tell them. That evening after dinner, Daniel was upstairs using the toilet and I was sitting at the table with Dad and Jean. I had never felt so nervous in all my life. My palms were dripping with sweat as I tried to work up the courage to tell them that I was pregnant. I knew Jean thought I was anyway because of all the sickness I had been suffering, that was the first thing she asked me. I bit the bullet and just came out with it. Thankfully they were very happy and I felt a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, as I was worried what their reaction would be.
I hated being unemployed; applying for job after job and not hearing anything back due to the amount of applications they receive can be rather demoralising. Attending the Job Centre, which I referred to as Hell, was a horrible experience. They look at you as if to say, “why haven’t you got a job?” It wasn’t my decision to make myself redundant, despite how my ex-employers worded their letters. At the end of January I was diagnosed as having Ankylosing Spondylitis, which was what was causing me all the back pain. And because Patrol Store were “very clever with their words,” as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau put it, unofficially I could have had them over a barrel for unfair dismissal because of my disability. Despite having no money and no prospects at the time, I kept telling myself I had a family that loves me and wonderful boyfriend that would have done anything for me. The future may have seemed bleak and the little munchkin may have been being born into what was feeling like poverty, but at least I knew he or she would have been loved. Which I knew is more than anything money can buy, and to have known I had my family in those tough times was getting me through those dark days.
Having battled through depression just over three years ago, I felt like it was starting to come back again. That light at the end of the tunnel was slowly starting to fade away. I stopped taking my antidepressants as I felt I didn’t need them anymore, life was starting to look a little rosier. I’d started a new job, made some new friends, and moved in with some lovely people. I was dating again after splitting up from my alcoholic ex, and was meeting some nice guys out there for a change, after years of random assholes and drunken one night stands. For a month or so I was dating a different guy twice a week, thanks to the power of Uniform Dating. My confidence had grown so much. I had gotten over my Aunt trying to steal my identity, and although it pissed me off a lot, it didn’t depress me. Work was great, the pay wasn’t fantastic but it was better than the JSA I was on for a few months and meant I could afford to pay rent to my awesome new landlord. I was getting on well with my Mum too, which is something that hadn’t happened for a while. Life wasn’t at all bad. I also met up with Daniel of course, and we all know what happened after that. But after I went back to work and found out I was being made redundant, that’s when things started getting bad again. Although it didn’t affect me on the outside, the fact that on my last day I spent the rest of the evening balling my eyes out because I was going to miss everybody tells me that it affected me more than I thought it did.
For months after I couldn’t get my head around why they did what they did. Business was booming and the staff was struggling as it was. The excuses of role re-shuffling and deciding I was no longer needed was pitiful. Of course it had nothing to do with them getting annoyed as I had to keep having time off for tests, and couldn’t work in the warehouse anymore because of my disability and pregnancy. Bollocks is all I can say. Why is it a week later the job I was doing was being advertised in the Job Centre then if I was no longer needed? I never felt pity towards them, only glee that everything has been going on a downhill spiral since I left. I felt really good about it. The only one I actually showed any remorse to was Matt because he was the only one who stuck up for me. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person, but after what they did to me I couldn’t help it.
I explained to one of the Job Centre advisors that I was starting to feel really depressed about the whole situation I was in, because I was applying for job after job and never hearing anything back. She told me I shouldn’t take it personally because there are hundreds of people applying for that one job and to try not to take it to heart. I knew she was right but it was still difficult to not let it get to me. She suggested if things get really bad then I should see my GP and try to get a medical certificate for depression, also for my disability because she could see I was struggling to walk. It didn’t help that I was 23 weeks pregnant at the time. I never even thought about it, but she made a good point and it would have given me a few weeks to get my head together, plus I wouldn’t have to attend meetings for a little while. I said I’d have a think about it, but I didn’t want to admit defeat, I didn’t want to be that person again. As depressed as I was becoming and as painful things were getting, I knew I couldn’t give up. I carried around a lot of burdens but I was carrying around something a lot more important than that, and I knew I had to be strong for him or her when they came into the world. Life had to get better, I didn’t know what else I could take and what it had left to throw at me. God only knew it had been doing it for the last 15 years already, I couldn’t handle anymore and needed a break.