I’ve been all over the map the past few days—not moodwise, but my confidence ranges from pretty good to really shitty depending on a) the available jobs on Craigslist and the employment division website, and b) my thoughts about those three jobs I interviewed for, should’ve had, and didn’t get.
I’m not down on myself like I used to get when I was out of work before. I haven’t forgotten that I’ve done something right in my career, or I would never have gotten that State job; the fact that it didn’t work out has nothing to do with my current mindset. I’m actually OK with the idea that I’m well past my prime as a desirable employee. I can handle the thought that I may need to consider retraining in some other field that will probably not pay as well as nursing. I can even accept the fact that every time I think about doing clinical nursing again, my stomach gets all knotted up and I start to hyperventilate.
What I’m not OK with is the undeniable fact that I’ve held three different jobs in 13 months’ time, and I don’t seem to be able to persuade people to overlook it and give me a chance. Job-hunting is a wicked game even under the best of circumstances; for the applicant with a few dings and dents, it’s basically a crapshoot. Unfortunately, I’ve been applying for almost every job that requires a pulse and an RN license, when I desperately need to stop hurling myself against that wall and focus my efforts someplace else.
Part of that is simply fear: I’m broke, I’m only getting $360 a week in unemployment benefits, and the rent is due. I’ve done the math, and a minimum-wage job—even at 40 hours a week—would set me back even further, so it’s not even worth it to work at McDumpster and move into a crappy apartment out in Felony Flats. (Although that’s what I may wind up doing if something doesn’t happen for me quickly.) That’s the only reason I’m still applying for nursing jobs…..I’m afraid of what will happen to Will and me financially if I’m not making the kind of money I made during my career.
But when I ponder the truth in the dark, long after going to bed, I think of what it would be like to be back in the whirlwind again—the overwork, the constant interruptions, the ceaseless demands—and I break into a cold sweat. I can still recall the time last fall when I was proofreading medication records at the nursing home; I suddenly became overwhelmed by the hubbub at the main nurse’s station and started to panic, even though none of it had anything to do with me. The ringing phones, people yelling over each other, and the general din was enough to make me want to hold my hands over my ears and scream until it all stopped.
Now THAT is damaged. I’m not as easily overstimulated now as I was when I was less stable, but even thinking about that episode gives me the heebie-jeebies because I know it could happen again. The surveying job was even worse, although I handled it better (thank you again, Zyprexa) and didn’t become paralyzed by the constant scrutiny and criticism. But I’m not “fixed,” and I seriously doubt I’ll ever be able to cope with that level of intensity again.
So my job, in addition to job-hunting, is to find out what my acceptable intensity level is. I can’t really figure out the rest of it until I know what I can and can’t do, and the only way to learn that is to hold my nose and jump into something. I’m scared of accepting yet another nursing-related job and then crashing and burning again…..but if the opportunity were to present itself to me tomorrow, I’d have a really hard time saying No.
If that makes me sound inconsistent, even confused, it’s only because I am.