Isolation and how it affects what is currently going on in my mind.

It’s hard to talk about how you feel at times.. I suppose it is ultimately why i started doing this blog and talking about what i do, who i am and all the other boring sh*t that no one else should have to care about but that makes me who i am..

Over the last few months, since the extremely toxic work environment i was now working in pushed me close to who knows what and i made the decision to leave after 15 years service (the last 12 months of which were terrible) to try and get my mind back, my emotions are constantly flitting around.

I have spoken before about how i have tried to give my life some structure on a daily basis.

  • searching for suitable new positions
  • volunteering for a homeless charity
  • trying to learn new skills and improve my existing ones, marketing wise to hopefully help me on a return to a suitable position
  • writing to new and old network contacts to see if they will speak to me or consider me for any suitable positions or projects
  • trying to do things i enjoy, watching football, reading, listening to music etc

And you know what most of the time, i think  i am getting better, i still have a value and some worth and one day an employer will value the 20 years of experience i have within the football / sports industry and that i am someone who just wants to be of value and help people and make a difference.

But then i have moments, like the last 48 hours when it all caves in around me, it’s hard to describe what mental illness / depression feels like but it’s overwhelming when it grabs me again.

The last 48 hours i have been totally by myself, i went out for a pint of milk last night and for a five minute walk today to the book shop to see if there were any new titles i could ask the library to find for me.

I haven’t spoken to anyone. And the thoughts start to build up again

  • Would anyone honestly miss me if i wasn’t around?
  • Will anyone even have the decency to respond to job applications, networking letters / emails i have sent out? I sent out another 15 speculative applications and CV’s etc last Thursday to various organisations (in an industry where i have spent 20 years working at a senior level). One responded immediately and professionally the following morning thanking me for writing but advertising they had nothing suitable (which is a professional response and my mind moves on). The rest, not a peep again, similar to most applications, networking moves i have made over the last few months. Being totally ignored is not a pleasant feeling. It doesn’t take much effort even to politely say ‘no thank you’ to someone, no matter what their request.
  • What is the point of ‘all of this’?
  • Why is the world or at least the news i seem to read everyday, full of so much bad news, bitching, self-interest and money mad people.

And no matter how hard i try to rationalise things and tell myself the thoughts about are stupid and that people do care, things will get better, the rest of my life isn’t going to be like this.

It scares me…

I am obviously too sensitive for my own good at times but what good comes from all this nastiness in the world both on a macro and micro scale, trolling on social media  etc and where do i fit into it all?

Hopefully things will get better, to be honest i just wanted to get how my head felt for the last 48 hours down on paper, as it’s the closest thing to a voice i have at the moment.

These feelings of isolation, lack of value, self-worth, who the hell i actually am etc , i hope will pass again and i will step back into work, day to day contact with people, laughter, friendships, challenges, goals, achievements but at the moment i have none of it and it saddens me.

Roll on tomorrow…. and probably another blog about something nicer, like watching a football match or reading a book and spot of volunteering tomorrow night, trying to help people i know really need help. I just felt i had to get this out of my mind and into words.

 

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The Dismissive Approach of Companies to Job Applications. And the need for a little human touch…

Back in early 2018, as you may know if you have stuck with some of my earlier blog posts, my working environment under a new boss had become so toxic and my mental health deteriorated to such a degree, that after 15 years service i felt i had no choice for my own well-being but to take myself out of that environment, regroup and in time begin to look elsewhere work -wise, whilst trying to care for my mental health.

It’s a strange situation, leaving a job after 15 years, at times ridiculous as it sounds it almost feels like a bereavement. All those happy memories, the great friends made, the adventures had around the world with my job and the pleasure and pride of seeing some hard work bear fruits in terms of fans reactions to our efforts.

It changed over a one year period where the whole culture changed and the level of toxicity and the unwillingness of new people to listen and collaborate became too much.

So i got out… i sought CBT support after referral from my doctor (i have to be honest i didn’t find it that helpful , some people do, some don’t it seems). But gradually the stress began to leave my mind and a few months on i felt ready to get back into something new and began the job search, the networking, the writing to contacts new and old, the telling my story.

Even telling your story to potential employers is difficult i find, the ‘why did you leave your previous role?’ question, i’d rather be honest but apparently it is not good practice…. and you end up talking about ‘it was time for something new’ or ‘ i just wanted a new challenge’… if only we could all be a bit more open at times without question, the whole issue of mental health, anxiety, depression would be far less stressful to deal with. We all have our ups and downs in life (no doubt interviewers do as well) but the whole process seems to revolve around saying the right thing rather than being honest.

I am no-one special but i have 20 years of great experience, an appetite for hard work and love interacting with people and sharing my passion for football through my work and always trying to balance my professional responsibilities for income for a club, with the desire to ensure that supporters and their needs are kept at the forefront of any decisions that are made or products that are introduced. Rather than the short term quick buck now, gone tomorrow ethos that still affects how many clubs treat their supporters.

Anyway back to the point…

The job application process i expected to be tough, the football industry / sports industry are tough to break into and the market in terms of jobs can ebb and flow, between quiet and not so quiet..

But the one thing that has really shocked me is how dismissive companies (and i have applied for numerous roles both inside and outside the sports industry in the last 3 months) can be.

The time consuming process which you put your heart and soul into of crafting resumes, cover letters, filling in bespoke application processes, answering competency questions and then NOTHING.

 

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I totally understand it is an employers market and lots of great people will be applying for roles and not everyone can be successful but my issue is with how many companies seeking employees have a rather forgetful and dismissive approach to those people who apply and they don’t want to go any further with.

And i am talking as someone who knows i am qualified for the jobs i am applying for , overqualified in many cases …

And this is where my anxiety kicks in again, that mental tick box in my head, knowing for example Job X closes on 1 August and their expected interview date is 13 August , or Job Y are saying they will sift on 5 August and interview on the 12 August , you check your emails, you wait for your phone to ring, you picture yourself in that role, the things you would love to do, to help with ….

And then NOTHING … except the automated response at the bottom of your original submission

We regret that due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot respond personally to all those who apply so if you do not hear from us within 4 weeks of the submission of your application; your application has not been successful on this occasion.

I get people are busy, i get HR departments are under resourced and i get so many of these processes are even automated these days…but i think companies under estimate the human touch at times, even to say thanks but no thanks, or this is why on this occasion we don’t think you are suitable for this role…

It’s the not knowing that kills you, the lack of any contact that increases anxiety as those dates they listed for interview pass etc…

The world is a competitive place these days in so many ways but deep down whether you are a company CEO or the office junior, we are all human, we all have feelings, we all desire to be valued or of value and these processes i think forget that.

Some companies do at least take the time to say ‘ thanks but no thanks’ and you put it to bed and move on but most don’t, your time and effort applying, your CV, your life become something else just dumped in an automated bin somewhere. And it affects you or maybe it just affects me?

I have applied for jobs linked to my industry but working for two charities in the mental health sector in the last month, attractive roles that i would have loved to have had the chance to be interviewed for and to sell myself for but nothing came of it and to be honest that is what got me thinking of this post.

When mental health charities who know the effects of stress, anxiety, depression and the rest of it can have on people, have processes that are so dismissive of job applicants, how are companies in any other sectors going to be any better?

I even followed up to this mental health charity who are a national body with a personal email just asking if they could let me know where my application was up to and for any feedback if i hadn’t made the cut and that was ignored as well.

All i am asking i guess is to remember little things go a long way, whether it is saying thank you to the person who serves you in a shop, letting the person queuing at the bus stop go in front of you or even just letting people know, that this time sorry, thanks for applying but you haven’t got the job.

The mental health industry itself should be leading the way with this approach and sadly from my experiences of it thus far , it isn’t practicing what it preaches.

Here’s to the next job application anyway…!

 

 

 

The world of isolation.

One of those posts, where i almost don’t know where it will take me, i just wanted to write something about isolation and loneliness.

I don’t do loneliness very well or isolation for that matter but since i departed my job a couple of months back, i have plunged into a more isolated world that i am finding harder and harder to deal with.

I have tried to maintain a structure to my days, wake up with the alarm, eat breakfast, job search, reply to emails , more job searching, feed myself (when i can be bothered etc) but whilst the world goes on around you, friends are busy at work (and you don’t want to hassle them), the isolation grows whilst you can’t find work and it is difficult.

I miss the laughs in the office, the smiles, the odd word of praise (not from my bosses mind – that didn’t happen!) but above all i miss friends, company, interaction and whilst my search for a suitable job goes on , the feeling of isolation gets worse and worse, the feeling of being down grows and your anxiety eats away at you.

I even feel isolated in the way certain companies treat job applicants (even mental health charities who i have applied for work with). No response even after closing dates for jobs pass by just make you feel even more isolated and worthless, that a company is too busy even to acknowledge you.. as i say the world carries on and your part in it just feels smaller and smaller..

Friends of course try and support me, inviting me for lunch, saying the right things etc but it’s hard to really feel part of it. I guess i didn’t realise how much my job and the people who surrounded me everyday defined my life, gave me a purpose and a reason for being…

Isolation eats away at you, makes you question yourself and your value and makes the anxiety that put you in this position in the first place grow and grow.

I also feel like i am letting others down, by not saying ‘ i have a job’ when they walk through the door at night, perhaps i am being too hard on myself, i don’t know anymore… one worry leads to another etc etc

Part of the reason, i started this blog really is too allow me to unload what is in my brain onto the page, i have no idea if anyone relates or not, i guess it just helps me to think it aloud…

I am waiting on a couple more job applications and for companies to come back to me, here’s hoping this week is one that changes my direction and makes me feel more positive.

I have a lot to offer i still think, i just don’t have anyone to offer it too at the moment.

I also find this article on the same subject quite interesting

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201511/loneliness-perceived-social-isolation-is-public-enemy-no-1

 

Mental Health And Me.

It is such a broad topic isn’t it really mental health and thankfully it is beginning to be something that we can be slightly more open about. However the fact i am blogging anonymously i guess means we have a long way to go.

Throughout my life, i guess i have always been shy to an extent and cautious but i have worked to overcome those personality traits and to friends, family and work colleagues i guess i have always been someone who is engaging, likes to have a laugh, has a degree in sarcasm and has always worked to live rather than the other way round.

I built a career from my passion (football) and was lucky enough to work on the commercial side of the industry for many years until recently, building a good reputation in my field for being knowledgeable, hard-working and keen to mentor and help people.

This all came crashing down in 2017/18, with the introduction of several new people into the business i worked at, people i would describe as empire builders, self-interested , unwilling to listen and happy to tread on whoever they needed to, to achieve whatever they wanted.

I don’t want this to sound like a moan, or as some would have it , to suggest i am frightened of change (i had many new bosses and adapted comfortably for years with them) but this time it was different. A new director who was only interested in himself and his ego…who brought a whole new team with him who seemed carbon copies of him.

It changed something inside me and i felt unable to stop it…

The constant criticism of everything that had gone before, the attitude that they were there to save us from ourselves, the inability to listen as to why we did things a certain way (with good reason in many cases!) and the failure to understand why a high achieving team of people had stayed together for many years (because we loved what we did, had a passion for what we did and worked with both the business and supporters in mind).

Everyday there was something wrong , or emails at anti-social hours criticising something that had been done,  my life became second-guessing, being unable to make decisions, trying to avoid any contact with people…

By the end, i was frightened of even turning on my mobile phone, for fear of the next email passively aggressively criticising something i had done or not done… which sitting here now reading these words even sounds ridiculous, how could you fear your own phone!

For me life has always been about compassion, mentoring, helping a colleague in need, giving praise where it is due and helping someone when maybe something isn’t quite right.

It pains me how much these people affected my mental state, how much they have drained my confidence (i still question every new job i am applying for , what if i can’t do it? what if the culture is as bad as the one i left?). But i am determined to overcome this and find a position again in an industry i have a true passion for and which i have both professional and personal skills which are an asset.

No matter which industry you work in, no matter your position, if you work hard, if you are helpful, those around you should be there to help , support and guide you with their knowledge, not criticise everything you do or try and bolster their own ego with every move they make.

I am sure there are others out there who may read this and relate. Maybe, maybe not? But i guess for me i just want to get across how far a word of praise, a helpful smile, a kind word can go at times and how destructive the reverse can be.

HR departments have a long way to go as well, yes, we had the token ‘mental health’ training course we went on but it was a box ticking exercise, something the organisation could say they were providing, rather a genuine desire for the organisation to be aware of its role in creating a positive culture, where staff were happy and the organisation benefited from their productivity and skills as a result.

So, it is a turning point in my life now, i continue to look for jobs, network with old colleagues and find a way back in to what i enjoy. But if it doesn’t happen i guess i will have to adapt and find a new way of making a living, time will tell – the key thing for me is i need to be more protective of my mental health and find a working culture that values it as much as i now do.

Hopefully new initiatives like the Mind partnership with the EFL over the next 2 years will make football at all levels of the game understand how much mental health can affect well-being and performance. Again only time will tell…

Thanks for reading anyway, i just wanted to get across where i am coming from – i promise the blog won’t all be this heavy! I am off to a game or two over the weekend and i am sure i will also listen to a decent tune or two as well…

But remember, if you have a colleague, friend, family member, anyone who you are close to and you think they may be bottling something up or struggling in some way with their mental health, talk to them, show them you care and are there. A simple act of kindness can go such a long way believe me…

 

Who, why, what?

Thanks for joining me!

I have got to be honest, the creation of this blog is more to allow me to get some of the thoughts in my head down on paper… and if anyone relates so much the better.

So, who am i?

A 40 something bloke in London, who has worked in the business side of the sports industry for many years and recently had to leave my job because of increasing anxiety and stress, brought on by an increasingly passive-aggressive new management around me, which made me question myself in so many different ways, destroyed my confidence and has left me seeking a way back into a career that i had enjoyed so much previously.

The last few months have not been easy, going from a confident, fun, engaging person who loved 99% of my colleagues, loved the crack in the office, enjoying getting things done and had a real passion for what i did to someone who is isolated, frustrated and still battling the demons in my head which keep telling me i am no good and focusing on the bad times (the last 12 months) rather than the good times of the previous 20 years.

I guess this blog is to allow me to express my feelings on mental health, my views on the world (personal greed and empire building seems to drive people these days) rather than compassion, working with other people and achieving things together.

Additionally, hopefully it will allow me to give an insight into my day to day life, the hobbies i continue to try and enjoy (with ever decreasing funds at present!) and my love for football, music, cricket, reading, travel and so much more.

Feel free to comment, join in or just lurk and read away and if anything strikes a chord feel free to let me know.

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