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PTSD

Its been over two months now since I last went to work at my job as graphic designer at IGBP. In December, I had a great time during my week in San Francisco with my now former co-workers. In January I met up with a few of them again when I went to my former work place to hand in my elevator key and assorted final documents. We sat around and had fika together. We talked about getting together again later in the month – maybe for drinks or even dinner.

At every workplace, there are always going to be people who find new jobs or whatever and leave. And that is normal. Sometimes one stays in touch, sometimes they are never to be seen again except maybe unexpectedly on a street corner. Many of my oldest and closest friends are people I’ve taken with me on my life journey from a place of work. And the thing is, you never know in advance who, from the job, that will be. Some workmates fade away and some stick around.  But the closing of IGBP was a bit different. Yes, a few souls saw the writing on the wall and left before we closed but it didn’t feel like they really left. They still felt like part of us anyway. But when a place closes down, scattering everyone, all at the same time, that feels different. Its almost too abrupt to really take in. So I sit here wondering what happened to my life. Because the place one works is a very large part of one’s life.

This morning a former co-worker called me. She reminded me that I had never answered her email from more than a month ago. How was I, she wanted to know. Yes, how am I, in my current stage of unemployment? I don’t really know.

I do the things I have to do. I dealt with försäkringskassan regarding my sprained ankle and cracked elbow when I first got home from California. I signed up with Arbetsförmedlingen so they would know I was unemployed and with my A-kassan so that I would get unemployment benefits while looking for a new job. I had a meeting with my adviser from Trygghetsrådet to once more discuss my updating of my CV. I worked to finish my updated Graphic portfolio and put it up online. And I made appointments with my physical therapist to get my injured limbs back in working order. All of this took time and lots of paperwork, phone calls and the odd meeting now and again. Getting myself to do it was like pulling teeth but since I had to do it, I did it. And in between doing them I did very little else.

I slept a lot, often not rising till noon. I stared at the face of my smart phone, obsessively looking at Facebook and Twitter. I re-read Outlander novels while lying on my bed and played the various episodes on the TV while I made dinner in the evening. I didn’t need to look at the TV – I knew each episode by heart so listening was good enough. I went to the grocery store to buy food. Occaisionally I would actually go out and meet some friend but mainly I stayed home. Hiding in my cave. Like the good crabby Cancerian that I was. Life had just gotten too big for me. Too overwhelming. Too confusing. So I am just hunkering down and working on ignoring it as much as possible. Until it figures itself out.


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3 Responses to “PTSD”

  • Rich Says:

    Hi Hil,
    I avoided what you are going through when I retired from my job, but I can fully appreciate the emotions brought about by the separation. My whole life, I tried to avoid having other people (or institutions) in control of my life. When Lynn had to retire from teaching because of the MS, it was a difficult time for her. When I was offered an early retirement package from my job soon after Lynn had to retire, I saw it as an opportunity for the both of us to move on, physically and emotionally. We had already purchased property in Hawaii, but I only half-heartedly thought that we would ever make such a monumental move (it was a good investment if we never moved). We also met with an investment/retirement counselor, who mapped out our finances during retirement and showed us how we could make it work with the investments and savings we had. But, in the end, I saw the opportunity to direct our own destiny, rather than sitting back and allow other forces control our lives… and that was liberating!
    Now, since nothing that we had planned out with the retirement counselor predicted, or allowed for, the economic depression (thank you pres Bush), our plans faltered a bit, and we’ve had to ad-lib a lot, but we do feel free and in control of our lives… and I think that’s been a healthy thing for us. I can understand why some think that people die soon after retiring, because they feel like there is nothing left to live for, but really, it’s just another phase.
    So, it’s easy to say that you should look at the forced unemployment as an opportunity, but it’s not unless you have something to look forward to. Have a dream… take some risks… life throws you curves, so find another game. Do you still have the boat? Move to Spain. Sell your apartment, and travel the world. Get a tattoo. But, whatever you do, don’t listen to your crazy friends (like me)! Have your own dream.

  • Hilarie Says:

    I remember when you guys moved to Hawaii. I remember thinking what an incredible & brave leap that was. I think if I had planned to stop working it would not have been such a big deal but I liked my job & I had planned to keep doing it till I was 67 at least. But that’s what happens while making plans. Life gets in the way. The decision was not mine to make. While a part of me still wants to work as a graphic artist I worry that I don’t have that gung-ho spirit that I had when younger so I’m no longer as viable in the job market. But we will see what turns up.
    Also, after Håkan got sick, a lot of things we took for granted changed and we are still figuring out how we go forward. The bottom line for me is that I quite simply hate change. Any kind of change. It takes me a long time to adjust. And I usually have to be dragged down the road, kicking & screaming hanging on for dear life to my denial. But I usually figure it out in the end.
    Thanks for writing, Richie. I love you, dear friend from my youth.

  • Rich Says:

    It looks like Håkan found his passion (or, at least one of them), expressing himself through baking. I love it… that’s great, and you get to share in the results… how wonderful! When you’re able to stop worrying about work is probably when you’ll discover the next thing in life. My life has been so haphazard that it sometimes scares me to think about it. It’s like I’ve been on a totally unplanned journey, even though I controlled every step of the way. I lucked into one thing after another, not realizing what I was getting into until long after it started. We always played with our money… putting away savings first, and then using the rest to follow adventures. That’s how we got involved with importing miniature horses from Argentina, and buying into a teak plantation in Costa Rica, both of which we lost a lot of money in, but had more fun than doing just about anything else we could think of. Moving to Hawaii was just the latest adventure. It’s a place that we never thought of vacationing, never mind moving to, until Lynn asked me to find the perfect climate (and she wasn’t interested in leaving the US). We really just up’ed and moved without making elaborate plans. Lynn once sent me to an auction of a restaurant in our town that had closed, to pick up some bar stools for her to use in school. I was outbid on the stools, but ended up buying the building and some of the restaurant equipment. That adventure almost bankrupted us, but I do get a laugh (and a “NO”)out of Lynn every time I suggest I’m thinking about the restaurant biz again. I’ve always found that life strikes (good and bad) when you’re not planning or expecting it. I’ll bet that you’ll discover another talent that you weren’t thinking you had to be your ticket to the next adventure. Just don’t let the talent that you know you have to be a limiting factor. It’s ok to buy a restaurant at least once in a lifetime.

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