Working Nine to Five

Who’d have thought that stuffing envelopes could be an aid for recovery? I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifetime career; but, as a stepping stone to the real world, the value far exceeded the income.

At first, it just gave my head a break from tying itself in anorexic knots.

Then, it gave me a reason to eat.

Eventually, it gave me the motivation to get better – and, a context to get better within.

All the way along, it helped me build up a little faith in myself.

There’s nothing like a spell of unemployment to dent your self confidence. Whilst the rest of the world are up and off to work, you’re sitting at the sidelines feeling useless and left out and different.

For the first few post degree years (because, yes, despite the irrationality of my behaviour, I did have a brain that sometimes behaved remarkably well) working did not even enter the equation. I was too ill – and too busy making a full time occupation out of being ill – to think about jobs and careers and ambition.

I had grown used to a daily routine centred on food (pointless, but it gave the hours some meaning); adjusted to my stilted doctor appointmented disability funded life (it dulls your expectations); forgotten about things like choice and aspiration and personal professional development.

You can stay there as long as you like.

I was encouraged in a different direction: working nine to five.

I had to start right at the bottom – envelope stuffing – but even that was worth the effort. It gave me a purpose – other than food – and an experience – other than being ill. It gave my priorities the once over: eating breakfast is not optional when you’ve got 9 hours of hard graft ahead of you.

Getting up and going to work made me feel part of the real world again. I wasn’t hiding under my duvet while everyone else got up and out – I was on the way with them. I had a goal – getting those envelopes out there – that made a difference; was part of a team. I could complain about my job along with the best of them.

You start to feel a little bit better about yourself when you’re proving your worth – and are getting paid for it: benefits always felt like other people’s money; they seemed to be tinged with guilt and dependency.

You start to feel a little more independent, a little braver; and, as the cogs start creaking back into action – the slight stirring of ambition; a flurry of excitement -

- and a little of that lost hope.


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One Response to “Working Nine to Five”

  1. Anon says:

    Having recently graduated from my MA, I’ve found myself in what is, by all accounts, a 9 to 5.

    I sometimes feel resentful that I’m here, having put so much hard work, and lost so much of myself, in getting my degree (and the ED). But your post does make sense and has reminded me of one of the reasons I took this job:

    To give me some independence (financially and otherwise – cutting the apron strings when your parents like you holding on is a big step when I think of it) and space (because I’m not filling it with the academic stuff quite so much as an excuse to put things off) to try and get better.

    Thanks x