The Four Horsemen of the Mental Health Apocalypse

In January, I was blindsided by the loss of the job I’d held since July 2011. One moment, I had a guaranteed paycheck, job security (haha, the joke was on me!), and the knowledge I could provide for my family. The next moment, my heart was racing in my chest like I’d run a marathon. I couldn’t catch my breath. Thick tears filled my vision. The future was no longer clear. Life had gone off the rails, and I was merely a passenger on this ride.

There were no more paychecks beyond the one coming the following week. The security blanket was lifted, and I was exposed to the world, in a daze of confusion and both emotionally naked and vulnerable. The future was a murky swamp and deep beneath the rancid waters, on the muddy bottom, monsters were waiting to surface and show their ugly faces like the Four Horsemen of the Mental Health Apocalypse: Anxiety. Depression. Self-doubt. Despair.

Even with the support of my beautiful and understanding wife, her incredibly supportive family, my own backing me with financial help, and the assistance of unemployment benefits, January to July was the roughest period of my entire life. It was a daily slog of sitting at the computer and sorting through job posting after job posting hoping to find something.

Waiting on phone interviews and in-person interviews triggered anxiety and panic attacks. Strangely enough, while in the middle of these interviews, the panic and anxiety didn’t overwhelm me. It was only before. The anticipation and the lead-up to these were the worst. Always feeling like I was on the edge of a panic attack for months on end didn’t help the situation. Each rejection added to the self-doubt. The more self-doubt piled on, and soon enough, I was in a state of despair. I had no hope for the future. I was always in a state of depression, experiencing panic attacks, and doubting myself and my abilities. It was playing tricks with my mind. I often found myself crying without reason. It came to the point of where I was worried about my state of mental health and considered seeking out professional help.

Then all of a sudden at the start of July, I interviewed with a company on a Monday and was offered the job on Friday afternoon. I delightfully accepted and went out to a celebration dinner with my wife. Everyone around me was happy about my good fortune, and suddenly, my state of mental health seemed to have returned to normal. I started work on Monday, and it felt great to be back in the mix again.

Admittedly, I didn’t do my due diligence on this company. I didn’t ask many important questions which I should have when the offer was made. As my wife pointed out, there were several aspects of this company’s policies she felt uncomfortable with. Looking back on it now, I should have listened to her but in my excitement to return to the workforce, bring a paycheck in, and generally get away from feeling like an unqualified, useless piece of shit, I choose to ignore many of the issues which sprang up.

Three weeks later, my life was once again thrown for a loop on a Friday afternoon. After only three weeks of “training” a.k.a shadowing other managers and learning their departments, I was called into a meeting with HR, and the operations manager told me I was being dismissed from my position…again.

To say I was blindsided once more would be an understatement. There were no verbal conversations before this about my work performance being unsatisfactory. No coaching sessions. No warnings or sit-downs to discuss how I was doing. In fact, all communications with the operations manager and several co-workers indicated my performance was going well. Hell, the operations manager the day before told me he was going to have me stop shadowing the other managers to work with him on getting my department in order on Monday. Literally, they were going to give me additional responsibilities.  It was a punch to the gut.

Needless to say, I was once again unemployed. Despite coming to terms that my dismissal from this position was complete and utter bullshit, I’m still battling with those Four Horsemen. I was feeling defeated and useless once more. I was heartbroken and ashamed to tell my family and friends once again what occurred. Once again, their support helped me through a very tough time.

Looking back on it now, losing my job in July might have been a blessing. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed with a company and was offered a position with them with a better compensation package and benefits. I start my new job tomorrow, and the Four Horsemen have retired back to the bottom of the murky swamp for the time being. Occasionally, I still feel anxious but nowhere near as awful.

And now for the relevant aspect of this post to the readers.

As you may have noticed, it’s been radio silence from me since January. Aside from working on Horror d’Oeuvres Vol. II and III, I haven’t written anything in nearly half a year. It’s difficult to write when you feel anxiety. It didn’t feel right to sit down and write stories while I was unemployed. I had all the time in the world to do it, and I tried on many occasions when an idea would come to mind, but ultimately, the guilt, shame, and lack of funds in the checking account overpowered any inclination to write.

Now that I’ve got a job again. I think it’s time to get back into the groove of it. I’m going to start off with posts on my website. I’ve long neglected it, and the content I wish to post doesn’t fit anywhere else. I’ve got something topics planned out to write about, and they’re close to the heart. Might as well share them here.

I’ll be getting back to writing about monsters soon. Perhaps, the Four Horsemen of Mental Health Apocalypse will make an appearance.

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