I’ve been reading the Guardian’s series on graduate unemployment with interest, what with being one myself, yet I can’t help feeling like my experiences are miles away from those reflected in the mainstream.

I struggled through years of being ill at school and college and university and now I’m out the other side and thrown into a world that insists people like me are ‘scroungers’ and should ‘pull ourselves together’. Facing cuts in mental health services, high levels of graduate unemployment, benefit cuts and the constant harassment of ATOS.

All graduates are in the shit, but I suppose  for those of us who were less privileged to begin with, not just those of us with disabilities, it’s just yet another layer in the shit sandwich.

I  try not to be bitter, to be all ‘oh woe is me!’ but it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall most days. I try, I have volunteered and continue to do so, I have done voluntary work experience, I have attempted to get a crappy part time job knowing I cannot cope with a crappy full time one yet as I have a degree but no previous employment (with being too ill to work and get an education I focused on education). I am aware that as someone with big gaps on my CV I am verging on the unemployable, especially when one admits they are due to long term health conditions, mental health problems and all the stigma that brings. I wonder everyday if I should lie about my age or health, to pretend I am 22 say and healthy, erase the CV gaps, that I came out of school with a full set of GCSES ( I have 3, I always thought once I had a degree it wouldn’t matter but maybe it does?). I wonder if the years I have spent volunteering, often doing exactly the same work as one would do in a paid job, don’t count as it’s all ‘volunteer’ and I have ‘no experience’. I’m tempted to construct a web of lies to get a foot in the door.

Oh an I have to go and see ATOS again on Saturday (they are expanding into the weekends now) for the second time in under a year to be interrogated.

I could totally pass for 21…

On the plus side I persevered in education long enough to learn the term ‘Kafkaesque’, there is that line in a smith’s song (yeh shoot me now, smiths quote, I might as well be wearing a knitted moustache from etsy)  ‘Caligua would have blushed’ and I always think ‘Kafka would have blushed’ where ATOS are concerned. Blushed or considered it going a bit too far, I mean their whole set up is essentially ‘The Trial’ for disabled people, in buildings with no disabled access thus you get refused for not turning up to an appointment you can’t physically get to.

Also, my archaeology degree has equipped me with the skills to dig a really neat and meticulously recorded hole should I need to bury myself in one.

cross posted to

 

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I’ve been having a patchy few months, from the excellent; a week work experience in London which proved I am capable, the the shitty, the dribble of rejection emails for the few jobs that are around proving that whilst I am capable no one is willing to take a chance on someone with a patchy CV and a history that you can’t really whitewash and remove all the being ill stuff.

Needless to say this all has lovely positive effects on my mental health.

I know doing things and keeping busy helps me, but I can’t make myself be busy doing nothing or fabricating stupid nonsense like getting up early even though you have nothing to get up for just to be ‘in the work habit’ or whatever. My brain isn’t stupid it knows there’s no point so why pretend there is?

If one more well meaning but otherwise idiotic person gives me an ‘ooo have you tried?’ and then lists everything I am all ready doing, such as volunteering; I have volunteer work coming out my eyeballs, I do stuff in my preferred field but it’s sporadic opportunities and the more permanent positions are competitive, so that leaves me in the even more ego massaging situation of getting rejection emails for work I won’t even get paid for. Sometimes you get the scared look on their face when they realise you have tried all their suggestions, often more, and the realisation that maybe they can’t explain this one away hits them  and the awkward silence and a few mumbles of ‘ohh gosh oh sorry must be awful’ descend.

That and the fact I know I can’t spiral into full time full on work with my health, especially if it’s a less than ideal job that will suck out any remaining vestiges of my soul.

I’ve been blank again, I have no desire or need to write and I hate it. I get a pang of guilt every time I get a notice saying someone has subscribed to this blog (thanks!) and I haven’t written anything in months. There’s just noting to write about, or if I do get inspiration it fades long before I can sit myself in front of a keyboard. I heard people talking about depression and creativity the other week, the whole ;ohh there must be a link, Sylvia Plath!’ refrain. Perhaps there is and in certain moods I churn out pages of drivel, but there are also spans; months, years, lifetimes of nothing; just an endless expanse of mindnumbing dullness. An endless river of woodchip wallpaper painted beige without even a a blob of blu-tac residue to liven it up.

On the plus side the likelihood of me ever having to pay back my student loan becomes minuscule so at least I got a sort of free education, though at times I do wonder why I bothered and didn’t just do a tesco diploma in workfare.

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