Saturday, October 30, 2021

Leave of Absence

My company has a two-week paid crisis leave for COVID that you can apply for. It isn't just for people that have COVID. Is also for people who have to take care of others who have it, people who are affected by civil protests, people with serious health conditions that are affected by covid, etc. I have heard that a large number of people in my office have taken the leave.

This week I applied for the leave. Today someone from HR said they wanted to speak with me to confirm that I was choosing the correct leave option. I suspect that they found it strange that I was planning it two weeks in advance. I wanted my leave to be as least disruptive as possible. They also wanted to know more about why I was requesting the leave of absence. I told them that I didn't know how to answer that without getting into my personal health information, but that I could confirm it was related to an ongoing health issue that has been made worse by COVID. They then asked if I would be going to doctors appointments during that time. That question made me uncomfortable. Why? I didn't feel I could answer it honestly and have them understand. (For the record, they ended up approving my leave.)

For the last 20 months, Timmy and I have been sheltering in place. I have only left the apartment to get my vaccine, and to take cats to appointments. We even have our groceries delivered. So, for almost 2 years I have been waking up, going to work, watching TV, going to sleep. You start to feel like what's the point of it all? Why bother to get out of bed?

I started to feel this way a year into COVID. Thankfully, I was promoted at work and that made a tremendous improvement to my mood. I was getting to learn new things and do more challenging work. 

Then a few months later, I started a part-time internship at work. I was very excited as the internship is on the team that I was dreaming to join. I am still working part-time as an intern on that team. I spend half my day with them, and then the other half working my normal job. Shortly after I started the internship, a permanent opening became available on the team and I applied for the position. I thought that I had a very good chance since I had already been doing the job for several months, and had been told I was doing a great job. The position ended up going to someone else.

What I found the hardest wasn't that I didn't get the position but rather why I felt I didn't get it. I couldn't help but wonder if I didn't get the position because of my education level and previous work experience. While normally that would be an understandable reason not to get a job, it would frankly be a shit reason not to get a job you've already been doing well for months.  It made me feel like I had no hope of ever advancing my career. If you do a great job at a position for months, and they still decide they'd prefer to start over training an entirely new person, how do you not take that personally? How can you not be devasted? If I can't even get a job that I've shown I can do well, what chance do I have to ever get a job I like?

As for my current job…. My team lead is great, my manager is great, my follow team members are great. There is amazing energy on the team; it feels like we are always there to support each other. The problem? The job is in customer service. I find it incredibly hard to manage my depression while working customer service. People don't call customer service because they're happy. It's hard to see people as mostly good when you usually see people at their worst.

The trifecta of depression, sheltering in place, and not getting the job, has made it incredibly hard to get out of bed everyday. I can't give HR a reason they want. I am not taking leave to go to doctor's appointments or get medical treatment. I'm already on antidepressants that are working as well as they are ever going to. I just need a break from every day life. I need to feel like there is more to life than eating, sleeping, and working customer service. 

I'm mad at myself for feeling guilty. I'm mad

that prioritizing my mental health feels like not a good enough reason to take a leave of absence.

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