Give yourself a fucking break (Or ‘How to deal with setbacks in a healthy and productive way’)

I’ve never been dumped.

I know, I know, it sounds like a humblebrag, but it’s true. In all of my relationships, I’ve been the one to cut ties, to take someone’s hand over a table at a cafe and gently explain that It’s Not You, It’s Me. This Is Not A Reflection On Your Abilities As A Boyfriend. And We’ll Always Be Friends.

The thing I never realised, having only been on the delivery side of that exchange, is how absolutely disingenuous it all sounds. You think I’m great but you don’t want me here? Shut up. That makes no sense.

If it’s anyone, it’s me.

A few days ago, I finally realised how I’d probably made all those sweet, dumb boyfriends of days long past feel. Because for the first time in my life, I was made redundant at my job, and was given the professional equivalent of the break-up speech.

And holy shit, did those platitudes sound utterly meaningless in the face of such rejection.

Rejection sucks, but it’s what you do with it

Once the immediate shock wore off, the overwhelming feeling of rejection enveloped me, like the embrace of a bony, bitch aunt you see once a year. You know — it’s uncomfortable, and sharp, but kind of unpleasantly familiar at the same time.

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Rejection is an awful sensation, and it can inspire so many different reactions in people. Some get angry. Some get sad. Some feel motivated. Some, I guess, immediately pour a bottle of that awful tequila with the little red hat on the lid down their throats.

For me, rejection inspires fear. Anxiety. I’ve always been guilty of overthinking, which almost always translates into making mountains out of molehills. So after losing my job, my brain gave me this:

You don’t have a job. Which means you’re going to run out of money. Which means you won’t be able to pay your mortgage. Which means you’ll lose your apartment. Which means you and your fiance will lose everything. Which means he’ll leave. Which means you’ll have nowhere to go. And you won’t even be able to live in a car because you don’t have a license. So you’re going to sleep on a park bench. And then you’ll never get a job because no one hires homeless people. Also you’ll probably get stabbed. Bitch, you better find a job before you run out of money or your entire life is over.

For the record, this is insane. We have savings. I got a decent redundancy payout (not as good as it would have been had I been made redundant just one week later, but still good). We have parents with money. There’s Centrelink and freelancing and cafe and retail jobs if need be. We could take on a roommate if we had to.

There are options. And while most of my brain knows that, there’s that one, ridiculous part of my brain that insists on freaking out — and I’ve let that loud, shrill, hysterical part of my brain take over. Within just 48 hours of being made redundant, I’d applied for eight jobs and lined up two interviews.

Let’s be real — depression is a motherfucker

Depression and I have been acquaintances since I was in my teens, and she’s just constantly there, hovering around me like a stray cat that manages to get into your laundry somehow and vomit on your clean towels.

The last three years have probably been the most mentally well of my life, which I attribute mostly to seeing a good psychologist, but also to finally having my shit together.

But the thing with depression is that, once you’ve been through the kind of depression that leaves you in bed for a year, you live in fear of it happening again. And if you’re like me, you pour that fear into being constantly vigilant about keeping your shit together, and keeping your brain too busy to do anything weird.

I am Chris Traeger. Chris Traeger is me.

A significant part of feeling like I have my shit together is tied up in having a job — and now that I don’t, my fear of slipping into some kind of depressive state filled with Easy Mac and Pretty Little Liars marathons is real as hell.

So in the five days since it happened, I have been focused on filling my days with as many activities as possible. Walk the dog. Go to the gym. Apply for jobs. Do a phone interview. Walk the dog again. Do a Skype interview. Meal prep. Clean the apartment. Keep busy, keep preoccupied and tightly control every aspect of your life that you can.

Girl, this shit is not sustainable

So, to recap. In the six days since I was made redundant, I have:

  • Applied for 10 jobs
  • Had three interviews
  • Walked my dog, like, 4 times a day
  • Gone to the gym three times
  • Cleaned my apartment
  • Been to a gig, a party and two drinks sessions
  • Built a table
  • Bought a new philodendron xanadu, for which I had to trek out to the western suburbs to pick up
  • Watched all of season two of Ru Paul’s Drag Race

Honestly, I’m exhausted.

Gurl, me too.

I’ve spoken to a few friends of mine who were also made redundant this year, and they’ve all had the same advice for me.

Girl, take a break.

They’ve been saying it since it happened, but today was the first time I really heard it. Today, I am exhausted. I am drained and angry and sad and stressed and if I keep obsessively refreshing job search sites and being a weird Stepford fiance (I am literally roasting a chicken right now and we’re not even going to be home for dinner), I am going to burn myself the fuck out well before I find a new opportunity.

So it’s time to take a step back, take a breather, and take a break.

Look after yourself

Getting made redundant sucks. Like, it really sucks.

But hey, it’s part of life. Business decisions get made, people get chopped, and that is the way the world works.

Sometimes things in this world hurt. But you have to ask yourself this:

Am I hurt, or am I injured?

I’m not exactly a fitness aficionado, but I’ve been to the gym several times in the last week, so I feel qualified to say this next part. Sometimes, after the gym, you hurt. Your muscles hurt and you drag your tired ass home and even though just crawling into the bath hurts, you know that in a day or two you’ll not just feel okay — you’ll feel stronger.

So I’m going to allow myself to hurt. And I’m going to allow myself the opportunity to get stronger. And for the next few days, maybe weeks, I’m going to chill out, trust that things will get better, and love myself enough to dial it back a little.

I’m going to give myself a fucking break. Because I deserve it, and so do you.

Listen to the queen, y’all.