Things were suddenly going my way at work. I was given the approval to come back to my new shift following the month-long shutdown. After a week or two of discussion it was decided that I could stay on as a permanent member of the shift. The team congratulated me and bade me welcome all over again. I was happier than I had been there in a very long time.
It was inevitable, of course, that my happiness wouldn’t last.
My skill level and knowledge at work was such that I could perform any job on the production floor. Most of the people on the team were in jobs that they enjoyed and, in most cases, excelled at. Just like in my years of playing little league baseball, I was becoming the team player who filled in where needed rather than owning one particular position. I was soon moving from line to line depending on where I was needed most.
Not knowing where I would be working from day to day was taking its toll on me. The old feelings of disgruntlement were resurfacing and I wasn’t happy about it. The rising tide was too much to handle and I started playing the attendance game again. This time it finally bit me in the ass two months into the new year as I found myself earning my first step of
discipline corrective action.
That first step was a huge wake up call. I wanted out, but I wanted out on my terms rather than getting canned for attendance. I could feel myself sinking uncontrollably as going into work was becoming emotionally painful. Looking back on the events of the last year that led up to this moment opened my eyes to what was going on. It was just like what I experienced there at work seven years prior.
Back in 2008 I was going through some crap at work that had me at another emotional low point. I muddled through it rather than call in sick back then. Back then I had three friends at work that I could comfortably talk to about my issues. As fate would have it, they all had felt the same as I did at one point. All three told me the same thing- I was battling depression. They urged me to talk to my doctor. One of them recommended a pair of online tests to help determine my condition. I booked an appointment with my doctor then took the test. The result was moderate-to-severe depression. The doctor listened to my story and asked me a series of questions. His diagnosis was the same as the test. He gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant and wanted to see me again in two weeks.
The medication and talking to my friends helped. The issues I was having at work went the way of the dodo bird. I was back to feeling like my old self. I remained on the medication for a few months until the script finally ran out. My friends cautioned against this but with the issues gone I now felt like things were going to be okay. They were… for six years.
Once I recognized what was going on I knew what had to be done. I called my doctor to get a new prescription of my old medication and made an appointment to see him within two weeks. I managed to cover my ass using the Family Medical Leave Act. It allowed me to miss work without violating the attendance policy.
Two of the three friends that had been my support at work were no longer employed and one of those two had moved down south. The third friend was still on my old shift. There was no one on my new shift that I wanted to burden with my troubles, though I eventually did before I quit. I spoke to our shift leader about what was going on. She was very supportive and told me that I didn’t have to share that with her. She had my full trust, though, and I wanted someone to know why I was missing so much work. The team leader who had worked with me on the other shift was the only other coworker I shared this with.
The medication seemed to be helping at first. I used the FMLA time a few times spread out over a few weeks. The angst of going into work got worse and worse. My doctor upped the dosage of my meds to the highest level. It wasn’t enough. I relied on my friends outside of work as a sounding board. Still, it wasn’t enough. Calling in once per pay period turned into once per week. Once per week turned into three times per pay period. It didn’t stop there.
My coworkers were very kind about my situation. None of them knew what I was going through and mostly kept the questions to themselves. A few who had been friends there for almost the entirety of my twenty years were the most concerned. I finally confided in one of them, a woman with one of the kindest spirits I have ever known. She gave me her daily support. It helped more than I let her know. My third friend from my first battle transferred to our shift. I confided in her, but it was too late. The pattern was set and I could see the end coming at an incredibly rapid pace.
Our shift was scheduled to work the weekend of the Fourth of July. I made sure to work that Wednesday, my last day before the Saturday holiday, to make sure I would get the holiday pay. All I had to do was get through that three-day weekend. It sounded easy but I hadn’t worked a full weekend in months, so strong was my angst about that place.
I woke up that Saturday morning and realized that I couldn’t do it. I could not go in. The agony of it was gut-wrenching. Thoughts of the amount of money I stood to lose raced through my head. It wasn’t enough to coerce me to go in. I made the call that I wouldn’t be in. I made it again the next day. And the day after that.
Nearly one thousand dollars of take home pay was pissed away because of my feelings for that place.
And I didn’t care.