Life, Work

Unemployment PTSD: The New Normal

Does the paranoia of long-term unemployment ever go away?


I told myself ages ago that when I got another full time position I would celebrate by getting a new Macbook Air and giving my current laptop to my mom, who needs a decent computer.

She is still using a modified version of the computer that I had back in junior high school. I am not joking. I gave her a netbook last year, but in retrospect not such a great idea for her since I don’t want her to have to squint.

So my professional sabbatical is finally over. I worked through the things that I wanted to work through. I traveled, ate awesome food 24/7, worked on important personal projects and and also got back into the spirit of the hustle. I’ve locked down a great job at a company I admire. I feel pretty excited about the future.

And yet…

I can’t let go of the fear and paranoia of being one, two months away from bankruptcy. During the last holiday season (a time symbolic of bounty), I had a heart to heart with my mother about how I was doing financially, the pros and the cons of my sabbatical and the interesting yet sporadic contract work I had lined up.

My mother was supportive, but told me flat out that she could not help me out with a loan if I went bankrupt in the next 3 months. There was no money. I was on my own.

This was a bit of a shock because I’d loaned her eight thousand dollars a few years earlier, and imagined that the favor might one day be returned.When she told me this, it literally felt like chemicals were being released into my brain, behind my eyeballs… Chemicals that kept me pumped and hyper-alert to failure and opportunity. For several months I’ve been living this way. Things have settled down a bit, but to tell you the truth I haven’t quite recovered from this feeling. It’s not so much the fear of being without money as the smack of feeling incredibly alone. I’m an independent person, I like being alone. But it’s different when you HAVE to be on your own. Now if my mom couldn’t have come through in this hypothetical situation, I’m sure one of my aunts or uncles would have helped me out, or I would just be homeless for a while, or crash with friends. Okay, I’m being melodramatic, but you get the idea. Things would have worked out.

So… flash forward to yesterday.

I told myself, Tracy you met this goal. Get a new computer. You earned it. I went downtown to look at computers, and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I told myself I shouldn’t buy it, because you just never know. Last night I had an intense migraine for four hours, and couldn’t cook. Thought about ordering a pizza. Didn’t, because it is a waste of money. What if I need that 15$ later?

This is all completely ridiculous because I have been on a VERY comfortable budget while I’ve been on sabbatical. I ate out, I travelled. I never missed drinks with friends and old coworkers. I purchased e-books. And yet now that I have the promise of stability, I’m locking everything down and worrying that it will all be taken away. Does that make sense? It is a strange thing that my mind has done.

I originally thought… how am I going to get back to normal?What am I going to do with this fear and anxiety?

Then today I heard that a company that I was considering working for barely a month ago is going under. Kapoot. All gone. Now I think to myself why should I want to go back to normal? ├é┬áNothing is certain in this economy- this is the new normal. Time will change things, but for now I can’t control the residual feelings of fear and stress I have. Instead I can channel that wiry energy toward actively moving forward in my projects and my career. Like going vegan taught me, I can do without for most things. I don’t need a bunch of stuff, and I don’t want a bunch of stuff. I want freedom and an interesting life. So for 2013, I want to do good work, keep hustling, stay cheap and stay free. And now I’m off to the post office to mail some stuff I sold on Amazon. $$$

Keep hustling!

One Comment to “Unemployment PTSD: The New Normal”

  1. This blog is awesome. Thanks for coinmg back to write. I don’t know how to express how much I am encouraged by reading your blog. I pray more people will wake up to what is going on and read it to become educated by what you are sharing. As a white Christian male, I am so frustrated by what the system has forced on the black population calling it “help”. Thank you for expressing your opinions and being a voice of one crying in the wilderness…. may God continue to protect and guide your blog.

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