I wake up at random times of the night, wide awake. Decide to walk to the toilet, back again, get back into bed then wait to fall asleep. Yet the alarm sounds and I want it to stop. I’m so tired that my eyes barely remain open. “Just 10 more minutes”, I say to myself. Not that the 10 minutes will help.
Some mornings I get up on time and go on my indoor spin bike to do some interval training. This helps wake me up for the day. There is nothing like pushing yourself to the limit before you are properly awake. A protein bar, washing, dressing, tie tying, a Coke Zero and breakfast biscuits for the drive in.
As I join the manic metal road train of rushing parents and workers going about their day, BBC Radio Two provides a distraction. Cars travelling to close to others as they need to get somewhere faster than anyone else and we are all in their way. The occasional Nissan Micra or old beaten up Jaguar deciding that 47mph is plenty for a national speed limit road.
Finally I reach my destination. At this point my mood starts to go from determined to numbness. The building may as well be a precipice with no end. The light I use to hold for my work has faded and a shell which use to hold enthusiasm and enjoyment just gets out he car. Every footstep to the door is heavy like chains are pulling down my body. As I reach for my security fob all effort I have left is required to pull it to the door system. The door blips with enthusiasm. Why shouldn’t it, it has a task in life it succeeds at.
The door slams behind me as I make my way into the florescent lit room that resembles a battery hen farm which we are all so against. The keys of keyboards clatter, while phones buzz into life. Generic greetings can be heard before the first person walks towards me and says “sorry to jump on you before you are settled in”.
My body instantly reacts like Ironmans suit, automatically springing into action from head to toe. The smile appears on my face, shoulders go back and the words pour out like a dolly with a pull cord, “That’s ok, how can I help”.
Throughout the day I think, “there must be more than this”, and “I would rather be…”. These are probably normal thoughts that everyone has. But I didn’t use too. Before I was sent through the repeated NHS grinder made up of restructures, organisational changes and cut backs I was inspired to be in the NHS. I helped the clinical staff every day and made a difference. We were all a team, working to help people.
But my organisation has become deaf to the voices of its staff. Instead, external contractors are trusted above staff and patients. They would rather spend their money on an expensive suit than pay for up skilling staff. Mr and Mrs suit know best, they must do, we are paying them a fortune. What could the minions know, we don’t pay them properly.
Things in the NHS have become messy and cloudy. It’s like we are all islands and none of us have maps. If any of the experts who live and breathe healthcare speak up, a shout can be heard from government telling us how expensive it all is. And if there is a problem, it’s our fault, not theirs. We have been reduced from the largest employer to the messiest of commissioning led services, a postcode lottery of care.
But what if we asked the question of patients and experts, “what should the NHS look like?”, and then ask the government “how would you want to be treated by the NHS?” We could then logically state with certainty how much it will cost, how it should look and how it could be managed. Let’s go really crazy and protect the legacy of the NHS, healthcare for all, no matter what your background or nationality. Let’s protect the workers, the nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, care staff, support staff.
Meanwhile, back to reality. The day is long and draining with little gaps for thinking. Due to restructuring my future is held in someone else’s hands again. The fact that I’m an IT professional does not matter in the eyes of executives and human resources, as long as I have some sort of job. Human resources will remain unchanged as always and the safety net of the directors specialties the same. If they know finance, the finance team will be fine. If they know quality the quality team will be fine. But if they don’t understand what you do, then you are the one that will pay for it in this structure.
Time to log off the computer, lock up the cupboards, turn off the lights as always due to everyone leaving on time except me. Walk to the car with the sound of the door closing behind me. You would think at this point I could take a deep breath and relax. No that would be too easy. Now the obsessions, the paranoia, the deep rooted depression really kicks in. The feelings of being alone and trapped while standing in the cold dark car park. The feeling of losing control of your future while executives switch off and enjoy life at the top. Maybe that’s my paranoia speaking, or is it!
You are told that working hard pays off but you are not told that some will take advantage of that. You are told to respect the hierarchy but never told that this respect doesn’t always come back. Your belief is based on doing good work to achieve an ultimate goal but what if that goal is hidden.
I guess work is a big part of every one’s life and everyone has difficulty with work sometimes. But I can’t help but think that my mental health hugely holds me back. Is it too much to ask a saviour to step in, tell me everything’s going to be alright and help me into a new job that I will feel inspired to be in again. They don’t need to be dressed as a super hero or anything (unless its Batman), but I feel I am being to hopeful. Quoting famous lyrics, Let’s see what tomorrow brings!