Warning: serious-ass First World depresso-fest ahead

It turns out I stop blogging when I’m having a nervous breakdown. Actually I shouldn’t trivialise nervous breakdowns – let’s call it a First World Freak Out.

So I’m having a First World Freak Out, on several fronts. First, I quit my job, which is equal parts horrifying, gratifying and liberating.

The horror: I truly love the people I work with. They are some of my closest friends, and currently I get to spend all my daylight hours with them. I have no doubt that never again will I have a job where I can ‘surprise hug’ about 80% of my work colleagues without being cited for sexual harassment. I adore these people and it breaks my heart to leave them. For an extra dimension of horror, in precisely 2 days, my income stream will be $0 per week. This puts a serious dint in my wine budget.

The gratification: You never find out how appreciated you are until you hand in that resignation letter. They made me discuss my decision with three separate members of the management team. They invented a new position for me. They hired two people to take over my role. They took the entire office staff out for Yum Cha today to see me off, and there will be a barbecue for the other members of the company on Friday. The CEO is taking me out for lunch next week, when I’m no longer on his payroll, because he is overseas during my official send off. For ten years I’ve felt like an uneducated, paper-shuffling shitkicker, and all of a sudden I’m important. Everybody is being overwhelmingly lovely – it’s almost like being present for your own funeral.

The liberation: My job has been stressful. Long time readers may recall the Great Hives Episode of 2010 – it lasted 9 weeks, and the only thing I can put it down to is my anxiety levels. The company has terrible cash flow, and 90% of my job turned into fending off creditors that varied between irritable, desperate, condescending and downright aggressive. The worst ones were the sole traders and family businesses, who were struggling as much as we were, but with the added pressure of the possibility of losing their houses and livelihoods. It made me feel like a monster. I’ve been responsible with money my entire life, and having all these people make me explain why we can’t pay our bills on time and implying I’m bad at my job just drove me crazy. Instead of making me thicker-skinned, it destroyed me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I had to sneak into the bathroom for a private cry. Occasionally I was caught, and quietly sent home for the day. For the last 18 months or so I’ve flat out refused to talk to creditors. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about how many suppliers didn’t have their payments authorised that day, and how many cranky emails and phone calls I was bound to receive the next day. I was repeatedly told to ‘hang in there’, while funds that could have been used to quiet the angry hoards were redirected into capital projects. I tried every trick in the book to distance myself from my work persona, but as it turns out I’m no good at that kind of thing. I’ll freely admit that it’s my own character traits that made this job so difficult, and a more resilient soul would have no problems. I’m ok with that. And in 2 days, I will never have to think about it again.

Anyway, that’s only the first part of my First World Freak Out. My second problem is Nikki. Nikki will get her own post shortly, but basically when she was a stupid little 19 year she flounced into my life and made me fall in love with her. She’s almost 22 now, and I don’t know what I’d ever do without her. She’s decided to make me find out, by moving to Japan to be with her stupid boyfriend. Of course it’s always difficult when friends move away, but we’ve been a huge part of each other’s lives over the last couple of years and I feel like I’m losing a limb. I’ve had close friends leave before – just never when I’ve been in the middle of a career crisis.

My third issue is Papua New Guinea. For years, Mum’s been nagging me to visit her homeland with her and I finally consented. We’re heading there for three weeks. I’m not really sure what to expect once I’m there, but I do know it’s taking a LOT more preparation than any trip I’ve ever been on. I have to get vaccinations and malarial prophylactics, I have to buy mosquito netting and a sleeping bag and hiking boots, I have to bring an entire medicine cabinet with me – and I have to do it all with a 16kg baggage allowance. It’s some serious National Geographic shit.  I’m trying to organise this while simultaneously training two replacements at work and going out with Nikki every single weekend because we both know we’ll never have this time together again. Honestly, when I finish work, all I want to do is start exercising and cooking again, do some gardening and spend some “me time” putting my head back together. Instead I’m flying halfway across the world to a half-developed nation where there’s a 1 in 3 probability of being sodomised with a machete. To top it off, I will no longer be able to spend a relaxing couple of weeks with my parents in my childhood home. I’ll be in Far North Queensland for less than 24 hours before we fly out to Port Moresby. Both my parents keep reminding me that the farm will always be there, whereas opportunities to explore my rich cultural ancestry are rare. Be that as it may, if there was ever a time when I needed to watch the clouds swallow Mt. Bartle Frere in the evening, or lie under the branches of the same trees that shaded me before I even learned to walk, it’s now. I’m well aware my thought process is tinged by a large helping of spoilt brattiness, but to be honest with all the changes going on I’m really craving comfort and familiarity and a good dose of oxytocin.

So quite frankly, I feel like shit. I haven’t exercised in weeks, I’m getting round and soft, my house is a fucking mess, I’m frightened and sad, I’ve been drinking enough to lower my IQ by 50 points and I haven’t eaten a nutricious meal since I returned from the Cook Islands. I really feel nothing like Inga. I’ve turned into Lindsay Lohan, only I’m fat and poor.

Sorry for the rant y’all. This was for my benefit – my usual “quality” blog content will resume shortly.


45 thoughts on “Warning: serious-ass First World depresso-fest ahead

  1. Well, I think you’re going to have a ball with your folks in P.N.G., and return to Oz all fired up with new ideas as to how you’re going to make the most of this change in direction of your life.

    I do think you’re wise to remove yourself from such a stressful job, and strike out afresh. Maybe a TAFE or uni course is worth considering, and I understand there’s people making a fortune selling broms in N.Q…

    • You sound uncannily like another gentleman I know, and you’ll both probably be proved correct in a few weeks.

      Those people making millions selling broms will need to support my homeless arse if I can’t find a job in a couple of months!

  2. Oh, my dear. Your crossroads experiences all came at once, isn’t it freaking lovely when that happens? 😦

    If it makes you feel any better I’m behind on my exercise schedule too, and I can’t even blame it on the weather today. Can you get out for any kind of a run? It sucks to have to get out there when you’re so busy but you’ll feel a thousand times better.

    I wouldn’t worry about PNG. My prediction is you’re going to be pleasantly shocked. I bet it will turn out to be just what you needed. That initial travel freakout is always the worst part.

    I’m glad you got out of that job, it sounds like you were underappreciated. You can still go there and hug your friends, and if you multitask well you can chuckle at the people busting their asses to make up for the work you did at the same time.

    • I keep packing my exercise gear in the car so I can go up to the hills and do some running around after work, but when 5pm rolls around and instead I go home and eat fried chicken and watch Friends. Doesn’t help that it’s so bloody hot too! Come on science lady, there’s gotta be an easier way to get an endorphin boost!!

      Yeah, I have to keep reminding myself that I will see everyone again – it’s just sad they won’t be a daily part of my existence any more. I do kinda love heaving all my work onto the new girls – especially as one of them is completely obnoxious and seems to think she can do the job better than I ever did. I’m really enjoying watching her desk become progressively messier with paperwork.

      • I just ate half a merengue cream pie and a bowl of cereal. Better high than running! The bad news is it only lasts 10 seconds. Maybe we should make a pact. Or at least an agreement to cheer each other up when one or both of us goes off our routine.

  3. But just think … getting sodomized with a machete will make all these problems seem like nothing!

    I had a similar job. Supposedly hired for accounts receivable, ended up spending 75% of my time with folks who wanted to know when “we” (a family owned business, but I wasn’t part of the family) were going to pay our bills. Another 10% of my time was spent doing something not even job related just because one of the “partners” decided I was his own personal little toady. I needed the job and had nowhere else to go, but I decided my peace of mind and sanity was more important. And it turned out I was right to leave when I did, because the place went out of business in less than a year.

    You’ll be okay. The visit to PNG will help to give you perspective and will be a nice little break from reality. And then you can spend lots of time helping GOF drive the feral hogs away. That ought to afford you with plenty of exercise.

    • Everyone seems to have a shitty job story, hey? Guess it’s a rite of passage.

      Every person I speak to is saying I’m going to come back with a whole new perspective – now I have it built up in my mind that I’m going to be this amazing enlightened (even more so!) individual after three weeks, and I’m going to be epiphanying all over the shop and turn my life around and wind up curing cancer. If this isn’t the case, I’m holding all y’all responsible.

    • I’ve actually booked her into “boutique rabbit accomodation” – for $15 a day she gets vegies twice a day, a daily supervised outdoor running and digging session and a three storey hutch to chill out in. I reckon she’s going to have a better time than I am.

  4. I think you will be SO much happier and healthier after you no longer have to deal with that stress on a daily basis. Trust me, you really don’t perceive how much damage stress does until it’s suddenly taken away. Couple that with some good foods and a bit of exercise, and you’ll feel like a new Inga again.

    There’s no reason why you can’t see your work peeps for catch-up and drinks from time to time. I have people I still see from my old job, which I lost nearly 4 years ago. I also have a good friend, from an even earlier job, who I only get to see once every decade or so. She’s a globe-trotter. Recently spent 2 years teaching English in Korea. And yet, when we do get together, it’s as though no time at all has passed. You’ll see Nikki again. Nothing can take away the bond you two have. In the meantime, there’s email and Facebook and Skype.

    I bet you’ll end up having a BLAST in PNG. You make it sound like darkest Africa, is it really that bad?

    BTW, how are things going with your Little Sister?

    • I think quitting was definitely the right thing to do…it was just a HARD thing to do. And yeah, once I get off my arse and start taking care of myself I’ll sparkle up ok.

      You’re right about the friendship thing – with good friends it’s very easy to pick up where you left off. I’m just really going to miss hanging out with her.

      To be honest I don’t really know much about PNG apart from what my parents and cousin tell me – I know I’ll be sleeping on the floor of a bush materials hut with a million other people, and eating freshly slaughtered pig and cow, and toileting in a communal hole in the ground. That’s pretty much all I let them tell me – I don’t want to know anything else until I get there.

      I’ve been planning a post about my Little Sister for a while actually, we’re almost at our 12 month anniversary. She’s challenging, but every few weeks she’ll drop a comment like “I’m so happy I have you to talk to” and my bloody heart falls out. Totally worth it. 🙂

  5. I’m so sorry about the stress. Any kind of change is stressful…even GOOD change. So let the stress waves flow over and past you. Once you get packed and on the road things get SO much simpler. You are on your journey and you can let everything else go for a bit.
    I always have panic attacks before a trip…which really irritates me because I love to travel, I don’t fear anything about traveling…except the packing. Hitting the road will be wonderful. And Papua New Guinea. You are a very lucky girl……in spite of being sodomized by the machete, of course.
    I went to India for three weeks and it was certainly a complete culture shock, but I look back on it as a completely amazing experience. Take care, kiddo. You have a right to be stressed, but don’t forget….it will get better!!!1 HUGS!

    • Good advice Lauri, and thanks for the buck up. I finished up work on Friday and actually feel a lot better – it’s one less thing I have to think about (finding another job will be a different story!). I am a very lucky girl, I just need to remember that PNG will be nothing like Cook Islands (no alcohol, for a start! ARGH!)

      I’ve heard so many good things about India! I wish someone would invent some way to travel without actually packing anything. Like some kind of house swap, where you can just wear all their clothes and use their toiletries. Just take a camera and a toothbrush.

  6. I think Lauri’s comment pretty much sums it up. I’ve also got some justification to do for myself having encouraged you to do this trip, so here goes;

    Your mind will be so busy soaking up the unique sights, sounds, smell and culture of village life that you won’t have time to dwell on the past or even make plans for the next day because you will find yourself just being carried along with the flow of everyday life. After observing the simplicity, the sustainability, the fraternity, and indeed the fragility of existence in these beautiful places you will return much wiser and with a renewed vision for your own future in Australia.

    If you are even just a little like me, had you spent the 3 weeks lounging around taking it physically easy on the farm, your mind would still have been going hell for leather replaying the problems of the past and worrying about what the future might hold.

    I’ll stick my head out and suggest that as you celebrate New Years Eve in Canberra you will feel that this trip is the best thing you’ve ever done in your life and you’ll be filled with new energy and enthusiasm for your ‘universe unfolding as it should’ in 2013.

    Just smother yourself in mozzie repellent and don’t forget take that tablet every day!!! 🙂

    • I see your point, and it’s probably a good one. We’ll revisit this when I get back. (IF I get back – I have a nagging feeling that this memorial feast is going to double as Ingrid’s Surprise Wedding)

      I’ll going to award you half points for your farm argument – the thing about the farm is when I’m there it’s easy to forget everything because it takes me back to a time when I didn’t really have much to worry about. After 3 days or so you know I turn into a big, brown, peanut-scoffing amoeba.

      And before I sound like even more of an ungrateful twerp, I AM very happy to be taking the trip and I have no doubt it will be an adventure if nothing else. It’s only the timing that’s thrown me off.

  7. I had to take the malaria pills, too. And get all the shots. And not drink the water or eat anything that hadn’t been cooked well. But, what an adventure! I wish I could come with you, Inga!

        • Since I can’t reply up there ^^^ because of thread limits –

          When I went to Mexico and knew we’d be in a remote area, I had a small tape recorder and recorded the sound of a toilet flushing … and always played it as I exited the ‘out-house.’ All the Americans thought it was hilarious … the Mexicans had no idea what the sound was.

          • I want to do this now! I suspect I would be the only one that finds it funny though. Plus I’m fairly certain that the horror of using an out-house is going to guarantee I’m not going to need one for 3 weeks straight.

  8. If you have to do the anti-malarial thing – which in that part of the world it’s a given you should – then try for Malarone (at least, that’s what it’s called in the UK). We did a big year-long survey project around Indo’ and that’s what the company docs gave us. Very few side-effects compared to other anti-mal’ drugs (according to the leaflet and a bit of time with Google – although the mouth ulcer one hit me quite heavily; aagh!), you only have to take them for a week after you come back and you start ’em no more than a couple of days before you go. Obviously, you need to talk to a pharmacist or your doc first, just to be sure they’re good for you, but it seems that one’s the best of a bad bunch.

    On the bigger picture, I think your dad has it pretty well taped. He’s right; broadly speaking go, immerse, enjoy, switch off from the old life, come back to a new one of your own making that suits you. And above all, in the interim, have fun.

    And make sure you’re carrying plenty of spare camera cards. And batteries…

    • I went to the doc last week and she gave me Doxsig. You start 2 days before then 4 weeks after you get back – I haven’t looked up the side effects because that will probably give me hives.

      I keep forgetting to get batteries, thanks for the reminder! I hardly ever take photos – I’ll have to consciously snap everything I see while I’m there.

      • I’m no David Bailey myself but when I was cruising around the islands of Indo’ (or working very hard, if my client is reading! 😀 ) I took loads of photos. It’s amazing how somewhere new, different and not like anything you’ve experienced before can get you documenting everything – just on the off-chance the rest of the world is interested!

  9. Malarone was what I took. No problems with it at all. And YES to batteries. I ran out of camera batteries with a few days to go in my trip and you canNOT find lithium batteries in India.

    • Holy shit, it has all the necessary food groups – caffeine, saturated fat and alcohol! I’m in.

      Ok, you have to get yourself down to the lake, and I’ll drag myself to my favourite national park this afternoon to climb some hills. I have to say bye to all the kangyboos and echidnas, in case I never make it back to Australia.

      • I have to admit when I travel I get morose too – it’s mostly the plane ride. I make out a will for my cats and tearily hug them goodbye picturing the damned thing going down in flames. As my boyfriend sighs and tries to ignore the drama. You know what I do then? Ativan. It’s some good shit. Don’t tell your dad.

        It’s a deal – Lake for me, and you climb those hills. Say hello to the kangas and echidnas for me. Some time after you come back I expect you to give me a tour of that special place. I’ll have to train so I can keep up. Mudder.

        • Done deal. And yeah, we’re supposed to be Mudders – no whining!

          From the website: “Do not drink alcohol while taking Ativan. This medication can increase the effects of alcohol.” Send me some for Christmas!

  10. I dragged my arse around the Lake once yesterday, but I spent more time taking cell phone pictures of the fog than I did running. I absolutely have to go again this week. Deal? Even if we just run furiously around the house a few times……the neighbors don’t think I’m completely crazy yet…….

  11. It is absolutely amazing what your mind can do to control your bladder. (Yes, I’m commenting down here because we ran out of “nesters” up top.
    I was stuck on a 15 person van for 15 hours, whilst riding between towns….the men would get out and pee in the ditch and the women sat on the bus. Women do NOT need to pee. And I made it the entire way and wasn’t even all that uncomfortable. Weird.

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