I’ve been wanting to write something about some problems my own denomination is facing, but I’ve never been able to focus on that. I think the reason is that my brain is stuffed with anxiety about several issues. One thing you have to understand about me is that anxiety has long been a part of my daily life. Past experiences have made me feel anxious about the world around me. At some moment, when I least expect it, something will happen that will throw me into the unknown. Most likely than not it is the news that my job has been cut that put makes me anxious about the anxiety.
Since I deal with depression, I think anxiety comes with the package. It means that I act like a scared animal, ready to leap at the slightest sound of danger. It is not unusual to feel this sense of freight all the time. At some point, something or someone will do something that will alter my life.
Mixed in with this is a sense of depression, a feeling that no matter what you do, the reality is you don’t matter. It’s the feeling of not being wanted or feeling like the last one picked to play softball. I know those thoughts are false and medication keeps them at bay. But they are there.
The thing that has been in knots right now is looking for work. As most of you know, I work very part-time as the pastor of a church and part time as the Office Manager of another church. Both jobs together isn’t enough to pay the bills, so I look for a third part time position or freelance work or a position that could replace my current weekly job with more hours and pay. I’ve been basically looking for work since I was laid off two days before Christmas in 2014. Over the last year, I’ve had several interviews and it seemed like things went well, but in the end, the job didn’t happen. The worst was having someone call me from a local nonprofit, noticing my ad in a church bulletin board. From that phone call to an interview, took two months and it took another to tell me that they chose someone else. It was quite maddening to have to be on hold for three months when you didn’t know if the job was happening or not. (Please employers, don’t leave someone holding for more than a month. It’s thoughtless to keep them in limbo.) The other frustrating thing is trying to talk to other graphic and web designers for pointers and they never bother to respond back.
So, you keep looking and keep sending your resume and keep sending your portfolio in the hopes that someone will at least see budding talent. But so far, no one seems interested and it leaves you wondering if there is something wrong with you.
Looking for work seems to be a constant in my life. I hate being laid off because it means that it will probably take 2-3 years to find something close to what I was doing. I chalk it up to being African American; I know it’s going to take longer because I’m not the first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think communications or technology.
This job anxiety also makes it hard to do ministry. It’s hard for me to focus on church when I feel I have to constantly keep looking for work. I want to have time to focus on worship planning and outreach, and I’m focusing on tweaking my resume again.
And the job anxiety then leads to anxiety (and shame) about barely being able to keep up my share of the house bills with my husband Daniel.
The anxiety and depression can lead to a feeling of despair. Not a despair like I’m going to take a bunch of pills, but despair that I have to give up on what I really want and just accept something, anything to pay the bills. I don’t know how many emails and phone calls I receive about going into sales (something I am terrible at doing) or customer service (which I’ve done and consider something akin to the 10th circle of hell).
I will keep plugging away looking for work. Something will come about someday. Until then, I have to remember to take my medication, see my therapist and most importantly, talk (but mostly listen) to God. It’s the only way I’m going to deal with this time of anxiety.
Just read your entry Dennis – – – thanks much for sharing – – – but in saying that or anything else in response to your plea for help and to be heard seems hollow and lacking. I graduated from high school in rural Nebraska in 1956 – – celebrating 60 years with classmates this coming weekend. Within ten days of graduation I was in the Navy and with a few African Americans for the first time in my life – – but even saying that I didn’t realize until later how segregated the Navy was in 1956 and following years. That same year I saw restrooms in Arlington VA designed “colored”. This was at the Arlington National Cemetery within site of our Nations Capital!
It had been a “tradition” that African Americans in the Navy were “mess boys” in the officers quarters or cooks in the mess halls. In the Navy I became a “communications technician” and at my first duty station I remember one. only one, Black in the barracks – – he and I worked in different areas and I really didn’t know him – but I remember that suddenly we were told that “he was gay and had been discharged from the Navy”. After looking back I suspect that some of the “old timers” thought his place was as a “mess boy” so used the “gay thing” to get rid of him.
Since then and some sixty years of life and experiences I know that I cannot truly say I know what it is like for you to have the sigma of being African America on top of your mental struggles.
Dennis as a fellow Disciple clergy person – – please know that I stand by to help and be supportive any way I can. We moved to San Diego a year ago as a part of our retirement program so not close by.
Take care – – you are in our thoughts and prayers.
It is so hard looking for work. You are doing brilliantly keeping going searching for work and juggling the depression as well and still doing your two part time jobs. You’ve done so well. Be encouraged if you can.