January 13

Workspace

The EdublogsClub theme for this week is workspace / study space. This saddens me slightly because I’d love a desk space and I don’t have room for one at home. Also, my jobs are casual hours so I’m never anywhere long enough to settle in. My course workshops run in museums (Brighton Museum and the Tate) with a handful of other rooms on my campus for tutorials and seminars.

I took a photo of my desk in the alumni office. I ended my previous fixed-term contract back in September so I’m in employment limbo at the moment. As a result, my desk is pretty bare (but not tidy!). In times of permanent/long-term employment my desk gets covered with postcards and random trinkets. My desk drawers are crammed full of things I haven’t hung back up from my previous desk move. I use my desk in the alumni office two-eight days a month. I don’t feel like I use it frequently enough to decorate. My filing tray is just a dumping ground. I’m proud of my Hello Kitty Pop Phone (out of shot) – I got it for £1 from Poundworld last summer. I also have some home comforts in my desk drawers, I have two spare pairs of socks, fluffy slippers, a shawl and a hot water bottle – our office gets really cold so every member of my team has things like this in our drawers.

I also work for the Student Union on an adhoc basis. I like this role because I see a lot more people and I feel quite good at signposting. I share the desk with two members of staff and two members of student staff (never at the same time, obviously). I rarely login because it takes too long to sign in and out. And because our technical support personteam has a backlog the students need to use the staff computer until the student computer is set up.

The Student Union office has a small social area which I sometimes use with my Chromebook. I like working from this space when my workload is light. I prefer to do most of my work on a PC (with a desk!) so I also like to spend time in St Peter’s House library.

I do much of my work remotely. I find it hard to keep up with everything. I frequently have diary clashes or forget to add appointments to my calendars. I attempt to stay organised thanks to my Lumia – I don’t know the model but I know it’s two years old and was free when I got it. I don’t use many independent apps on it because most aren’t available for Windows devices. However, I can use most of my university’s digital toolkit easily on it. I spend an hour each term putting my course timetable, union meetings, work days and counselling appointments into my phone’s calendar. It’s annoying but I feel a sense of relief when it’s all done.

I access my student and staff Sharepoint files through Office for Lumia or Onedrive / Onenote apps (depending where I am). I also can’t remember which app is which but I get to where I want to go so I’m just happy about that. Some screenshots:

Another thing I recommend as a student is finding out if your virtual learning environment has an app. At university I use BBStudent and it isn’t great, it seems stuck in 2014 for me. However, I also do online courses elsewhere (eg. UNISON, TUC…) and many use Moodle. I am such a Moodle fan and the Moodle app works great for me.

You can even do a free Moodle course at learn.moodle.net.

January 7

Rejection

I got my first job rejection of the year. I am distraught. I actually thought I met all of the criteria on the job specification and I thought that came across well in my writing. Normally when I apply for a job I have a bit of self-doubt. I didn’t this time. Admittedly, I didn’t think I’d get the job as I’m notoriously rubbish in job interviews (my friends have catalogued my faux pas in the past) but I thought I’d get shortlisted.

I’m not the best writer – readers will know this already. So obviously, that’s what let me down. I don’t know how to get better. I know what’s required from my answers but that doesn’t make it easier. I find it hard to sing my own praises. I’m certain my lack of confidence came through in my writing – I say things like I feel as though my experience in this area… rather than I am! I need to say I am more often. I am good at things. But even just writing that feels uncomfortable. My natural response is to say I feel as though I am good at things. Ha. I am feels too bold.

I feel sad because I felt as though the job role was perfect for me. It was in a university gallery in the southeast. I would have been able to stay in UNISON HE, UNISON SE and I’d be working in a gallery (my dream). I would have moved out of Brighton which I’d feel sad about but that was the only downside. I don’t see many opportunities like this role come up – normally when university gallery/museum jobs come up they are for curators, researchers or managers – this role was entry-level.

Anyway
This is a bit of a big month for me. This week I start doing my museum mentoring again and I return to university. I start my next module so on Wednesday I’ll be briefed about what will be happening next week in the Tate! The Tate. This is a huge step and I feel really nervous. But I’m just going to bite the bullet (or try) and get stuck in.

Later this month I return to counselling after a month’s break and I’m standing for election again.

January 4

Blogging

I’m taking part in EdublogsClub and this entry is about my history with blogging.

I think I started blogging in 2000/2001 when I got a livejournal (my account is now deleted). I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I joined because a frenemy was on the site. I can’t remember my first posts, that’s probably a good thing because at the time I was an angry teenager on the cusp of my first romantic break-up in a small town with not much going on. All my friends were going to university, moving away, starting their jobs or starting a family. I felt like I was going nowhere so I’m certain I was whining about that. Regardless, I started blogging and I enjoyed it. I gradually started customising the layout, then adding links/pictures to the posts. I joined communities and made friends. I started finding out about cybergoth events happening in the nearest big town, so I started going to them. From there I met a bunch of people that went on to became my reallife friends. I kept in contact with them through our blogs. I eventually deleted my livejournal account after a few years because it lost favour to Myspace.

Since then, I’ve had about a dozen blogs which I have used infrequently and deleted. I enjoy customising layouts and I like interacting with others through blogging (probably because my anxiety makes reallife interactions difficult). I like blogs within closed communities, because sometimes that makes me feel safer when I am writing about personal things. I tend to start a blog when I’m experiencing a big change in my life (or if I’ve been triggered and I’m having a big ol’ existential crisis). This blog was starting when I came to university – I wanted to write about the culture shock, but I haven’t been able to write as frequently (or as openly!) as I hoped.

My favourite University of Brighton blogs belong to my favourite colleagues; Alumni, Careers, Elearning and Radical Brighton. Outside of university, I occasionally read Tukru, Sean, Obesity Timebomb, Arched Eyebrow, Kelvin (my bae) and Vegan in Brighton. I added the RSS feeds to my favourite blogs to my Outlook so I can read them at lunch in work (I know subscribing to RSS feeds is an outdated thing to do now but I love them!)

My goal in doing EdublogsClub is to be more open. I often want to blog about political thoughts or experiences of being a survivor but it just feels like something I’m not quite confident to do yet. I’ve started blogging about my mental health over the past couple of years – that was a big step for me – and it has really helped me deal with things as they happen. I have also found it interesting to look back at my blog entries when I’m having a tough time so I can remind myself that these feelings pass.

 

December 22

NYD

It’s ten days until my birthday. I try not to think about it, but as it falls on New Year’s Day I’m naturally drawn to talk about it. Because that’s what people do. It’s a time to celebrate, reflect and make plans.

This season is a difficult time. I used to deal with the difficulty by pretending this time of year is the same as the rest of the year. I don’t celebrate Christmas so it really is just another day to me. However, it’s not just another day for many people. And it is a time where I’m being triggered a lot. Well-meaning people are asking me about my relationships, home and sometimes they ask about my past. My evasive answers seem odd, so sometimes they question me.

Honestly, my I don’t celebrate Christmas comment often gets me a grilling. So this year I’ve softened my approach with I don’t celebrate Christmas and it also is a really difficult time for me. My plans are self-care. That’s all. It’s working so far!

Resolutions
I don’t do resolutions, my goals change and grow from day-to-day but 2017 could be an important year for me so I’ll list some things than may happen (it’s also good to focus on the positive!)

  • More blogging (I’m taking part in EdublogsClub)
  • Applying for jobs in museums
  • Completing (if all goes well) my PGCert in Inclusive Arts Practice!!!
  • More weekend trips to the westcountry
  • Saving up to take my partner on a really special holiday in November
  • Potentially standing for election again

 

December 18

Flurry

I met with my course leader and I’m hoping to return to the course next month. I’ve seen a new counsellor twice. I’m working extra days this week and, as well as the extra money, I’m enjoying spending more time with my alumni colleagues. Last Friday was the Xmas party. It was special.

Days are mostly passing without items of note. I’m sleeping well. I shaved my hair off. I’m talking. I’m leaving the flat multiple times a day. I’ve started wearing braces (the suspenders type). I’m trying to read but my concentration is FUBAR. My friend gave me two driving lessons, five minute were spent driving – the rest of the time was spent shouting profanities at the steering wheel. I don’t want to think about the future. I missed my name day because I was so depressed I didn’t notice it arrive or leave.

But I’m doing better than I was.

December 12

Woah

I don’t really know where to begin. After weeks of triggers I finally made a disclosure about what started it all off to the university’s counselling service. What followed took a lot out of me.

I’ve been spending the fortnight trying to get some private counselling in place. I eventually found someone I really can’t afford but they are the only person who seems to be able to see me as frequently as I need and can support my type of history. I’m also in the process of applying for DSA which is difficult because I have to deal with my GP and, as helpful as he is, the surgery never seem to be able to fit me in within a week (this year, my wait for an appointment has averaged on eight days).

I swung out of the worst of my depression last weekend. I actually remember it. I remember the contrast from the week before. I remember originally feeling like I was walking through a fog and could not engage with anyone/anything. Last weekend I walked to town and just remember the clarity of shapes, textures and colours of the environment. My university building looked like a sharp cold block and the passing breeze hurt the skin over my cheekbone.

I told my course leader I wanted to withdraw but I’m not sure I do. I think I just don’t want to talk ever again. But then he suggested deferral which would really help. But then that’s another year in Brighton. I don’t want that, but I’m not sure why – I don’t know if it’s just the depression talking or if I’m actually ready to make a move somewhere else. I’m meeting him this week to discuss my options and I genuinely feel awful – like I’m wasting his time.

I’ve seen a couple of jobs in nearby university cities that I’ve applied for. One I think I stand a really good chance of getting. That thought frightens me a little bit. I could potentially move in two weeks! It sounds like a really good opportunity for me. The other is one I really really want – it combines all of my favourite things (education, art and outreach). I think I’d be in seventh heaven if I got it. The only downside is that one is low paid and the other is part-time!

Right now, I want to continue with my course and do my assessments next year (next term or next academic year – I’d be happy with either). I want to do the next module really badly. We have a week in the Tate and I’ve always dreamt of doing something like this. Realistically, I need to get support in place before I continue – specifically, a crisis plan. I underestimated the support I would need this year and I should’ve applied for all the support available, that way I would’ve had a least something in place at all times.

But it’s not all bad. I’m sorting through my stuff today (so it’s easier to move when the time arrives) and I feel like I’m making steps towards a positive place. When my mood improves I tend to forget how I felt at my worse and I just enjoy moments of calm. It is at these times I should be dealing with bureaucracy and referrals and all that other stuff I don’t feel well enough to do the rest of the time. I’m making a conscious decision to do this now!

Here’s my nephew. He gives the best cuddles.