March is the time when I have my annual work appraisal - I've mentioned it on here a couple of times before. Usually it involves an intense period of handwringing (from me) before my boss tells me that things are going well and we talk about ways we can make things better.
This year was different. It's a very difficult time in the UK for businesses of any kind but maybe even more so for charities or non-profit organisations.
The place where I work is funded jointly by Arts Council England and our local city council. We have good relationships with both of our funders (as well as a healthy entrepreneurial streak) but money is tight all over.
As such we're having to look at every aspect of our business including people's jobs. Which is fine and healthy. But...
My appraisal was really difficult. It took three separate sessions before we got it sorted and things are ok now but the process was horrible.
My boss and I have shared an office for nine years - I might even say we were friends.
But it was hard not to feel like I was under the microscope - like it or not, there is something about me which sets me apart. It might be an invisible disability but it's still there.
My boss was keen to stress the respect he has for me, as well as the value of my work. But there was a lot of talk about targets and tasks, and being under intense scrutiny just adds to my paranoia. The conversation was difficult on both sides - I felt I was being attacked, he didn't want to be misunderstood.
I get the fact that it's a difficult time for a business like ours - but the talk about job descriptions and changing roles really got the alarm bells ringing.
I fact his main concern was for the business to be able to support me in the future, whatever shape my condition takes. But it took three sessions over one month (with many Dark Nights Of The Soul in between) to get to that realisation.
He has always found it difficult to talk about my MS. But the fact is, it doesn't affect my work. If I'm having a really bad day, I won't be in the office. As I've mentioned before, I rarely have any time off with illness - I don't want people to view me as weak so I'll "bravely soldier on", or something.
Anyway, long story short - everything is ok.
But I was a bloody horrible person to be around during the process. I've been lucky that depression has only had a walk-on part in my disease but this was some dark shit. And - as usual - the people closest to me were the ones to get it in the neck.
All the CBT stuff I did back in the day, the physio - every positive step I've taken just went out the window. I'm trying to claw things back but I'm thinking I might need to have some more therapy, maybe make some changes to my diet, start doing some proper exercise, stop making so many bloody excuses all the time. It's pathetic.
I'm feeling pretty fed up with myself right now so I'm putting this out there, almost as a dare to myself. I need to sort my shit out. And soon.