It’s taken a while but the day is here. The larder was empty, the toiletries gone, but at long last the next allowance was being paid in.
Believe me, it’s no life of luxury. I’ve sadly become used to living way below the poverty line, of making do or doing without, and it’s undeniable that it has a detrimental effect on the mind.
Anyway, off I wander in the early morning warmth. The sun is staying firmly behind the overcast skies but it feels nice to walk in this. Away from the seafront but that’s born of necessity. After a while I make it to the ATM.
Ouch. A hefty chunk has been taken out of my account already. Those monthly standing orders on the first of each month I knew about. There was an annual one I’d completely forgotten about.
I’m angry with myself. The amount isn’t much, per se, but when balancing the books is down to pennies, a few pounds out can mean a lot. The clouds are grey above and my mood is getting darker, allowing a simple error to get to me.
I head on up toward the park, as there’s rows of shops I can inquire about a job for. No such luck but no harm in trying. It doesn’t help my mood. I take a detour into a discount supermarket and get a few of the things they do cheaper than anyone else.
I head for home via the seafront. The sight of the coast, the sea air, always lifts my spirits and today is no exception. It was just nice to walk along and let those minor problems I allowed to get to me drift away.
I’m home in time to make my lad an early lunch. He’s doing lates today so it was good to shoot the breeze with him on a Monday morning for a change. His pay is extremely low but he’ll make something of himself soon enough.
As he catches the first of his trains to work, I head to another supermarket for the main shopping, where they sell things at absolute rock bottom. It’s a lifesaver for me. Inevitably, I go via the seafront. It’s been good to me today despite the lack of sunshine.
When I hit the High Street, I also hit the shops looking for that elusive break into full employment. Not a single thing. It’s so annoying. It must be me in some way, shape or form. At least my curtains are open, even if my self confidence is closing.
Then comes a point where I am torn. My lad loves playing one particular Xbox game but the disc is beyond use. I spy a secondhand copy in a shop I asked for work in. After all the pronouncements about scrimping, scraping, hardly having a penny, etc, I now want to fritter away five pounds on getting a replacement for him.
I’m genuinely wracked, but eventually I decide on hypocrisy and in future keeping quiet about not having much money. On a selfish level, I didn’t want the feeling of disappointment of seeing him sat there without his game when I could get it so cheaply.
It presents a problem, of course, of cutting down food shopping that was already pared to the bone. I contemplate not buying any food for me but, even with my state of mind, I know that really isn’t the thing to do. Let’s see how far £13 can be stretched.
Fortunately, plenty of veg are on special offer. Buying crap food is sometimes unavoidable but it’s essential to at least have something good down inside you. By hook and by crook, I’ve somehow put together enough food together to last 10 days, possibly more if I’m a bit more frugal with the portions.
I walk home, arms full of shopping, and one small but happy surprise for someone. This route is far from the seafront, but instead of the quick route home walking alongside a busy main road, I meander through little side streets, one or two I’d never been down before, just to see what they looked like.
When I arrive, tired, with pennies in my pocket, fed up with job rejection, the day could get very dark. It all changes though. It’s what life does in it’s sometimes delightful way.
I settle down for the online job search when I see a voicemail message. I never take my mobile with me these days but on this occasion it may have been better to. A well known organisation want to take me on as a voluntary worker. I can feel my self pride returning.
I then log on and check up on my e-mails. Lo and behold, two other organisations are after my voluntary services too! Now this is something that can really make a difference to so many people’s lives, as well as making me feel good about myself.
One day a week working for each of them, the other four days job searching – and of course an online job search every night as usual. That sounds pretty good to me. I’m really, really pleased.
All of a sudden I’m energised. The funny thing about depression is that you don’t realise when you’re sinking, even though there’s tell-tale signs. In my case the housework had taken a turn for the worse. Dishes were left in the sink, floors uncleaned, papers strewn about. Depression by stealth.
Not now though. The home is tidied, cleared up, cleaned from top to bottom. I then vow to job search before the evening meal. I do so, with five more applications for employment on their way.
The evening meal is not a success. An attempt of an omelette with one egg, a couple of mushrooms, a whole onion, and no cooking oil is a cooking disaster, surprisingly enough. It tests the strength of the non-stick pan as the egg disappears in vapour. It somehow tastes okay though. Another bonus.
So, a day that started gloomily, progressed to being torn and self critical, yet ending so, so positively, because I want to help others, and will now have the opportunity to. Thrice over.
Maybe I’ll even start reading a book now. It’s been that sort of a day.