Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fastest 15 Years of Life - Very Taxing

I could spend yonks detailing my Customs and Excise years. Instead I'll compress it into this one posting.

OK, OK, don't overdo the cheering and applause! I'm still bound by the Official Secrets Act of 1911, as amended, which prevents me from spilling the beans about my work in HM Customs & Excise.

What I can say is that it taught me a lot about accounting, programming (in COBOL), management (of time and staff), and human nature.

After a year working on the remnants of the old purchase tax I moved into Value Added Tax which went "live" on April Fools Day, 1973. I was involved initially in educating "traders" in the ins and outs of VAT. A "trader" being anybody running a business that was subject to the new tax.

I moved about the country during those fifteen years. Sometimes as a VAT control officer, or as a trainer, or as a programmer. I worked in London, Southend on Sea, Ipswich, Norwich, Derby, Liverpool, Swansea, and various places in between.

At times it was hectic and frequently stressful. By 1985 I was feeling the strain more and more. I did not realise how hard I pushed myself. I gained promotion to Higher Executive Officer. This was, I suppose, a reward for hard work. I must have achieved some pretty good annual reports from my superiors.

This "success" came at a cost. By 1987 I was dreading going to work. Anxiety and depression were my constant companions. Little blue pills were prescribed. They seemed to give me nightmares. I would wake up in the dead of night flailing my arms to shoo the huge black moth that was zooming down on me.

Sweat on my forehead and in the palms of my hands. I had to get out of bed and sit downstairs with a glass of water to calm down. It had to end. At times I hoped that tomorrow would never come.

For the sake of my sanity and my family I had to "retire hurt" from this mad world I'd made for myself.

When this decision was reached a glimmer of light and a touch of serenity eased mental pain. Soon I was feeling relaxed and in control again. How many of us go through such crises in life? Far more than is ever admitted, of that I'm sure.

There is a stigma, a taboo about mental breakdown. I think it can be seen more clearly by those around us than by the one who is so afflicted.

If you have experienced such suffering then I hope you came through it as I did. You have my understanding and sympathy. If your work is causing you too much stress then you have to ask is it worth it? In my case the answer was a definite NO. Life does not end if you ditch a job that has become unbearable. Life may end if you don't change course.

I know we have to work; we are not owed a living. But we are entitled to life - and if work is killing you then change your work. You know it makes sense!

Until next time, take care - and let the sunshine in.


Argent said...

These are wise words indeed. I'm rapidly approaching the time when I think I have to make some kind of decision like you did. I'm not on the little blue pills yet, thank goodness, but it's getting harder to get up in the mornings. Thanks for this post.

PhilipH said...

I wish you well Argent. I too liked those massive steel balls! In your blog, that is.

Regards again, Phil

Barry said...

"....we are not owed a living. But we are entitled to life."

I love that line. If I ever give in to getting a tattoo, that could be it!

PhilipH said...

Thanks Barry. Keep punching away as I'm sure you can - metaphorically speaking.

Best wishes, Phil

the walking man said...

I never once went to bed regretting a day at work...I never ate the shit (shyte) my supervisors attempted to give and I always returned the plate with a bit more on it to them. It was the best of times.

After I broke my back and then my neck and was banned from doing my work; that is when the depression came on and I admit it was a debilitating time of frozen loss of not being able to think with any alacrity.

I didn't mind the blue pill but had them up the dosage to the green ones for a time...then one day (not all at once mind you) I simply stopped worrying about anything, lost my fears over everything and accepted that what I had was enough and I didn't need anything more.

Then it all became good again in a different way.

PhilipH said...

Thanks for your comment. So glad to read you final sentence:-

Then it all became good again in a different way.

Good for you; every best wish,

Brenda said...

I agree that life should be lived within what is manageable for each of us. Some people seem to thrive on chaos and disorder, and then there are people like me who run like crazy from it. I crave peace and quiet and chaos make me crazy.
Acceptance is the key to most of life's answers. I found that when you stop trying to please everyone and accept life in its simplest forms, others admire you more and want to be around you more often. A little drama now and then is human though Ha...

PhilipH said...

Brenda, I'm with you all the way there.

For me, the tranquility of life is sacrosanct; hustle, bustle, noise and kerfuffle I eschew.

You probably know this Serentity prayer:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Best wishes

Jo said...

"Anxiety and depression were my constant companions."

I understand this completely. I am sort of going through that now with my present job, and I have to make some decisions -- fast.

PhilipH said...

Hi Jo,

As always, I wish you well. One of life's requirements is to make decisions.

Even if it's the wrong decision, (and I've made plenty of those!) it's best to bite the bullet and make it.