I burned out.

Twelve months ago, I’d just started my final ever university exams. I was a bit stressed out, but nothing I couldn’t handle. There were a few things going on in my personal life that weren’t at all easy, but it was nothing I couldn’t deal with.

And then real life started. I sweat blood and tears into applying for a degree I couldn’t afford, and deferred it at the very last moment. I was so upset over that, upset at the prospect of being stuck at home with my parents. I wanted independence, goddammit. So, I took up the first job offer I got, and moved away.

It turned out that job just wasn’t for me.

So, there I was, in a new city, where I knew nobody, where my job made me work antisocial hours, where I became depressed and despondent, and dreamed of going back to where I studied. Then all my friends told me they’d be moving away, too. I’d be starting over, but it would only be worse.

Have you ever heard of Bref? It’s a French TV show, every episode only a few minutes long. A bloke, probably in his thirties, talks very, very, very quickly about his life, always starting with the word bref, anyway. And one episode stands out. It’s called Anyway, I was depressed.

He goes out with his friends, has a good night, puts the wrong key in the lock, and he starts to cry. And he cries for weeks. His friends tell him he’s depressed. And one day, he hits rock bottom. He realises he has to do something about it.

And that’s kind of what happened to me.

I’ve known for the last month or so that I was close to burnout. But then one evening, I did. I went out with some colleagues for a meal. A great meal in a great place. I had a great night. Got home, chatted to some uni friends, and started to cry. But properly crying. Big, ugly sobs. I haven’t cried that hard in years.

I went home to see my parents the weekend before, and had a long chat with my mother. We hatched a plan, after I got my thoughts out in the open. I’d quit my job and move back home. I’d learn to drive, save some money, then maybe go back to uni. And that plan’s given me a bit more life.

Back to the depression. I feel fucking flat. I’ve finally hit rock bottom. I’ve been floating around near the plughole for a while, but I’ve always managed to pull it back. Not this time. I think at work, some of my colleagues have noticed. They keep asking me if I’m okay, saying I look sad. I keep telling them yes, I’m fine, I’m just tired. I’m not sure they believe me.

But I’m sick of lying awake at night and crying and feeling like I have no escape. Because I do. I know my life is worth more than this. It’s worth more than telling people how to find Caps Lock, or how to print a document using an iPad. I have brains, brains that are rotting, brains that I want to use. So I’m getting my life back. It’ll be slow, and it’ll be at times painful and embarrassing, but it’s got to be done if I want my life back.

So I’m doing it. Just watch this space.

I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.

(This may make no sense – it was first written before Christmas, while doped up on cold and flu medication with a fever – but I still think it was a point worth making.)

When I was sixteen, taking AS-Levels at a sixth-form college in Stoke-on-Trent, I spent a lot of my afternoons waiting for classes to start in a tiny corridor that only languages students seemed to be able to find. Taking French and German, I knew this corridor very well indeed.  In that little bit of time I had for myself, I’d sit there with my iPod nano (remember those?) plugged in, listening to whatever came up on shuffle. I was just getting into discovering things that weren’t My Chemical Romance or Green Day or Muse, and, in true hipster teenager style, I’d kind of fallen across The Smiths. Okay, I’d discovered them through a Muse cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, but I was soon digging my way through back catalogues. My German teacher, an ageing former goth, would frequently ask me what I was listening to. I’d tell him, and it was usually Muse, except for one occasion, when I announced I was listening to The Smiths. He looked at me, and shook his head in disbelief.

“You’re too young to listen to The Smiths.” He said.

I thought he was wrong. I understood The Smiths. Of course I did. I was seventeen. My whole life had changed over the course of five months. I’d changed schools, made new friends, lost old ones, and I’d just lost my grandmother. Add that to battling what I now know to be anxiety and depression, and I thought I knew it all.

Except I didn’t.

For years, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was my jam. I knew how it felt. I was miserable, watching my friends get loved up, leaving me behind in the dust trails of their new-found lust. That’s a thing I genuinely wrote at that age. Cringeworthy. For years, (and perhaps it still is), my Valentine’s Day tweet would be ‘two lovers entwined pass me by, and heaven knows I’m miserable now’. Because I just got it. But this isn’t what I’m on about. It’s the line afterwards. For the uninitiated, it’s in the title.

When you’ve just graduated, the next obvious step is getting a job. You put your heart and soul into it. Maybe you’re lucky, and you get an offer straight away. Maybe you’re not. Maybe after a month, two months, six months, a year, you’ve still found nothing. And you get desperate. You take what you can. And sometimes it doesn’t work out.

Sometimes you find yourself sitting at your desk, wishing for it to be 6:30, so that you can go home. And then you go home, and you’re knackered, so you can’t be bothered to go out. Maybe you’ve moved towns and know nobody in the new one. Maybe the weekends are lonely, and the weeks are exhaustingly long. Suddenly, you find yourself wishing you’d just got a retail job in your uni town, scraping pennies at the end of the month, but at least you’d have a decent social life. But then again, you didn’t get a degree to work a zero-hours contract in Sports Direct. You went in to try to better your prospects. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by giving up a well-paid job just so you could have a life.

Or would you? I’m of the strong belief that we only live once. Once you die, that’s it. No more, no second chances. I don’t want to find myself on my deathbed, wishing that at twenty-two, I packed that job in earlier. I want to look back and know that for the most part, I was happy, and I hope that I’ll have no regrets.

Why am I worried about this? I don’t want to give away too many details; I’m probably identifiable enough as it is on here. All I can say is that I’ve realised that my job is not as stable as it seemed. If I were living with my parents, it’d be no big deal if I got sacked. I’d just find another job. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying rent – their insistence, not mine – and living costs would be lower than where I currently live. Here, though, it’s different. I’ve got rent to pay, and it’s not cheap. My paycheck more than covers it, thankfully, but if I lost my job on Monday, I wouldn’t be able to stay here until my contract finished. If I take on a longer placement here, and lose my job, I’ll forfeit the deposit, which is no small sum. It’s worrying.

But then again, I’m lucky enough to have found a job. Some of my friends are still unemployed, after months and months of searching and very few responses, none of them positive. I know I shouldn’t turn my nose up at such a fantastic opportunity, but it’s all getting me down. I had a sort of appraisal recently, and my boss asked me how happy I was in my personal life. I told him a barefaced lie. I told him I was relatively happy. I’m not. I’m worn out.

Maybe Col was right. Maybe I was far too young to appreciate The Smiths.