My Return to Office

I am back to working full time in my office. I have been waiting for almost a year and a half for this. To be honest, my insomnia does not handle change well.

My first day was beyond busy and beyond stressful. Trying to gather everything in need of coming back to my place of work with me was tiring. Under normal circumstances, I would have enjoyed the opportunity for such rare exhaustion that allowed me to sleep without my body putting up a fight.

Too anxious to fall asleep

I was so scared I would oversleep, I ended up waking up at 3:30 this morning and not falling back to sleep. I am exhausted. It is hard to focus on anything I need to do right now. My body is slowly adapting to this change. I am not sure how to cope with this. On top of dealing with long COVID, readjusting to in-person interaction 5 days a week is challenging.

Returning to a new work reality

This time last year, my full-time schedule consisted of working from my bed snuggled up to my cat. Now I am in an uncomfortable chair eating a not-so-appetizing sandwich since I am on my lunch break. I no longer feel comfortable eating out or even eating from a vending machine. I also miss the social time of my lunch break with my coworkers.

My once close-knit coworkers were all fighting their own battles of anxiety of having to return after sending their kids back to school. Being the first one in the office every morning, my coworkers would stop and chat with me for a few minutes every day. However, upon our return to office life, this changed. I felt isolated and alone.

Early in the days of the pandemic, we all planned our ceremonious return. The day we all returned, we would celebrate being together again, but this is not how it happened. We stayed as far apart from each other as possible, unless necessary. We even had our weekly meeting via Microsoft Teams while just feet apart. There was no workplace comradery anymore, and my boss made sure of that.

The many unknowns made my job harder

There were no set rules on how students would return to class or how many students would be allowed on campus at one time. These unknowns led to many sleepless nights on my part. Not only because it made my job harder, but because I did not have answers for students and their families.

Rules and policies constantly changed, and being a first-line contact, I caught the brunt of the anger, not only of students but also of my coworkers. When I should have been sleeping, the anger directed at me each day played over and over in my head instead.

Hard changes in my office dynamic

The worst part of it all, my once supportive, levelheaded supervisor changed. We no longer had the much-needed support and guidance from him. Any time we had to quarantine because of possible exposure, our work atmosphere became unbearable.

Even though it was mandated to quarantine through human resources, we would receive accusatory e-mails and awful, borderline abusive treatment from him when we were finally able to return to the office.

The impact on my insomnia

At this point, I was going days without sleeping. Not only because of anxiety but fear of retaliation if I went to human resources to report my supervisor's behavior. I was exhausted on top of being assigned several extra jobs that were not related to my department. This didn't ease the anxiety of workplace/home life boundaries being constantly being violated. But no protections for non-managerial workers.

Last year, I wrote how I didn't feel like the world climate seemed like it would ever improve. As much as I hate to admit, returning to work hasn't made me change my mind.

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