Omigod I go back to work in one week. I've been away from it so long that it feels like a distant memory of something I once did, people I once knew. The feeling that this workplace is a vague recollection or a dream makes it very difficult to remember the mechanics of my job. Will I remember the order in which I scaled items? Will I remember how to work effectively and stay on time? What if I'm waylaid by people coming to talk to me to see how I'm doing? What if nobody comes to see how I'm doing? The new Plant Leader was put in place just before I left. Will she want to have a meeting with me and suck up my time informing me of things I already know so she can assert her authority? She wanted me on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) team, does she still? I don't want the added stress and responsibility of the team...will she put up a fight when I say no?
The person who took over for me is far less organized than I am. How much 'neatening up' will I need to do so I can easily find things? Will she have prepared Monday's work (sticking labels on appropriately sized lids, organizing lids by ingredient, sorting between wet and dry ingredients) for me on Friday like I do and trained her to do? Or will she fall back into the way she used to do it when she trained me six years ago - leaving the lids unprepared until the morning? Will all my knives and measuring cups be where they are supposed to be or did she find a new home for them? Will she have remembered to pull the margarine and butter out of the cooler so they can thaw for easy cutting on Monday? Is there going to be a lot of toasting on Monday and if so, how much will it affect my timing? Did she do extra toasting like I did to make things easier or did she only do just enough to get by?
When I left work in mid-January they were going back to working four days a week with Fridays off. I ran into someone from work at WalMart and she said they were going back to five days a week right away. If we still had Fridays off, I could have come in on Friday with the Bakery Manager to re-organize Scaling and get a visual of how much work will be required for my first day back. Now that the plant is running on Fridays I can't do that...but I can try to come in while the night cleaner is there. He works 3pm-11pm and the line leaves at 330pm. So if I go in after 4pm I can manage to get my area in order without disrupting my replacement and without having to face all my coworkers. For some reason the reality of seeing my coworkers again after so long is riddled with anxiety. Almost paralyzingly so.
I only have a week left to enjoy the time off. Part of me wants to scrabble backwards in time and grab extra days to enjoy. Days with warm sun, days with endless stress-free hours, days of reading a good book. I've had my fair share of these days and have squandered them on anxiety-fueled thoughts of returning to work, realizing my circle of friends is almost nonexistent, and feeling useless and bored. As much as I want to go back to work for a feeling of contribution and physical exertion I also want to curl up in a corner and shiver with social anxiety. The very idea of talking to coworkers after so long leaves me with a strong sense of panic.
I know intellectually that the feeling of anxiety over the anticipation of returning to work is far greater than living through the actual event of returning. Now, try informing the primal part of my brain of that. At the moment it has sequestered itself and is fueling the fire of anxiety with every breath and passing hour. This must be why people take Ativan or Seroquel.