Painful

I write on here a lot, about my mental health. How I deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s not the only health issues I have, though.

I have had muscular problems since I was at primary school. Nothing serious. But I would take my dog a walk, where she would pull on her lead, and my arm would ache, afterwards. I would get sore hands for carrying heavy school bags. I would go to the doctor, and like most things when you are a child or teenager, hormones were apparently to blame. I then worked in a bakery, as my first real job. Did it for about 4 years, and would have awful pains in my hands and elbows. At this point, the doctor’s diagnosis changed from ‘hormones’ to ‘tendonitis’. And they just gave me ‘prescription only’ strength Ibuprofen.

The pains never went away. But, I always got the impression I was an annoyance, so I stopped going to the doctor unless it became unbearable. I am also deeply aware that this is when my mental health became a big player. And my anxious brain tells me everything that I do, is a waste of time. So I would always talk myself out of calling for help. I would just manage it myself, with hot showers and baths, and buy off the shelf basic painkillers. Nothing would ‘take the pain away’ but it took the ‘heat’ off a bit.

As I have got older, the pain has got worse. A lot worse. Focusing around my feet, ankles, and hands. So, I was recommended by my work’s Occupational health department, to try again with the GP. I did, and I eventually got a referral to a rheumatologist, as rheumatoid arthritis is a big problem in my family. I finally felt I was getting somewhere. I had the initial appointment, with x-rays, scans, and a complete head-to-toe check. The rheumatologist believed that I definitely had signs of arthritis, as there was some deformation in my ankle, and concerns about my hands too. Great. He would get in contact for the next appointment.

Except, with COVID, I never heard anything. I phoned the rheumatology department, and no answer. I left messages, and no one got back. I called my GP, and they said my referral was still with the hospital. My anxious mind, once again gets involved, and lets me know that if it was really serious, they would help me. So, once again, I found myself really struggling to call up. So I found an email address for rheumatology, and I emailed them. Explained I had been trying to contact them, but had nothing. And it was they who were supposed to contact me. After 2 weeks I had a message left on my answering machine on my mobile phone. The message explained that because I had only had my first appointment, and no follow-ups. Too much time had lapsed. I had been referred back to my GP.

I was in my car. In the Tesco car park. Crying. Properly in bits. I felt like, after the best part of a year, I was back at square one. And things were getting worse. My shoulders have been agony for the last 7-8 weeks. I haven’t been able to sleep, and nothing seems enough to get referred again. I am exhausted.

Sometimes I think, because I work, because I try to push through it. I am treated as if my problems aren’t serious. My mental health is better when I work, as it is the only routine I can keep. And for a lot of my pains, being physical, actually loosens my sore joints, and helps with pain. Until I stop, and everything ceases up again. Sometimes it can take 25 minutes for me to get dressed, because my movement is so restricted because of the pain.

I barely have the energy to go to work. I struggle through my job. I am just very fortunate that my management, and the folk I work with, try to understand and help when I am having problems, be it mentally or physically.

I am at the point where I have tried 4 weeks before I was able to get a GPs appointment, and they just gave me stronger pain killers. She actually said to me ‘would you like a sick line, that might help you be seen quicker’. Why? Because your problem is thought of as serious when you are unable to work. How ridiculous does that sound?

Every day feels like a ‘no bones day’ or a day where I am running on half spoons. I am so exhausted all the time.

Technologically Fighting

My computer is ready to die.

Which is great. I have a maths assessment to complete, but Microsoft Word, the programme I use to create the assessment document, is going very slow. Which is great. I bought this laptop not long after I started my current job. That was 8 years ago. Which is absolutely crazy. Time flies when you are having fun, I guess.

It is all so typical. I am suffering a lot from muscular pain, as well as the normal mental health stuff, so it has been a drag to get the energy to sit down and actually do the work I need to. Either, my body is too sore to sit at a computer for hours, or my brain would rather have me disassociate and stare at a wall for a few hours.

The one way I have been trying to get through tasks, and keep my focus, is to write a to-do list. Not everything gets done, but it does mean that if I do find something difficult, I have other things ready to do. So although Word isn’t working, my internet browser is. So, rather than get grumpy about it, I just put my focus elsewhere. Which, is still a fairly new concept for myself, but it is something that I am willing to try.

I have been having difficulty posting through the mobile app, so my normal way of posting hasn’t been available. Because, expressing what is in my head, has always been helpful. But, I just haven’t got the will to carry on when there is problems. Especially when you spend the best part of an hour, typing up a post, only for the page to refresh, and nothing saved. So, technology is really not my friend at the moment.

It’s okay though. I am currently window shopping for a new laptop. One, that is a little better at multi-tasking. Part of me really wants a Mac, because I have wanted one for many years, but the other part thinks a gaming computer may be better for what I need. I plan to buy a new computer after Christmas, but that all depends on how well everything else, goes. The MOT for my car comes first, and I do think it will cost a wee bit to fix. I can never remember school warning us, how expensive adulthood would be.

A warning would have been nice.

Understanding the brain

I have been recently trying to understand how my brain works.

I don’t mean, reading up on biology. I mean, trying to understand why I think the way I do. Because, as much as I don’t want to admit it, my thoughts don’t seem to be settled much in reality. Rationality is not something that normally happens in my head.

I have this constant fear that I have upset someone. That I have been rude, unintentionally. When I am trying to be factual, I just come across as rude. Then, people stop speaking to me. And I feel horrible, because I wasn’t trying to be offensive to the person, it just came off that way.

I have had mental health problems for years. Struggled with anxiety and depression since I was at High School, over 20 years ago. Appointments with countless doctors, a library’s worth of pamphlets, and therapy session, hasn’t fixed anything. I learned how to deal with anxiety and depression when it happens, but no resolution. I then feel guilty, because maybe I did something to stop all the things from working. It’s my fault.

A recent conversation with a doctor, suggested the possibility of my mental health struggles being an end result, that maybe it was how things are processed that is the problem. And that if I with that, maybe the mental stuff will improve. But, with appointments thin on the ground, I feel stuck. I resort to looking online, but online health sites can be dangerous, and filled with mis-information. So, I have always been skeptical about going searching about health stuff.

It’s pretty difficult. I finding more question, but yet to find any answers.

Hard

I started this draft saying ‘this week has been hard’. But, I have to be honest. It currently feels the last several months (or years if I squint hard enough) have been hard.

Hard is relative, though. For me, hard pertains to difficult. Life is difficult. To which, I hear the scoff of many folk, who say ‘life isn’t meant to be easy’. Which, I kind of understand, but how high should the difficulty have to be? Like,it can’t be unlimited? There has to be some levels one reaches, moments of respite, where you can look around and decided whether the difficult stuff was worth it.

What is the ‘difficult stuff’?

It’s multi-faceted. Firstly, my brain has a habit of making me not feel good enough, for anything. I have no worth, so what is the point of doing anything. I have felt stuck for many years, and have written many blog entries about it. I have been trying to figure out my own mental health, and how to navigate life whilst suffering problems. The worst thing about having mental health problems, is that there doesn’t have to be anything physically wrong. It can be a lovely day, but I will ignore that and listen to whatever nonsense my brain will come up with. Which is stupid, I know it is, but it becomes a cycle, where the bad thoughts run everything.

Secondly, have you seen the news lately? The world is going to hell, or it appears to be. The climate, with floods, fires, and heatwaves, all taking countries by surprise and doing horrific damage to communities. There is the coronavirus pandemic, which is still ongoing, but the UK government want things opened up as normal, and people aren’t getting vaccinated. Bigotry is on the increase, as homophobic, racist, transphobic people all decry ‘free speech’. Brexit is a mess. Everything is a mess. These aren’t even everything that is going on right now. With constant news coverage, and social media streaming the news to us in real time, it’s really hard to get away from it all. It’s trying to find the balance of caring about stuff, and not feeling so overwhelmed by it all, that you lose any point of doing anything.

I’ve just been feeling a little worn out by it all. Apathy for everything. I’m going to try and deal with things one by one. And try to pull myself up. Because, if I don’t then the cycle will continue. And it has already been going on for too long. If I fail, I never lost out, just get back on the horse and try again.

Not Enough Words

I hate this.

I hate trying to find the words that convey what is going on in my head. What to say when people tell me they are happy that I have ‘beaten depression’, because I have laughed at a couple jokes.

Firstly, I’ll never blame the other person. They are being honest, they say what they feel will help. It may make sense to them, to show they are happy for progress made. It’s meant to be nice, so I try to take it at face level.

Secondly, is recognising that depression doesn’t go away, simply because you can have a laugh with some friends. Similarly, you can still suffer from anxiety, even when you speak towards a group. I have experience problems, with my mental health, for most of my life. And yet, I struggle in finding a way to explain it to people, to let them know what is going on. Nothing I think up seems to be adequate.

I seem to be able to explain ‘bits’. Like, why I may be feeling a particular way on a particular day. But, the overall way my mind seems to twist things, is a much more difficult concept to grasp for myself, let alone trying to help someone else understand.

For years, I plodded on. I suffered with depression and anxiety, but tried to plod on. I didn’t know what else to do. It’s only fairly recently that I was recommended to try to figure out why I am the way I am. Actually recognise the behaviours, rather than simply ignore them. A lot of the time it’s like aiming to climb a mountain, but walking into a brick wall every time you try.

I am trying to focus on learning more about my depression and anxiety. Because if I can understand it, myself, maybe I can explain it better. Maybe.

Putting Me First

I am quite a helpful person. Or, I try to be, anyway. If someone comes to me, and needs help, I’ll do my best to help them. That’s the way I was brought up, assist those around you, as you never know when you may have to resort to the kindness of others.

The problem comes with, my anxiety. At work, about 6 months ago, I was asked to help with another department. A department I used to work in, but hadn’t done so in over a year. Processes had changed, and I felt like if there was 5 problems in front of me, I knew how to fix one. The supervisors all said it was okay. But, I don’t like when I don’t seem to be helping as much as I want to. I was okay during that shift. But afterwards, I felt awful. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I just did a half-arsed job, and I was stupid for thinking I could actually help. It took the entire weekend, before I started to feel better.

Last week, the same request came in again. My supervisor asked me if I was able to go. I took a second, wondering if it was worth the stress I went through last time. When I say stress, no one did anything, it was my own brain causing me stress. I thought back to my last call with my doctor. He advised, that I need to learn to listen to my anxieties, and not put myself into situations which could make it worse.

So, I said no. I said that I hadn’t done the job properly for 18 months, and most of the processes had changed. He was fine with that, and I stayed in my normal department. Then I felt guilty, because I hadn’t helped out, and I felt I was horrible. To the point, I had to explain to both my supervisor, and the one from the other department, why I didn’t feel comfortable, and what had happened last time. They both agreed, that if something was going to stress me out so much, then it is good to not force myself.

And, that was it. No problems what so ever. And once I had spoken to the supervisors, I felt more comfortable that I had made the right decision. Which is difficult. Since I started suffering mental health problems as a teenager, I have always ‘pushed through’ what was going on in my head. And, whilst I got stuff done, it has left me completely unable to deal with my own mental health. Just pushing through, is like moving a brick around. The more you ignore, the more bricks you move. Eventually the one or two bricks, become a pile, a pile that is difficult to move. So it’s best to deal with the bricks one at a time.

That metaphor sucked.

But, I hope the message is clear. Dealing with mental health, is learning when you need to make choices to protect yourself. Don’t simply keep forcing through the same things, it just makes things worse. Be kind to yourself.

Budget It

I have taken the next few days to try and get myself a budget organised. Try to manage my money a little better. I say this, because I feel like when I get paid I throw all my money away, without recognising what I actually spend. I spend money mindlessly, which has been made worse with the push to a cash free environment.

So, after stumbling across budgeting videos on TikTok and YouTube, I thought I’d try to get to grips on what I actually spend. That way I can try and spend better. So, on Friday, when I was paid, I thought I’d give myself £40 to spend on non-essentials. See how long that lasts. Well… I had a busy shift on Saturday, ordered Domino’s Pizza, and had spent £20 already. I’m trying not to feel too discouraged, as this is just an experiment at this stage. And experiment that proves that I spend money way too easily.

I feel like I blame my mental health for everything, but it’s all connected with my depression, binge eating, and anxiety. I often float along, doing the bare minimum. I work, I keep my car on the road, I pay my bills. I have known that I have wasted money for a long time, but, as with everything, effort is required to sort it all out. And when I struggle to get out of bed, where money goes seems way out of my realm of reality.

So I am going to write down everything. When bills come out, and what they are for. And then try and be realistic with shopping for food and stuff, and plan ahead. Because that is another thing I am useless at, planning ahead. So this will take a bit of work. I have a paper journal, which I have been getting into the habit of using every day. So I am going to write all my working outs in there. See how it goes.