If I can’t see it, it can’t exist

I always have a to-do list for my day. Usually something that I created on my phone’s note app. Just a wee way to organise things that I have to do during my day. It can be however detailed I need it to be. If it needs to say ‘go food shopping’ it’s fine, and sometimes it can be ‘put on socks’. It’s like, depending on my mood, the tasks I have to can seem really normal, or really insignificant;y stupid. It usually helps me take a mental note of what it is I have to do during my day.

However, most of the time, these to-do lists end up half done. I always start off well, but normally one thing takes a little more effort, and the remainder of the list is forgotten about. And then I just feel really bad about not doing what I had planned. It’s all rather sad. But, if I don’t make note of a list to do things, then nothing gets done. At all.

So, I write my list of tasks for the day. And no matter how small the steps are, if I want to do my hobbies, like read, write, or play my Nintendo Switch, I have to add them to my to-do list. Because, even though hobbies are things I enjoy doing, my brain thinks of them as ‘just another task’, something that I simply won’t do if it isn’t sat beside my other tasks for me to mentally tick off.

It all feels rather pedantic, if I was to be honest, but it is how I seem to get things done. Like today, I had writing a journal entry on my wee list. And it, along with ‘sorting through DVDs’ and ‘do the dishes’, can be marked as completed. This means that I should be able to focus on getting my uni assessment done for the rest of the afternoon. I am full aware, that I do have a tendancy to add to my list, if I can avoid the one thing I actually need to do. But at least there is a chance for it to be done, if it sits on the list patiently waiting it’s turn.

Sick of it All

A couple of weeks ago, I had an assessment due for my University course. I am studying IT, and the assessment included programming a website, and a report on said website. It was something I put entire days into, so that I could be happy with any result. As calm as I seemed to be, I was internally in a ‘bit of a state’. But, I was able to submit on time, so it was okay on that front. However, because I was so hyper focused on it, I wasn’t able to rest whilst doing the assessment. So for days, was thinking about it constantly, at work, watching tv, in bed… I couldn’t switch off. So when I had submitted, my body could relax. This meant, I picked up a bug. And by the end of the week, I had a cough.

This cough got worse, making my physically sick, as well as causing a temperature. So I laid low for the weekend, planning on returning to work as normal on Wednesday. I went to work, but still had a hideous cough. The problem was, I was supposed to be training people, which meant a lot of talking. I could do very little talking, so I had to ‘call in sick’. I didn’t want to, I had slept so little that I actually ended up crying over letting people down. That is a major trigger for my anxiety, letting people down. I want to be reliable, and I can’t help but feel rotten when I have to miss something .

I am sitting here, in my house, over a week later, and still having a horrific cough. It means I can’t sleep. It means I can’t eat full meals as I am sick. It’s not a nice situation to be in. I spend my days scrolling through TikTok, where I quickly picked up that there seems to be a lot of cold/flu virus floating around. Lot’s of people seem to be getting sick. Whilst that doesn’t make me feel any better, it eases my anxiety slightly as other folk are taking a while to recover too.

The worry I do have, is that my medication for my rheumatoid arthritis lowers your immune system. So, I am worried that I’ll pick up every bug going, and become sick a lot this winter. I just have to keep taking multi-vitamins, make sure I dress well, and carry a mask around if I see anyone with a cough. I have to be very careful, as the winter has only just begun.

I’m counting down the days till Spring, already.

Work It

I work full-time in a warehouse, 40-50 hours a week, standing on my feet every day. As much as I try to look at the benifits that a physical job can bring (25,000+ steps a day), I feel like I should be doing something better, be building some kind of career. I have seen myself ‘window shopping’ for something a bit more developmental. But after 9 years in my current job, I find jumping into the unknown of that new job, is something that I really don’t have the disposition to currently deal with.

My job is currently 4 days a week, as stantard. I often work an extra day, to try and get the extra money required for the things I want (i.e. a new car). Even with that extra day, I have 2 days off work a week. A weekend that falls on a Sunday/Monday, and allows me to plan to have a life. Note: as much as I do plan for a life, I often flake out on most things, and do a whole lot of nothing instead.

So as much as I would like to not work in a warehouse for the rest of my life, the standard, reliable shift pattern helps me. My brain isn’t very great at dealling with stuff that changes, especially without me having any notice of said changes. In fact, work is the one routine that I keep. I am forever missing appointments, be them doctors or otherwise. Because I feel like I know my job, and am mentally comfortable in the enviroment, it means I actually find the routine helpful for my mental health.

What is the answer? How do I give myself the challenge that I feel my life is missing? After some reading around different possibilities, I landed on the Open University a few years back. Maybe try to study something, so that I would be able to get more opertunities, maybe even in my current workplace. So I started an IT and Computing degree. There has been a few roadbumps along the way, as I struggled with my mental health. This month, however, I have started Level 2 of my degree. For part-time learning, 2 units are taken a year. There are 4 units in each level, and there are 3 levels. So,I am about half way through. The problem has been that the work load is a tad more than what I had planned for (someone doesn’t read things properly).

The University says that it should take about 20 hours a week to get through the course material (10 hours per unit). This is a lot, when working full time. Not too much, just means I have to be disciplined and do my studying when I plan to. Luckily, I am enjoying the material, so it is not as hard as I thought actually working through the material.

I like this new challenge, and hopefully I am still able to combine it with work. I just hope it stays being a challenge I can do.

Always the imposter

Ever fear that nothing you do is good enough?

I remember when I was at High School, I really liked Blink-182. Never was able to see them live when I was younger (managed in 2010). I liked their songs, but I didn’t buy every piece of merchandise. I didn’t even have every album. I also got Enema of the State by saving up Pepsi can tops, and sending away (I got a small FM radio and Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP the same way). I still taped songs of the radio, and I remember staying up late to tape an interview on a late night rock show, possibly on Radio 1, maybe not. Cutting the lyrics out of Smash Hits magazine. Blink became a defining part of my musical journey, and lead me down the road that lead to heavier bands.

Little Pepsi Radio

I’d go to school, and there would always be that person who was able to collect every offical piece of merch. The one who seemed to prove that I really wasn’t as big a fan as I thought. It was like I felt like I wasn’t good enough. That this thing, this music, that made me so happy, also made me feel real anxiety. This feeling that I didn’t deserve to get such joy from the songs I heard, if I wasn’t the biggest fan.

It feels really stupid writing that down, but it was honestly how I felt at the time. I starting thinking about this when I saw that Blink-182 have this week reunited. They are planning a new tour and a new album. It made me think of how I felt back then, and how, mentally, I have never really moved on.

From people getting their shit together, to folk simply loving life, I can’t help but feel like the existence I am living is unworthy. Like, as if I missed the memo on what helps a person get the most out of life. It’s not like I am not trying, I am. Maybe, it doesn’t seem like I put everything into life, but that’s because it takes so much effort to do what I am able to. I feel like I am undeserving of what I do have. I feel like a total fake, waiting to be found out as the fraud I am.

Unappreciated Work

When I was nearing the end of High School, I remember being advised that there were two ways to get yourself a good career. It was work your way up, or get yourself a degree at university. That sounds great. In theory.

Most of the people I went to school with, went to university, and got a good job in the field they aimed for. I attempted college, more than once, but fell apart every time. So, I worked. I have worked since I was 16, in the hope that one day, I would have enough experience to work my way up the ladder, and be suitable for better paying roles.

Unfortunately, that is not how things work.

I have been in my current role for 9 years. Longer than I was at High School for. I have tried numerous times to get into leadership roles, jobs with more money. But, every time I am turned down to lack of experience. I used to get confused by this, I have plenty of work experience. But, that’s not what they wanted, they wanted people who had degrees, a university education. I’d apply for jobs, only to have someone with no work experience,but a degree in Drama, get the job.

The excuse I get, is that by getting a degree, the applicant is ‘proving they can stick at something’. Like, they don’t even need a work history.

So, I sat on this information for a while. Wondered about what I could do. My option was, either stick it out at the bottom of the career ladder, or try and push myself towards a degree. Which is what I am doing. I am working through an IT and Computing degree, with the Open University. I seem to be doing okay with it so far, because the speed I need to go is slower than if I went full time. I do part time, and do it around work, and it is 100% remote learning. Which fits.

I wish it didn’t feel like I’ve wasted my life, working away. having a job shouldn’t feel like that.

Take Me To Ikea, I need more spoons.

If you suffer any kind of health problem, and you frequent the Internet, you’d be aware of the Spoon Theory. It’s a way to describe how a person uses energy throughout a day, the more energy something takes, the more spoons it cost.

I find it a very easy way to try and explain how difficult it can be for me to do the most basic of things. So I usually, if I have a day with moderate pain and okay mental health, I’ll have about 12 spoons to use throughout the day. I am very sore most mornings, so it might cost 3 spoons just to get out of bed. Another spoon to get myself ready, and one spoon to make my way to work. So before I start work 7.30am), I have already used almost half my daily spoons. I use a spoon for each part of my day, which is 3 parts, so 3 spoons. It takes me a spoon to walk up the stairs to leave work. Maybe another spoon to make my way home. So on a good day, I get home with 2 spoons. I still have to make dinner, and by this point, even watching tv costs more spoons. I don’t have enough.

Sometimes my joints are sore, and it might take anything where I have to walk or lift, double the amount of spoons. Where my brain is exhausted, because it’s working hard to find ‘work arounds’, to try and make the most basic thing easier. Sometimes, I am anxious, my mind telling me anything I do is actually wrong, and I’m stupid for even trying. This makes it harder. It takes so many spoons to push through that anxiety, that l have little left to push through any physical pain.

Days with no aim (otherwise known as weekends), seem to have less spoons than a work day. I lie in bed without the 3 spoon minimum to push myself out of bed. I isolate myself, because I spent too many spoons on other days, and I can’t deal with people, with tasks, with anything.

I mentioned about this to a work colleague the other week. Said, I was going to run out of spoons during the day, cause I was exhausted. He said he’d give me a spare spoon, but it’s a tea spoon, and ‘was that okay’. It actually made me laugh. Maybe other people can help, whether they give a teaspoon or a fork.

I am melting

Well… not really. But, it does certainly feel like I could melt.

I am currently at work, and it is basically a big metal box, which is fantastic in summer. It’s very difficult to keep the place cool, which means the hundreds of workers are sweaty, grumpy, and generally miserable.

But that’s what happens in the summer, isn’t it? We grew up enjoying 6-7 weeks of summer holiday, and as an adult you might get two weeks. It is easy to feel hard done by, as you have to work rather than sit in a beer garden, sipping on a cold pint.

A normal British summer, involves a person booking time off, and hoping that the weather is good. If your luck is like mine, normally I get the week where it rains everyday. This year doesn’t feel like a normal summer though. So far, 2022 has been one of the driest years on record, and that doesn’t seem to be going to change anytime soon. No one in the UK is used to the temperatures we are getting. People are becoming ill, infrastructure is getting damaged, and Forrest fires are on the rise.

It seems these kind of days are coming round more often. So, I’ll serve a friendly reminder to stay hydrated, eat (even if you can’t be bothered), stay in the shade, put on sun lotion, don’t walk your dog when it’s really hot (that goes with letting pets on plastic grass),and look out for family, friends, and neighbours.

Stress Point

Today has been a bad day. A day filled with pain and panic attacks. One of these things on their own, would be bad enough, I am lucky enough to get both. As much as I tell myself that bad days happen, it doesn’t stop me wanting to go home and hide in my bed. Pretend that the real world does not exist. At least for a few hours.

But I am at work, which has the ability to help or hinder my bad day. At work, I have to speak to people, and I work with people who I can speak to. Which helps my brain calm down. I get to chip away at work, which helps my joints and arthritis. Most of the time. Sometimes, I know pretty quickly, that work isn’t the place to be. And those times, I have to leave. And try to explain to managers what’s wrong, without embarrassing myself.

What set me off today? Well, I’m sore, which happens all the time. I can function, but it takes a wee bit more energy to do things, than normal. I can usually make it through work, on an average day. But sometimes, my mental health sucks too, and because I am using all my energy to ‘push through the pain, I have nothing left to deal with the crap that my brain thinks up. Today, I got some feedback, that there was an issue with my productivity. My brain, thinks that I’m not doing my part, I am letting down people, and I am useless. I then start panicking, which ends up with me crying (because that’s what a panic attack looks like for me).

Unfortunately, whilst I might feel good enough to carry on with my job, I will probably be very teary for the rest of the day. Partly because I feel useless, partly because I am embarrassed that I cried in front of people. It’s quite honestly, exhausting. Luckily, people at work are great. Letting me talk crap, whilst panicking, and are kind enough not to mention the embarrassing tears. Telling people helps.

I will carry on today. Finish my shift, and end the day with the satisfaction that I was able to work all day. I allow myself to think of it as an achievement, as it gives me a positive feeling I can hold on to. Something, that will help me when I go home, and collapse on my bed in exhaustion.

Renewed Efforts?

A few days ago I received an email, telling me that my domain had been renewed for another year. It’s not a problem, the payment comes out of my bank every year. I expected it.

However, it did leave me thinking of whether I make the best of having a website. A lot of people will see that I make no money, so will assume it’s a waste of time. But, as I have written before, that is not why I keep an online blog. I do it to help straighten out my thoughts.

Well. I’m supposed to.

I haven’t used this site very well over the last year. And, I come on here and moan about that fact, every time I post. Boring anyone reading, and myself.

It’s not just circles I am going round on here, though. I seem to be jogging on the spot in almost every aspect of my life. And, let me tell you, I am not very fit, so jogging is hard. I have a new plan. I am going to try and keep to a plan, which is hard. I have a to-do list, I have written a new one for every day this week. So I can hope to do some of it. I mean, some is better than none, right?

I hope so. Things need to start moving.

Avoidance is futile.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been one of those people, who champions mask wearing, and believing that there was some skill involved in me not catching the virus. I worked in a warehouse throughout, and a lockdown happening, just meant that my petrol was cheaper. I wasn’t aware but I seemed to have developed a superiority complex, where I felt that I was doing things right, that is how I stayed virus free.

Which, was all fine until I discovered that I had caught COVID. Whoopee!

My health has been questionable for, at least, the last month. I felt exhausted, sick, tired, I would manage work, then just come home and crash. I had a lot of ‘medical things’ going on, so I assumed that is what was making me sick. Then, a few weekends ago, I went from feeling rubbish, to feeling like death warmed up. I was running a fever, I had a cough (I currently seem to have a perma-cold), and the worst bit, I had this horrible rash all over my body. It was awful. And I immediately tested myself, using a lateral flow test, and I was negative. I tested a few times over the course of a few days, all negative. So my mind, being the anxiety driven mess that it is, jumped to the next possible answer. It must be my new medication. I had started immuno-suppressants for my rheumatoid arthritis, and one of the reactions was a rash with swelling around the face. This is what I had, so I called my GP, concerned what was happening. After a few tests, she thought it was a virus, so advised me to go and get a PCR test, but to contact the arthritis care team, in case it was my medication. The PCR test came back positive, and the nurse said ‘it could be a reaction, or it could be covid’. So, I had to come off my arthritis meds, until I know I have gotten over COVID properly.

I am just exhausted. It has taken me months to get the right medication prescribed, a lot of calling up and emails. I get very anxious when I have to chase anything up, so most of the interactions ended up with me having a panic attack. Which was just lovely. And, I am feeling frustrated, because if I get any reaction at all with this medication, I have to stop and we have to try something else. It’s like going round in circles. It feels like I have so many issues, right now, and COVID has just taken a huge dump in the middle of everything. It’s annoying.

At least I am able to go back outside. I am just not used to having to spend so much time at home. I am used to being able to go to the shops, or go visit friends, whenever I want. I couldn’t even have dinner with my family. I was just lying on my bed feeling sorry for myself. I never had a lockdown, I never spent lots of time at home during the pandemic, I went out to work. And, I think that is why I found it hard, I felt useless and horrible. So, I am happy that my life is going back to normal. But I will still be wearing a mask and carrying my hand sanitiser around.