Festive Tidings

Christmas is over for another year. All that preparation, and it’s over too fast. Well, I say it’s over, but it’s more the fact that it is behind us. Things have been hard, because the busy-ness of the festive period is usually super busy. This year, due to COVID restrictions all over the world, things are different. Everything feels like it’s at a distances. Messages over social media, FaceTime, and posting gifts through doors and mail boxes. It’s strange.

It has been hard to let people know you are thinking of them. I just haven’t known what to say to folk. It’s no secret that I have really struggled this year, and that’s not something you want to share during a period of goodwill. It has been nice, to not be working, to be at home with my family. Because, despite a lot of businesses being in lockdown, I have worked this entire year, almost normally. So, it has been nice to have a few days off to eat, drink, and fall asleep.

What have I enjoyed most over this Christmas:

*Gave some gifts to the people who matter most– The best reaction was from my nephew, when I gave him a toy that he was so surprised about. He was so excited, the box was ripped open instantly.

*Spent time with family- I am fortunate enough that I live with family, so I have been able to relax with them. I am usually so exhausted from work, that I head to my bed after dinner. So it has been nice to have my dinner with them, and do things like play games.

*Watched lots of movies– I’m bad at watching movies, again because I am usually too tired. All the movies watched were family films, the new Jumanji films, Brave, Minions, and others. I normally get bored too easily, so family movies keep me entertained most.

*Ate loads of food– I always worry about what I eat, that it’s always too much. So, it was nice to forget about it for a while, luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth, so all the sweets around the house weren’t too bad. When I get stressed, I am erratic with what I eat, so it was nice to be eating proper meals, with my family. Eating wasn’t a solitary thing, like it is when I’m working.

Lost

I have been thinking, recently, about my mental health. Of how I don’t feel it has got better over time. Because that’s what I was told that I had to do, give myself time, and things will get better.

Sometimes things do feel a bit better. I can laugh with my nephew, have a joke with a friend over lunch, or laugh at the TV. It doesn’t mean the bad thoughts have gone away. The feelings of failure, of uselessness, still sit in my mind. And sometimes, I laugh too hard, or won’t stop talking, and it is purely to try and seem ‘okay’. I sometimes find my patience running thin, where I will get angry, at the drop of a hat, over nothing. Sometimes, I drag myself to work, and that is all I have energy to do for that day. Sometimes I eat some junk food, to make myself feel better, but it doesn’t work. I feel worse. A girl my size should only eat healthy food. But food that needs preparing is difficult when you don’t feel worth the effort.

I had a think back to the last 10 years or so. There have some amazing highlights, holidays to countries I’d never visited before, gigs with great music, and better friends. Nephews coming into my life, that are happy to see me, no matter what. But there is a shadow, in my mind, against all the happiness.

A shadow which makes me ask whether I really deserve to be happy. That doubt keeps me rooted in place, struggling to take any kind of step towards anything new. I am constantly reminded that I should be happy about what I do have. And, it makes me feel selfish, because I don’t feel I am making the best of the situation that I am in.

I am trying. I am getting up every day for work. I do my job to the best of my abilities. Going out and doing a physical job everyday, has helped. If my mind is occupied, I don’t feel so bad. I can focus. Sometimes. Sometimes, even work won’t stop a panic attack on the shop floor, or the anxiety that I have done something wrong. The idea, that I have annoyed someone. So, I work. But I also apologise way too much, especially when feeling bad. I don’t want anyone to dislike me over something that I did, when my irrational brain was in charge.

I honestly thought that things would be better by now. But they haven’t. If my words read like a broken record, that’s nothing compared to what life actually feels like. Sometimes I wish I had a reset button on For my brain.

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This post has come from a note I made on my phone, during a panic attack. Writing sometimes helps me feel better. But it may read a little muddled.

Frustrated

I have been finding a lot of things difficult at the moment. Like, silly things. Like messaging people, or making phone calls that I need to. It is so silly. It feels like something I should be over by now, but it seems that I am getting worse.

I always feel like an intrusion.

Like I am an annoyance, that people can’t get rid of. I think that the simplest way to explain it, is that I feel like such a negative person. Like, I know that my life isn’t bad, but yet I feel so bad every day. I upset myself over the smallest thing, other people don’t need that in their lives. I mean, especially this year, life has been so stressful for everybody, that people don’t need a wee rain cloud coming over too.

If my brain worked properly, it may tell me that this is nonsense. But that is not the case. So I overthink everything. Every message that I send, has been written and rewritten so many times. I scrutinise everything so much. It is so stressful. Sometime I type messages, and leave them unsent. I plan to look at the messages again, but my inboxes give me so much stress, that I forget, and never reply to people.

So, I feel like if I message people I am imposing myself, but if I don’t reply, I am just rude and not very nice. I spoke about this not so long ago, but it is still something at the forefront of my mind. I think that is an issue made worse by constantly been near things like my phone and computer. There are notifications everywhere, like information overload. And, a lot of the time, these notifications are because I haven’t done something. And that makes me panic, it makes the feeling of uselessness even worse.

I try to switch my phone off. Try to step away. But, it feels like I am still not doing enough. But, I don’t think I could ever do enough.

I Liked A Thing.

I have just finished working my way through ‘Sadie’ by Courtney Summers. I have mentioned that my attention has been difficult, due to my brain not stopping thanks to anxiety. So, I listened to the audiobook, which kept my attention, and allowed me to become engrossed in the story.

The book starts, with a podcast. The Girls, is a true crime podcast, presented by West McCray. It features West trying to track down a teenage girl, Sadie, who has been reported missing by her Aunt. Sadie, is 19. Her little sister, Mattie, has been found dead. Sadie is trying to track down the man she thinks is responsible for her little sister’s murder.

The narrative of the book alternates between West’s Podcast, and Sadie’s point of view. As Sadie moves her way through small town America, West follows, sometimes a few months later, and interviews the people Sadie meets. The story is unique in how it’s told. How the truth is fed to the reader in small tidbits, just enough to keep you hanging on. As said, I listened to the audiobook, which I believe helped me get engrossed into the book more. The podcast, however, does exist. Simply search ‘The Girls’ into your podcast site of choice, and listen as you read. Listening to the interviews actually brings a new dimension to the book, which makes everything feel so much more real.

You can always tell when you enjoy a good book, because you are thinking of it long after you finish. And that is what I feel right now. I have missed this feeling.

Lost In A Book

I have been complaining on here about my lack of focus. That I have been finding it really hard to focus on anything at all. Over the last few months it has felt like I have worked, and that’s it. I have to go to work, so in these testing times, that is the only ‘thing’ I do. I am grateful for the routine, and to be able to see different people every day. But, you need to be able do other things, stuff to help keep you sane.

For the last few months, I have been subscribed to Audible, and like most subscription services I seem to accidentally sign up for, I forgot about it. I have always preferred music to listen to, over spoken media, like podcasts or radio. I like a wee sing-a-long, especially when travelling to or from work. Spoken word, seemed to be something that I automatically tune out.

So, noone was more surprised in me, when I decided to listen to an audiobook, on a whim, during my breaks at work. I chose The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri. I found myself so absorbed in the tale of Nuri and wife Afra, as they flee their homeland in Syria. With words being spoken to me, I found that I was able to entirely focus on the story, which I found so gripping. It was the first bit of media, that I have been able to lose myself in, for a very long time. It felt like such a release.

Since finishing the audiobook, I have found myself adding several books to a ‘to listen’ virtual pile. I hope that I can continue to enjoy books, in this new way. I find that listening to a calm voice, reading a story to me, and takes me away from whatever is on my mind, at that moment. And it is nice.

Sick of it all

I’m sick and tired.

I’m sick of constantly saying sorry for things I can’t help. But if I didn’t say sorry, I’d feel guilty.

I’m sick of having to explain why I feel like shit, when I ‘don’t look depressed’.

I’m sick of being a burden. Everyone has their problems, mines are just trivial.

I’m sick of being exhausted. Getting up and functioning takes all my energy, even worse if I have to try to be ‘happy’.

I’m sick of being called an ‘attention seeker’ behind my back. I thought we were friends.

I’m sick of letting people down. Be it a text, a phone call or meeting for a coffee, it’s so hard to interact with people when I feel like this.

I’m sick of crying all the time. When my anxiety hits hard, I cry a lot. It can happen anywhere, it usually happens after a panic attack, and it’s embarrassing.

I’m sick of being told that exercise/ healthy eating/bubble baths will cure my depression.

I’m sick. I have had problems with my mental health since I was a teenager. Asked teachers, and told it was hormones, and since then I have struggled. I try to muddle on, but sometimes I am at breaking point. I am maybe not the best friend, sister or colleague, but I am trying my best.

Please visit SAMH for advice and help on mental health at https://www.samh.org.uk

Doesn’t All Add Up

Today I have been doing maths. It was never my favourite subject at school, I didn’t like it. Some stuff made sense, whilst others flew right over my head. And I never knew why. I was so frustrated.

I have returned to the ‘Land of Maths’ thanks to the course I am doing through the Open University. I am doing a degree in Computing and IT, to try and improve my career opportunities. Without a degree, it is very hard to step into a higher role at my work, or any other. So, I can do it part time, alongside my full-time job. It’s nice to have something to focus on. I did take a wee break, because my mental health was rubbish, but now I am back studying again.

Before I start my maths course, in October, I have a ‘refresher’ set of mini-courses to go through, to re-familiarise myself with things. It’s recommended to go through the pre-courses, to help give people an idea of what is coming up in the course. Part of me just wants to skip it, but it is always good to challenge yourself. And it is all for a better future, so it’ll be worth it.

I just wish it was English, instead.

Junk Mailed Out

It feels like you have to give out your email address to every company you deal with. I get it, it’s easy contact between a company and their customers. Easy advertising. It seems like nothing, when you think about one company sending one email. It quickly becomes more than one company, you can get multiple emails every day.

It is something that, I feel, can get overwhelming at times. Especially now, when we get every email as a notification on our mobile phone, tablet or computer. One or two emails, can quickly becoming hundreds. Something, that maybe a person would ignore, unless it was a business email. But it’s not like that.

I think my inbox is overwhelmed.

I always have the habit of over-thinking things. Especially as I feel that I try so hard, and fail to do most things that I attempt. So I see something, like my unread email inbox, and feel like it’s yet another thing that I fail to control. If I was more rational, I would know that the emails are junk, so don’t worry about it. Unfortunately, my brain is the polar opposite to rational, most of the time. So I seem to have over the top reactions, to nothing.

I have been going though the emails, and requesting to be taken off mailing lists. I hope that this will reduce the junk coming through. If it doesn’t work, I may have to remove my emails off my phone. Which, I’d rather not do. There is often important information hidden between all the rubbish.

It’s strange the things that can trigger my anxiety. It is very complicated. Sometimes a circumstance will start the panic, whereas other times the same circumstance doesn’t even come up on my radar. It just makes it all very difficult to understand, let alone try to explain it to other people

Feeling Run Down?

At the moment, my health is not my friend. With feeling sore all over, constant feelings of sickness, dizziness, and bouts of anxiety that can have me standing crying at the most embarrassing times. I have sought medical advice, so hopefully a solution is coming. But, it doesn’t stop me feel horrible every day.

One of the best pieces of advice, I have found, is to focus on things you enjoy. Because part of my problem is relating to my mental health, I end up doing things that I have done a thousand times before. I think this is something that I have mentioned on here fairly recently, but today I wanted to go into more detail.

The Hills (MTV)

One of the programmes I have been watching, again, is The Hills. It was a show, which appeared on MTV from 2006, that aired for 6 seasons. It was about young women, work and enjoy social lives in Los Angeles, California. The show was the first of that ‘US reality’ stuff that came on to my radar. There were always rumours, of scripted reality. Where things did happen, but they were edited to make a story, or sometimes situations were entirely fabricated. That didn’t bother me so much, it was simple tv. And some of the girls, Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port in particular, were interested in doing something creative. Yes, it was fashion, something I had never had much interest with personally, but I still found it interesting to see part of a creative industry I hadn’t seen before. It was something that I would watch whenever I got the chance. And when I found the whole series on Amazon Prime, I couldn’t resist watching it all. I have always been bad at watching ‘whole seasons’ of a show, but I have watched all 6 seasons in a couple of weeks, which is very fast for me.

I have also been trying to journal more. Write down nonsense, draw pictures, stick down memories, just create something. I usually sit and write a few pages before bedtime, and it helps clear my mind. I have some ‘study music’ playlist on in the background, and make the experience as relaxing as possible. I have found it is a good way to wind down after a busy day at work. As I am more relaxed, I am starting to fall asleep quicker. This means I am more rested, and able to deal with how challenging the next day will be.

On my Apple Watch, there is an app called ‘Breathe’. It guides you through a process of focusing on your breathing. It’s like meditation. Helps calm everything down, helps get my thoughts in line a little. I haven’t really tried meditation before, and maybe it is something I should do further. Especially in times, like these, where I can very easily become overwhelmed.

My immediate aim is to try and find more things that help calm my brain down. Try to let myself go enjoy something, even if it’s just a distraction. A lot of people will quickly dismiss distractions, as a waste of time. But, when life is hard, sometimes a distraction is exactly what is required.

Role Model

A few years ago, I remember reading something (can’t remember where), which stated that a person’s personality was created by what they see around them. I thought this was interesting, as it was something I hadn’t thought of before.

The more I thought about it, the more I noticed it. I became aware of picking up phrases or mannerisms from people I liked. And if anyone had unfavourable qualities, I would stop myself from doing the behaviours I didn’t like. And people can do that automatically, based on some kind of instinct.

Then, I come on to the subject of role models. How many times have you opened a website, or a newspaper, to see headlines proclaiming that some pop star is ‘an awful role model to young girls’. People don’t ask to be role models, it is something that just happens. The image portrayed through media, often tries to show a person in a positive light. This positive light, is what can influence the behaviour of others. A lot of the time, there is very little conscious fault involved on either side.

It isn’t just kids who are influenced by the behaviours of people they admire. Everyone is. If you watch a tv show, about a person who adores baking cakes, you may see that joy in that person and think, ‘I’ll bake a cake too’. If you see someone, in your actual life, or on TV, who is motivated and works hard, it could push you to work harder towards your own goals.

And if someone, anyone, can encourage you to be a better person, there can’t be anything wrong than that.