Stuck To A Stop

2020 has proven to be a very challenging year for everyone. And, as a person who uses her creativity a lot, be it writing, scrapbooking, or drawing, I have found it suffocating. Which is why this blog has been rather quiet, compared to other years.

The things that I see and do, are what helps get my brain ticking over on what I should create. At the moment, for most of 2020, I have been working, going to the supermarket, and then going home. There are only so many interesting things one can get out of the monotony of it all. I try to be productive, try to think about what media I am consuming. So, I try to think about the programme I watch on the TV, or the computer game I am playing.

It’s not working though.

I feel like I am stuck in a cycle. I think and write about the same things all the time. It is not on purpose, but my thoughts seem to retread the same steps because I am not seeing anything else. It’s hard not to talk about masks or COVID restrictions, everywhere you go. Because that is everywhere, and it is something that worries me a lot. This feeling that the governments of the world are dealing with something unprecedented is not a nice one.

Sometimes, though, I think about what matters most. And I suppose it’s honesty. Talk about what I experience, as it is important. You see, I think I do that already, but it is focused around my mental health. So, the picture of me, that this site holds, is not a complete picture, it shows only a side of me.

So, I am going to try and make this more fun. Going to still talk about my mental health, because (unfortunately) it is the biggest thing in my life. But going to try and write about things I like, the music, the shows, the games, and the books. I am not the most articulate of people, but i want to write about more. I’d say it’ll be a ‘lifestyle blog’ more, but I see that and I see lots of things I am not. So, I will simply say that it will be more varied.

Anything is better than this continual bashing of my head against an imaginary brick wall.

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.

I Had A Dream

What did you want to be when you grew up?

One of the things I wanted was to play football. I remember when I was younger, going to play football with the ‘bigger boys’ in the field next to my house. I was always the only girl, but it was fun. At Primary School, I could play football and train with the boys, and it was all fine. However, from around 12ish, I wasn’t allowed to play in a team with boys anymore. I had to play on a girls team. This was awful news, not enough girls in my school wanted to play football, and all the youth clubs focused on boys. It was like hitting a brick wall.

I found other hobbies, but I ended up backing away from football and rugby, both sports I had played in my younger childhood. I wasn’t ‘one of the boys’ enough, nor did i have the confidence, to push myself to make myself a place with the boys. I didn’t really feel like I could go out of my comfort zone, and look for a girls team, as none of the youth clubs nearby, had anything. So, other than the odd kick about with my brother, I didn’t really play anymore. But I still had a reoccurring dream of playing for Scotland with Ally McCoist (so much wrong with that).

I didn’t stop supporting football, the opposite. My main team became Dunfermline Athletic, and I also followed Blackpool and Aberdeen. I watched Scotland international games, and in fact still go to at least one away game a year. Football is definately my favourite sport. But it still hurts that I kind of stopped playing, in fact, I remember crying in my bed after school, cause I wanted to play with the boys and play in tournaments.

Mixed playing happens still, in Scotland girls can play with boys, till they hit 15 years old. This means that girls can play with the boys, should there not be a girls team available for them. And there are girls teams now at every youth football club in my local area. This is great, and means less girls give up playing a sport that they love. In some countries in Europe, there is no age limit, or there are mixed teams up to under-21 level. This is great. None of that stuff was in place when I became a teenager in the 90s. I remember me and my friend tried to start a girls football team at High School. A PE teacher supported us, and we scheduled training for after school on a Monday. And then 7 people showed up. It was disheartening, because the school was going to help us get games and stuff. But netball and hockey were more popular with girls, so we were quickly cancelled and forgotten about.

I grew up understanding that I could be a fan, and that’s it. Reccently I have been watching the Woman’s World Cup, held in France. It has been a great celebration of the ladies game. It felt huge because Scotland qualified for the tournament, which was amazing. It’s the biggest stage the woman’s game has had here in Scotland, it was advertised everywhere. Every game was on TV, and I saw these women play the game and live the dream that I had as a wee girl. It was amazing.

The tournament has now finished (USA won), and I hope that football organisations all over the world realise that the girls game needs investment. It’s come a long way since I was little, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Big issue?

I have always been chubby. Since I was little, I was short and stocky, like a wee rugby player. As a kid, it never bothered me. Everyone was differently shaped, so it didn’t matter.

As you grow up, looks tend to define more than anything else. People judge on what they see, not the person. I am kind, friendly, I always try to be a good person, but it’s not enough. I realise that my anxiety is a massive player in how I feel about myself, but it’s not all. I am overweight. And I have been for a long time.

Every attempt I have made to better myself has been met with jokes and sneers. Food has been a way to comfort myself when I felt bad. So food is a contentious issue. And when people laugh at the choice I make, the baby steps to try and make myself better, it’s hard not to take it personally. I don’t expect that trying to be honest with myself to be a joke for other people.

Last week I signed up for weightwatchers online, again. It is difficult for me to go to meetings, both getting the time, and mentally, so online is easier for me. It’s really easy to talk to people who are experiencing similar things. Its nice to speak to people who kind of show support and belief. Something I don’t get from anywhere else. I think it is easier to speak to people you don’t really know. And I don’t know why.

It’s the start of a new journey for me. And if you want to laugh at what I eat, make me explain my choices whilst you make jokes at my expense, you can go away. I am not a source of comedy for morons. I have no time for your negativity anymore.

Study Hard

The last time I tried to do education and work together, I kind of failed. I got very stressed, and struggled to do almost everything. It was the time in my life, when I really began to get effected by mental health issues. I think, the development of mental health issues, made it really hard to focus on stuff. So working full time, and studying full time did not work for me. It is no wonder, as I barely left myself with time to function.

Last month I started an IT course through the Open University. Something I was very scared to do, after the last time I did any proper education. The good thing about the Open University, is that you can study at a time more suitable to yourself. Which is handy, especially at this time of year. My work is focusing on the run-up to Christmas, which is always fun, but can also be stressful. Lots of temporary workers come in, so that we can meet customer demand, and it can get a little crazy. The good thing about it, is overtime. Which is really good, when I am trying to clear my feet, financially, before the end of the year. So, I end up working extra days, which means that I have to change when I study. The University information on the course, says I should have to spend 10 hours, or so, a week on studying. Which is perfectly manageable.

The good thing about doing this new course, is that it has given me a bit of focus. All the information you have to work through, is split into smaller chapters, which makes it a lot easier to work through. Like, tonight, I was able to relax, and then study a couple of sections. Because I can break everything down into steps, it is helping me keep on track in getting all necessary tasks completed on time.

It’s nice to feel like you are working towards something.

Hopes for the future

I remember leaving school. I remember preparing for leaving school. I remember waiting for my exam results. Visiting colleges. The dreaded fear as I counted down the final days.

My aim, was to be a Veterinary Nurse, as I wanted to help animals. I tried so hard. But whilst I was studying in Glasgow, I started to develop anxiety. Whilst I had an issue with depression at school, college is where it smashed me in the face. It got harder and harder to continue on. Eventually I failed an exam to get on the next year, and had to get a job in a shop. Which was okay, but I didn't get on with my manager. My anxiety lead to a fear of standing still. If I stood still, then the fact that I failed as a Vet Nurse would catch up.

So I thought about what I wanted to do, as a life. And even as a kid, I either wanted to do art or something with animals. So, I tried animals, so i thought I'd try something more arty. This time I went to a local college to try Art and then Graphic Design. To support this, I left the shop and went to work in a call centre in the evenings. The ambition was there, but at this stage (my 20s) I still hadn't got any help with my mental heal issues. I speak about them, because I can see they were there, when I am looking back. It was whilst I was at college and the call centre that i eventually sought out help. I struggled with college, so I eventually ended up just going full time at the call centre. But I struggled.

Eventually, I was paid off from the call centre for underperforming. Which was hard. But I was so anxious, that I felt I was a burden to everyone around me. I couldn't sleep before work, and I would frequently end up in tears during the shift. Although I was in despair at the time, I didn't realise how much I hated the job till I never had to go back. I spent about 6 months, whilst looking for jobs, learning how to look after myself. I was in the worst mental state I had been in through my whole life. I was self-harming and didn't want to live. I only saw what I had failed at, and wanted to give up.

I spent time with friends and family, made effort, found the things that made me happy again. And about 4 years ago, I applied for a job at a local warehouse. A job I was permanent in after 12 weeks, and that I am still at. I work long shifts, but short weeks, and this has enabled me the time I needed to continue to work on myself. And it helped. I like my job, I like the people I work with, but I still feel I could do more. So I applied to the Open University to do an IT course. I have always been interested in computers, so it would be interesting. And because I have healthier ways of dealing with any mental health issues, I think I am more prepared than before, to work on a course.

I guess that is my message of this post. What you may have in mind for your career might not pan out. But it is no reason to give up. There are so many pathways available to you, so try not to lose awareness of that. Not everyone gets lucky at their first career choice, but something is there for you. I mean, IT might hot be the thing for me, but life is too short to not try.

Butterfly Fly Away

The other week, I met up with my friend and her daughter, and we went to the Butterfly farm near Edinburgh. It was a place I hadn’t been since I was really little. It’s very warm, and butterflies just fly all around you. Was really fun. And I was able to take a few pictures.

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The summer provides a good time to play tourist in your local area, especially if you have kids. You can find more information about Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World here.

Work, Work, Work…

I like to think that I have always been a grafter. Someone, who works as best as they can at whatever task they are given. Now, I may not be the fastest, but you can be assured that I will do my job properly. Which, to me, matters. Whilst, doing things in a good time is always a good thing, there is no point if corners are cut, and things are done poorly.

Since my first job, I have always enjoyed the satisfaction in working hard and feeling like I had made a difference. And that didn’t change no matter the size of company I was working for. I made sure that what I did was the best I could do. I like to believe that working hard will get you anywhere you want. Hard work is rewarded. But, I am realising that is maybe an idealistic way of thinking.

The area I work in at the moment is constantly busy. It is a very different job than what I am used to, but I still do my best. But, I am stuck. What do you do when your best isn’t good enough? Me, I just keep trying, I get my head down and graft away to the best of my ability. Which is how I have always been. But every so often I raise my head, and I see other people getting new opportunities. People who are doing worse at the job than me, and have been the less time than me. I automatically assume that I have done something wrong. And when you get that thinking in your head, it is really hard to get out.

A lot has changed with my job role in the last 6 months, with me working in a completely new department. And that, in itself, made me feel I was getting moved away for doing something wrong. So before I started my new task, I already felt a bit weary and hurt that I was moved away from my friends and folk I trusted. I have written on here before, about my mental health issues, and my old department had managers and leads who I could trust. People who I could speak and cry to if I had a bad day.  It made me feel comfortable coming into work, even on my bad days. But it isn’t like that anymore. I don’t really know any of my new managers, and when I talk to them it feels like I am a burden. And, if you know me and my mental health, I feel like I am feeling a burden without anyone saying so.

So I feel like a burden, and that I am doing things wrong, so I don’t feel welcome. It has become more of a struggle to go into work, when I have a bad day. I can go to the toilets and cry. All the people who would make me laugh, and make things better are in a completely different area. I can’t just abandon my work and wonder off to see them. I didn’t realise how much easier my work colleagues made everything, till I couldn’t see them anymore.

I am carrying on though. Trying to keep my head down, and work as hard as I can. Focus on myself, and what I am doing. Which is easier said than done. I give myself a pep talk every morning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The actual job is fine. It is just the lack of recognition and support that is getting me down. But, I will persevere, and I will continue to do the best I can. Which is all I can do.

Guilty of feeling bad

Right now, it feels like every time you read the paper or watch a news broadcast, something else horrible is happening in the world. Innocent people are dying every day. And it is awful.

It can be difficult to relate to. I,for example, feel unbelievably guilty. I have my fair share of physical and mental health issues, and a lot of times it is hard to even hard to get dressed, never mind do something productive. But I watch the news, see the suffering of others who are much worse off than me. It starts the internal berating of myself, where I feel inadequate that I seem to have a lot, but I can’t deal. People have it worse. Someone said that at work today, to me. I didn’t offer a reply, but in my head, it reinforced the belief I was building up about myself.

It doesn’t make for a happy life. It makes every day feel like it’s double the length. My anxiety flares because i feel so guilty and unworthy, it causes my stomach to become unsettled so that every meal I eat, ends up in the sewerage system. It stops me from sleeping, I feel that if I can’t appreciate and enjoy my life, then maybe I shouldn’t wake up in the morning.

But, when in a calmer state, I realise everything I do is completely irrelevant to whatever disaster is in the news. Now, that sounds awful. But bear with me. My anxiety comes in different flavours. Sometimes my brain makes me feel unimportant, and sometimes it makes me feel responsible for EVERYTHING. So, the days where I feel hopeless, I try to break tasks down, like if I don’t process this task, a customer won’t get their refund. It is a small thing, but makes me feel I have a purpose.

When I am a bit more calm, like I am now, I can be logical. I can think of a way round my issues. But when anxiety hits, logic is furthest from my mind. I have donated to charities for the Manchester attack, the Grenfell Tower fire, and many others. Sometimes, feeling like I tried to give something helps calm my anxiety. But if you are struggling with current affairs and are feeling guilty or just questioning your place in the world, sometimes the best thing to do is to not constantly watch the news. I watch half an hour a day, and that’s it.

Don’t allow your mental health to bully you into feeling guilty for something you have nothing to do with. Which is hard, I know. You can also try to speak (or ramble online, like I do) about what you are feeling. If you are having a hard time health-wise, nothing should be-little what you are going through. And if someone tries to, ignore them. Look after yourself and those close to you.

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If you need mental health help visit The Samaritans

Donate to the Grenfell Tower fire fund, this situation is still ongoing, and the death toll is expected to rise. red cross appeal

An Afterthought

What happens after you achieve something that you have been working towards for a long time?

It sounds like a silly question, but it is something I have been thinking about. I have been a person who likes lists to work through. I very rarely finish all the tasks listed, but it is a handy way figure out what you need to do. But sometimes, the same task can sit on my to-do list for weeks at a time. It usually is because the task has a lot of work to do as part of it, and sometimes, I am simply too lazy. Actually, that is most of the time. I’d rather watch anime or read a book, especially when it comes to things such as housework.

But, once in a blue moon, I actually focus and do the task I have been needing to do for ages. And, when I get started, I am stubborn enough to get finished. But, when it is done, there is like a strange feeling. Because this thing that has been on my mind for so long, is suddenly gone. It doesn’t need to be dealt with anymore. It is quite a calming feeling to be honest, which is good. As a naturally anxious person, anything that can keep me calm is a good thing.

But… I never learn. I feel the good feeling of achieving something, but I still have the habit of procrastinating when other things need to be done. I annoy myself sometimes.