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.

Life Ambitions

What do you want out of life? A new car, a family, out of debt, a home of your own… there is a lot you may want out of life. And, it can be daunting to know how to get what you want out of life.

I remember being at school and being told that I had to decided what I wanted to do then and there. My panicked brain jumped from journalist to teacher to Veterinary Nurse to an artist. It was a manic time, and I felt like I was running down the clock in a game of ‘pick the career’. My friends all knew what they wanted, I didn’t. I knew that I wanted to do something I liked, but I have never tested well. So a lot of decisions were made for me. I felt I had to jump straight into further education, when I already had a bad experience at school. I attended college, failed, attended another college, failed there too.

I’ll say one thing, it all didn’t help with my self esteem.

When my friends were finishing University, and starting meaningful careers, I worked in a call centre. With anxiety and depression running my life, rather than aspirations of a long term career. This sense of being an utter failure, made me lose confidence in everything. I felt like I had let down so many people. Even now, I work in a warehouse, whilst others do jobs they love, things they were good at. Like, I have no shot at progression, despite trying to get some. The feeling of not being good enough, is constant.

Sometimes I wish, school had managed expectations better. It would save me a lot of heartache, if working a job was just as important as having a career. Because, society need those lower paid jobs as much as the high flying careers. There is no failure in holding down a job. And schools still don’t say this. So kids work at McDonald’s feel like they have let down their families, which is so wrong. Education is amazing, but it shouldn’t be people’s first step in the real world.

I wish I could do something I was passionate about. Reading, writing, and art. At the moment, I can be as passionate as I want, I do not have the attention span for any of it. And, that is how my life goes. I feel like my life is like a rollercoaster. It has ups and downs, but ultimately I am just going round and round, not really going anywhere.

But still being here, in spite of everything, is a win better than any career. A lot of people aren’t that lucky.

Wired Wrong

I used to always ask for help. Go to a teacher, and tell them what I was feeling. It could have been about my weight, sexuality, or anything. I was always told, no one can help you fix a problem, if they don’t know about it.

So, I’d ask. For help. For advice.

The only answers that I got, were that I was ‘wired wrong’. Something, my teenage self, turned into being my fault. As if it could be anyone’s ‘fault’. It was my own fault that I felt so disconnected with the people around me. I’d speak to the doctor, they’d give tablets, but not really listen.

As I have grown up, I have continued blaming myself for not processing things the same, or for letting certain things effect me. I stopped asking for help so much, as it was embarrassing that I was doing this myself.

Over the last 6 months, I have had regular phone calls with a locum GP, who actually listened. I have spent time doing meditation, and I have no medication for my mental health. Which, is terrifying. But I am taking every day at a time. The GP mentioned that every person is wired differently, that’s why we are all such different people. There is nothing to be ashamed off. I just need to learn how my brain processes things, and find out what works, for me.

I turned 37 last week. It should never have taken this long for someone to make sense of what was happening. To find a way to help me understand why I was feeling the way I did.

Things aren’t all rosy. I still get panic attacks. I still assume the worst. I still start a dozen different jobs, and finish none. I still worry that I have offended everyone, and apologise for it constantly. But, it feels like I can find a way to work round what happens. To learn to love the behavioural quirks that make me, me. Which is a challenge and a half, I tell you.

My doctor said something that stuck. ‘Life comes with a standard manual, one that works for a large percentage of people. It doesn’t work for everyone, which is why we can write our own manual. Our own directions, that help us make our own way through life.’ It sounds silly. But it was strangely comforting.

Looking Forward

I look at this title, and I roll my eyes. There is this doubt, that everyone will be feeling, which asks us if it is worth even planning anything for this coming year. Is really worth getting our hopes up, that 2021 will be better than 2020?

It’s all rather pessimistic, and I think that modern society (from politics to marketing) wants you to be like that. It means that ‘they’ have the answer, that ‘they’ can make everything better. Go back to the good ol’ days, where things were more in your favour. This perfume will make your life a success, this politician will get rid of the things holding you down, this car will allow you to live the life you deserve.

Dreams. That’s what everything is selling to us. A better life for a the cost of a few pounds, or a vote on a bit of paper. And, people would like to believe that a better life would be so easy. I mean, if buying a new £30 pair of jeans would make all my problems go away, I’d snap up multiple pairs. But, that’s not the way the world works. There is no short cut to happiness or success, you have to work for what you want.

I sometimes am guilty of telling myself that I have put effort into things, which is why it is so unfair that things haven’t happened for me. But that isn’t true. Not really. I think about stuff, then I kind of half-arse it, and then get upset the stuff hasn’t turned out how I wanted. The audacity, I tell you.

So, I’m trying to make myself more responsible for what happens. Make the effort to do things fully. Work to my strengths. I know I am good at doing things in short bursts, for example, tidying for an hour at a time. Breaking things down like that helps me do more. And, if that’s what I need to get things actually done, so be it. So that when I look forward to things, they actually happen. Which would be nice.

Welcome 2021

I swear every year gets faster. It feels like I have only just written the first post of 2020, and it’s already a year ago. Obviously, 2020 didn’t really live up to anyone’s expectations, with COVID scuppering most people’s plans for the year. But we survived, we got through it, so hooray for us.

At the start of every year, I always try to create resolutions, plans to try and live by. It never happens. It sometimes starts well, but quickly falls apart. Usually, by the end of January, most plans have been given up, and I seem resolved that maybe life won’t get any better. As if, I have already hit peak life, that things are ‘all down’ from here. Which is a rather pessimistic way to feel about things.

But, 2021 is still a blank slate. A fresh start. A perfect opportunity to try and make the self-penned book of 2021 better than that of 2020. Not that it’s hard. As you can tell, from this and other things I have posted, I am pretty defeatist, pretty negative. If things don’t go the way I intend, I find it really hard to keep going. Lots of hobbies, books, tv shows and more end up abandoned for this very reason.

It’s why, I thought hard about what I would like to make better about 2021. And I, after speaking to my doctor, the biggest thing I need to change is my mindset. To be more positive, to not let the bad stuff knock me down every time. Which is hard, because my rubbish mental health has me constantly in the ‘down’ mood. So, I am going to spend time trying to find things that naturally lift my mood. Working out is good for that, apparently, and it would always be good for my joints, which are becoming a bigger problem as I get older.

I think what is important is not give up. As I often ‘don’t see the point’ of continuing anything once the initial novelty has gone. So, to try and not be so defeatist will be a huge challenge for me, and I do think that it will be a positive change for me. Just keep going, plodding away, no matter what happens. Will see what happens, I guess.

Hope that anyone reading this has a fantastic 2021.

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

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.

Casual Gamer

I have always enjoyed playing computer games. I like platform and racing games. I like games I can dip in and out of, without getting lost about where I am. I need a game that isn’t too complex. Mostly because my attention span is really bad, so there are times where I will leave a game for weeks at a time.

I remember my first console was the Game Boy. I played Mario, Kirby, games that were easy platformers. There was no saving, sometimes there would be a code for a level, but normally when your character died, you had to start again. The games were made to pick up and play time and time again. This suits my wondering mind. Games these days, tend to be focused on a person committing hours of gameplay. Which isn’t good for me. It means I don’t ever get very far in games.

Animal Crossing is an example of a fairly modern game, that I can play. My progress is slow, but a player is incentivised to play a little every day. And that works fine by me. I am also finding that because I am at home more, I am playing more. Animal Crossing is about a person living with cartoon-like animals, something young me used to imagine about.

I bought my Nintendo Switch last year, and these last few weeks are probably the most I’ve played it. Other games I have on it are Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing. I also like playing the old Nintendo games like Mario from the SNES.

I don’t really like playing games on my phone. I own an Xbox (which I am using to watch Masterchef) as well, the games played most are Crash Bandicoot and GTA. I think GTA is the only modern franchise that I play, but I believe it’s because it’s quite episodic, and you can play short missions. Which makes it strange that I don’t like mobile games, because they are made to be played for short times.

Worked Out

I’m currently sitting on my break at work. I work in a warehouse, which is part of a large distribution network in the UK.

When people say they are key workers, it’s usually on the front line. Doctors, nurses and care staff. The people who need to be out working, to help those who are wick and need care. That what people assume a key worker is. But there is a whole lot of other jobs still working, banking services, supermarkets, take aways, people collecting bins, delivery folk and people who work in the hundreds of warehouses up and down the country.

These are the unsung heroes. People often tell me that my job is for the worst kind of people. Those people are still going out and working, so that people who can’t go out still get what they need. I’ve mentioned a few days ago, but being able to work has helped my mental health so much. I am not focusing on the news, I am able to focus on my job.

It is important that people remember those who are working. Those who are unable to stay at home. Respect workers. If you don’t value the workers, then don’t use their service.