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.

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.

Circular In Motion

Isn’t it boring, when you feel like you are going round in circles, retreading steps you’ve already taken. The new experiences that are supposed to make up life, don’t seem to be all that new, for you.

I think that working full time, helps that feeling. Same shifts every week, which sees you go to do the same work, every shift. The same nonsense conversations. Running headfirst into the same brick wall, over and over again, when all you want to do is try something new.

I know complaining about my own situation seems rather self-centred when others are dying in Wars, all over the world. And some days, with the constant pain, the repetitive routine, and the thoughts of never being enough, defeat me. I should be embarrassed. I am embarrassed.

Doesn’t stop me trying again tomorrow, though. Trying to change things, and make it better.

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.

Hobby Time

What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I like reading, writing, playing computer games, going for walks, drawing, and finding new music. Stuff that seems to help me get more joy out of my day to day life. Things that keep my hands, and my mind, busy. Which, a requirement at how ‘doomsday’ the world seems right now.

My brain struggles to focus on things. So I think I am going to paint something’, and I simply stare at the piece of paper, and nothing happens. My brain just stalls. So then, I try to write a to-do list, to try and motivate me, as to-do lists do help when I have housework and stuff to do. But it doesn’t work with things I normally enjoy. Things become a chore, and any pleasure is gone.

Sometimes, I think that I like to do too many things, for the time I seem to be able to give. I have to learn, that I don’t have to do all of the things, all of the time. Which will take time. My mind still tells me that I have failed for not doing everything. It’s like, because I have failed on things in life, I think that everything I do must lead to failure.