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.

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.

New Habits

The hardest thing about life, are these assumptions that we grow up with, from childhood. This idea that everything that you learn, is the same stuff that will carry us through the rest of our lives. Whilst this may be true for some, not every behaviour that we learn is correct.

A lot of times, the behaviours that we learn, are ones that are the best for our individual situtaion that we may have been in. For example, I learned at a young age that it was easier to binge eat my feelings, rather than bother anyone with my problems. This, was something that I felt that was most convienient at the time, but in the long term, it was an issue. My behaviour around food came about in my teenage years, when I started having mental health issues. A lot of people thought it was because I was earning my own money. Whilst having money certainly didn’t help my situation, it didn’t start it. Before my first job, before I earned any of my own money, I was hiding extra food in my room, to binge on later. I was maybe 13 or 14 at the time.

When I started putting weight on, people would make fun. The thing that was my coping mechanism, a way to feel better, was now a reason to feel bad. It didn’t fix anything. It made things worse, I doubled down on what I was doing, and would eat more as I felt worse. During that time, I think that there was this attitude to ignore bullies, you don’t ‘grass’ them in. It felt shameful that these people’s silly comments were getting to me, so I used food as a release. And it never went away, it just became worse.

Over the last few years, I have been trying to work on my mental health. And much of that journey has been spoken of in this blog. It has led to me thinking about my coping mechanisms, which includes my relationship with food. I have started an account on MyFitnessPal, in the aim to record what I am eating. Because when I binge. I mindlessly eat, so I am trying to recognise every food that I eat. Something that sounds basic, but it involves relearning so much stuff.

I guess, what I want to say, is that no one is perfect. Not every behaviour that you have learned is one that will stay with you, for your entire life. Despite the belief that childhood is where you learn new things, you learn something new every single day. As they say, every day is a school day.

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.

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.

Alone

One lie, that having poor mental tells you is that you are alone. That no one else feels the way you do. It is a lie that cuts you off. Makes you feel like you are not good enough for anyone who is around. That what you experience, is such a burden on everyone, that maybe it’s better to remain on your own. So you don’t bring other’s down.

Logically, these lies don’t make sense. Having poor mental health, is something that thrives in loneliness. Or that is what it feels like for me, anyway. If people are around, or if I am kept busy (like at work), I don’t often feel so overwhelmed. It does still happen, to be honest, but because my brain is focused elsewhere, I can deal with things better.

But that can be a problem. When I first started having mental health issues, I spoke to people. I reached out for help, I was told to ‘grow up’, that it was ‘hormones’, or was just because I ‘needed the right guy’. This all felt like rejection, as if rather than understand, people deflected with useless fake solutions. So I waited. I hoped it would go away. I made a mess of things, in the hope I’d feel normal. And it hurts. It manifested at a previous work place were I was told, by my manager ‘you have a job, you have a place to live, you have nothing to be depressed about’. I wrote on Facebook, years ago, and was told not to be such an attention seeker.

In the end, it feels like not saying anything helps me. There is only so many times people can ask for help, and for it to be thrown back at them. Or even ignored. It’s easier to not be with people, because then I don’t run the risk of being made to feel worse. So, I spend time alone, which is when my mental health is worse.

This has come into my head, after a recent news story brought suicide and mental health to the forefront of people’s minds. And the same people, who berated me, who called me an attention seeker, expect folk to reach out to them. Say that they can help. But they did the opposite. Or maybe it’s only certain people that folk want to help. I’d never be that person.

You Do You

What is the worst habit that you have?

Some would say smoking, not exercising enough, or drinking too much. I would say that most people’s bad habit should be talking about other people. Talking poorly about a person you don’t know, or only partly know.

A person only starts to think about this when it is them being spoken about. It is for them that an area turns quiet as they walk by, hushed voices giggling to one another. People speak, and sometimes their words get back to the person they are about. And when you are struggling to function, to hear others speaking nonsense can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Normally in this situation, people don’t realise the damage they have done till it’s too late. It can be hard to admit that the words that you have spoken could have really hurt someone. Because, that is never the intention. People talk rubbish about others to help ease their own frustrations about work, life, or whatever.

I know that I have been at both sides of this. I have talked crap, but I have also had crap said about me. And it is something that I have been thinking about a lot. I know that, personally, I want people to like me. I want to be friends with everyone. Of course, that is something that is not always possible, you cannot please everyone. And, to hear that people don’t like me to the point that they’d talk as soon as my back was turned, broke my heart. I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong. I would worry about something like this for weeks. I would analyse every little thing I did, to see if there was anything that would offend anyone. It’s compulsive and irrational, but I can’t help it.

Recently, I’ve tried to change things. Focus on myself, and do what makes me happy. I wouldn’t purposely harm anyone or anything, and that should be my focus. Some people won’t like me, but that’s okay. I’m going to just try do what I like. Keep my mind busy, so that I don’t worry so much about what other people say. It’s easier said than done, though.

My 2020 Vision

Happy New Year.

What do I want for the year?

Try to experience life in the moment: I sometimes worry too much about what could happen, rather than focus on what is actually happening. It is something created by my anxiety, but I want to try and change how I think about stuff. It seems hard, but it’s worth a try.

Get healthier: this is on a lot of people’s resolution list. I don’t care about weight really, I just want to feel better. I am trying Veganuary, in the hope I will feel better. Luckily a lot of people are trying it, so there is so much support. Again, I might not get it perfect, but it has to start from somewhere.

Draw more: I think I used this last year. I have purchased an Apple Pencil to use on my iPad, so that I can draw digitally. I just need to practice more. It’s always hard using a new tool, but it is something a wee bit exciting. If anything decent happens, I’ll share on here.

Write more: this is definitely something I did say last year. But 2019 kicked me in the butt quite hard. My mental health was rubbish, and that lead to me not wanting to do much at all. So, I hope that I post more than I did in 2019, which shouldn’t be too hard.

That’s it.

I like giving myself vague targets, because it makes it slightly easier to aim for. Because sometimes, if you fall too far behind, you just give up. Or I do.

Not Everyone’s Pal

Anxiety has a habit of convincing a person, that everyone hates them. Or I get that anyway. That I could be the nicest person in the world, and everyone will still hate me. Over the years, it’s a feeling that has become so overwhelming that I try to make the opposite happen.

I feel like I have to be liked by everyone. I try to be friendly and helpful. I try to be the kind of person I like. Sometimes it’s like I become a Labrador, who is up in everyone’s business because they crave a pat on the head. But sometimes, I can be the nicest person in the world and someone still won’t like me.

I haven’t done anything wrong, but this other person doesn’t see eye to eye with me. And I take it really personal. Why don’t they like me? What did I do wrong? And my mind jumps to the worst conclusion, that everyone really hates me, they just don’t tell me that. It makes me become hyper aware of every little thing I do, as if I am trying to find the annoying bits.

If logic played a part in mental health, it would tell me that what I was feeling was silly. That not every person in the world is going to become friends, and that is okay. Doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong. It’s just the way life is sometimes.

Unfortunately, logic rarely has any space in my anxious wee brain.