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.

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.

TikTok

I have been frequenting TikTok recently. People will sneer, as they have done already, as it is a ‘child’s app’.

No social media app is suitable for children to be left alone on. All parents should be aware of the content their child consumes, as you would if the child was playing outside. It is just as dangerous. There are people who will take advantage, as there is in the real world. Social media is even more dangerous, as people can pretend to be someone else, and get close to a child.

Since last year, with the first lockdown, TikTok became super popular. With people downloading the app in their millions, to beat boredom. Small 15 second videos can be uploaded by anyone. People talk about personal problems, hobbies, show a talent, discuss politics, anything. And it’s one of the few things my bad attention span is able to deal with.

I started making my own videos. Just moaning about life. Talking about my mental health and my struggles in losing weight. It’s so fast to do. And I think that is key to me using the app regularly. I find with a lot of social media, you are encouraged to edit everything, like a quest for perfection. I find, that 15 seconds is so quick. I can make a quick point, and upload before I can think too much. And I find it quite cathartic.

Round, Round

Life is monotonous sometimes, isn’t it?

It feels like I am going round in circles at the moment. It is so frustrating.

It’s like I am walking round surrounded by a dark cloud. Sometimes, the sun peaks through, and I can see a path ahead. But it’s short lived. That cloud comes back, and it takes all my focus to see my own two feet, let alone anything else.

My problem is, that every time I think things are getting a little easier to see, the darkness comes back. So, I feel like I make no progress. That I get so far, and end up back at the start.

Sometimes, it seems easier to make no effort at all.

Fixing Myself

Before I checked my blog, I couldn’t tell you when the last time I posted was. The internet has been a particularly stressful place, so far in 2021. Conspiracy theories and abuse seem to be thrown at anyone with wifi access, and it makes it difficult to create anything. It feels like anything you create for the internet, leaves you open to abuse. Which has always been a risk, but it just feels so much more intense. It doesn’t help that my last post, was about work problems. Things that had driven me to the end of my tether.

Fortunately things changed. I spoke to my manager, and they helped fix the situation. Which was good. It helped me feel confident that I wasn’t the ‘bad guy’ in the situation. I spoke to my GP over the phone, and he was happy that I had spoke up. As, we had previously spoken about me being proactive about my personal situation, and that I shouldn’t ‘suffer in silence’. So, I felt positive, my colleagues supported me, and made sure that I was okay. So I didn’t feel alone anymore.

I thought that maybe being proactive in other areas in my life would help. So, I have started trying to control my unhealthy relationship with food. So, I opened up the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and started tracking everything. I mindlessly eat, I do it as stress relief, have done. In fact, previously my doctor likened my over-eating to self-harm, as it was a way to punish myself. So, I am writing down everything that I eat. To try and recognise what I am taking in. It is helping, I feel so good that I have kept complete track of my food intake for the last two weeks. I am tracking at around 1700 calories a day, which is a deficit, and should help me lose a wee bit of weight too. But that isn’t essential. I just want to feel better.

I then applied for a new vacancy at my work. A learning trainer, it would be a promotion. I have trained people before, and I think it is a job I would be really good at. I sent my application away over a week ago, but haven’t heard anything back yet. It’s the first time I am looking towards the future, rather than just stewing about my current situation.

So I am feeling a wee bit positive. Which is better than last time. I am trying to step back into the world a bit more, function a little better, so I’ll maybe post a wee bit more.

Don’t Know What To Do

I feel lucky. I work a basic, entry level job, but I like it. The work I do helps me focus, and silence my over-thinking brain. There have been times, over the last year, especially, I have felt at the end of my tether, and work was all that kept me going. I can’t go for a pointless drive, I can’t pop round to my friends, I can’t go out for a coffee, but I can go to work. I have friends and colleagues that help me when I am struggling, mentally or physically. I have been in my current job for over 7 years, and I still get new challenges, and I like that.

Recently, I have come across a problem. A person who I work with, who doesn’t seem to like me. That, alone, is something that bothers me. I mentally go through every interaction between us, and ask myself what did I do wrong. Because, I assume that everything is my fault. I feel like that Labrador dog who wants to be everyone’s friend, and can’t seem to understand why not everyone wants to be a friend.

It’s not just that though. Several times, this person has triggered a panic attack in me, by speaking to me like I am an idiotic child. Thinking that they can speak down to me because I am younger than them. By inferring I am stupid, and by doing so right in my face, I panic. And, this person blocks me in, physically, so I can’t leave till they say their bit. Which is normally a rant, whereupon they are right and I am usually wrong. When I do have a panic attack, I am told to ‘grow up’. It has been going on for months, but it came to a head last week. After shouting at me, like I was stupid, I felt panic arising, so when they had finished I went to the toilets to calm down.

When I have a panic attack, my heart goes crazy. I start shaking really bad, and I can’t catch my breath. The panic becomes worse, and I will normally start crying. Which is embarrassing, and is why I prefer to have such things in the private space of a toilet cubical. So, I calmed down, and began to walk back to my work area. As soon as I got near, I started panicking again. And quickly I was doubled over, struggling to breath. When I had last spoken to my doctor, he had said that if there is a situation which triggers my anxiety, I need to take myself away from the situation. So, my panicking self caught the attention of management, and walked me to a break room, so I could explain what was happening. I said that I couldn’t work with this person anymore, as I need to look after myself and my mental health. The managers seemed to understand.

I feel stupid. I know I have to look after myself, but can’t help feel like it’s my fault. It’s not a nice feeling.

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.

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.

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.

Insta-hate Filled Hole

Over the years, social media networks have come and gone. Instagram, is a social network that I have used since I learned of it’s existence, back in my college days.

It’s the social network that provides me the most joy. I can post opinions, memories, or even wee stories of my day. And, in return, I get to see what other people create. I have made friends, followed artists and people that inspire me every day, and genuinely have fun on Instagram.

My profile. It’s full of nonsense, but that is me.

Instagram seems to get pulled up as the worst social media site, especially for the content that young eyes can find. People need to understand that social media sites run off what information you give it. What information and hashtags you may use, is what helps create the content you view. I think people need to be educated on how to use social media, before they start blaming it for everything. Social media makes money by curating a timeline that a user will interact with. Because heavy interaction, means there is more chance of adverts being seen, clicked on, and maybe sales made.

I follow accounts of artists, friends and people who post stuff that encourages me. I save topics like ‘alternative’, ‘Naruto’, ‘BlackPink’, ‘journaling’ and many more. I am not interested in fashion or make-up, so I find that I don’t get recommended pages of models and diet focused accounts.

My Instagram ‘explore’ page is mostly BlackPink. Which is fine by me.

Parents should always be aware of how social media sites work. Educate themselves. If you don’t like what you find, you protect your child. Teach them how to use social media responsibly, show what dangers lie on the internet. Because it should be taken just as seriously as dangers outside in the real world. If a parent refuses to understand how a site works, they can’t expect their child to.

My instagram is like a journal, a bit of a visual blog. I post what catches my attention, rather than just selfies of myself. I understand different people use it for different reasons, and that’s okay. But having such a outlet, has helped my mental health. If I am struggling, i try to go for a walk to take some pictures. And it really helps me gain some focus. It makes me sad that some people see everything on the internet as bad. To me it’s the opposite.