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.

Stressed

There is a voice in my head. It tells me that I am not good enough.

The volume can depend. Sometimes it’s whispering, which is drowned out by other thoughts, other activities. But, sometimes it shouts. It’s deafening. It becomes impossible to focus on anything.

I work well with a plan of action. When I have something definite to focus on. But, any change to that plan, is enough to send me into a panic. I quickly feel out of control, and don’t know what to do.

Switch off!

How hard is it to switch off?

To be able to relax, fully enjoy a hobby or activity. To not let things bother you. To be able to silence your brain, to enjoy a tv show.

Facebook is constant, full of people you thought you could trust, making comments that prove you wrong. The feeling of being let down, and that you never know who anyone is, not really. People defending saying racist slurs, because they have always said it. People defending blaming a virus on Asian people, despite the fact Coronavirus was a thing before the pandemic. People laughing about identifying as a helicopter, whilst people they know are feeling threatened because of gender being in the news. The people who speak about mental health awareness, whilst laughing about your problems, behind your back.

It’s not just that. It’s everywhere. The TV is full of people trying to validate their right to berate people. Newspapers give, the most vocal bigots, newspaper columns. They get radio shows. TV shows. Infamy for being intolerant.

I remember being told when I was young, to treat other people the way you want to be treated. That if a person isn’t causing harm, let them be. And it frustrates me, that people treat others poorly l, just because they are different to them.

It’s very overwhelming. To see the hatred. The hatred of anything different. My high anxiety brain always reminds me that I can never do enough. I just want that part to stop.

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Important links:

Stop Hate: http://stophate.org

Stand up against racism and inequality: http://sariweb.org.uk

Human Rights Campaign: http://hrc.org

Citizen’s Advice: http://citizensadvice.org.uk

Mind: http://mind.org.uk

Oops

I forget to write.

That’s nothing. Sometimes I forget to do basic things like clean up after myself and basic hygiene.

I forget because I sit and stair at a wall. As if the seams of the wallpaper are going to give me the answers to life. Which would maybe be true if there was conscious thought involved. There isn’t.

A glance at my phone, can tell me that time has passed, sometimes hours. But when I think, it’s like someone has an eraser and just rubbed out what was there.

It’s frustrating, because I can’t rationalise what happens. And that causes my anxiety to spike. Causes me to worry that I’ve done something stupid.

Luckily, I am normally alone when this happens. Staring at my tv, although the screen is blank. I am also sitting, which is also good. It seems to be when my mind is not busy. It’s like it switches off.

It is annoying. I really don’t know how to make sense of how my mind works.

Because half the time, I don’t think my mind works at all.

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.

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.

Locked Down

Today, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, put mainland Scotland in lockdown. Again. COVID cases are on the rise, and hospitals are struggling to deal with the increased demand. As frustrating as it is, I completely understand why such rules are required, and it is important that the public do their best to abide by them.

Everything is so annoying, because it feels like everyone has sacrificed so much already. Births, deaths, weddings, all major events that we have had to miss out. And to make those sacrifices to find out that the country is almost just as bad as it was 9 months ago, when this first started.

Everyone just needs to ‘keep the heid’. Keep calm, and do our best to follow the rules as much as we can. It won’t go on forever, we will get there. Eventually.

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.

Festive Tidings

Christmas is over for another year. All that preparation, and it’s over too fast. Well, I say it’s over, but it’s more the fact that it is behind us. Things have been hard, because the busy-ness of the festive period is usually super busy. This year, due to COVID restrictions all over the world, things are different. Everything feels like it’s at a distances. Messages over social media, FaceTime, and posting gifts through doors and mail boxes. It’s strange.

It has been hard to let people know you are thinking of them. I just haven’t known what to say to folk. It’s no secret that I have really struggled this year, and that’s not something you want to share during a period of goodwill. It has been nice, to not be working, to be at home with my family. Because, despite a lot of businesses being in lockdown, I have worked this entire year, almost normally. So, it has been nice to have a few days off to eat, drink, and fall asleep.

What have I enjoyed most over this Christmas:

*Gave some gifts to the people who matter most– The best reaction was from my nephew, when I gave him a toy that he was so surprised about. He was so excited, the box was ripped open instantly.

*Spent time with family- I am fortunate enough that I live with family, so I have been able to relax with them. I am usually so exhausted from work, that I head to my bed after dinner. So it has been nice to have my dinner with them, and do things like play games.

*Watched lots of movies– I’m bad at watching movies, again because I am usually too tired. All the movies watched were family films, the new Jumanji films, Brave, Minions, and others. I normally get bored too easily, so family movies keep me entertained most.

*Ate loads of food– I always worry about what I eat, that it’s always too much. So, it was nice to forget about it for a while, luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth, so all the sweets around the house weren’t too bad. When I get stressed, I am erratic with what I eat, so it was nice to be eating proper meals, with my family. Eating wasn’t a solitary thing, like it is when I’m working.