Taking Time Out

It is important, that in this world that doesn’t seem to stop, that you take time for yourself. Time away from your computer. Time away from work. Time away from the routine that can grate on your nerves. It feels, since lockdown happened last year, that everything feels so much more intense. People are angry, as normality appears to be keeping socially distant from us. Folk are very intolerant to views that are not their own, and as a result, give out underserved abuse.

So, I had 2 weeks booked off work. A holiday which was supposed to be spent in Cyprus, with my family. But, was cancelled, like everything else, due to Coronavirus. I kept the time off booked, because I still needed to use those holidays. So, I didn’t plan anything. I was worried, as when my brain senses no plans, it seems to go into over drive, and my mental health is atrocious.

My main focus was to just relax. Take joy in watching tv, or going for a walk. Not to have a reason for anything. Previously, I would say I wanted to read so many books, create a certain number of artworks, and lose so much weight. This has ended up with my going back to work more stressed, than I was before. Which kind of defies the point of being off work in the first place.

So, I worked hard at doing nothing. I ordered too many take aways, drank too much alcohol, and got up around noon. It was good. Maybe not the healthiest for my body, but for the first time in a long time, my mind was able to recharge. For the first time, in a long time, I feel light. I feel so super relaxed. And ready to go back to work, tomorrow.

Forget Me Not

I have completely forgotten to post on here. I have no real excuses, just that time has got away from me. As it has the tendency to do, sometimes. I have committed to this blog for another year, as my payment for the domain has been made again. So, although I may be absent, I won’t be gone.

Thanks to my anxiety, I am very bad at relaxing. I always have to be doing something. When I am not busy, the negative thoughts can take over. I am trying to get used to being relaxed, without feeling any negativity about doing so. Which is easier said than done.

I have been on holiday this week. No work, no full week, just relaxing. Which has been hard. I have been doing some reading, learning some Gaelic, just taking things a bit slower. It has been nice. This has been my first proper time off in 2021. It was needed, because everything at work was getting on my nerves.

I am off work next week too, so I hope this relaxation can continue.

Failed

A few years ago, I made the decision to go back into further education. The course that caught my eye, was about IT and Computing. I thought that it would be something that could give me the best employment opportunities going forward. As the technology sector is only going to go from strength to strength, in the next few years.

As I did the course, I loved the programming, finding out about networks, and how things worked. It was so informative. There was a maths unit to do, which I had expected. Back at school, maths was never my strong suit. I preferred writing and reading, over numbers. But I got stuck in. My mental health declined, so I had to come out of the course. I then thought I’d try again. At a later date. Which was 2020, the course is due to finish later this month. I have struggled again. Missed deadlines and everything. And I feel so low about it. I feel utterly useless.

The reason I felt I needed to go back into education was, that I was finding it difficult to progress in the workplace. I work in a corporate environment, and held my job for over 7 years. I have worked since I was 16. When I was at school, I was told that there was two ways to get somewhere, firstly, get a degree at university, and secondly, experience through work. As I have got older, it has become clear, that it is hard to be taken seriously for new roles, without a degree. There are positions that people can’t be promoted into, because there are so many graduates (some with no work experience) to step right into roles. And it is a bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t know what to really do. I have emailed the university, to inform them of my concerns. I am actually distraught. I have failed at everything I have ever tried, and it’s a horrible feeling. I feel so worthless. The last few years, I have lost family and friends, which made my bad mental health worse. I have come of my mental health medication, as it wasn’t working, and everything feels so much more raw. Put that with a tendency to forget dates, and finding the Maths unit really hard, everything just fell apart.

I still feel like I need something to improve my prospects. But I don’t know if it is better to switch to something that I actually have a passion for. Or do I try again. I certainly don’t want to give up. I want to earn enough to be able to live comfortably on my own. So, do I try again with this maths road block, or do I try something like English literature, which I know love, but might find another roadblock?

I wish that work experience counted for something.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Frustrated

I have been finding a lot of things difficult at the moment. Like, silly things. Like messaging people, or making phone calls that I need to. It is so silly. It feels like something I should be over by now, but it seems that I am getting worse.

I always feel like an intrusion.

Like I am an annoyance, that people can’t get rid of. I think that the simplest way to explain it, is that I feel like such a negative person. Like, I know that my life isn’t bad, but yet I feel so bad every day. I upset myself over the smallest thing, other people don’t need that in their lives. I mean, especially this year, life has been so stressful for everybody, that people don’t need a wee rain cloud coming over too.

If my brain worked properly, it may tell me that this is nonsense. But that is not the case. So I overthink everything. Every message that I send, has been written and rewritten so many times. I scrutinise everything so much. It is so stressful. Sometime I type messages, and leave them unsent. I plan to look at the messages again, but my inboxes give me so much stress, that I forget, and never reply to people.

So, I feel like if I message people I am imposing myself, but if I don’t reply, I am just rude and not very nice. I spoke about this not so long ago, but it is still something at the forefront of my mind. I think that is an issue made worse by constantly been near things like my phone and computer. There are notifications everywhere, like information overload. And, a lot of the time, these notifications are because I haven’t done something. And that makes me panic, it makes the feeling of uselessness even worse.

I try to switch my phone off. Try to step away. But, it feels like I am still not doing enough. But, I don’t think I could ever do enough.