I Doubt It

For me, every New Year starts off with me aiming to be nicer to myself. Try to be kinder to myself, no matter what is going on around me. Because if you are more forgiving towards yourself, things become a lot easier to solve. Or, so I have read, anyway. And, I always try to be positive, a bit ‘shit happens to everyone’, kind of attitude. Think less PMA, and more not hating myself over every silly little thing.

First real obstacle is that I lost my house keys a few days ago. Have spent the last few days looking everywhere for them. They are very noticeable, as they have a bell on a keyring. This is because I like large bags, which means the house keys fall to the bottom of said bag. So if I have a bell, it helps me find them easier. Except, when they are nowhere to be found. I have searched everywhere I had been the last day I had my keys. The house, the garden, put a message on Facebook, sent a email to Stagecoach, in case I left them on the bus. Nothing has been found.

This is where I get like ‘how stupid am I to lose something as important as keys’. I get really angry with myself, because I should know better. In the last few days, I have had multiple panic attacks over being so bloody stupid. I have been struggling to sleep over it, because I feel like I can’t even do the most basic thing. I have had a look around the house again this evening, and it’s lead to me having another panic attack, and then sitting on the floor and crying.

Hopefully, if I can write things down, the rational thoughts will stay behind. Probably not. I’ll just end up grumpy and irritable. Which is what always happens. Hooray for crappy mental health. It’s exhausting.

Where Are We, Again?

You’ve probably seen multiple articles this week, all proclaiming that no one knows what day it is at all. It’s because many people are off work, and between Christmas and New Year, the days just meld into each other.

It’s not quite so bad when you are working during this period. Though, it is annoying when it feels like everyone else is lounging at home in their PJs, and you are back to the grind. However, I focus on the fact that it means I save my holidays for when I need them.

This time of year is a good time for catching up with friends, or to simply relax. It is nice being able to relax, especially as December tends to be one of the more manic months of the year. It is also more challenging than ever, with wages being stagnant, whilst bills get ever-higher. This winter has already been cold, and it looks like it will get cold again in the new year.

It’s very easy to feel defeated by it all, so try and be kind to yourself. Nothing has to be perfect, as the media like to portray, because nothing is that perfect. Not really. So, give yourself a break. Look for something, no matter how small, that makes you happy. It could be a tv show on tv, or your favourite band releasing a new song. Maybe you made your own dinner or did the dishes. The world is a tough place, so try to focus on the positives, as they can help us through the tough stuff.

Always the imposter

Ever fear that nothing you do is good enough?

I remember when I was at High School, I really liked Blink-182. Never was able to see them live when I was younger (managed in 2010). I liked their songs, but I didn’t buy every piece of merchandise. I didn’t even have every album. I also got Enema of the State by saving up Pepsi can tops, and sending away (I got a small FM radio and Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP the same way). I still taped songs of the radio, and I remember staying up late to tape an interview on a late night rock show, possibly on Radio 1, maybe not. Cutting the lyrics out of Smash Hits magazine. Blink became a defining part of my musical journey, and lead me down the road that lead to heavier bands.

Little Pepsi Radio

I’d go to school, and there would always be that person who was able to collect every offical piece of merch. The one who seemed to prove that I really wasn’t as big a fan as I thought. It was like I felt like I wasn’t good enough. That this thing, this music, that made me so happy, also made me feel real anxiety. This feeling that I didn’t deserve to get such joy from the songs I heard, if I wasn’t the biggest fan.

It feels really stupid writing that down, but it was honestly how I felt at the time. I starting thinking about this when I saw that Blink-182 have this week reunited. They are planning a new tour and a new album. It made me think of how I felt back then, and how, mentally, I have never really moved on.

From people getting their shit together, to folk simply loving life, I can’t help but feel like the existence I am living is unworthy. Like, as if I missed the memo on what helps a person get the most out of life. It’s not like I am not trying, I am. Maybe, it doesn’t seem like I put everything into life, but that’s because it takes so much effort to do what I am able to. I feel like I am undeserving of what I do have. I feel like a total fake, waiting to be found out as the fraud I am.

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.

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.

Weighing It Up

I weighed myself today. For the first time since the start of November. It is an activity which is loaded with meaning, because despite never being ‘a slave’ to the scales, it’s still a thing that lingers. It’s existence is enough to get me into a bit of a state. So, when I weigh myself, like I did, and I ended up being just under 16 stone, I could have cried.

For too long, the number on the scales or the size of one’s waistband, has been used as a way to identify people. People who a person has never met. There are a number of personality traits, which have, falsely, been connected to people who are overweight. Laziness, stupidity, dirtiness, rude, many more things which seem to be tied to a person being overweight. All without merit.

My weight has been a problem for years. I have faced comments about my weight since I was at school, back when I weighed way less than I do now. I always had a stocky build, my Grampie used to say I was ‘built like a rugby player’. This was enough for me to be bullied. And for me to understand that my weight is a reason for me to be seen as a horrible person. My mental health suffered so much, and eventually i turned to food to cope. I could eat away my problems. A coping mechanism I still have to this day.

I watched a video recently by a personal trainer on TikTok (Gavin McKinney) who said that using food as a coping mechanism was a good thing. It helps people cope with bad stuff, and means they are still here to see another day. When I tell you I cried after seeing that video, I mean I cried my eyes out. So the first think that needs to be done, is a find a new way to cope. Because if you don’t find a new way to cope, food is going to look like the answer again. That should not sound as revolutionary as it feels.

I am having problems with arthritis in my knee, and I want to make my health better, to ease the pain. Make myself feel better. Because that’s why things should be done, to improve one’s life, right?

I may repeat myself, as I try to figure all this out.

Brighter Days Are Coming

If you frequent any website that gives mental health advice, you’ll have probably noticed mentions of SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder). A form of depression which is dependent on the seasons. There is a belief that it comes from a lack of sunlight, as the season SAD is more prominent is Winter. The short days can mess with a person’s whole mental well-being. As a person who has suffered year-long depression, for as long as I can remember, I never gave the idea of SAD much thought.

I only started thinking about it, properly pondering it, today. Where I was very aware of a sudden lift in my mood, seeing the sky a little brighter on my way to work. I leave my house at around 6.15am, to get the 6.30am bus to work, and finish work at 6.30pm. So, for the last few months, I have gone to work in the dark, and came home in the dark. I did think it was exhausting, but I put that down to me being sore (I am in pain a lot).

The sun is starting to come up, as I leave for work in the morning.

Walking to work I saw the sky being a bit brighter, and I could feel my mood improve. I think because I had been struggling physically and mentally anyway, sometimes the smallest thing can make a difference. When I walked to work in the dark, it’s like the world is still asleep. The sun rising, is like the world waking up. It makes me feel better, maybe like I am not the only one awake.

So, all day I thought about the day s getting longer, and how it means more can happen. Or it feels like more can happen, as the world will be all bright once I have finished work. I can’t wait to be honest.

Effort

Everything costs effort. Doesn’t matter if it is waking up. Making breakfast. Brushing teeth. Everything costs effort. And sometimes, it’s hard to see what actually would be worth any effort at all.

For me, I find it extremely difficult to spend effort on anything which doesn’t grab my attention. So, things that should be part of a daily routine, gets forgotten about. It can happen with food, where I may get to a point of the day where I am dizzy, and realise that I haven’t eaten anything. I forget to brush my hair, and only remember when someone else comments on it. It has always been a thing that happens, and I’ve never known how to explain it to people.

Sometimes it feels like there is simply ‘too many steps’.

Normally my forgetfulness doesn’t really cause a problem, as I can function. I go to work, I do things that are ‘normal’. In fact, work is the one routine I always keep to, and whilst at work, my brain is normally on task. Effort isn’t a thing that is worried for. When I am not at work, in the mornings, in the evenings, there can be problems. I will decided I will shower, but instead stare at a wall, and by the time I get together the effort needed to get up for the shower, the moment has gone. I find it hard to reason why I should even care. It doesn’t change anything.

It sounds gross. Disgusting. And why I have sat on draughts of this post for the last week. It’s something I feel that I need to talk about, to help me work out my thoughts. I mean, that, ultimately, was always the point of me writing in a blog. Documenting my life and figuring myself out. Luckily, there are so many resources on the internet, resources that can help someone find answers.

It’s hard. Figuring out how to figure out your own mind. You just need to make yourself believe that you are worth the effort.

Painful

I write on here a lot, about my mental health. How I deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s not the only health issues I have, though.

I have had muscular problems since I was at primary school. Nothing serious. But I would take my dog a walk, where she would pull on her lead, and my arm would ache, afterwards. I would get sore hands for carrying heavy school bags. I would go to the doctor, and like most things when you are a child or teenager, hormones were apparently to blame. I then worked in a bakery, as my first real job. Did it for about 4 years, and would have awful pains in my hands and elbows. At this point, the doctor’s diagnosis changed from ‘hormones’ to ‘tendonitis’. And they just gave me ‘prescription only’ strength Ibuprofen.

The pains never went away. But, I always got the impression I was an annoyance, so I stopped going to the doctor unless it became unbearable. I am also deeply aware that this is when my mental health became a big player. And my anxious brain tells me everything that I do, is a waste of time. So I would always talk myself out of calling for help. I would just manage it myself, with hot showers and baths, and buy off the shelf basic painkillers. Nothing would ‘take the pain away’ but it took the ‘heat’ off a bit.

As I have got older, the pain has got worse. A lot worse. Focusing around my feet, ankles, and hands. So, I was recommended by my work’s Occupational health department, to try again with the GP. I did, and I eventually got a referral to a rheumatologist, as rheumatoid arthritis is a big problem in my family. I finally felt I was getting somewhere. I had the initial appointment, with x-rays, scans, and a complete head-to-toe check. The rheumatologist believed that I definitely had signs of arthritis, as there was some deformation in my ankle, and concerns about my hands too. Great. He would get in contact for the next appointment.

Except, with COVID, I never heard anything. I phoned the rheumatology department, and no answer. I left messages, and no one got back. I called my GP, and they said my referral was still with the hospital. My anxious mind, once again gets involved, and lets me know that if it was really serious, they would help me. So, once again, I found myself really struggling to call up. So I found an email address for rheumatology, and I emailed them. Explained I had been trying to contact them, but had nothing. And it was they who were supposed to contact me. After 2 weeks I had a message left on my answering machine on my mobile phone. The message explained that because I had only had my first appointment, and no follow-ups. Too much time had lapsed. I had been referred back to my GP.

I was in my car. In the Tesco car park. Crying. Properly in bits. I felt like, after the best part of a year, I was back at square one. And things were getting worse. My shoulders have been agony for the last 7-8 weeks. I haven’t been able to sleep, and nothing seems enough to get referred again. I am exhausted.

Sometimes I think, because I work, because I try to push through it. I am treated as if my problems aren’t serious. My mental health is better when I work, as it is the only routine I can keep. And for a lot of my pains, being physical, actually loosens my sore joints, and helps with pain. Until I stop, and everything ceases up again. Sometimes it can take 25 minutes for me to get dressed, because my movement is so restricted because of the pain.

I barely have the energy to go to work. I struggle through my job. I am just very fortunate that my management, and the folk I work with, try to understand and help when I am having problems, be it mentally or physically.

I am at the point where I have tried 4 weeks before I was able to get a GPs appointment, and they just gave me stronger pain killers. She actually said to me ‘would you like a sick line, that might help you be seen quicker’. Why? Because your problem is thought of as serious when you are unable to work. How ridiculous does that sound?

Every day feels like a ‘no bones day’ or a day where I am running on half spoons. I am so exhausted all the time.