Unappreciated Work

When I was nearing the end of High School, I remember being advised that there were two ways to get yourself a good career. It was work your way up, or get yourself a degree at university. That sounds great. In theory.

Most of the people I went to school with, went to university, and got a good job in the field they aimed for. I attempted college, more than once, but fell apart every time. So, I worked. I have worked since I was 16, in the hope that one day, I would have enough experience to work my way up the ladder, and be suitable for better paying roles.

Unfortunately, that is not how things work.

I have been in my current role for 9 years. Longer than I was at High School for. I have tried numerous times to get into leadership roles, jobs with more money. But, every time I am turned down to lack of experience. I used to get confused by this, I have plenty of work experience. But, that’s not what they wanted, they wanted people who had degrees, a university education. I’d apply for jobs, only to have someone with no work experience,but a degree in Drama, get the job.

The excuse I get, is that by getting a degree, the applicant is ‘proving they can stick at something’. Like, they don’t even need a work history.

So, I sat on this information for a while. Wondered about what I could do. My option was, either stick it out at the bottom of the career ladder, or try and push myself towards a degree. Which is what I am doing. I am working through an IT and Computing degree, with the Open University. I seem to be doing okay with it so far, because the speed I need to go is slower than if I went full time. I do part time, and do it around work, and it is 100% remote learning. Which fits.

I wish it didn’t feel like I’ve wasted my life, working away. having a job shouldn’t feel like that.

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.

Renewed Efforts?

A few days ago I received an email, telling me that my domain had been renewed for another year. It’s not a problem, the payment comes out of my bank every year. I expected it.

However, it did leave me thinking of whether I make the best of having a website. A lot of people will see that I make no money, so will assume it’s a waste of time. But, as I have written before, that is not why I keep an online blog. I do it to help straighten out my thoughts.

Well. I’m supposed to.

I haven’t used this site very well over the last year. And, I come on here and moan about that fact, every time I post. Boring anyone reading, and myself.

It’s not just circles I am going round on here, though. I seem to be jogging on the spot in almost every aspect of my life. And, let me tell you, I am not very fit, so jogging is hard. I have a new plan. I am going to try and keep to a plan, which is hard. I have a to-do list, I have written a new one for every day this week. So I can hope to do some of it. I mean, some is better than none, right?

I hope so. Things need to start moving.

Good Acting?

I have been struggling a lot recently. I have been in a lot of pain when trying to move, which has been causing problems with the most basic activity. I still get up and manage to work, and try to focus on anything but pain. Putting a smile on my face, and try to live in the moment, where I am focused on what I am doing, rather than focus on how I am feeling. Which helps me get through every day, because if I don’t, the day would be unbearable. But, because I do try to do my best every day, people tend to not think I am struggling as much as I make out.

It makes me wonder, have I really got that good at pretending, or is it simply easier for people to not take someone seriously when it comes to health problems? I, of course, don’t want to think anyone would dismiss anyone’s health problems. But, it still comes to mind. I have been accused of making my health problems up. Like, because of my arthritis, I have bad grip, but sometimes my hands swell more some days. These days, I may have to approach my manager to do a different job, because of the pain (and the real risk that I could drop and break something). I have been accused of co-workers of making things up, because I don’t want to do a job. Which annoys the hell out of me, I would never dodge out of any work. But sometimes, I have to put my health first, and if something is too strenuous, I have to speak up.

Today has been a good day. Luckily for me. Where I am conscious things are still stiff and swollen, but I can work through the pain easily. It does happen. I could put on my jacket today, and pull on my socks with ease. Most days, however, this is not the case. And I struggle with the most basic task. People make jokes at work when I wear a baseball cap, when the truth is my arms couldn’t lift the brush high enough to sort my hair out. But I laugh with them, because I’d rather laugh at the oddity of the hat, rather than focus on the tears I had trying to get tugs out of my hair.

I guess, my point, in a roundabout way, is that you never know what anyone is going through. I am usually at my best when at work, because I am moving around, loosening my joints, and my mind is focused on what is in front of me. That is part the story of my health issues, but it is not the whole story. And, you will likely never know a person’s ‘whole story’, only what they decide to share. So, if they share something difficult, don’t assume it’s nonsense, because the side you see seems fine.

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.

Not Enough Words

I hate this.

I hate trying to find the words that convey what is going on in my head. What to say when people tell me they are happy that I have ‘beaten depression’, because I have laughed at a couple jokes.

Firstly, I’ll never blame the other person. They are being honest, they say what they feel will help. It may make sense to them, to show they are happy for progress made. It’s meant to be nice, so I try to take it at face level.

Secondly, is recognising that depression doesn’t go away, simply because you can have a laugh with some friends. Similarly, you can still suffer from anxiety, even when you speak towards a group. I have experience problems, with my mental health, for most of my life. And yet, I struggle in finding a way to explain it to people, to let them know what is going on. Nothing I think up seems to be adequate.

I seem to be able to explain ‘bits’. Like, why I may be feeling a particular way on a particular day. But, the overall way my mind seems to twist things, is a much more difficult concept to grasp for myself, let alone trying to help someone else understand.

For years, I plodded on. I suffered with depression and anxiety, but tried to plod on. I didn’t know what else to do. It’s only fairly recently that I was recommended to try to figure out why I am the way I am. Actually recognise the behaviours, rather than simply ignore them. A lot of the time it’s like aiming to climb a mountain, but walking into a brick wall every time you try.

I am trying to focus on learning more about my depression and anxiety. Because if I can understand it, myself, maybe I can explain it better. Maybe.

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.