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.

Story time

Like every social media site on the internet, WordPress has added a ‘story’ feature. A quick post feature where users can add a picture to their blog, as an easy update.

Now, if I am honest, I’d say I was sceptical. I felt it was a bit of a gimmick, just jumping on the trend that has taken over since Snapchat and TikTok became popular. I didn’t use the feature for the first few months, just tried to post actual blog entries. Hit it old school.

This last week or so, I have still be struggling to be creative, so uploads haven’t been very frequent, as I struggled to say what I wanted. I couldn’t find the words. And when there is a lull in posts, it is easier to keep not posting, rather than create new posts. It feels like there is pressure. A pressure that I give apply onto myself, mostly because i feel like I ‘should’ be writing. It becomes easier to stay away. So, I decided to try the story feature. Just selected a picture from my phone’s camera roll, and added a sentence of an annotation.

That was it.

It has meant there is no lull in posts, it means I am still adding content. The best thing is, the story posts just sit on your blog like a normal post. And it made a difference. When I wrote this post out, it came out so much easier that writing has been recently. I am keen to see if this works long term.

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.

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.

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.