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.

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.

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

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.

Feeling Run Down?

At the moment, my health is not my friend. With feeling sore all over, constant feelings of sickness, dizziness, and bouts of anxiety that can have me standing crying at the most embarrassing times. I have sought medical advice, so hopefully a solution is coming. But, it doesn’t stop me feel horrible every day.

One of the best pieces of advice, I have found, is to focus on things you enjoy. Because part of my problem is relating to my mental health, I end up doing things that I have done a thousand times before. I think this is something that I have mentioned on here fairly recently, but today I wanted to go into more detail.

The Hills (MTV)

One of the programmes I have been watching, again, is The Hills. It was a show, which appeared on MTV from 2006, that aired for 6 seasons. It was about young women, work and enjoy social lives in Los Angeles, California. The show was the first of that ‘US reality’ stuff that came on to my radar. There were always rumours, of scripted reality. Where things did happen, but they were edited to make a story, or sometimes situations were entirely fabricated. That didn’t bother me so much, it was simple tv. And some of the girls, Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port in particular, were interested in doing something creative. Yes, it was fashion, something I had never had much interest with personally, but I still found it interesting to see part of a creative industry I hadn’t seen before. It was something that I would watch whenever I got the chance. And when I found the whole series on Amazon Prime, I couldn’t resist watching it all. I have always been bad at watching ‘whole seasons’ of a show, but I have watched all 6 seasons in a couple of weeks, which is very fast for me.

I have also been trying to journal more. Write down nonsense, draw pictures, stick down memories, just create something. I usually sit and write a few pages before bedtime, and it helps clear my mind. I have some ‘study music’ playlist on in the background, and make the experience as relaxing as possible. I have found it is a good way to wind down after a busy day at work. As I am more relaxed, I am starting to fall asleep quicker. This means I am more rested, and able to deal with how challenging the next day will be.

On my Apple Watch, there is an app called ‘Breathe’. It guides you through a process of focusing on your breathing. It’s like meditation. Helps calm everything down, helps get my thoughts in line a little. I haven’t really tried meditation before, and maybe it is something I should do further. Especially in times, like these, where I can very easily become overwhelmed.

My immediate aim is to try and find more things that help calm my brain down. Try to let myself go enjoy something, even if it’s just a distraction. A lot of people will quickly dismiss distractions, as a waste of time. But, when life is hard, sometimes a distraction is exactly what is required.

Exhausting

I am tired.

The kind of tired that weighs on your mind, constantly.

The kind of tired that doesn’t go away with a sleep.

The kind of tired that is more emotional than physical.

It’s left me utterly exhausted.

So exhausted I can feel it in my bones.

There is a constant haze.

It starts in my mind, and it can make me physically sick.

But people brush off my comments.

I just need some sleep.

Must be working to hard.

As if an answer was so easy

Alone

One lie, that having poor mental tells you is that you are alone. That no one else feels the way you do. It is a lie that cuts you off. Makes you feel like you are not good enough for anyone who is around. That what you experience, is such a burden on everyone, that maybe it’s better to remain on your own. So you don’t bring other’s down.

Logically, these lies don’t make sense. Having poor mental health, is something that thrives in loneliness. Or that is what it feels like for me, anyway. If people are around, or if I am kept busy (like at work), I don’t often feel so overwhelmed. It does still happen, to be honest, but because my brain is focused elsewhere, I can deal with things better.

But that can be a problem. When I first started having mental health issues, I spoke to people. I reached out for help, I was told to ‘grow up’, that it was ‘hormones’, or was just because I ‘needed the right guy’. This all felt like rejection, as if rather than understand, people deflected with useless fake solutions. So I waited. I hoped it would go away. I made a mess of things, in the hope I’d feel normal. And it hurts. It manifested at a previous work place were I was told, by my manager ‘you have a job, you have a place to live, you have nothing to be depressed about’. I wrote on Facebook, years ago, and was told not to be such an attention seeker.

In the end, it feels like not saying anything helps me. There is only so many times people can ask for help, and for it to be thrown back at them. Or even ignored. It’s easier to not be with people, because then I don’t run the risk of being made to feel worse. So, I spend time alone, which is when my mental health is worse.

This has come into my head, after a recent news story brought suicide and mental health to the forefront of people’s minds. And the same people, who berated me, who called me an attention seeker, expect folk to reach out to them. Say that they can help. But they did the opposite. Or maybe it’s only certain people that folk want to help. I’d never be that person.