Busy As A Bee

Life has been extremely busy recently. Whilst that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it has been proving difficult to get anything done. Well anything that isn’t my work.

I work in a warehouse, and my department is in its annual post-Christmas busy rush. It always feels weird saying that, because most businesses who have retail connections hope for business before Christmas. January is the busiest time of the year, as my department is focused on customer returns. In other words, it is a little crazy. I am working 50 hour weeks, which is leaving me knackered. But that’s not all.

I also have an assessment due in a few weeks for my Uni course. And, due to technical issues over the festive period (my PC died), I have fallen behind. I am learning JavaScript, well, learning bits of JavaScript. It is interesting, and I do love doing it, but it is a LOT of work. I am expected to do 20 hours minimum of studying every week. On top of the 50 hours of work… it feels like there isn’t enough hours in the day.

It is why I feel like everything else has fallen aside, purely because I am exhausted. I haven’t had much time for meeting friends, or do anything social. Which, gets old really fast. It is only temporary. More money means, I can pay my new computer off quicker, and finally get a new car. It is a pain, but it will be worth it.

Avoidance

I have lots of university work to do, and as usual, I am skipping around the bits that I am struggling with. Which, with JavaScript, happens quite a lot. I end up doing things that are not the most productive activities. They are normally tasks that need to be done, but ones that are not so important in the grand scheme of things. So what are these things?

  1. Cleaning up my email inbox. I get so many junk emails, every website these days wants your email dress for you to use their service. I have different email addresses, all from different stages of my life. One that I have from when I was younger and created ones with stupid music related names, one a name when I wanted to started my own business, and then one when I needed to have a ‘proper’ email address for work applications. One of my inboxes had over 40,000 emails in it. So in the true spirit of avoidance, I went through deleting them all.
  2. Going through all the guides on how to do things on my new MacBook. As much as I have always wanted an Apple computer, and have used one before, I don’t know all the ins and outs of the system. So, I have been reading the manuals and information so that I actually know how to work it properly. Including all the hacks and shortcuts. I have always owned windows computers, so it is a lot more challenging that I originally believed.
  3. Scrolling through TikTok. As much as it gets flack for being a bad influence on kids, it really is the only social media that makes me laugh. The problem is that the timeline on the app is never ending, so you can be scrolling fGor a long period of time, without really noticing how much time has passed.
  4. Google stupid stuff. Do you know that if you google any of the Friends main character names, you get a wee secret picture or animation? Yeah, looking up random stuff is a thing that can be great fun. Look up a TV show you like, and you click on one thing, then another. I always end up finding out something random and interesting, and it’s quite fun falling down a rabbit hole.
  5. Write a blog post. That is normally what I do when I am stuck, write about something. Distract myself for a wee bit, as writing has always helped me feel a little bit better. It is really therapeutic when things are getting on top of me. And at least that distraction is kind of productive, for once.

When I talk to people I know, avoidance seems to be a problem that everyone deals with. But some people seem to have a bigger problem with it, that others. I, for example, get completely rerouted when I find a distraction, and sometimes find it difficult to get back to the task that I actually need to do. I end up just getting annoyed by myself.

If I can’t see it, it can’t exist

I always have a to-do list for my day. Usually something that I created on my phone’s note app. Just a wee way to organise things that I have to do during my day. It can be however detailed I need it to be. If it needs to say ‘go food shopping’ it’s fine, and sometimes it can be ‘put on socks’. It’s like, depending on my mood, the tasks I have to can seem really normal, or really insignificant;y stupid. It usually helps me take a mental note of what it is I have to do during my day.

However, most of the time, these to-do lists end up half done. I always start off well, but normally one thing takes a little more effort, and the remainder of the list is forgotten about. And then I just feel really bad about not doing what I had planned. It’s all rather sad. But, if I don’t make note of a list to do things, then nothing gets done. At all.

So, I write my list of tasks for the day. And no matter how small the steps are, if I want to do my hobbies, like read, write, or play my Nintendo Switch, I have to add them to my to-do list. Because, even though hobbies are things I enjoy doing, my brain thinks of them as ‘just another task’, something that I simply won’t do if it isn’t sat beside my other tasks for me to mentally tick off.

It all feels rather pedantic, if I was to be honest, but it is how I seem to get things done. Like today, I had writing a journal entry on my wee list. And it, along with ‘sorting through DVDs’ and ‘do the dishes’, can be marked as completed. This means that I should be able to focus on getting my uni assessment done for the rest of the afternoon. I am full aware, that I do have a tendancy to add to my list, if I can avoid the one thing I actually need to do. But at least there is a chance for it to be done, if it sits on the list patiently waiting it’s turn.

Sick of it All

A couple of weeks ago, I had an assessment due for my University course. I am studying IT, and the assessment included programming a website, and a report on said website. It was something I put entire days into, so that I could be happy with any result. As calm as I seemed to be, I was internally in a ‘bit of a state’. But, I was able to submit on time, so it was okay on that front. However, because I was so hyper focused on it, I wasn’t able to rest whilst doing the assessment. So for days, was thinking about it constantly, at work, watching tv, in bed… I couldn’t switch off. So when I had submitted, my body could relax. This meant, I picked up a bug. And by the end of the week, I had a cough.

This cough got worse, making my physically sick, as well as causing a temperature. So I laid low for the weekend, planning on returning to work as normal on Wednesday. I went to work, but still had a hideous cough. The problem was, I was supposed to be training people, which meant a lot of talking. I could do very little talking, so I had to ‘call in sick’. I didn’t want to, I had slept so little that I actually ended up crying over letting people down. That is a major trigger for my anxiety, letting people down. I want to be reliable, and I can’t help but feel rotten when I have to miss something .

I am sitting here, in my house, over a week later, and still having a horrific cough. It means I can’t sleep. It means I can’t eat full meals as I am sick. It’s not a nice situation to be in. I spend my days scrolling through TikTok, where I quickly picked up that there seems to be a lot of cold/flu virus floating around. Lot’s of people seem to be getting sick. Whilst that doesn’t make me feel any better, it eases my anxiety slightly as other folk are taking a while to recover too.

The worry I do have, is that my medication for my rheumatoid arthritis lowers your immune system. So, I am worried that I’ll pick up every bug going, and become sick a lot this winter. I just have to keep taking multi-vitamins, make sure I dress well, and carry a mask around if I see anyone with a cough. I have to be very careful, as the winter has only just begun.

I’m counting down the days till Spring, already.

Work It

I work full-time in a warehouse, 40-50 hours a week, standing on my feet every day. As much as I try to look at the benifits that a physical job can bring (25,000+ steps a day), I feel like I should be doing something better, be building some kind of career. I have seen myself ‘window shopping’ for something a bit more developmental. But after 9 years in my current job, I find jumping into the unknown of that new job, is something that I really don’t have the disposition to currently deal with.

My job is currently 4 days a week, as stantard. I often work an extra day, to try and get the extra money required for the things I want (i.e. a new car). Even with that extra day, I have 2 days off work a week. A weekend that falls on a Sunday/Monday, and allows me to plan to have a life. Note: as much as I do plan for a life, I often flake out on most things, and do a whole lot of nothing instead.

So as much as I would like to not work in a warehouse for the rest of my life, the standard, reliable shift pattern helps me. My brain isn’t very great at dealling with stuff that changes, especially without me having any notice of said changes. In fact, work is the one routine that I keep. I am forever missing appointments, be them doctors or otherwise. Because I feel like I know my job, and am mentally comfortable in the enviroment, it means I actually find the routine helpful for my mental health.

What is the answer? How do I give myself the challenge that I feel my life is missing? After some reading around different possibilities, I landed on the Open University a few years back. Maybe try to study something, so that I would be able to get more opertunities, maybe even in my current workplace. So I started an IT and Computing degree. There has been a few roadbumps along the way, as I struggled with my mental health. This month, however, I have started Level 2 of my degree. For part-time learning, 2 units are taken a year. There are 4 units in each level, and there are 3 levels. So,I am about half way through. The problem has been that the work load is a tad more than what I had planned for (someone doesn’t read things properly).

The University says that it should take about 20 hours a week to get through the course material (10 hours per unit). This is a lot, when working full time. Not too much, just means I have to be disciplined and do my studying when I plan to. Luckily, I am enjoying the material, so it is not as hard as I thought actually working through the material.

I like this new challenge, and hopefully I am still able to combine it with work. I just hope it stays being a challenge I can do.

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.

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.

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.

To find a niche?

I have been writing on many personal blogs over the years. They are places where I can write, a thing I love to do, but a thing I am incredibly subpar at. In spite of that, I have continued to use blogging to help relieve any stress I feel about my day to day life. Something that is beneficial to a person’s well-being. However, I have hit a rut over the last few years, due to finding it difficult to post, as I feel, like most people at the moment, that I complain about the same things. And, who wants to read that.

So, I search for advice on how to make things more exciting. Mostly, because I don’t want to bore the few people who do read this blog when I post. And, what is the advice? Find a niche, your audience. Make your site profitable. Honestly, I didn’t start this blog to make money, it never even popped into my mind. When I started up, I was studying digital design, and this blog was supposed to be a way for documenting my journey, as a designer. Something that went incredibly well, as my current job in a warehouse proves.

I think that is where I am different from a lot of people who keep blogs, especially these days. Everything some writers do is about making money. It’s about sponsored posts, how many clicks the links on your pages get, more than about the actual content. I have spoken to other creators, and when I tell them my blog is over 10 years old, they don’t understand why I’d do it for myself and not money. It has happened so often, that I find myself questioning if it is me who has the wrong grasp of things.

I like to write about myself. About my mental health problems. About things I like. About my arthritis. About experiences I have. It’s maybe not exciting enough to make me money, but it does my brain the world of good. Personally, I prefer to read blogs that are personal, ones that don’t feel like a constant advertisement for products no one needs. I like to follow someone’s journey through life. I’d like to think that my blog is like that. Well, at least a little bit, although it seems I am simply complaining all the time.