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.

Taking Time Out

It is important, that in this world that doesn’t seem to stop, that you take time for yourself. Time away from your computer. Time away from work. Time away from the routine that can grate on your nerves. It feels, since lockdown happened last year, that everything feels so much more intense. People are angry, as normality appears to be keeping socially distant from us. Folk are very intolerant to views that are not their own, and as a result, give out underserved abuse.

So, I had 2 weeks booked off work. A holiday which was supposed to be spent in Cyprus, with my family. But, was cancelled, like everything else, due to Coronavirus. I kept the time off booked, because I still needed to use those holidays. So, I didn’t plan anything. I was worried, as when my brain senses no plans, it seems to go into over drive, and my mental health is atrocious.

My main focus was to just relax. Take joy in watching tv, or going for a walk. Not to have a reason for anything. Previously, I would say I wanted to read so many books, create a certain number of artworks, and lose so much weight. This has ended up with my going back to work more stressed, than I was before. Which kind of defies the point of being off work in the first place.

So, I worked hard at doing nothing. I ordered too many take aways, drank too much alcohol, and got up around noon. It was good. Maybe not the healthiest for my body, but for the first time in a long time, my mind was able to recharge. For the first time, in a long time, I feel light. I feel so super relaxed. And ready to go back to work, tomorrow.

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.

Failed

A few years ago, I made the decision to go back into further education. The course that caught my eye, was about IT and Computing. I thought that it would be something that could give me the best employment opportunities going forward. As the technology sector is only going to go from strength to strength, in the next few years.

As I did the course, I loved the programming, finding out about networks, and how things worked. It was so informative. There was a maths unit to do, which I had expected. Back at school, maths was never my strong suit. I preferred writing and reading, over numbers. But I got stuck in. My mental health declined, so I had to come out of the course. I then thought I’d try again. At a later date. Which was 2020, the course is due to finish later this month. I have struggled again. Missed deadlines and everything. And I feel so low about it. I feel utterly useless.

The reason I felt I needed to go back into education was, that I was finding it difficult to progress in the workplace. I work in a corporate environment, and held my job for over 7 years. I have worked since I was 16. When I was at school, I was told that there was two ways to get somewhere, firstly, get a degree at university, and secondly, experience through work. As I have got older, it has become clear, that it is hard to be taken seriously for new roles, without a degree. There are positions that people can’t be promoted into, because there are so many graduates (some with no work experience) to step right into roles. And it is a bitter pill to swallow.

I don’t know what to really do. I have emailed the university, to inform them of my concerns. I am actually distraught. I have failed at everything I have ever tried, and it’s a horrible feeling. I feel so worthless. The last few years, I have lost family and friends, which made my bad mental health worse. I have come of my mental health medication, as it wasn’t working, and everything feels so much more raw. Put that with a tendency to forget dates, and finding the Maths unit really hard, everything just fell apart.

I still feel like I need something to improve my prospects. But I don’t know if it is better to switch to something that I actually have a passion for. Or do I try again. I certainly don’t want to give up. I want to earn enough to be able to live comfortably on my own. So, do I try again with this maths road block, or do I try something like English literature, which I know love, but might find another roadblock?

I wish that work experience counted for something.

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.

Festive Tidings

Christmas is over for another year. All that preparation, and it’s over too fast. Well, I say it’s over, but it’s more the fact that it is behind us. Things have been hard, because the busy-ness of the festive period is usually super busy. This year, due to COVID restrictions all over the world, things are different. Everything feels like it’s at a distances. Messages over social media, FaceTime, and posting gifts through doors and mail boxes. It’s strange.

It has been hard to let people know you are thinking of them. I just haven’t known what to say to folk. It’s no secret that I have really struggled this year, and that’s not something you want to share during a period of goodwill. It has been nice, to not be working, to be at home with my family. Because, despite a lot of businesses being in lockdown, I have worked this entire year, almost normally. So, it has been nice to have a few days off to eat, drink, and fall asleep.

What have I enjoyed most over this Christmas:

*Gave some gifts to the people who matter most– The best reaction was from my nephew, when I gave him a toy that he was so surprised about. He was so excited, the box was ripped open instantly.

*Spent time with family- I am fortunate enough that I live with family, so I have been able to relax with them. I am usually so exhausted from work, that I head to my bed after dinner. So it has been nice to have my dinner with them, and do things like play games.

*Watched lots of movies– I’m bad at watching movies, again because I am usually too tired. All the movies watched were family films, the new Jumanji films, Brave, Minions, and others. I normally get bored too easily, so family movies keep me entertained most.

*Ate loads of food– I always worry about what I eat, that it’s always too much. So, it was nice to forget about it for a while, luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth, so all the sweets around the house weren’t too bad. When I get stressed, I am erratic with what I eat, so it was nice to be eating proper meals, with my family. Eating wasn’t a solitary thing, like it is when I’m working.

Lost

I have been thinking, recently, about my mental health. Of how I don’t feel it has got better over time. Because that’s what I was told that I had to do, give myself time, and things will get better.

Sometimes things do feel a bit better. I can laugh with my nephew, have a joke with a friend over lunch, or laugh at the TV. It doesn’t mean the bad thoughts have gone away. The feelings of failure, of uselessness, still sit in my mind. And sometimes, I laugh too hard, or won’t stop talking, and it is purely to try and seem ‘okay’. I sometimes find my patience running thin, where I will get angry, at the drop of a hat, over nothing. Sometimes, I drag myself to work, and that is all I have energy to do for that day. Sometimes I eat some junk food, to make myself feel better, but it doesn’t work. I feel worse. A girl my size should only eat healthy food. But food that needs preparing is difficult when you don’t feel worth the effort.

I had a think back to the last 10 years or so. There have some amazing highlights, holidays to countries I’d never visited before, gigs with great music, and better friends. Nephews coming into my life, that are happy to see me, no matter what. But there is a shadow, in my mind, against all the happiness.

A shadow which makes me ask whether I really deserve to be happy. That doubt keeps me rooted in place, struggling to take any kind of step towards anything new. I am constantly reminded that I should be happy about what I do have. And, it makes me feel selfish, because I don’t feel I am making the best of the situation that I am in.

I am trying. I am getting up every day for work. I do my job to the best of my abilities. Going out and doing a physical job everyday, has helped. If my mind is occupied, I don’t feel so bad. I can focus. Sometimes. Sometimes, even work won’t stop a panic attack on the shop floor, or the anxiety that I have done something wrong. The idea, that I have annoyed someone. So, I work. But I also apologise way too much, especially when feeling bad. I don’t want anyone to dislike me over something that I did, when my irrational brain was in charge.

I honestly thought that things would be better by now. But they haven’t. If my words read like a broken record, that’s nothing compared to what life actually feels like. Sometimes I wish I had a reset button on For my brain.

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This post has come from a note I made on my phone, during a panic attack. Writing sometimes helps me feel better. But it may read a little muddled.

Worked Out

I’m currently sitting on my break at work. I work in a warehouse, which is part of a large distribution network in the UK.

When people say they are key workers, it’s usually on the front line. Doctors, nurses and care staff. The people who need to be out working, to help those who are wick and need care. That what people assume a key worker is. But there is a whole lot of other jobs still working, banking services, supermarkets, take aways, people collecting bins, delivery folk and people who work in the hundreds of warehouses up and down the country.

These are the unsung heroes. People often tell me that my job is for the worst kind of people. Those people are still going out and working, so that people who can’t go out still get what they need. I’ve mentioned a few days ago, but being able to work has helped my mental health so much. I am not focusing on the news, I am able to focus on my job.

It is important that people remember those who are working. Those who are unable to stay at home. Respect workers. If you don’t value the workers, then don’t use their service.