What has been seen cannot be unseen

I love the job, I think that’s clear. I love that I get to help people and I love that I care about it and I love that I might actually be good at it. I admit though, this last week or so has been unexpectedly harder. There are little things that have surprised me. Let’s call them triggers. TW hun xoxo.

The first was going up on the roof for a fire safety check. I wrote on Facebook that this was terrifying, and so it was. I would think a fair few people would be unnerved by being on the top of a six floor building staring down at a very busy road. I didn’t go into what specifically made it terrifying for me. I have always been afraid of heights so there’s that. But that has taken on a new dimension since I found myself fantasising about jumping off a roof into traffic. After that, I see it. I saw it vividly when I stood on that roof. I saw myself throw my body off the edge and smack on the ground just in time for a bus to flatten me. It just took a split second but I couldn’t get that image out of my head and it was simultaneously awful, breath-taking and captivating. I got off that roof as fast as I could drag my eyes off the traffic.

Imagination. Someone was having a blood test this week and I was there too. As the rubber thingy went round the arm I saw me with a pair of scissors, snipping open an artery and blood pumping everywhere. I stared at the ceiling and willed myself not to cry and not to run screaming from the room and prayed that I hadn’t actually done it and wouldn’t ever do it.

This isn’t nice. I say that in the present tense and not the past because it’s a thing my brain likes to do to me. I stamp on my cat’s tail, I cut nipples off a squirrel, I snap my nephew’s neck. Whispering over and over, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t, I promise, I promise, I promise, I love you, I love you, I love you – does that cancel it out?

Not being sure and not knowing if I can trust my memory. Emails. FFS, I was shit with emails in my last job and a lot of my working life revolved around the fecking things. My life does not revolve around them now but they still exist. When certain things are done, we write them up and email them to everyone in the group. Simples. But you know what my last job has that this job doesn’t? Gmail. I’m stuck with Outlook now and there’s one godsend I haven’t found – the ‘undo send’ button. I can’t tell you how much I love that button, or how many hours must have been lost to it. Send email, unsend. Send, unsend, send, unsend, send, unsend, send, unsend… Not sure you’ve got the right people? Unsend. Not sure you’ve got the right wording? Unsend. Maybe spelt something wrong? Unsend. Think someone might not like what you’ve said? Unsend. Does it sound clever enough? Unsend. Did you accidentally say fuck? Unsend. Sure you didn’t say fuck? Unsend. Definitely didn’t say fuck? Unsend. Maybe just check one more time in case a fuck slipped in when you weren’t looking. Unsend.

Same with attaching documents. I used to write minutes and I would scour them for fucks and shits and bastards and wankers. I’d check and check again and check again and make a coffee and check again. Then I’d save the document, save again, save again, close it, open it and check again. When I did attach it, I’d stare at the file name and open it from the email, just to check I’d attached the right one. Then I’d unattach it, reopen the document and check again in case I’d accidentally saved it as a new document and slipped a fuck or shit in and not remembered. IT COULD HAPPEN, OK.

And I always had my faithful friend, undo send. :)

I don’t now, so WTF? I avoided my first thing this week. I delayed emailing a thing for a day because I just couldn’t be sure. It’s had a knock-on effect of making me get nervous about other things, stammering a bit, heart flipping a bit. Need to nip that in the bud.

On what might seem to be an unrelated note, since I started knitting I’ve become more enchanted by colours and textures. I have happy mugs, happy cushions, happy colours, happy bags, happy dresses. I keep them around me to engage my imagination. When I finished my last job we went ‘glamping’ for a few days, in a wood in the middle of nowhere. It was like fairyland. That’s a fantasy I use when scary thoughts get a bit much, I cancel them out with woods and glades and dappled sunshine and fairies sitting on brightly coloured mushrooms. :)

I’ve come to realise the power of imagination. It allows me to feel, really feel. I feel the emotions of others and that’s showing itself to be useful in this job, because although it’s sad to feel so deeply the pain of other people, at least now it’s being put to good use. I love that. The new context for triggery tricks is unnerving, but it’s the flip side of imagination. It can go too far, turn on me, make me doubt what’s real and what’s not. And you know what I think might help? Mindfulness. There’s nothing wrong with imagination. Harnessing it is powerful stuff. But when it gets out of hand, when I’m staring at a ceiling, frightened of an artery that hasn’t been cut but could be, having the ability to pull myself back to reality would be a benefit. I have to live with some things. Like maybe a fuck in the wrong place? Living with the possibility of nasty things, nasty consequences.

I haven’t done a mindfulness practice in ages. Why not? I guess I just don’t want to be bored by my own thoughts when I could be knitting. So this post is supposed to serve as a kick up the arse. ;-)

Don’t let the dust cling

The day I went for my job interview I felt sooooooo peaceful. I was nervous but I had this song on over and over and I went in smiling and I came out smiling and I went home smiling and I sat in the garden that evening smiling. I knew that what I was doing was right. That if I got the job it was right and if I didn’t get the job that was right too.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

That’s what I listened to and what I felt and knew to be true.

Then I went back to work and had a horrible summer, filled with stress and unhappiness and fright.

During the month I took off work I tried to brush that old job off me. It wasn’t easy. What I did right at the end of the job caused more stress, mixed with pride, and I came to some painful realisations about the two years I spent there. I was a mess by the time I left. I struggled to be around people, to cope with noise and movement. I tried to let it go but every time I’d stop thinking about it for a few hours, I’d get a text or an email. Something silly like being asked where a key was. And it was all back. I got an email from HR and felt flustered. I got an email from a colleague and I felt angry.

There’s a bit in the Bible where Jesus told his disciples that if they went to a town to preach and the people rejected them they were to leave and brush the dust off their feet. I can’t be arsed to go into that passage and that’s not what this blog is about anyway, but I that’s what I was trying to do during the month off. Brush the dust off. When my mum asked me if I was looking forward to the new job and I sort of hesitated she said, don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

I hadn’t thought about it like that before. During the summer, when I had to do a thing, I thought a student would be really angry with me for doing it. It took me an hour and a half to pluck up the courage to do this small thing. An hour after doing it the student thanked me. I dissolved into tears when he left my office because I realised that two years in that job had left me metaphorically walking around with my arms in front of my face in case someone hit me. Only six months ago I thought I wasn’t capable of doing any job, that I would always be inept and unhappy. This last month I had started to become scared that I wouldn’t be capable of doing this new job. I was scared that I’d have a bad boss. I was scared I’d have unwelcoming colleagues. I was scared I’d be unhappy.

Don’t let the dust cling to your feet.

This week has been wonderful. Leaving aside what I’m actually doing, the people, wow. The people have welcomed me. They’ve smiled at me and chatted to me and explained things to me and showed things to me and helped me. They welcomed me. It’s not right that I should be so overcome by this but I am because that didn’t happen in my last job. My boss there welcomed me, kind of, but days went by without any other colleagues talking to me in my first week. I was left to sit at my desk and read papers. That was my induction.

It’s silly but when I first walked into this new job I was nervous because the loo is outside the office and I thought, oh no, people will know when I go to the loo. Because in my last job I hated anyone seeing me go in or out of the loo. I hated anyone seeing me make a cup of coffee. I hated anyone seeing me eat. That’s how uncomfortable I was there for two and a bit years. It’s not like that in this new job. After a couple of hours I didn’t mind going to the loo. I didn’t mind nipping out to make a cup of coffee. I didn’t mind walking into the office. In my last job I had to brace myself before going into the main office. People tended not to look up or acknowledge me when I said hi. I didn’t know if I was supposed to say hi or walk in silently. I ended up like I was at school – when I first went to sixth form college the other students said I was the ghost. I’d learned how to walk without drawing attention to myself and two years in that job turned me back into the ghost. I smiled to myself on the bus home from work one day this week when I realised that I’m already fine with walking into the office and saying hi. I couldn’t say goodbye in the last place. I sloped off without anyone noticing, because when I had said goodbye to people, they’d acted like I wasn’t there. Now I can even leave and say something banal like, right, I’m off, with a smile and not afraid that I’ll be ignored.

My new boss is so friendly! And competent. She can teach. She can teach and smile at the same time. She asked about me, how I’d ended up in this job. And you know what? I just told her. I told her about some of my experiences with mental illness and how that has increased my compassion so that now I just want to help somehow and not do a boring admin job that doesn’t mean anything. That wasn’t disclosure. That wasn’t me gently walking some ignorant twat through the process of disclosure and managing his fears about having a mentally ill person contaminating his office. That was just me talking about myself. Her face didn’t cloud over. She didn’t stamp MENTAL to my forehead. For the first time, being a bit mental is working in my favour. I know some stuff that they don’t and people listen to me. They value my observations. Each time something like that happens I have to squish back tears. Tears of relief and happiness.

I’ve finally realised just how bad it was in the last job. Nobody should ever have to be that unhappy at work. Nobody should have to hide, to be scared to go to the loo, to say hi in the morning, to walk into a sodding room. Nobody should have to eat their sandwich on the floor of an empty corridor because there’s nowhere else to hide. Nobody should ever, EVER, have to hide anything about their disability because they’re judged for it. Nobody should be surprised when someone is nice to them at work. Nobody should be so crushed that they beam with delight when their tiny observation is greeted with respect because they’re so used to being criticised or just plain old dismissed.

Just as I was leaving the other day, the manager briefly chatted to me. He had such a gentle smile as he quietly reassured me that two very experienced staff members will be with me during my next shift and that I’ll be fine and not to worry about anything. Wow. I beamed at him and beamed all the way home.

Now I get to do something that helps people. I’m crying just from writing this post so I’ll leave that for another time.

I’m so happy. The dust is finally being brushed off. On the way home from work a couple of days ago it was raining on one side of the train and sunny on the other side. I looked out of the window and saw a stunning rainbow and knew that God was saying to me, see? I keep my promises.

I walk this path you lead
You keep moving me on
I know you’re with me
Lord, in Zion.

To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns forever
To him who sits on the throne
To him who reigns on high

Be blessing and honour and glory and power
Be blessing and honour and glory and power

Not calm. Not collected. But blah-de-blah-blah-blah.

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Things got … new since I last blogged. The summer contained a new type of stress that forced me to deal with things in a new type of way. I’ve wanted to write for a while and now seems like a good time because a chapter of my life has ended and a new one is about to start. The old one is still right in my head, giving me nightmares. But I hope they’ll fade.

I knew that working my notice would heap pressure on but I had hoped that the knowledge that it would be over quickly would propel me through. It didn’t. When I cracked enough to open up to a colleague she asked me that and I felt weak for admitting that I was struggling to cope with such a short time left, but there you are.

This summer has seen me asking for help to an extent that has bewildered me. I knew when I was applying for new work that my notice period would be tricky. The spotlight was on me to do all the things and prove that I’d done them. I do did lots of things in my job but the things I’d been avoiding had to not be avoided anymore. That was always going to be hard. Doing the things I’m afraid of and fighting off the things that made me afraid of them at the same time. You might do it wrong. You might have already done it wrong and it’s too late. You’ll be found out. You’ll be told off. That was the early part of August and the beginning of needing all the help. There were panicked crying attacks on a train, on a station platform, in a coffee shop, hiding in the loo, on the floor of my office, in the shower, on the sofa with a friend. Bottles of wine were downed. Pleas for reassurance were … pleaded.

I felt like I should have been able to handle this on my own, or at least with my trusty friend alcohol, but nope. Knowing that I had to do everything made me clutch at anything that would help me. Even letting some friends see my wussiness in its wheezing, snotty glory. Even begging for benzos. Dropping the jokes and asking for help. A few of you deserve medals for your patience as each little fear got dumped in your laps.

A couple of weeks in things got harder because, trying not to drop anonymity entirely, the notice period was handled badly. I shouldn’t really have expected otherwise. I got so stressed I even broke my ‘don’t ever talk to boss’ rule and asked him for help, which was wasted breath.

I’ve always wanted to be a calm and collected person. I’ve looked up to my step-mum for years. She actually is a calm and collected person. We’re quite similar in a lot of ways at our cores, but I’m neurotic and unstable and sort of flaily. I hate that I got so needy this summer. So completely unable to handle anything myself. Changes came out of nowhere and floored me. I know I’m a panicky person but I’ve been learning to give myself a bit of breathing space and wait for non-panicky feelings and thoughts to provide balance. That adaptability disappeared this summer and each time something new was thrown at me I froze. In a moment of shame I deleted a bunch of my more flappy posts to my friends so some of my neediness has become a bit hazy. Stress does funny things to the memory. Shame tells me that I have really good things happening and I should have been grateful and stronger and not whined so much when other people have worse things to deal with. I’m trying not to let shame gain too much of a foothold because I guess the important thing is that those people I reached out to have been patient and kind and I got the things done. Thank you so much.

The unlucky few even boosted my confidence enough for me to stand up for myself at work right at the end. I agonised about doing what I did because it felt like it was motivated by revenge. I’d dreamed about making my boss pay for months and now I was finally taking the chance. That’s not very Christian. But what I did will hopefully check him and protect future employees, maybe even the existing ones. And I finally protected myself when I needed to. The satisfied smirk of revenge tells me I should probably remind myself of those fruits of the Spirit nobody really likes to think about when they’ve been hurt. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

I’ve also had to deal with some consequences. I royally pissed off some colleagues and I got a knife twist in the form of a realisation that not many people I worked with gave much of a damn. And a new set of fears have said hello. I’m feeling sad today so probably shouldn’t be blogging at all. Some people did give a damn and that’s lovely. But I’m bruised and sore. My emotions are squiffy. I get overstimulated and turn into a Catherine wheel really quickly. I’m scared I’ll be rubbish at the new job. I’m so glad I took a month off before starting. Even now, a week and a half after I finished the old job, I can’t find resources inside me to help stabilise myself. I’m using my environment to do that now. We went away somewhere peaceful and pretty for a few days and I think the stillness seeped inside me a bit. When the Catherine wheel slows down a bit I remember I stood up for myself. I’m making a big change that could be, y’know, really great, and I got through a horrible summer not unscathed but with my head held high at the end. I have fledgling feelings of pride. Now I’m home for a few days and doing not much but knitting. I did a little meditation two days ago. I should do more of that. I listened to a sermon last weekend and even took notes. I should look back on them. Maybe even listen to the mp3. But right now I have yarn and it’s very pretty. :)

Powerful

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What. A. Mindfuck. It’s been two and a half months since I finished therapy and today I had a review appointment with one of the therapists, the bully one, not the gentle one. I used to argue with the bullying one a fair bit but she is incredibly perceptive. Scarily perceptive.

“So, how’s the mindfulness going?”

Oh yeah, that. *Cough* Well, you know, erm, well, I haven’t actually been doing it that much actually.

It’s hard to write about because I’m going so fast. Everything is fast. I am fast. Fast enough that she narrowed her eyes and starting doing risk assessment questions, which I flicked away. I know those questions too well.

I did tell her stuff. I told her about not doing mindfulness and why and how irritating it is because I have to drag my mind back over and over again and that’s tedious and annoying. I told her about what I’m doing with my life now. I told her that I crash and burn sometimes. I told her about the pavement. Her response? “Well, that wasn’t your finest hour.” Hence risk assessment.

She was delighted to hear what I’ve decided to do. She looked bowled over actually. Get in, I shocked the therapist. :D She recovered and asked me what comfortable shoes I’m wearing as I climb the mountain. “You do realise that you’ve just put yourself through massive amounts of stress and borrowed tomorrow’s energy, don’t you?” Ohhhh, the spoon theory. “Did you even think about your blisters?” So I’ve to think about what comfortable shoes I can wear as I climb through the next few months. Because, great as the epic new stuff is, I have a vulnerability. Her word, not mine.

She told me that which she has told me a thousand times before – I’m incredibly self-critical, guilt-driven and the self-compassion element of the therapy is my weakest point.

She said that for a woman who understands language as well as I do, I’m remarkably dense about recognising the shite language I use about and to myself. She said I need to slow down and stop pushing and interrupting long enough to see what I do to myself. She said that if I had slowed down long enough to see what was going on inside my head yesterday, I might not have taken all afternoon and evening to recover from my boss mentioning my sick leave in a hushed voice as if it was something to be ashamed of.

She said I’m a bully. I bully myself. I don’t take the time to assess what I need to do to take care of myself. She asked what I did when I lost the plot last week and when I told her I was sensible and went home she asked why I had gone to work in the first place. Why hadn’t I realised how bad things were? Why do I only ever take action to look after myself when I’m desperate?

Oh.

But here’s the mindfuck. She also said I’m a very powerful woman.

Uh, what?

She said I’m driven, ambitious, intelligent, headstrong, passionate, persuasive, forceful and very powerful.

The woman who last week was rocking and crying on a pavement? And a few weeks before that was rocking and crying on the floor of a toilet cubicle while her friends had fun outside? I mean, when my sick leave was brought up yesterday I instantly started worrying about being weak. I’ve never thought of myself as powerful before. She certainly succeeded in shutting me up. I came out stunned and I have no idea how to process what she said.

She said I have to learn how to use and control my own power because I’m so powerful that I could do amazing things and I could also really hurt myself.

*Stares*

Dropping the pretence

So I got a new job. It’s all very cool and very exciting. I’m incredibly happy and a big grin spreads over my face whenever I remember. I’ll be providing practical support for people who have a mental illness and who also live in supported accommodation. I’m taking a hefty pay cut and will be working shifts over 24 hours. Our lives are going to change! Bring. It. On.

This post isn’t about that so much because I have another post planned. Sort of. In the way that I plan anything, which I don’t really. This is just a splurge post because argh and weirdness.

My mental health went tits up around three months ago and I didn’t tell my boss regardless of who advised me to, not husband, not mentor, not therapists. I can’t trust him. Thing is, the cognitive effects of mental ill health have a delayed effect and they are slamming in now. They were ramping up in the few weeks before I went on holiday but I trudged on and tried to fight them. I got back from holiday to a couple of pissed off bosses because I had forgotten to do one thing I had said I would do, and was late with another. So poor academic boss had to do some work for a couple of days and wasn’t best pleased about it. Professorial whinging aside, fair enough. Once the stomach lurching and uncomfortable meeting with the other boss, the main boss, was over, I sent the required grovelling apology. I am gooooooooooood at apologising. In fact, I have been trying to stop, my therapists were trying to help me to stop. Now, as I am faced with an increasing list of things I have forgotten to do in recent weeks, and the consequences of being too scared or depressed to do a list of other things, the only thing left to do is apologise.

Such an emotional meltdown this week. A day and a half on sick leave – with the work related box ticked. Last week, in the uncomfortable meeting, after being told I need to communicate better, after nodding and smiling and knowing I won’t, I was told to provide drafts of things for things that have an actual September deadline. Right, OK. So I didn’t for a couple of days because I knew they wouldn’t be good enough and I’d be criticised. My first meltdown happened on Friday. Finally on Monday, when I became more scared of being told off for not doing them than I was of being told I’d done them badly, and after I had already stumbled upon something else I’d forgotten to do, I sent them to my boss. Naturally, they weren’t good enough and I received a terse email in reply. “I am surprised this is so sparse.” I don’t remember much of the rest but I know it contained a list of all the things wrong with it and expectations for improvement, which is a bit odd because why should it be good enough? It’s not due until September. I dissolved in my office, shut the door, hid in the blind spot and proceeded to break down in style. After a while I knew I needed to get out before I was spotted so I slapped more makeup on to hide the swollen eyes and dashed round the corner, found a seemingly quiet spot of pavement, sat down on the fucking floor in the middle of London and sobbed out my fears and failures and can’t-cope-ness in a ridiculously high-pitched and too-fast voice to the friend I know who understands me the most. On a pavement. With people walking past. Staring. That’s a low point right there.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was waiting to find out if I’d got this awesome job and had convinced myself I hadn’t got it and would be stuck in this nightmare job for the rest of my life. I did the most sensible thing I could have done. I went home. Later that day I was offered the job. God only knows what the woman thought of me, she had to repeat it three times before I understood what she was saying.

I went back to work yesterday and quit my job. Whoop! Boss was visibly relieved. He’ll be as glad to get rid of me as I am to get rid of him. The pretence can be dropped. This is the wrong job for me and I’m messing it up. I won’t have to work my full notice period (three months, FFS) and I have to come up with a list of tasks, do what I can, hand over the rest and leave. Excellent. I still have to get through what notice period is left though. More fucked up things have come to light today and although my boss is being quite nice, quite jovial in a condescending way, with his acknowledgement that I’m in the wrong job, that makes it quite easy for him to place responsibility for fuck ups firmly on me. He ain’t gonna get away with that. My mentor is continuing with her advice – keep him at arm’s length. Good and necessary advice for this job. But she has now expressed such happiness for me that I am not entering a third year of intolerable pressure from a boss who remains wilfully ignorant of what it means to line manage somebody with a severe and enduring mental illness. He will know on Monday that I have been ill for some time and hiding it from him because our working relationship has been so fraught since I got ill last year that I don’t feel comfortable telling him anything. He will know that I am not forgetting everything simply because I’m bad at this job, I am forgetting everything because that’s what happens when I get ill. The cognitive problems that accompany and follow episodes of mental illness last. They never really go away. Each time I seem to lose a few more brain cells and I’ve now reached the limit of how much I can function in this job. There are just too many things to juggle. And I have no support.

Our disability advisor at work died last month and I have missed her so much this last week or so. I am so sad that I can’t tell her what I’m going on to do. She would have been so chuffed for me. And when I broke down on Friday and Monday I had nobody to call. She would have known exactly how to help me. She was my only support in this job. I see my mentor once a week and she is a lifeline, but on a day to day basis there’s nothing and no one. He will know what he has done. It will be brief on Monday because all I really want him to know is that I have been ill and I will continue to struggle keep up with what I need to do until I leave and I have deliberately kept this from him because he is untrustworthy. The full exit review will happen when I leave. That will be delicious.

Mental illness doesn’t go away just because things are good. Mental illness goes on holiday with you. It goes to the pub with you. And it follows you to work and fucks you over even when you’re so happy you could burst. But I am so happy I could burst. :)

Catherine wheel

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*Breaks radio silence*

*Sits with fingers poised on keyboard*

*Gets some Doritos*

*Eats some Doritos*

*Looks at knickers online*

*Sits with fingers poised on keyboard*

Man, hard to write when you’ve not done it for a while, innit?

*Daydreams for ten minutes*

Life is stressful and shit and exciting. I haven’t written here because I didn’t know how to, with two things I didn’t think I could write about. 1) Falling out with a friend. 2) Deciding to change career direction in quite a dramatic fashion. These two things happened just a few days after finishing therapy and it’s all been a bit overwhelming really.

Let’s start with the career thing. Thanks to the efforts of a couple of friends one early Sunday morning at the seaside, I decided in the space of an hour that I want to become a social worker. Thanks to the therapy I’ve had, I realised that I am not afraid of doing something like this anymore. Cool, huh? For the last couple of years I’ve been all about the sensible. Well, fak dat shit. I want to do something meaningful. I want to help people and do something that matters. I know, I know, the last time I wrote about job stuff here I was all, not everything has to be about helping people, guilt doesn’t have to rule my life, I could just do a job doing things I quite like and that’s OK.

And that’s still all true. I needed to stop looking through a fog of guilt and fear. But when I started to strip away the layers of guilt and fear, I realised that I still want to do the helping people thing. And when I thought about the things I’d been planning to do, like project management and web stuff and shit like that, I suddenly felt soooooooooooooo relieved that I don’t have to do that. I was so desperate to get out of my job that I was scrabbling around trying to find something that might be maybe at least 30% enjoyable.

Fukkit, I want to be a social worker. So I’m going to go back to uni and do another masters [yes, I know, I'm addicted, stop rolling your eyes like that]. But first I need some experience so I’m applying for ALL the jobs. Man, there are loads of really cool jobs out there. It’s exhausting and exciting.

That other thing. Yeah, the falling out with a friend thing. I really thought I couldn’t mention that here, because we have sooooo many mutual friends and it’s not right and not fair. And I’m not going to write about what happened or her or owt like that. I am just wanting to write about what the fuck has happened to my brain since then. I didn’t want to write about that either because I wondered if writing about it here is actually very attention seeking and woe is me and that would be horrible. But, again, fukkit. It’s my blog, I can do what I like. And after I saw a few friends yesterday, who saw all the stuff I didn’t want to talk about because I didn’t want anyone to be in the middle or uncomfortable and I felt I was responsible for making everybody be fine in every way… well, since that failed and y’all saw it anyway I might as well get it off my chest.

Some words used to describe me have stuck because they are my sore spots and I feel so ashamed. Dammit, I’ve just tried writing a paragraph without any detail about what the words are because, again with the putting people in the middle and attention seeking and not writing about a real person, but the paragraph made no sense. The friend said I’m aggressive, and some other things, but aggressive is the word that haunts me the most. So if I begin to act in a way that might be a bit aggressive I freak out and think about what a horrible person I am. And if anyone even hints at aggression or abrasiveness in me, I freak out then too and start to cry but in an attempt not to cry I get cross, and then I am definitely being abrasive so I really am an aggressive cow and everyone must hate me so then I panic and actually cry and rush off to the loo. Therapy was starting to help me to see myself as a whole person, so I can have some abrasive bits but the abrasive bits don’t rub out the kind bits. I’m both. I’m a whole person, with lots of bits. And now I’m back to being stuck with words like aggressive and uncaring and unkind stuck in my head going round and round and round. [Please, please no cries of YOU'RE NOT AGGRESSIVE, YOU'RE LOVELY, alright?]

Along with the exciting thing and the distressing thing is a stressful thing because work is making me miserable. Relations between me and my boss have hit an all time low and I’m really fucking unhappy. I don’t particularly like saying that because it feels kinda melodramatic, but it is true. I am really unhappy. Not depressed, unhappy. Stress levels have gone through the roof and I realised last night that it wouldn’t take too much to push me into being unable to work. Again. I’m desperate to get out of this job but sticking it out so I leave for the right reason, because I’m a stubborn cow, and also, that’s what being an adult is – life sucks and you just have to get on with it.

I wasn’t sure whether to put this in, but I will, because it’s a Big Thing. Someone at work who has supported me for years and is just epic and wonderful and funny and friendly and knowledgeable and caring has died. I’m gutted.

These things all kicked off at exactly the same time and have almost [but not quite] overridden the therapy stuff. I’m completely knackered. I’ve been ill for over a week, I’ve slept soooooooo much the last few days and my eyes still insist on flickering, which is really disconcerting. It’s like I’m half asleep all the time. And I’m finally melting. Thank you so much to those of you who looked after me yesterday – you collectively mopped me up in the loo, hugged me, talked to me, took me for a walk, calmed me when I lost the plot entirely on the way home and talked to me until 3am so I didn’t go to bed upset.

A few years ago, when a lot of us were finally meeting for the first time, I spent time with a friend who was ill. We hugged a lot. When she was feeling better I said she’s a throw when she’s depressed. You know the ones that you flop over a couch? That. She flops. :) Last night she said that when I’m not right in the head I’m a Catherine wheel. I spin round and round and round, bright and fizzing and faster and faster and faster. Not like a firework that goes up, pops, makes pretty colours and then goes away. I get stuck in an endless fizzing loop. I’m now at the point where I think I’m going to spin off and set fire to somebody’s shed so good job there’s only one more week of work before I go on holiday for two weeks, eh?

All the whelm

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HeaddeskI had a horrible feeling that I might cry in therapy yesterday so an hour before I went I did a meditation, similar to the type I described here. I was all, yeah, my thoughts are totes sorted now. Then I went into therapy and cried. #headdesk

We figured out what’s going on in the end. After this:

I DON’T GET IT IT’S TOO HARD AND I’M GETTING REALLY DEPRESSED AND AREN’T I SUPPOSED TO BE FEELING BETTER NOW AND I DID THE THING YOU ASKED US TO DO AND THEN I FELT REALLY DISTRESSED AFTER SO I’VE JUST SWAPPED ONE SET OF DISTRESS FOR ANOTHER AND THERE’S THE DISTRESS OF DOING THE THING AND THE DISTRESS OF THE FEELINGS AFTER DOING THE THING AND I DIDN’T ANTICIPATE THAT AND I DID SOME STUFF AT WORK AND IT WAS REALLY SCARY BUT I DID IT AND THAT’S GOOD BUT I SHOULD’VE DONE IT AGES AGO SO I’M AN IDIOT AND EVEN THOUGH I DID THAT THERE ARE ALL THE OTHER THINGS I HAVE TO DO AND I DIDN’T SO I’M A FAILURE AND FAILING THERAPY AND I DON’T GET THIS THERAPY IF I’M REALLY DEPRESSED BUT TRYING TO DO ALL THE THINGS ANYWAY EVEN WITH ALL THE THERAPY TRICKS THAT DON’T MAKE ANY SENSE THEN HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM PUSHING MYSELF AND PUSHING AND PUSHING LIKE I DID LAST YEAR AND THEN I CRASHED AND ENDED UP OFF WORK FOR TWO MONTHS AND THAT WAS EXACTLY THIS TIME LAST YEAR AND EVERYTHING FEELS HORRIBLE AND ARGH AND I’M SORRY I’M CRYING AND TAKING UP ALL THE TIME AND I’M SORRY AND I DON’T GET IT.

Everybody looked at me. And then they were really nice! The others understood and said they know me better now because I’ve been really honest (only took me 14 weeks). And the therapists helped me to understand what’s happened. One said this:

So you’ve got the memories of last year and they’re making you feel sad and scared. And you did a really big thing at work, like really big. I can see your inbox in my head and I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. And you felt horrible doing it because you’ve avoided it for ages. But you did it anyway. And you did another thing and didn’t do the things you would usually do to make yourself feel better and that has made you feel upset and scared and overwhelmed. And you’re giving your all into this therapy. And you’re depressed. And now you’re crying here and being open and vulnerable and that’s scary too. Are you going to give yourself a break? Ever?

Oh. Right. Didn’t think about that.

Back at the start of therapy we talked about acceptance of the shit in our heads. The shit in my head is like a load of really loud bullies. And I decided, reluctantly, to accept that those bullies are probably going to stick around so I’m going to do the therapy and ACCEPT that the bullies will come with me. They’ll make a lot of noise but they’ll come with me and I will try to stop doing the things I usually do to make them go away because that doesn’t work. I’ll do these other things instead, the things our therapists are teaching us about. And now I’ve done some of those things and actually, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that the bullies will get really fucking loud when I do that. So I panicked.

All the thoughts. All the memories. All the feelings. All the fucking time. And trying really fucking hard to just live with them. And feeling so depressed I’m frightened it’s going to swallow me. Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Apparently this is normal and I’m doing really well and I should be a bit nicer to myself and maybe even recruit other people to be extra nice to me. And the others are cheering me on and I’m cheering them on and that’s lovely.

One of my favourite bands, Rend Collective, has a new album out and I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days. I think it’s their best album yet. It feels packed full of emotion. One song is particularly outstanding. Here it is. It’s inspired by another favourite song of mine. I’ll type the words out below because they’re amazing and so beautiful and and so perfect for me. Balm for my sad and scared spirit.

By grace alone somehow I stand
Where even angels fear to tread
Invited by redeeming love
Before the throne of God above
He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands
Into His everlasting arms

When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am, the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

Behold the bright and risen Son
More beauty than this world has known
I’m face to face with Love Himself
His perfect spotless righteousness
A thousand years, a thousand tongues
Are not enough to sing His praise

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

This is the art of celebration
Knowing we’re free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One
Who made an end to all my sin

Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I’m running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty

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