This is a pep talk post. Well, that’s the plan, maybe it’s actually a list the things I’m scared of and get more scared post. We’ll see.
For the benefit of those who don’t follow me on Twitter (one person I think!) I did take Thursday and Friday off work. I am going back to work today, but doing it from home. Telling my boss this is the first thing I’m nervous about. I never know how he’s going to react to things, even small things like this.
When Mr Narky asked me why I’m even considering going back to work when I am feeling the way I do, my answer was that the longer I’m off the harder it is to go back, partially at least because I have fuckloads to do! That’s the second thing I’m nervous about. Doing all the things.
Some people were applying for a thing and the deadline I set was on Friday so now I have to do the next stage of the thing, which involves coordinating the diaries of various people.
I was supposed to talk to a person about a website thing last week and I didn’t so doing a big thing for another person has been delayed so I really have to talk to the person and do the thing.
The world’s most appalling meeting was last week and I have to write the minutes for it. Once I wade through the shite they should be the shortest set of minutes I’ve ever written, but that means I have to wade through the shite.
Emails. God only knows how many emails I have. I always freak out about opening my inbox. It’s just awful, opening emails first thing in the morning, wondering what stress is sitting in there, waiting to pounce.
There’s a really big thing that I have to do and which I can do easily, if tediously, but there are so many other things going on that it’s hard to find the headspace to do it.
There was another deadline for another thing on Friday and this is a big thing and I had only received one enquiry about it before went off so it’s likely that it’s all gone massively tits up and one of my bosses (or possibly even both of them) will flip and blame me.
I have to write my fucking job description and outline my goals and milestones and timelines and obstacles and who knows what else ready to start discussions with my boss about this shit tomorrow. The deadline for this thing was also Friday and guess what. I haven’t done it. I have a draft but it’s not finished and it’s not perfect and I want it to be perfect but I don’t know how to make it perfect and I think my boss will just shit all over it anyway because who gives a fuck what I would like to do with my job?
So. The Plan: Scan my emails first. Tell boss I’m working but staying at home. Check to see if the thing I expect to have gone tits up has actually gone tits up. Tell the other boss about that. Write the minutes. Write the fucking job description stuff. Talk to the person about the website thing. Check more emails. Organise the other thing.
Hopefully that’s it today. This has turned into a list of the things I’m scared about and I do feel horribly nervous, but hopefully that will dissipate after I’ve completed Stage 1 of The Plan. If not, deal with the scariest things first – my dad gave me the advice that if you’re scared of something, run at it screaming and flapping your arms. Good advice that.
I’m thinking it might be wise for me to take the rest of this week off sick. I’m not one for doing the wise thing but I’m not really coping very well. Things at work are topsy-turvy, constantly changing, and my line manager is happily ignoring all the recommendations from occupational health. My entire work environment will be changing next term and nobody has seen fit to help me adapt or even talk to me about it, unless forwarding an email simply saying FYI after the decision was done and dusted counts.
I’m still struggling with the massive surge in anxiety from last week and something that feels like fizzing energy inside me that is hard to control. Last week was hard, with fear dominating, but I blitzed through more work in one week than I had in a month. Now the fizzing is turning on me, interfering with my sleep, stopping me talking properly, fogging over any potentially reasonable way through the mess at work, making me feel like I want to crawl out of my own skin because it’s too tight.
Change at work and change in my mind. Combined with being guilt-tripped into going back to church, so seeing people when I want to stay at home, having an unbeatable headache, finding out that I’ve got a therapy assessment in a couple of weeks, today being the anniversary of the last time I saw Mr Narky’s daughter and her children four years ago, being stuck in the world’s most appalling meeting for two hours this afternoon, which highlighted the shitness of both my bosses … and I’m beginning to lose my grip.
I saw the diversity advisor last week and she praised me for how I’m handling this work crap, but she knows my warning signs. She’s advised me to be reassessed by OH, not least to tell them how fucking awful my line manager has been, and I’ve asked for that now but it’s hardly a magic wand. My boss has proven himself to be quite adept at pretending the first OH report doesn’t exist. I have to handle one tiny thing at a time and I was trying to do that, working hard not to become overwhelmed by the whole. I was just about keeping on top of things, in my own haphazard, avoid all the things and then do all the things way. And now the boat’s flipped and tossed me back into the sea … I think I need to tread water for a little while before I drown.
So, supposing guilt doesn’t shove me onto the train back to the office tomorrow morning, what the fuck do I tell my boss? Flu? Or the truth?
I really should have more restraint that vomiting my brain debris all over a keyboard and publishing it for any unsuspecting readers who may inadvertently stumble across this one of the multitude of self-pitying blogs that litter the internet. Still. Impending doom and irrational anxiety must be blogged. I won’t be advertising this post, for reasons that I’ll control my embarrassment enough to cover further on, so hopefully not many will see this.
Last week was up and down, for want of a better phrase. It doesn’t quite cover it. Job satisfaction levels went up when I did some work and was praised for it by Boss 1 in public. I also spoke up in a meeting with senior types without whimpering in fear. This work led to pissing off Boss 2 but his opinion matters less when Boss 1 backs me up. The work also led to shitty work that I would be crap at not landing on my desk, at least for the next nine months. This work was work I’m good at and what I was employed for, but that I spend far too little of my time doing.
Half an hour after the successful event, I plummeted into a fairly large mess, which I still haven’t really extricated myself from. It’s one of those shitty tasks that I’m crap at but can’t get out of. It involved about six hours managing queues of students trailing out of my office and down the stairs and dealing with around 200 emails over the course of four days (not including the emails about other work tasks), many of which were complaints.
And one must never forget my natural ability to catastrophise over nothing at all. I’ve freaked out over something for weeks only to realise today that it was nothing. I know, we’ve been here before.
My memory is shot. I think Lamotrigine is enhancing my usual absent-mindedness. I forget information within seconds. It’s driving me nuts at work and fuelling the cycle of panic. Forget, panic, remember bits weeks later, panic, forget more, panic more, lose track of emails, dates, numbers, panic more, convince myself that I’ll be fired imminently. I don’t think I even need to write words like that anymore, the blog could probably reproduce them for me.
And of course there’s guilt. I have a good job, well paid, keeps me in yarn. What the hell do I have to complain about? I have so many friends in worse positions than me, either too ill to work or in jobs they love that pay fuck all. I know people think it, because two people have said it just recently. Not nastily, not maliciously, not even resentfully, not really, but it was said nonetheless. You think XXX is hard, try being YYY. I detest competition in every way, but it’s understandable and inevitable that people, even my close friends and family, would think me indulgent for daring to find my enviable little life hard. Guilt. Which fuels the panic even more. See above.
Last week my anxiety levels shot back up towards the levels they resided at earlier this year. For three days I lived with controlled panic attacks. I know how to suppress them now, I rarely delve headlong into hyperventilating madness anymore. But when I left the office I had to stop several times on the walk to the tube station to grab lungfuls of air and stop myself throwing up on the street. The feeling slowly subsided as the evening went on and I realised that I hadn’t taken full breaths all day. I went straight into high alert and stayed there all day. And the next. And the next. And I didn’t even realise I was doing it until the damage was done and I felt like I was on one of those flat escalator things in airports where it feels like the ground either side of you is moving but actually it’s you on your conveyor belt.
The anxiety dribbled out into other areas, especially my friendships online. Of course everybody hates me. Of course they judge me for being a whiny cow when they have real problems to deal with. Of course. Why the fuck did I ever think that I would be welcome there? So I deactivated Twitter and hid loads of my friends from my timeline on Facebook. Towards the weekend I crept back out of my shell and reopened Twitter, just watching what people were up to for the most part. But last night the crashing realisation that I can’t handle much social interaction right now hit me once again. There’s too much room for misinterpretation in writing. People can say something they think is funny but I find hurtful but I can’t say I find it hurtful because they could say I’m just being touchy and they’re probably right so I should go and live under a rock. For example. So Twitter has been deactivated again, friends have been hidden again.
At least now I can focus my
perfectly logical irrational fear on work. Win.
I alternate from exhaustion to feeling like I’m sitting on a vibrator, vibrating from head to foot. It’s almost a shame I’m not advertising this because my friends would undoubtedly delight in that sentence and go mad with their sick humour. But if they did, in my current state I would in turn undoubtedly worry myself into a early grave thinking that they’re laughing at me and HATE ME. Obviously.
It’s like I’ve gone back in time. YAY, DROWNING IN PANIC. A few things are different this time round. I’ve pulled out of church completely (which has now brought a pastoral visit down upon my head – bugger) and most extra-work activities. This is probably a shame but it does seem to be helping me save enough spoons to last at work without cracking up completely.
Mind you, I say I’ve dropped out of stuff, but I haven’t really. I’ve seen my family, endured my mother’s histrionics, and been on a day-long tour of London going mad over llama hair. I’ve dropped out of the usual stuff. Evenings are spent doing fuck all. Trek, knitting, staring into space, you know the score. Maybe it’s good that things crop up, dragging me OUTSIDE. I’m not a complete hermit. I still know how to speak. But going out for a few hours makes me want to stay in for a few days to recover. Maybe I should just be discerning about what I do outside work. Certain friends are fine. One came to visit this weekend and didn’t steal spoons, so complete isolation may not be fully necessary all the time. Church, hmm. Not sure yet.
OUTSIDE. No likey.
Oh, and I filled out a therapy questionnaire. That goodness for the visiting friend who dictated my responses when I went blank. The essence of that is: Anxiety feeds everything else and ruins my life. Make it go away.
There’s a chance that I’m plummeting a wee bit further down than the usual start of term blues. The start of term blues are to be expected and I think the entire uni has them, so I keep trying to convince myself that that’s all it is and I just have to head-butt my way through until it goes away.
When I first got all must-kill-self back around Easter, the person I trusted to confide in suggested that I might like to make some changes to my life, possibly with the job. I was all, ‘no, this job is great, woo’ but TBH I’m changing my mind. This job is making me ill. I think I’m already ill but the job brings me to the verge of collapse.
There are things I can do for myself, like getting some help with my head. That’s on its way, in some form at least. I’ve been referred to a psychologist and I am to expect an assessment imminently, or so I am told. Psychosomething therapy has been mentioned, as have some dreaded letters (T, C and B, I’m sure you can rearrange them), along with words like intense and deep. I’m trying not to see the innuendo in this, thanks to one particular friend’s suggestion. Thanks love.
*Writes paragraph; deletes*
There are signs and they are worrying signs and they’re more worrying because they have shown themselves pretty damn quickly. I’m not going to write about them because sometimes there is hierarchy among the mentally interesting online and I don’t want to worry about being judged for my pathetic non-problems. Anyway, I know what the signs are, I don’t need to whinge about them here.
Thing is, I have support at work. I see a person every week who encourages and guides me. But if the mentalz strike that’s it, you’re fucked. You can’t do stuff and it doesn’t matter how much support you have or how many pep talks you give yourself or how much time you spend recovering lost energy. It’s hard to admit because of the guilt – whyyyyyyyyyy can’t I do all the things? Looks like I have a four-week lifespan at work, which isn’t great. The doctor types talk about the inevitability of snowballing and, bugger, I think they might be right. As I pointed out a bit further up this post that isn’t going anywhere (I’m splurting onto the keyboard to avoid feelings of popping during meetings this afternoon) there are things which will hopefully help me to get a grip, and the Soul Survivor stuff I think provides some sort of don’t-kill-thyself encouragement but right now I’m caught in this hell of seeing non-functioning looming and the bucket of shite being dropped once again on me and my bosses at work, before we’ve really got rid of it all from the last time.
And a bit more in the right now I have lots of things to do and I really don’t have time for death-by-depression to fuck me over. Inevitable shit is just going to have to become evitable, innit? Please don’t give me the ‘what if you were physically ill’ talk, it’s not the same, it’s just not. I can’t just take to my bed, or the floor in the corner of my office, which is looking so appealing right now.
I’m expending a lot of energy acting fine when I’m in public and I feel a bit lonely so I want to at least write here, even though I’m worried that people will think I’m a big fat disappointment after all the fancy spiritual goings on of the last few posts.
I feel like I should have made some massive leap in my life after what happened at Soul Survivor but I haven’t.
Therefore, Soul Survivor has become a new stick to beat myself with and I don’t think it was supposed to be like that.
I feel very down, very tired, very worried. Work is heating up, I’ve only been back three weeks and I’m already avoiding loads of stuff and falling behind.
There’s no ‘give’ about work. The work needs to be done so you just have to do it, doesn’t matter how you feel – tired, depressed, panicking, doesn’t matter. You have to do it anyway. Doesn’t matter how many doctor types repeat that stress levels must be kept low until they’ve managed to sort you out a bit, nobody actually knows how to do that so you just have to suck it up.
And then you’re trapped in a nasty cycle of getting through each week as best you can, pulling out of almost everything in your life that isn’t work so that you can try to claw back enough energy to do it again next week.
The down feeling frightens me a bit, because it’s the all-encompassing type but, being me, doesn’t often show itself. The downness, the tiredness and the anxiousness together are conspiring against me like the bitches they are. I have a lot of work to do and I’m almost at the stage of sitting on the floor in the corner of my office instead of actually doing it.
I knew the SS thing wasn’t a cure so why do I feel guilty about getting so down so quickly?
There was a song at SS that had some lovely words:
Weak made strong
In the Saviour’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord
Lord of all
Strength comes in weakness, intimacy comes in weakness. Now I look through a glass darkly, Paul said that, and it fits this, it describes how I feel about what happened. I can see what God was doing but only darkly and, honestly, it doesn’t feel real anymore. If God was doing something, why am I still the same?
I almost wish it hadn’t happened. I actually remember saying that to myself, or maybe to God, possibly both of us. I didn’t want anything scarily God-like to happen to me because what if it didn’t come home with me?
I was reminded today that you can’t separate the spiritual from the emotional or the mental, and I really wish you could. If I could split it off then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about it not making a difference to my life.
When darkness seems to hide his face
I rest on his unchanging grace
Those are some more words from that song and I am trying to trust them, along with other things. What happened was real, God waved at me and he was very nice and it’s true and it means something even though it feels like it happened to someone else.
Doesn’t stop me bricking it about going to work and trying to do a month’s work in one week though. Here endeth the self-pitying whinge.
My last post was so horribly self-pitying that I deleted it and then made the blog private until I could pull my head out of my arse and stop being such a whiny cow. Here I am a few days later, not particularly convinced I’ve achieved that goal, but wanting to write for accountability anyway. You never know, maybe I’ll delete this too in a few hours and retreat into hiding again.
Hubby and I went to my sister’s wedding at the other end of our tiny island this weekend, along with parents, more sisters and sisters’ other halves, which involved sitting in the car for about 24 hours. It was actually quite enjoyable, my sisters and not-quite-because-not-married-but-in-essence-brother-in-law contributed to much amusement. Right up until that last few hours, when really we had all just decided that we’d never set foot in a car again. Until this coming weekend when hubby and I travel for a wee while for another sister’s baby shower. And again next week when we travel to Somerset for Soul Survivor. And then a few days later to travel to Devon. And a week later to travel back home. OTHER THAN THAT, no more cars.
It was a great weekend, but now I’m fecking knackered. I am at work this week, going to the baby shower on Saturday, leading worship at church on Sunday morning and going to a friend’s birthday event in the evening. I’ll have one day of nothing, except packing so not quite nothing, before going to Soul Survivor, which, although I’m looking forward to it, is hardly relaxing. Then a week of peace and quiet in Devon with Mr Narky, before coming back to work. Which is the point of this post, meandering though my so-called writing has been.
I have been so embarrassed about my incessant bubbling of tears at work for the past few weeks since I got back. I’m a grown woman, for crying out loud, I should be able to get a sodding grip. But no, I’ve also cried at home, at church, on the tube, in a B&B, outside a bar… I live my life in a constant state of shame, I don’t feel like an adult anymore, crying like this is the reserve of small children, and it’s especially inappropriate at work, FFS.
I mentioned this to my mentor yesterday morning, my embarrassment and inability to understand why I can’t control myself. She suggested that there’s a chance I may have come back to work too soon. She understands why – I needed to retain some ownership of my job – but she posited the idea that being unable to contain emotions is symptomatic of not being fully ‘recovered’ from this latest attack of the mentalz. Don’t yell at me for saying recovered, I’m using it as a normal word, not full of NHS/charity bollocksy connotations. ;-) It’s just, you crash and burn, then crawl out of the wreckage and I may have thought I was further away from the smouldering ruin than I actually was.
So anyway… where was I? *Goldfish memory* The sun came out, pretty blue sky! Oh look, a bird flew past!
There are not many people I accept instructions from. I tend to do as I’m told for only two people – my work mentor and my GP. Mentor told me yesterday to just keep my head down and get through this week and then enjoy my holiday, directing my thoughts elsewhere whenever I think of work. See what that does for me. On my last day, I’m to take my temperature. Assess how I’m feeling and no matter how good or bad it is, deduct 20%, for that is what will happen the instant I set foot in the office.
She knows well my tendency to go, “well, y’know, hopefully I’ll be feeling a lot calmer by then, and hopefully things will be better with my boss, and hopefully…” I can see her itching to slap me when I do that. She has told me categorically not to do it, and not to whack myself over the head with the wet fish of guilt either. I’m just to take my temperature on my last day of holidays and then imagine myself in one of the various stressful situations that have happened since I got back. If I feel like crying, if my heart rate shoots up, or the bubbles of fear churn inside, she wants me to call in sick and go to my GP to sign me off for another couple of weeks. And I’m not to anticipate any of this before that day.
I know what she’s doing. She is countering all the tendencies she’s seen in me over the last six months. I hid the true extent of my depression from her, so she only figured out how bad it had been when I returned from sick leave. She knew things were getting bad and she tried to slow me down. I listened to her and followed her advice to reduce my hours and work from home when possible for a week, to try and cut off the breakdown, but it was too late by then. She knows how much guilt informs my choices. She knows how much more introverted I have become and how draining it is to be dealing with people again. She knows my inability to see my own emotional state or energy levels with any clarity, and my unwillingness to pay any attention to them anyway. So she gave me her most smilingly stern look, and told me to do as I’m told.
I don’t like being told what to do, and I’m already slipping back into ‘get a grip’ mode, but I trust this woman’s judgement. She described this period of recovery or recuperation or convalescence as like being raw, and she’s so right. It’s like my skin has been stripped off and I’ve just wandered out into the sun anyway, ignorant of the blisters forming all over my flesh. I’m trying not to tell myself that ‘hopefully’ the two weeks away from work will sort that, because ‘hopefully’ is now banned from my vocabulary. ‘Hopefully’ means smiling brightly into the face of another breakdown.
Right! Back to work. I’ll have a bottle of Old Rosie in my hand in six hours.