Friday, 28 July 2017

What am I doing?

Hello everyone, how are you doing? I hope you're all well - and it's difficult to hold a conversation in this medium, so on to me.

I've been working very hard on taking care of myself and it's beginning to pay off.

The last few years have held more than a handful of major life events. I'm now 33 and although I can't remember the dates, I know that in the last decade I have:

  • Moved from the North to the South, leaving all friends and family behind (except my fiance)
  • Got married
  • Got divorced
  • Started a new job twice
  • Been hospitalised twice with stress related illness (abscesses. They suck) and been on heavy duty courses of meds three additional times for abscesses that didn't require surgery.
  • Lost my Dad
  • Seen both my sisters through extreme depression
  • a few other things that are less impactful individually but really add up when piled on top of all that.
I'm now on anti-depressants myself (for anxiety) and I'm going to start CBT so that I can manage myself better when I come off them. I am determined to come off them - not because I'm ashamed or scared they're harming me, but because I *need* to know I can live my life without support. I *need* to teach myself the control mechanisms. I can't afford to be dependent on drugs (in case of the apocalypse), people (in case they discover how horrible I really am and leave me) or any other external force. I have to learn to be me; individually, simply, independently me. And I have to learn how to be me and be healthy.

Please note - I don't equate "healthy" with "free from problems". My anxiety isn't going to go anywhere. What is healthy for me is to be aware, respond appropriately and manage its impact (a realisation I picked up from a dear friend who I'm convinced is completely oblivious to the impact he has on my life!)

Other than the medication, I have started to regulate my behaviour based on my anxiety responses. It's funny - the things I thought stressed me out *don't*. It's hidden factors that are slowly revealing themselves. On the bright side, it's about three million times easier to socialise and get to know people nowadays. 

I worry about people. I worry about events. And you know the stupidest thing? It turns out I can handle the worst life has thrown at me *ONCE IT HAS HAPPENED*. I just can't deal with the prospect of it happening. I worry. I stress. 

If people hate me and walk away - I can deal with that. I can live my life. I can cope. But in prelude to every single event, circumstance or whatever, I worry that I will say or do something that will make people hate me or walk away or whatever. Every single time. I worry so extremely it makes me physically and mentally ill. For years I could not walk into a room of friends or strangers without mentally running through every single worst case scenario. Every conversation I had up until this year was fuelled by adrenalin. And I'm a flight animal so with the adrenalin always comes a heavy surge of nausea and shakes (according to my therapist it's normal to want to be as light as possible in a flight situation - you do the math) which gave me another thing to worry about.

Did you know that every time I went to purchase something I had to battle with the prospect that this one unnecessary item would be the thing that made me unable to pay my rent or eat for a month? Did you know that if I got close to payday and didn't have a minimum of £200 in my bank account I would check it on a twice daily basis *minimum* to make sure no unexpected bills had gone out? I know my bill schedule - I know logically how much I need in my account at any time of the month, and track by those numbers for the majority of the time. But closes to payday? Hoo boy. Logic went straight out the window.

Funny impact - when I started anti-depressants, I had no impulse control at all. Because my actions weren't shadowed by constant dread, I did whatever I wanted. I came very close to being in financial trouble, but a well timed panic attack finally overrode the drugs and I've been aware of this need to look for healthy ways of managing my behaviour since.

I had another bad day more recently and it coincided with a couple of my Tweeps also suffering. I worried about them, so I wanted to help and help, but I couldn't - it exacerbated all my own problems and drove me deeper into the black hole. I couldn't understand it at the time, but with hindsight it makes sense. I left Twitter and I didn't miss it. I could - I can - control my own behaviour, even in this. I'm *not* an addict, I'm *not* compelled. I just need a reason and in this instance, wanting to be happier and calmer was enough of a reason.

I'm back on Twitter, back with my #fp friends, back with my awesome social circle of lovelies. Nearer home I'm beginning to branch out and meet more of my friends, ex-colleagues and acquaintances and building up a more regular physical social network. Got to be honest through - what with NaNo, my hobbies and my intense interest in the Regency, being my friend on a schedule isn't easy. I get super excited about little things and go charging off for a weekend at the drop of a hat. I used to have a "never cancel" rule, but to be honest that too was driven by anxiety. Now I have a "be a decent human being" rule. If I'd be ok with someone doing it to me, I'm ok to do it to them. So, no giving up on a once in a lifetime opportunity because I have a monthly game night to go to. 

Life is not easy. It's a struggle - it's a huge struggle some days, but that's ok. I paint pictures in my spare time, sometimes with words, sometimes with acrylics. I have begun to widen my habit of gifting people decorative items I've made and whether or not they like them, they claim they do and that makes me happy. At work, I have driven myself into exhaustion and that is beginning to tell, but the flip side is that my role is once again changing and growing and the college is aware of how I am moving forwards.

Next steps - an L5 apprenticeship in management, a Masters in digital education, an HEA fellowship and consolidating all of the digital learning systems in the college. Outside work I'm finishing my latest novel (I've been reading a lot of thrillers and it triggered something), reading more, and planning to exercise more frequently (again) but the big thing is that I am not wielding this as a stick over myself. It isn't a Must do - it's a want to do. And that is very important.

Now, I'm going to go eat something. And since my wisdom tooth is finally useable, it might even be something crunchy,

Love you

Friday, 19 May 2017

Statues in faith

They gather throughout the day to observe. These worshippers look to the light, not in adoration but with the fervency of true faith. They know their time will come; they see it nearing as they stand, frozen and heedless of the life flowing around them. Here a pair of children play tag around the enraptured statues. There a man eats a sandwich, a sliver of tomato escaping as he walks. A small hand slips into an unguarded pocket and liberates a purse. Busy women navigate the clusters, slipping through the gaps and weaving around obstacles without hesitation. Still they stand, gazes turned upwards, waiting to hear their call.

There are two main factions - one facing east, the other to the west, a stark division that they select and adhere to through personal preference alone, yet no mere preference could motivate such loyalty. They all await their moment, somemore patiently than others, with certainty. There is a delay. Some lose faith in the light and walk away. Most express their frustration and remain in place until finally their time comes.

The light travels faster than sound and many watchers have already turned to follow the guidance they have been given down their new path before the audio re-inforces the longed for message:

"Passengers for Cheltenham Spa please make your way to Platform 3 where the delayed 18:47 Great Western Railway service is now boarding."

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

I'm sick

So yeah. The wall I hit was apparently a physical one. I'm sick, again. These bloody abscesses.

Thankfully, although relying on the drugs is doing not-pleasant things to me, the antibiotics may have caught it just early enough. It's been getting bigger for the last 48 hours and I was very worried, but suddenly realised that I'm comfortable even though I'm due to take a painkiller in an hour. That usually means the infection is no longer chowing at my flesh.

It should still hurt under pressure and will not deflate fast (and I'll probably feel like crap until the antibiotics are done) but it should not get any bigger now and I should be able to sleep tonight without the aid of medication.

We'll see.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Ok then

Life is ticking along. I've been very productive and putting in lots of effort at work all week. Today I hit a wall. I think it's just the limit of what I can reasonably achieve under the current conditions.

I haven't been exercising. I have been restricting calories but not necessarily eating healthily, so I'm still losing weight but I have to be more careful long term - nutrition is important!

I haven't been writing or creating but that's ok. I have been doing cryptic crosswords.

This weekend I will be relaxing and enjoying myself, going out with Gavin and being non-self-judgmental. Next weekend I will see how I feel and if it's feasible I will start a new painting.

The most important thing about this medication - I think - is that I no longer feel like I have to outperform myself every second of the day, and the release from that stress is phenomenal. I mentioned to my GP I still get surges of dread, but even those are fading.

I might be a normal person soon.

A

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Hey there

I had two weeks off work and I've been taking happy pills now for a month.

I feel better.

Not great. I'm not in a position where I can claim I'm 100%. I'm still grieving for Dad. I'm still super stressed at work. I haven't written or painted anything for ages. I don't feel great.

But...

  • I've spent the last few days working on a long term strategy for my department
  • I've been hiking by myself and walked through fields of cows
  • I've cried - properly cried, not uncontrollable hysteria - for my loss
  • I've spent time with family
  • I've been sleeping well
  • I've rested.
That last one? That's the important one.

I saw a GP not long after my last but one post and I told him how I never felt like I could rest. When I wake up I'm exactly where I was when I went to sleep. I slept well, but it wasn't working. He gave me happy pills with a tiny side order of diazepam.

I took a diazepam that night and I remember waking the next day and knowing everything that had happened. As I thought through the things, I felt the burden of taking each of them back on. I had put them down overnight.

It wasn't much, but it was enough. It made the next few days (week) easier. Then I had a panic attack and took another diazepam. It got even better. The happy pills apparently haven't even kicked in yet, according to my latest GP visit, but the temporary aid from the diazepam is such a relief.

I've taken three in total and I'm functioning like a normal human being. 

I'm looking forward to the day when I am functioning at my peak. And then I'll hopefully be able to quit them and be awesome without the aid of drugs. Right now I'm happy to be this.

-A-

Friday, 31 March 2017

Do you believe in fairies?

Once upon a time there was a little girl who believed in fairies. She sang made up songs, danced where everyone could see her and was very happy.

As she grew up she learned that it is important to do good things for other people and so she listened to what other people wanted.

Other people wanted her to stop being so embarrassing. To stop being so spotty. To stop wearing a bra. To start wearing a bra. To lose weight, to gain weight, to not have a nipple outline on a cold day.

As she tried to make other people happy, she grew slowly more closed off and afraid of accidentally doing something to make people unhappy.

She found friends. Real friends, but she was still trying to make them happy, so she pretended. Some of the time.

She set out on her own and decided she would try to make herself happy too.

That worked for a while.

Then it really didn't work and making other people happy became all-consuming.

This story has a happy ending. The little girl had a crisis. A traumatic episode where everything was darkness and pain and other people finally started telling the truth about what was needed to make them happy and how far her responsibility went.

Some years later, she still has difficulty with that, but she has good friends and caring people around her.

She sings made up songs in front of people. She dances in the supermarket, where everyone can see her. And although she no longer believes in fairies, she really, *really* wants to.

She can be happy. Very, very soon.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Black hole rising

Stare into the coffee cup
Tendrils of steam stretch up
enchain you
Promise you sweet life, energy and release

As you are drawn in the steam thickens
Chokes
Darkens
Solidifies
Stretching up
Squeezing in
Through ears, nostrils, eyeballs
All those little crevices
to pull you down
Out of your self
Into the murky depths

Drink it
It will make you feel better
It will
Trust it

You are OK
If you drink it
And carry on