Hell is Other People

If you are an avid reader of my blog you will know I have pretty poor mental health at the best of times, and although I love spending time with my friends and family I am pretty anti social and ‘don’t play well with other people’.

Have you seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang don’t want to know the results of the Super Bowl, and so Ted invents the sensory deprivation kit of sound cancelling head phones and glasses blacked out so there is only the smallest bit to see out of?

Well, that’s me every summer.

Sunglasses, Headphones, I block out the public.

It always takes me a little while to get used to the fact I can’t hide behind sunglasses whenever winter approaches.

Anyway, so today I was mostly trapped in the house as we had workmen come to fix the front of the house and they needed access. When they left I was able to go to the shops to pick up milk (I was having to ration my cups of tea today which is never fun).

Anyway I went to the shops and the following happened.

Two people pushed in front of me in the queue.

There were disruptive kids behind me.

The check out woman spoke to the person behind me and didn’t acknowledge me at all.

Which makes a person with low self esteem and severe anger management issues feel about as appreciated as a pebble at Stonehenge.

I had adrenaline coursing through me as I felt a great injustice had befallen me, and I regret not standing up for myself, though I seem to get standing up for myself confused with causing mayhem.

Any way, I got home, still furious, and I needed to do something to get rid of the adrenaline shakes so I broke my rules about drinking and had a rather generous tumbler of Irish Cream.

My rules about drinking? Ah yes, well in case you didn’t know my mother was an alcoholic. A lovely person, but an alcoholic. As a child I was so paranoid I would end up like my mother that I invented my foolproof rule for drinking, which is:

I am not allowed to drink to improve or enhance a mood. It must be for taste alone.

So, I am not allowed to drink to feel better. Which is what I did today.

I am not exactly drunk, or even tipsy. But it still breaks my ‘rule’. So I must be careful and not make a habit of it.

The sad thing is I am not an alcoholic like my mother, so success there. But guess who has a ‘police intervention’ anger management problem?

My Dad.

So I tried so hard not to be my mum that I ended up like my Dad instead. (Is that not also an episode of Friends?)

The sad thing is I avoid being around other people too much because I know I have this anger problem. And what others might see as being passive, I see as self preservation.

If I don’t react badly around other people, then I haven’t gone too far.

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Every Little Helps

Hi all.

Yesterday was my last day at work. I was given a card, a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates and my team went out for lunch. I really appreciated all this as my office is quite mercenary to an extent and I know from things I have overheard that they won’t go out of their way or bother to do things like that for people they don’t like. So the fact that they did all that is a sign that I was at the very least liked and appreciated by my team.

So I feel on a mental high, because if ‘failing’ at my job resulted in that sort of reaction to me leaving then maybe…I didn’t fail?

(I’m sure you’re all thinking, ‘Well of course, Flo!’)

It has been hard at work, I’m not going to lie. I am bad at goodbye’s and prefer to just sort of sneak away. More people then I would have liked found out I was leaving and naturally they were asking good nature questions like ‘Where are you going on to next?’ and I had to just say that I had nothing lined up. Which made for some pretty awkward moments.

But at least I am over my funk of ‘I can never apply for a job again because if I get one I will just fail and make a mess of my life again’. I am still a bit wary, but I will apply for jobs, I’m not going to be an idiot about it.

It is payday today. Currently this is my last confirmed payday of the year, but who knows what the future brings. I cleared my overdraft today, it hasn’t officially cleared yet, but it is gone. I opened that account as a student in 2008. It has fluctuated in size but one thing has been constant which is that I have almost exclusively been living in it in the last 9 years.

I’m not going to say I am never going to have an overdraft again, as an interest free one would have a certain use and security to it, but I am not planning on having one at any point in the near future. It took so much effort to clear this, it was kinda my obsession this year, well it’s gone now.

I rounded down the H U G E debt I owe the boy to a nice even crazy amount of money. He is not in a hurry for it, he is very good in that he wants me to clear my other debts first before I think about paying him back and also it is interest free. I have decided that as soon as I can I will take out a life insurance cover, maybe just a term one, for the money I owe the boy so that if (god forbid) anything happens to me he will get his money back.

I also rounded down the debt on the smaller of my credit cards so that is under £1200.

I can’t make the payment yet but I am going to pay a hefty amount to my bigger credit card to bring it into a new hundred category, bringing it to under £2795.

After that payment is made my credit card debt will be £3970. It was £5996.12 at the start of the year.

Now that the overdraft is clear and my credit card debt is all at 0% and is a smooth running machine in terms of paying it back I am going to prioritise building up an emergency fund as I have £0 in savings. That’s not a euphemism. I have an ISA with a 0 balance. What I am going to do is instead of rounding down my pay and bank account to my debt I will just pay it into my savings account. I paid £16.75 into it today. Every little helps.

I have gone home to my Dad and Step Mum’s house for a week. My plan is to do nothing other than writing, surveys and applying for jobs. Maybe seeing a few friends and family members of course.

I currently have £119.21 in Amazon Vouchers earned through my survey sites and other money making scams as the boy calls them, which is the most I have ever had saved up. I am a long way towards meeting what I would need to cover Christmas presents for my family if I wanted the cost to be £0. This is why I feel like I can afford Christmas potentially.

All in all things could be worse.

I have a few expenses I will have to find funds for. Train fare to Birmingham to see Queen. And I support Bristol City Football Club and they are inexplicably through to the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup and have been drawn to play Manchester United at Home in December. When I was a child I loved Man U (although there is this saying that only people outside of Manchester who know nothing about football support Man U which in my case at the time was very, very true!!!) so this is like a dream come true, but then we all know the mess I got into earlier this year when it was a ‘dream come true’ to see Queen live.

I have done something that might not be the wisest decision, but I have decided I am going to see my sister and her kids in November. She lives in Norwich which is very expensive to get to, so I am going by coach to save half the cost of the train fare (it will take 8 hours to get there though!! Good thing is I like long journeys as it forces me to relax and be still) The reason why I am seeing my Dad/Step Mum this week and then travelling again to see my Sister, and therefore incurring costs when funds are limited is because I don’t know what sort of job I will get next and whether I will have any time off over Christmas or in the early part of next year to see them, so I am making the most of the opportunity now.

I had this idea that if I could make it to September then I would survive the year. Now I am sort of thinking if I can survive this year then I can survive anything.

The 25th marked the 18th anniversary of my childhood friend’s death from Leukaemia. That alone puts things into perspective. I have so much to be grateful for, so many reasons why I am lucky, there are so many ways in which I am blessed, if I can just be a little kinder to myself then all will be ok.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

(By the way you should totally read the short story the title of this post comes from, but I must warn you, it is a brilliant story, but it is also one of the most depressing things you will ever read)

Today was not a good day.

I was overcome with despair. I haven’t been well all week and felt that I couldn’t take a sick day on account of having a day off this week and also having only something like 10 days left in this role.

I was holding back the tears on my walk into work.

I nearly called in sick when I was at home in the morning.

I nearly called in sick when I was on my walk to work.

I nearly turned round when I was on the campus even though I was only about 5 minutes away from my desk.

I went in. And I tried not to cry all morning.

I sent a message to my mentor at work, saying I was going to cancel our meeting on Friday, on account of how I have lost all confidence and motivation to apply for jobs and as I have no applications to go over I don’t want to waste her time.

She responded with lovely messages. I forwarded them from my work email to my personal email so I could keep the words close to me.

I had bought in soup for lunch. But I needed more. I needed comforting carbs, a cheap source of dopamine. I bought a sandwich and a banana. And I obviously had the soup as well.

I felt better after lunch in terms of my mental health, but began to feel worse physically. I was functioning at about 60% capacity.

I felt weak. I felt traumatised by my 30 minute walk to the station, then my 40 minute train journey, then a further train and a further walk home.

The boy tried to talk to me on the phone but all I was capable of was blunt monosyllabic replies in an oh so quiet voice.

The thing is a bad day isn’t a case of things going wrong for me. A bad day feels like the end of the world for me.

I feel like I am doing too much. Sometimes I have to fight the compulsion to just lie on the ground like the dude in the video for ‘Just’ by Radiohead and not be moved.

I have the urge to do self destructive things. Over eating is self destructive. It may be more socially acceptable then being an alcoholic or constantly injecting heroin into your face, but it is still a stupid action. A stupid source of negativity. I feel bad so I overeat. Then I feel bad about my appearance. Then I overeat.

My trouble is this.

If you overeat you need to find a non food way to reward yourself for good behaviour.

If you are a compulsive shopper you need to find a non financial way to reward yourself for good behaviour.

So what is my reward for being good? I can’t spend, and I can’t eat. I (don’t) shop, therefore I am (not).

Therefore I am losing the motivation to be good. Being bad is easy.

Sometimes I just want to scream. People generally scream because they are trying to attract the attention of a hero to save them, because they need help, because they are scared.

I need to scream.

But I can’t.

#Losing

You know it’s never a good time when you come home and say to the boy ‘Excuse me but I’m just going to eat the leftover flapjacks that I made for you to take into work as you are leaving at the end of the week’ and you sit on the sofa eating straight out of the not exactly small tupperware.

It is payday. But your online food shop is coming late this evening (hello cheap delivery slot) so as you look in the cupboards you realise you are missing one vital ingredient from every dinner the boy eats (which also explains why you had cheese on toast for breakfast because you had run out of margarine and figured you would notice it less with cheese).

So you have a mish mash of things from the freezer. With bread.

In 50 minutes your father in law is going to call to discuss the weekend (the boy is doing a half marathon) and you will finally tell him the news you’ve been sitting on for weeks which is that your contract at work isn’t being extended. This is one of the reasons why you have vowed never ever to work with someone you already know ever again.

It has been raining heavily and you just want to scream ‘F*** you poetic symmetry, I know your game’ but you reluctantly admit that your lovely rain coat is doing it’s job properly. But your only waterproof pair of shoes are no longer that.

You think your low spirits are why you have suddenly developed a crush on a certain TV chef to take your mind off things and now every time you pull up the internet on your phone your phone might as well say ‘You’re going to google him again, aren’t you?’ and you think ‘STOP JUDGING ME, PHONE!’

And there’s no denying it but you have to face facts you have now spent the majority of your 20’s overweight and the evil bitch in your brain who torments you has suggested a bout of anorexia.

In your counselling sessions your counsellor often talks about there being an adult you and a child you, and the child is emotional and can’t handle the injustices that they’ve been dealt, and they must be soothed by the adult you.

Except the adult you is a t***

You often think about how true what your counsellor says is. What kept you going as a depressed kid in high school was that ‘it’ was all going to be worth it. That you could stand all the pain and suffering because you were going to make a success of your life.

And you do want to soothe the child in you, because all you’ve done is let them down. You want to say ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I failed our degree and you aren’t a success or even have a secure job, but I did take you to see We Will Rock You which you wanted to see since you/we/I was 12…’

You can handle the fact you might have to wait to make something of your life. You just want to be sure it will happen.

Status: Anxiety

It had to happen sooner or later.

I have had a day off work ill.

It has been 7 weeks since I returned to work after a 28 day absence due to my anxiety and stress levels.

In all honesty I haven’t been in the best of health in those 7 weeks. Just one week after I returned to work I came down with a nausea so strong that when I got home that evening I spent a solid 90 minutes throwing up, took as much paracetamol as I was allowed and went to bed before 9pm. I believed it would be the end of my job if I was to call in sick after one week and was grateful that the day after I felt better and could go into work.

There have been other incidences of nausea and vomiting in the last 7 weeks. In the last 8 weeks there have been three incidences of all night insomnia. I have been awake since 2am this morning absolutely wired.

I have also been experiencing a chronic thirst in the last four weeks, drinking pint after pint of water with it not even being slightly quenched. I have two discoloured patches of skin. I have a large cyst on my face. I have been trying to arrange a doctor’s appointment during some time I had off but I was unsuccessful each time.

It all got too much and I have been awake since 2am this morning alternating between feeling weak, feeling shivery and then boiling hot, having my head down the toilet half the time and having a large mixing bowl near me the other half of the time.

So I called in sick. To be honest I was strongly considering going in even though I would have been on about 2 hours sleep and an urge to vomit at any given moment, but I was too scared of the mistakes I would have been likely to have made.

And now I am getting worked up with anxiety. I am worked up because I am worried that after a 28 day absence I am, unofficially, never allowed to be ill again. I am worried that they don’t believe me. I am worried that they hate me. I am worried that they are marking this against me. I have no evidence that any of this is truth, but I am stressed to the max.

I work in the same department as my father in law.  He phoned me and asked if I was coming in tomorrow. I had been leaning towards not going in and had told my manager as such that I thought it would be unlikely I would be going in due to how ill I am feeling but now I am panicking and stressed to the max and am cursing the fact my blood test is late in the morning and it might make even doing a half day difficult.

I do something very unusual when I am stressed or anxious, and I will share it with you.

When I get worked up, I will suddenly start slashing at the air with my hands, kind of like I am fighting it. Almost like I am trying to destroy the bad thoughts physically. But they attack me in other ways.

I also have a list of catch phrases I say when stressed:

‘I’m going to hide’

‘I’m going to run away’

Sometimes I will try and crawl into the space between the boy’s back and the sofa.

Despite the fact I pride myself on my honesty, despite the fact I try and be truthful and authentic to all people I know, despite the fact I feel uncomfortable telling even a white lie, I am convinced that no one will ever believe me when I tell them the truth.

I am Normal again

I have just returned from a night out seeing friends, this involved travelling to a different city and then getting a late night train back home. The boy and I then had to walk through the town centre, late at night, on a Saturday.

Here’s the thing, in the past, that would have freaked me the f*** out. I would have been in complete and utter panic stations (is panic stations a real phrase or is it a ‘flo-ism’?) I would have been hyperventilating and trying to hide behind the boy and been a complete mess. All because of the amount of people, the alcohol they had drunk and the potential for conflict.

I was fine tonight.

I did not even have the slightest elevated heart rate.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still wasn’t overly keen on the business of being around drunk and loud people who were all chess walking* But I coped.

A wise man once commented on my blog saying that mood and mental health changes and passes from one state to another. He said it in relationship to my despair over feeling bad, trying to reassure me that I could experience happiness again.

I understand that the flip side of that is also true. That my good state of mind could pass and lead back to a troubled way of thinking.

For now I will take joy that for the first time in about 18 months I feel free from the shackles of my anxiety.

Small Life

I used to dream big. I had confidence that everything would work out for me. I was going to travel the world, be a huge success, have a wild social life, get married, live in a beautiful house and have 5 children.

Naturally things change.

My dreams are smaller now. I will take being able to afford the train fare to see my family over travelling the world. I will take finding a job that doesn’t cripple me in terms of stress over being a big success. I will take no longer having social anxiety around being in large crowds on nights out. I will take being in a fulfilling relationship with the boy, even if it results in no ring on my finger. I will take owning a house of any description over a dream house.

I will take the ability to be a good mother to one healthy child over enough for a football team.

My life is in limbo at the moment. I can’t go on holiday or buy a house or get married whilst I am still in debt. I can’t progress in my career whilst I still find a way to sabotage any success that comes my way. I can’t consider doing something normal like celebrating my birthday whilst I am afraid to socialise.

I can’t conceive a child when my menstruation cycle is messed up due to my weight.

My life is small. I ran away from my home town as the thought of remaining there and living there forever like my dad had done, living a small life with unfulfilled dreams, becoming ‘stuck’ was more than I could bear.

My dad told us stories of the many occasions when he tried to run away from home.

I was lucky. I could go to University on a grant when the loans I accrued were a third per year of what they are now. I could move and try out independence in a safe way, with the security of University behind me. My Dad went to University as a mature student. Our lives might have been different if there were more options for my Dad when he was younger.

The options were limited in my home town. A good percentage of the girls in my year were pregnant before the age of 18. Fine if that’s what you want, but I couldn’t help feeling there was something more to do first.

My life is small. But that’s ok. I have reset the parameters of success. I feel success when I can make it to the end of the day without crying. When I make it to the end of the day without taking a ‘chill pill’ (propranolol) . When I am in a large crowd and it’s only when I return home that I realise I didn’t freak out.

And I can still complete an N64 Zelda Game with the mad skills.