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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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.

I’ll Drink Anything, As Long As It’s Poisonous

I am re-reading Alexis Hall’s ‘In The Red’ for something like the 5th time this year. This is because when I feel that I have f***** up my life royally due to my debt (such as facing the crisis of my contract at work ending with no savings in the bank) then I like to take comfort in the tale of someone who has been there and done that.

I said to the boy that I wouldn’t say this year has been bad, but it has been one of my most challenging years (or certainly the most challenging non childhood trauma year).

I finally told the boy’s parents that my contract is ending and they said they would have worried in the past but they know I always get another job very soon, which I interpreted as ‘We’re used to you losing jobs, but somehow you survive’. I know they didn’t mean it like that, I just seem to only be capable of assuming the worst about myself.

I feel a lot more indestructible now that I have a raincoat. What’s that expression? There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes?

You know you are old as f*** when you get ridiculously excited by your raincoat. The last time I felt this excited about a coat was when I bought my fake leopard print fur coat. Despite the fact it doesn’t fit me I am still unable to part with it, as I am determined to fit into it again one day.

I have also contemplated buying another fake fur leopard print coat in a plus size and being done with it all.

Realising I have spent most of my 20’s overweight is startling. I will never get that time back. I want to be attractive.

No one has ever made a comment on my weight, apart from one person, who shall remain nameless.

The trouble is food is such an emotional thing for me. I need to be happy to lose weight. I say this because when I am low, or depressed, or my life is going down the toilet like it is now, then pretty much all that gets me through the day is knock off Bailey’s, or a cheeky cheese sandwich, or portion sizes that take liberties with the term ‘generous’.

I comfort eat, I stress eat, I may connect this desperate mastication to when I gave up smoking and used nicotine gum and now I associate the sensation with stress release.

The diet will have to start on Monday. We are having Chinese takeway for tea.

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.

Say What?!

So…..

Today after a 30 day absence I returned to work.

And……

It was fine, better than fine, it was like a new fresh beginning.

My bosses and colleagues were wonderful.

I had to face the truth at long last. That I am, or was, utterly paranoid.

No one was out to get me.

No one was whispering in a corner about how terrible I am as I made my way into the office.

No one shouted or snarled or sneered at me.

They were all lovely.

My brain had betrayed me. It had led me to believe there was harm and danger in every direction, in every situation, in every person.

I know this sounds unbelievable, but I believed in what my brain was telling me. I believed in the danger, I believed that everyone was out to get me, that everyone hated me.

When the boy tried to gently tell me I was paranoid I genuinely believed he was wrong, that he was naive, that he was lying to me.

I feel like I am finally seeing the world for what it is. I feel like I am finally seeing the truth. I feel like I have been given a lifeline.

I don’t know how long I will be in this job. I don’t know how long this feeling will last. I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

But today I feel strong and happy.

Am I Allowed To Be Ok?

I have moments where I forget the horrors of Wednesday (and I don’t just mean in regards to my own personal situation, but also about the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy).

When those moments are happening I feel, dare I say it, normal?

Which, once I’ve acknowledged that I feel ok, is usually enough to bring on the panic and paranoia.

Because if I have moments where I feel ok, then am I well? Did I imagine all the years of anxiety, depression and stress?

Which then leads me to worry, which makes me ill, which makes the problem worse.

The Doctor has told me to go out, see friends, have and savour a coffee, get regular exercise, feel the sunshine on my skin.

Mental Health is not like another illness. It often has no obvious sign, not in the way a broken leg does at least.

The things that help make mental health better are not usually the things you would tell a sick person to do, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as essential medicine as a pill or a syrup would be.

I need to give myself permission to be happy, to get better, to not suffer.