Work and Mental Health Issues

I’ve had yet another shit day at work.

Over the past month, I’ve felt this incredible desire to just walk out. It happens at least two times a day. My record was six times, which I reached today. This overwhelming need to just throw everything down and quit. Every morning when I wake up, I have to talk myself into getting out of bed and get to work. I tell myself that I’ll get through it, and that maybe today will be the day where everything will be better.

But I realized I’m not cut out for a full time job. It’s agony. By 12:30pm (after lunch) I just can’t handle it anymore, and have to take a tranqualizer. It used to help a lot, but these days it seems to only have a 50% effectiveness rate. I’ve even considered taking two at a time, which I might still do.

All I want to do the whole time is scream and cry. What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I find it so difficult to deal with such long hours? With the constant stress? It shouldn’t be this way. Other people seem to manage, even if they hate their jobs. So why the hell can’t I? It constantly feels like I’m on the verge of a panic or heart attack. I can’t handle pressure. My brain goes into meltdown mode and then I hit a blank. I was shouted at the other day because the woman training me asked me a question and I felt so pressured in that moment, that my brain just shut down. I couldn’t think of the answer. I told her I need to think about it for a minute or two, and she wasn’t happy with that. With contempt evident on her face, she asked me that if a customer calls, will I say to them that I can’t think right then and will call them back in an hour? I found that incredibly insulting.

Training lady set up a ‘meeting’ for me and her on Wednesday, where she rattled off some points about my work and asked how I was finding it, etc. I said all the right things. But then I decided to be honest, and told her that I have depression and struggle with anxiety, and that I’m on medication for it, so I’m confident it will work. Big fucking mistake. Since then they’ve been even worse towards me. I didn’t tell her about the BPD, because she probably doesn’t even know what that is, and I didn’t want to ‘scare’ her.

If it wasn’t for the amazing new lady in my life, and my therapist, I would have hurled myself off the highest mountain weeks ago.

On that note… A few weeks ago, I phoned a suicide crisis line, because I was so damn close. I had had too much to drink, which is something I don’t do anymore, but that evening I just had to have copius amounts of alcohol. One or two just didn’t cut it. I’m terrified of talking on the phone, it raises my anxiety to a level of 9/10. So you must know just how desperate I was to call a complete stranger and tell them that I’m considering killing myself. I have lost my fear of medication over the past couple of months, and I had them all neatly laid out on my bed in preparation that night. So I phoned. I was desperate. I knew if I didn’t get help, I would go through with my plan. So I phoned. A guy answered. I was crying so much, he kept asking me to repeat myself. I told him how I was feeling, and what I was planning. You know what he said to me? “Go to our website and read up on Depression. Suicide isn’t the answer”. I’ll never forget those words. I wanted to yell at him and tell him that I already know all about depression, and how would going to read about it solve my immediate crisis? But I just managed “okay”. Then he told me that he has to cut me off, because there’s another call coming through. It felt like a stab to my already fragile heart. A sign from the universe that I really shouldn’t be here anymore. And he told me to have a good evening. Seriously? Have a fucking good evening? He hung up. Never again will I be calling a crisis line. I tried to get hold of some hospitals I could go to, but all of them were closed at night. This country is useless! The only thing that stopped me that night, was a sudden thought that popped into my head at just the right time. The thought that my therapist had written me a letter, and I was now just waiting for it. I wanted to read it. It seemed to snap me out of my suicidal thoughts.

Back to my work situation. My boss changed my working hours, so now it’s even longer. I hate that she did that. But she’s the boss, so I just have to deal with it. I was also informed that I’m currently only doing half of what they hired me to do, which they only told me about last week. I thought they were teaching me everything they wanted me to do. I was wrong. The workload is already crazy, and I’m struggling to cope. So how on this green earth am I going to handle even more? I’m at breaking point. I feel like an elastic band being stretched, that’s on the verge of snapping.

When I first started there at the beginning of September, one of the other ladies working there warned me that the first month or two, or even three, they’d be nice and compliment me on my work. But then they’ll turn around, and the boss will start to bully me. That all four of the girls who had worked there this year, had all quit for that very reason. That they had all just quit (one of them just didn’t come in on the Monday) after a few months (one of the girls who stayed the longest, lasted 5 months). At the time she told me this, I was convinced that I would be the exception. And I didn’t really believe her. But now I realize just how right she was. She’s really great… It feels like she always has my back, but unfortunately she only works half days. She’s also going on maternity leave from November. And she’s not coming back. She’s had enough of that place. So then I’ll be alone with the wolves.

I was also told in the interview that I wouldn’t have to answer the phone, except for a few of the accounts queries, which were mostly dealt with through email. The past week though, I’ve had to play receptionist. And the damn phone is constantly ringing. The boss is supposed to hire a receptionist, but she says it costs too much. What the hell? She goes and does her nails every week, along with massages and goes overseas three times a year. She drives a car that would pay for two brand new cars for me, and she lives in a 5 bedroom house, alone. But it’s too expensive to hire someone? What’s that about?

My work hasn’t been up to standard lately. I admit that. But how can I fully concentrate when I have to answer phone calls all the time (remember those anxiety levels?), and deal with requests from the boss that seem to have no relation to my job description. The one day she asked me something, and I told her I don’t know. Her words directly after that… “You don’t know anything.” Ouch! She scrutinizes everything I do, and looks for things to use as ammo against me.

Then there’s the constant talking behind my back by boss and training lady. They think I don’t hear what they’re saying, but oh, I do. My boss even makes some comments, in a loud voice, directed at me, about me, that make me feel so embarrassed. Why must everyone in the office hear about my ‘faults’? I just can’t do this anymore. The office is full of negative vibes.

My focus is on the work I’m doing. I’m concentrating my hardest so I don’t make mistakes. I’m triple checking everything. I’m trying my best. But it seems my best just isn’t good enough. I feel stupid and useless.

I phoned my employment agent today who had gotten me this job (she tried to call me the whole of last week, but we kept missing each other). I was crying so much, I could barely speak. She asked me whether she should send me a bottle of wine. I told her “yes please, as long as I can drink it at work”, and we both laughed. That made me feel a little better. She said that she’d keep an eye out for a half time position for me.

In the meantime I’m going to start up my photography business and see what happens there. If I can get a part time position, I can do my photography after work. Photography is something I enjoy, so it won’t feel like ‘just another job’. That I’ll be able to handle. Working, then coming home and working with my own clients, doing something I love.

But until then… I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I feel stuck. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

What happened to perfect? I really thought that this was the perfect job for me. How wrong I was.

Warrior

When I heard this song for the first time, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. It felt like all the pain I had been holding deep inside me, just came pouring out. The most agonizing pain. The kind of pain that feels so raw. And like it will never end. This is one of those songs that seems as though it were written for me, or even by me.

You’re a warrior. We’re warriors.

With Her

With her… I feel safe. Like no one and nothing can harm me.
With her… The world around me doesn’t exist. She’s all I can see.
With her… I can be myself. My mask fades away.
With her… I feel seen.
With her… I feel beautiful.

A connection so rare. A connection so intense. So real. So beautiful.

This lost soul has finally found a place to belong.

“Just Be Positive”

I feel this post should come with a warning of ‘excessive language’. So there you have it.

“It’s not that bad.”
“It could have been worse.”
“There’s always a silver lining if you just look hard enough.”

Okay, stop right there.

Those words are all well and good, but

When said in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, it really pisses me off. And I know I’m not the only one.

It’s so invalidating. “Shut up and just listen. Listen to me, instead of spouting that bullshit.” I want to say.

Happy, positive quotes don’t make me feel better when I’m in a bad place. It makes me feel horrible. Because what’s wrong with me that I don’t feel that way? That these words don’t make me see things differently? That I can’t just repeat it over and over again and make it really sink in when I need it to?

I am just so sick of hearing people tell someone who has just opened up to them, that they should just look at the bright side. No, I’m sorry, but the sun doesn’t shine all the time. Sometimes it’s fucking dark and the rain is coming down in torrents. Can we control the weather too?

“You’re bringing it upon yourself”. Fine. Then that’s my burden to bear. It’s not your problem.

Just because there are people out there who have it worse than me, doesn’t mean that my problems and feelings are insignificant and should just be swept under the rug. That’s why I’m in the place I’m at right now. Where everything I had locked away in a great big closet and tried to forget about has come spilling out. There are things scattered everywhere, while I’m desperately trying to pick them up and shove them back in. But the more I try to shove it back in, the more I realize there just isn’t enough space anymore. So now I have to sit with, and sort through all these things. It’s overwhelming, and I don’t know where to start.

“I can’t drown my demons. They know how to swim.”

I’m allowed to feel like my life is shit sometimes. Just because I feel like that, doesn’t mean I’m oblivious to all the good. I can still appreciate a beautiful sunset, be grateful that I have a roof over my head, food to eat, somewhere warm to sleep. Despite what it seems like, I do count my blessings. But sometimes, I just can’t.

I’ve realized that by putting all this pressure on myself to “just be positive”, to be optimistic about everything just makes my anxiety sky rocket. I’ll be positive when I feel positive. I’ll embrace that positivity then. That feeling. But I also need to embrace the less optimistic emotions when they arise. Because they’re a part of me too.

I struggle with work. I don’t just get stressed from time to time. I’m almost constantly stressed. Why? Because I have to work harder to keep myself together and ‘stable’ than a lot of other people. It’s been this way with all my jobs. Even the one I enjoyed. The one I enjoyed still had me running to the bathroom when I got too overwhelmed, to hurt myself. On the surface, everything looks fine and dandy. But underneath, that’s where the struggle really is. Just because I’m apparently ‘high functioning’, doesn’t mean that things are easy. Yes, I’m truly grateful for my job, but I still get those moments where I just want to walk out and not go back. All thanks to these fucking emotions that aren’t happy just showing their faces… No, they have to punch, kick, bite and scream too. I had a face off with the scissor in my stationary holder today. It was a battle. But I ended up screaming instead. Silently, inwardly with all the force I could muster. I was so frustrated. In that moment, life and work just seemed shit. I wasn’t capable of seeing the good right then and there.

2016-08-20-20-52-16

Looking for the silver lining in a moment of turmoil, is like glossing over the very real pain and emotions. A silver lining can be found after I have calmed down somewhat, or when I’m ready to see it. Because pointing it out will not help me see it any clearer. I need to experience that moment for myself.

When we’re in the throes of something, forcing ourselves to just ‘be positive’ isn’t helpful. We’re essentially shutting down our very real need to accept what’s happening, to be able to deal with it effectively and move on. Healing doesn’t come from seeing the bright side. It comes from dealing with the emotions that arise, in our own time, and at our own pace, so that the bright side of our experience or pain can be seen in all it’s glory. And sometimes there just isn’t a bright side. There’s maybe just a less dark side. But sometimes that’s okay too.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I fucking hate lemonade. Okay, not really, but this quote puts me off the stuff.

Rant over.

 

Openess And Shame

I’m having a hard time with something. I had been open to sharing parts of my life, my thoughts, and emotions since I started this blog. But now I don’t feel like it’s okay anymore. I’ve been feeling a lot of hurt and shame these past couple of days. I shared something with someone that I shouldn’t have shared. It was inappropriate. And now I can feel myself shutting down again. Which is something I’ve done my entire life. I did it in order to protect myself. I’d pretend that I’m okay. They say to smile and happiness will follow. So that’s what I did. Only, happiness never came. And now I feel the need to protect myself again. I don’t want to shut down, but it’s not like I can just flip a switch to control it.

Guilt is easier to deal with. You recognize that something you did wasn’t right. That you crossed a boundary, angered or hurt someone. You can then apologize. And try your damnest to not do the same thing again. Maybe you’re able to forgive yourself as well.

Shame is harder. It’s too uncomfortable to sit with. But it’s impossible to ignore.

I’ve tried to numb it. Some moments, it works. Other times, not so much. Because even when my glass is empty, there’s still a single drop remaining that I just can’t quite get out. And that one little drop contains enough of the emotion to prevent me from not feeling it at all.

I made this in Photoshop to help me process. It’s a mess, but it was a therapeutic experience.

Shame

The Body And Trauma

I was in my room reading, when I heard my dad’s voice coming from downstairs. He sounded angry. I froze. Fear washing over me. Heart pounding in my chest. Senses on high alert.

Waiting…

Then…

Nothing.

Still, I waited. A flashback. Then another one. Panic hitting me in full force. The worse thing about these flashbacks is being in the past all over again. Reliving it. It feels so real. And then there’s the confusion when coming out of it. It feels like I’m not sure exactly where I am sometimes. What’s the present, what’s the past? What’s real, what’s not? Sometimes that confusion lasts a few seconds, other times minutes.

I don’t know how long this all lasted. It seems like an alternative version of time exists in these moments.

But some time later, I heard them all laughing downstairs, and I realized that his ‘loud’ voice had just been part of some story or joke he had been telling.

No, he wasn’t mad.

My mind was still all over the place, but a little more rational.

However, my body was slow in getting the message that there was no threat.

Almost 2 hours later, and I was still feeling the effects on my body. I felt tense and on high alert… As if waiting for something to happen. Or like something IS happening.

“Why did I have such an intense reaction to something so silly?” I asked myself.

I could never admit to myself that some things I had experienced were traumatic. I hated the word ‘trauma’. Which, as my therapist commented one day… There are a lot of words I don’t like or don’t want to say out loud. I have no idea why that is. But now I say, screw it. By continuing to run from it and avoid accepting that I have indeed experienced trauma in my life, I’ll continue to deny myself proper healing.

I have felt the effects of it my entire life. So giving it a name isn’t going to make it any more real. It’s already real.

I tried to do a body awareness mindfulness meditation a little while after this, thinking it will help me relax both my mind and my body. But that backfired. It brought flashbacks of a different kind. So I won’t be doing that one again. I don’t want to ‘experience’ my body.

I spent most of last week crying, and this week I had no tears left. But after this little ‘incident’ tonight, it came back. Along with physical pain (which I think is just a stress response). I felt anxious, depressed, terrified and like I just wanted to hide in my closet.

I used to do that a lot. Hide away. When I was a child, I would curl up under my bed. Under tables. Anywhere. When I couldn’t use my spaces, I resorted to wrapping my blanket or duvet tightly around my body and cover my head as well. Most nights I slept like that. My favourite place though was in a closet. I felt the safest there. It was a dark and small space, which seemed comforting. Which is strange, considering I’ve always been afraid of the dark. But the confined space made the darkness feel like a friend.

I even used to look for ‘safe spaces’ when I was in high school. I would lie under my bed, either reading with a flashlight, or daydreaming. I would do that for hours at a time. Once I had finished school, there were moments where I still wanted those spaces, but being an adult, I felt stupid about that desire. For the past 2 months now, I’ve had this same desire to just empty out my closet and sit there in the dark when I’m feeling anxious, fearful or overwhelmed. But there’s no space for that. And it’s just not appropriate anymore, I guess. Hell, it’s embarrassing admitting this here. But it is what it is.

I constantly feel trapped. Caged in. A lot of times I feel like I’m being cornered. That as long as I’m alive, I’m not safe. So I guess this desire to hide away is my way of trying to cope with these feelings.

The mind is powerful. It tries to protect us, even though it’s not always very good at it. Writing this post, I don’t feel real. The world around me doesn’t feel real. I’m floating somewhere between this world and a vast ‘nothingness’. I’m aware that it’s a defense mechanism.

Maybe tomorrow everything will feel real again. But I don’t know if I want it to feel real.

Nature’s Gentle Healing

I went to my favourite spot on the beach yesterday. After a really bad few weeks, I needed to just get away from everything and everyone, if only for a little while.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I live in a beautiful city with plenty of sandy white beaches, green parks and spectacular mountains. Amazing scenery no matter where you look. Yet, I’ve been neglecting a crucial part of myself. The part that feels content in nature. The soul that draws strength from natural beauty. Despite my best intentions when I moved here to connect to that part of myself more often, I haven’t spent much time outdoors.

I had been feeling especially depressed the whole of last week, but on Thursday morning, it was even worse. I had this intense desire to just stay in bed. To not go into work. But my rational mind told me that it wouldn’t be a smart move, since I’m still new there. So, with great difficulty, and fighting between the emotional and rational mind, I somehow managed to drag myself to work. I found myself wondering how this could be so damn difficult. Even putting one foot in front of the other was a challenge.

As the morning progressed, I felt myself becoming more and more unstable. I even started crying at a harmless comment made by the lady training me. I can’t even remember what she had said. I had no rational reason for crying. It was so embarrassing, but in that moment, I just didn’t give a damn. I couldn’t stop it this time. This lady is in her early 60’s, so I guess it felt a little safer than crying in front of someone younger. But still… A big no-no for me. Crying in public is not acceptable (for me- I don’t see it as a problem when others do it). She came over and hugged me, and I kept apologizing as the tears kept coming. She told me that she’s had plenty of people cry on her shoulder during her lifetime, what with her being an “old lady”. She was really sweet. But I didn’t really want that hug. For some reason, I felt she had crossed a boundary. I wasn’t comfortable. I’m the type of person who craves touch, and hugs are especially important to me. But it can’t just be any type of touch, or by just anyone. I have to feel comfortable with the person.

Anyway, I found myself on the verge of quitting my job. It would have been an impulsive move, which I knew spelled disaster. So instead, I picked up the phone and made an appointment with my doctor for the earliest available appointment, which was an hour after my phone call. I knew if I could just keep myself together until then and not do anything impulsive, I’d be okay. It was a battle, but I did it.

I was a wreck. For the first time in a while, I wanted to just end it all. I thought of all the pills I had, and just how easy it would be. I was close. So close to walking out, going home and going through with it this time. I hadn’t been sleeping (which always makes things seem so much worse) and it was really getting to me. I couldn’t focus, I barely knew what I was doing most of the time. I don’t want to mess up and make stupid mistakes at work. I decided to go to my doctor to get sleeping tablets (she didn’t give me a lot- a good thing), and while I was there, I spent the majority of the appointment in tears. I wasn’t as embarrassed crying in front of her though. I asked her whether she’d write me a note to book me off work for the remainder of that day, as well as for Friday. She knows my diagnosis, and she knows me relatively well, so she agreed. In my state, I just couldn’t work. Even my Clobazam (that she had prescribed me a few weeks before) hadn’t made much of a difference on Thursday. Just as a side note, I don’t take it every day. Just sometimes before bed if I’m feeling particularly anxious and paranoid, or in the day if I feel I need it. Sometimes I’ll only take half. I try to use it as little as possible.

I spent the majority of Friday and Saturday alone in my room. I didn’t want to see anyone, or talk to anyone. I just wanted to read, listen to music, write and daydream. I spent a lot of time daydreaming, which has always been my escape and has helped me cope through the most difficult times of my life. I had stopped daydreaming a while ago, and maybe that’s why everything has become too much again. I realized just how much I need it. It’s my lifeline. Yes, it’s not reality. But reality sucks sometimes. Anything to help us cope, right? At least it’s not destructive, which would have been my other alternative.

I was supposed to meet a couple of friends on Sunday, but that went bust. But I won’t get into that here. It wasn’t a good day and my emotions were all over the place. Before sunset I felt this need to just run away from it all, with a craving for the ocean, so I got into my car and drove down to the closest beach. It was a lovely, warm late afternoon.

As I got out of my car, the gentle smell of the ocean greeted me as if with open arms. There were a lot of people around, and usually that would make me anxious, but not this time. This time all I could think of was the feeling of the sand under my feet, and the big beautiful expanse of water in front of me. As I sat down, the wind wrapped itself around me, like a hug, and in that moment, I felt safe.

On Saturday evening I had experienced one of the loneliest nights I’ve had in months. And usually when I’m lonely, going out and seeing people with their families and friends makes me feel even worse. But not this day. There was no ache in my heart while watching couples and families walking along the beach, laughing and having fun. I was so in tune with nature, that I felt deeply connected to it. It didn’t matter that I was alone. Because I wasn’t truly alone right then.

The sound of the waves filled my ears, like a beautiful song. How could I feel alone when I had all of this? I was connected to something deeper than myself.

The way the setting sun cast shadows on some parts of the sand, leaving other parts bathed in a beautiful soft light. Even the footprints left behind had a certain kind of beauty to it. Did the people those footprints belonged to feel sad, happy, in love? What was going through their minds as they felt the soft, cold, wet sand beneath their feet? Were they so lost in their thoughts or conversation that they didn’t even feel it?

I felt this gentle inner healing. This relief from the intensely dark period I’ve been in. I still feel the sadness, but it’s not crushing. I realized that even this sadness is beautiful. It means I can feel. It means I am human.