Circumstances Can Change

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Sometimes it feels as though things will never change. But life is a constant state of change. Nothing stays the same. It may for a while, and this while may feel like forever, but there’s no escaping the fact that at some point in time change will come.

This is where I currently find myself. A couple of months ago I was still living with my dad, working for him and getting paid peanuts, and working on my business with no real prospects. Life seemed pointless. Hopeless. I felt stuck. I’ve actually been in this “stuck” place for years, and didn’t see it ending anytime soon.

But then I moved in with my older friend M, and things started changing for me. In December I had met a potential client (in a restaurant where I was talking to a friend and he overheard me talking about my business), and he told me that he was looking for a freelance graphic designer and social media manager. He gave me his details and asked me to contact him in February, which I did. I started working with him beginning April, and it’s been great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I enjoy, and he’s a wonderful client. Easy to talk to, open and transparent, and most importantly, quick to respond and get information from. We have a 3 month contract for now, but he told me that he wants to make it more permanent. We had our first end of month progress/update meeting and he’s very happy with my work, so it’s all looking very promising.

As regular readers of my blog know, I found it very stressful and frustrating working for my dad. Just being around him and my step-mom in the office affects me negatively. Add in all the other things going on in the shop and it’s just too much for me. With this new client, I get 3x my salary, so I’m much better off. Their business is still struggling, so that, along with this new job, made me decide to give my week’s notice. They can save the money they pay me every month (at least for the next two months), and I’m free to focus on my own business. I’m far more productive and relaxed working from home. I also have two more potential website design clients, so that will be additional income if all goes well.

I thought I’d never “escape” my dad, but now I only see him if and when I want to. I actually feel like an adult. Free. Staying with M is really great and we get along perfectly. She’s become a real mother figure to me and I’m learning a lot from her. Therapy is also going well, especially now that we’ve switched from weekly 30-minute sessions to 1-hour sessions. My therapist pointed out that I wasn’t doing so well with 30-minute sessions. When I had my sessions at her office in the clinic we’d often run well over, but when we switched to her other location a couple of months ago, time was more limited. And that’s when it became obvious that I was struggling with only 30 minutes. So now we’re on weekly 1-hour sessions and things feel more settled. We’ve also gone back to having it at the clinic as the way there is less stressful and overwhelming for me. My stress and anxiety levels have decreased and my mood has been better overall.

So, a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’m still adjusting to all the changes, and certain things are still overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, but it’s slowly getting better. At the beginning of this year I never imagined I would be here. That life would look different. But it does, and I’m so grateful. To M, for taking me in and showing me that I am worthy of life and love. To my therapist, for always having my best interests at heart and for all that she does to help me.

Circumstances can change. It’s so easy for those of us who are so used to constant disappointment to wonder when things will blow up again, waiting for the other shoe to drop (this saying doesn’t make much sense, but I’m using it anyway), but I’m determined to just embrace how things are in the here and now. Because right now, I’m happy.

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Change, Life, Work

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I want to start blogging more regularly again. I’ve been going through some lengthy sort of phase where I think that my blog has become boring (for others) and I feel kind of narcissistic writing about myself all the time. Why I feel that way now, and why it didn’t bother me all that much before, I don’t know. But writing here has been so helpful to me in the past and I want to have that back, so I should at least try again.

I’ve been staying with M for the past week, and it’s been good for me I think. That intense hopelessness that’s been hanging around for so long has somewhat lifted. It only shows up for a few minutes before disappearing, which is a welcome relief from the persistent version. I haven’t quite got my new routine right (my working hours have also changed) which causes anxiety, but I’m getting there. Once again I’ve realized how strongly change affects me. Even good change. That’s where well-established systems and rituals that are time and place independent really help to make things a little easier.

This has been a busy and overwhelming week work wise. So it was a huge relief on Friday evening when I could finally cross that difficult client off my list. He settled the final payment, job done. Another positive, I had a meeting with a potential client on Monday and received the go ahead and deposit on Friday. So even though it’s been stressful and there were lots of crap moments, over all it’s been a good week.

I’m going to be staying with M for a while, just not sure exactly how long. She suggested a few months, but my therapist knows me well and said I should start with two weeks, see how I feel, and take it from there. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Since yesterday, there’s been so much confusion in my mind and many different emotions all vying for attention, that I feel physically sick. Focusing on anything for longer than a couple of minutes is hard. I see it’s taken me half an hour to actually write this. I feel like a computer. My mind keeps going into sleep mode, then booting back up and continuing right where it left off. And this is where I’ll end tonight. Sleep sounds so good right now.

Celebrate Small Wins

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I just read a short but valuable article on the TED blog, titled “How to make your small wins work for you”. What Mehrnaz Bassiri says in these couple of paragraphs is so true:

“The problem, says Bassiri, doesn’t lie in the puniness of our accomplishments but in the outsized nature of our expectations. Whether in the news media or in our friends’ and family members’ social media posts, we’ve gotten habituated to seeing major successes — the video from an unknown musician that goes viral and scores them a spot on Beyonce’s tour, the unhealthy person who loses half their body weight and completes the Ironman, the company started by college students in a garage that gets sold for an eye-watering amount.

These stories “have programmed our thoughts and desires to want and expect the same kind of results in our own lives,” says Bassiri. “We’ve started to measure our progress on an oversized scale.” So instead of recognizing our small triumphs for what they are, we view them as failures.”

If we set goals for ourselves, instead of only recognizing our progress when crossing a specific point, or after a major “win” (which sometimes feels like it will never come), we should rather celebrate the small milestones we make along the way. Because it’s those small milestones or steps toward our goals or dreams that take us closer to them.

I’m most certainly one of those with super high expectations of myself, and get discouraged quickly and easily if I don’t see any major progress in a goal, project or  change I want to make. I become blind to the small bits of progress I do make, because it’s just “not good enough”, or “it doesn’t count”. But it is good enough. It does count. And I’m going to take note of all my smalls wins, as the article suggests.

I highly recommend giving this a read:
https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-make-your-small-wins-work-for-you/

Up In The Air

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Happy new year everyone. I know I’m a little late to the party but my mind has just been messed up. I’m feeling a lot of confusion over so many things, and haven’t been feeling quite like myself. I feel like I’m a different person. Me, but different somehow. Everything around me feels different. People look different. Sound different. There have been a couple of moments where I’m not even fully sure where I am, even though it’s my own room or another familiar place. It takes a few minutes for my brain to adjust and realize where I am. It’s almost similar to what I experience with dissociation but with an added element of not even recognizing the place at all, not just feeling distant from it. Like the one day, I was reading, and the next minute I was looking around my room aware of being two different ages at once, one under the surface, and panicking because I wasn’t in my room. It turns out that “my room” was the one we lived in when I was in my early teens. Thankfully, this state doesn’t last very long and has only happened a couple of times.

It could be due to stress. My dad told me that we’re going to be moving in February so I must start packing. He doesn’t know where. Just that we have to be out. They’re looking for a smaller and cheaper place (the business is still not doing well). I asked him whether I’ll still be able to have my own room and he said he doesn’t know. So it’s all just up in the air. And when I say all I mean all (work, relationships, etc). Nothing makes much sense. Nothing feels stable.

I’ve been trying to hold onto little things to feel some sense of normality and stability.

Will it end?

Want

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I recently came across something I wrote years ago. This was before I started therapy, and it’s beautiful to see how things have changed. I still struggle with most of these things, but not to the extent I used to. It’s become easier to reach out and open up. To be honest about my feelings, needs, and wants. I’m still a work in progress, but then again, aren’t we all?

Want

You want to reach out. Instead, you keep it inside.
You want to know whether they care. But you don’t ask.
You want to be seen. Instead you hide.
You want to be heard. Yet you silence your voice.
You want to feel real. So you hurt yourself again.
You want to tell someone you want to die. That you can’t imagine living one more day. Instead, you smile, because you don’t want to be a burden.
You want to cry. Instead, you hide behind humour.
You want to open up. Instead, you put your shield up. Afraid you’ll be rejected and cast aside once again.

Longing For The Feeling Of Comfort

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I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, and even though I’m exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open, I feel unsettled and unable to drift off. Usually my night-time meds have me fast asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow, so this is quite unusual. I struggled with insomnia for as long as I can remember, but since being on this medication, it’s no longer been a problem.

“Experts” say that we shouldn’t expose ourselves to electronics before we go to sleep, and I did everything right prior to going to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so decided to rather get up and write. Maybe it will help.

Life feels off-kilter. A lot has changed and I’m struggling. It’s not just the therapy change, but things here at home as well. My uncle who used to live with us then moved out, moved back in again. Then my step-brother who had run away to go live with his girlfriend and her uncle, also came back. So for a while it was a full house. Then last month my uncle moved back out again just when I had gotten used to having him around.

I’m back at group again, but it’s all new faces. I don’t know why this affects me so much, but it does. It also doesn’t help knowing that I can only attend a few more before I’m done with the program again. So I don’t want to become used to it. Every time I go I question whether I really should be going. It’s confusing. So many things are confusing and unsettling me these days.

Even having Jasmine back in my life feels strange. Things are different. So is she. But I know that’s normal. People change. Relationships change.

I can’t get rid of this longing for the feeling of comfort. I’ve tried all my usual self-soothing and comforting tricks, but nothing is working. Instead it just seems to be getting worse. I don’t know what more to do. I just want things to feel “normal” again. I want to feel normal.

Anyway, I’m going to try going to sleep again. I’ve been having a lot of disturbing dreams the past while, and a recurring dream from my childhood has also popped up again. I’ll write about that one sometime. In the meantime I’m hoping tonight will just be 8-9 hours of blissful nothingness.

Goodnight.

Healthier Perspectives

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On Wednesday I had a therapy session with the psychologist I was seeing while an in-patient at the clinic. I’ll write more about what’s happening with my therapy once I’ve had a session with my usual therapist, who is currently on leave.

When I got to the clinic, I ran into one of my roommates (who is still there). It was lovely to see her again, and we spent a few minutes catching up before my appointment.

In our session I told the therapist everything that I had mentioned in my previous post. I was worried that I’m disconnecting myself from people. She told me that she doesn’t think that’s the case. Especially since I’m still keeping in contact with my friends and family, and have made plans with two of my closest friends for Sunday (today), which I’m looking forward to. She saw me interact with my roommate before our session, and with the OT I used to have sessions with (she walked by and I made a joke with her). When the therapist told me all this, I knew she was right. I’m not pushing people away.

Since my time in the clinic I’ve developed a healthier view of connection. It didn’t start in the clinic though. I believe it’s been happening for a while now, and the breakup with Elizabeth also played a big role towards pushing me toward that healthier perspective faster.

I’ve been feeling so strange, because I’m not used to this new way of being. Over the past few days it’s starting to feel more normal. I think I’m settling into my “new” self. I’ve been practicing mindfulness every day, and am starting Yoga tomorrow. I’m taking much better care of myself these days. I’ve been learning what my limitations are. How to listen to my body. To my mind. I’m working on myself from the inside out, and I can feel my self-compassion and confidence grow. I’m also less compromising on my boundaries.

On Friday I went for a job interview. It’s for a half-day position, which is perfect for me. The interview started off well, and I was enjoying talking with the lady who was interviewing me. Then, the general manager of the company walked in and took over the interview. I wasn’t expecting this at all. My agent told me I was only meeting with the accounts manager. It was also a last-minute interview, so I didn’t have time to prepare beforehand. His questions, and the way he asked them, threw me. I felt a panic rise up inside, and the urge to run. In that moment, I mentally took a step back and allowed myself some time before I answered one of his questions. I told myself “It’s okay. Just do the best you can. That’s enough. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get this job.” That helped calm me down enough to put on a confident face again and continue on with the interview.

I was so relieved once it was done. I had been there for almost an hour… One of the longest, most intense interviews I’d ever been for. As I was walking back to my car, the old familiar voices started coming. “You blew it.”, “You can’t even interview properly.” etc. As soon as I noticed these thoughts, I started reframing them and talking back to that critic with words of compassion and love. After the interview I was convinced it was a failure. But after some self-compassion I realize that it wasn’t a complete disaster. There were good points too. Within 10 minutes I started feeling better. I bounced back quickly, and felt pretty good the rest of the day.

Last night I felt sad for a while. That my relationship with Elizabeth didn’t work out. We shared a lot of good times together. I miss our early days, and even some of the more recent moments. I miss her touch. The way she used to look at me. I miss her. But this wasn’t an overwhelming sadness. It felt more of an acceptance type of sadness. It didn’t work out. And that’s okay. I hold no resentment or bitterness toward her. She did what was best for her, and it was also the best thing for me. She’s coming through to my place tomorrow to collect her things, and I don’t know how I’ll feel when I see her again. But I’m ready. I don’t know if we can still be friends, but I’m not making that decision yet. There’s no rush.

All in all, I’ve been well. And I’m grateful to be alive.