All Around Me

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Can I see the wind?
I can see it move through the trees, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it blow across my face.
The effect is there, all around me.

Can I see my growth?
I can see it in my life, but I can’t see the essence of it.
I can feel it in my heart.
The effect is there, all around me.

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Never Thought I’d Be Here – Part Two

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My experience at the clinic was a positive one, excluding the Friday of course. Once I settled in, I started feeling better. Friday evening I slept straight through, as well as every night I was there. Which isn’t normal for me. Usually my first night sleeping out I barely sleep at all. What made it different this time? Maybe it’s because I felt taken care of and safe. That could be it.

The first night I got room service, since I had a lot of social anxiety, and didn’t want to be around so many strangers in the dining hall. The food there was better than I thought it would be. I lost a lot of weight last year, and from a healthy weight, I’m now underweight again. I’ve always been small built and skinny, and I hated it. I’d get mocked about it in school. While others were worried about gaining weight, I was desperately trying to pick up weight for most of my life. Four years ago, I finally achieved a perfect weight. But last year, I lost it all, and more. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to go back to that weight. I’ve started eating 4 meals a day (including a protein shake). So the 3 big meals a day and 2 snack times (and hot chocolate in the evenings) at the clinic have made a difference.

I had two awesome roommates. One of them was a lot like me … The two introverts. We’re still in contact, and she refers to me as Psychologist, which I secretly love. The other one (Roommate #2) is a complete extrovert (I’m still in contact with her too), and would drive me and Roommate #1 crazy (but she knew that and was proud of it). Being in that environment, no one judges, and no matter how ‘weird’ you are, they accept you. After all we’re in the same place together, and there for somewhat similar reasons. I liked most of the people there. So many different characters. It felt like a big family. I miss the environment and the people there. Even the nurses were great.

Then there were the groups. The groups are focused exclusively on DBT, so I went to a few of those. We also had art therapy. I miss the routine there, so I’ve been trying to stick to it at home now. Lot’s of self care, eating better, having a mug of hot chocolate before bed (strangely enough, it helps me sleep), and a host of other things. It’s bound to become habit as long as I keep sticking to it.

If I could, I would have stayed for the entire three week program. At least I know that when I really need it, I can go back again.

Here’s what I learned from my time at the clinic:

It’s okay to reach out for help, and accept it when offered. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.

Just because I feel ashamed of doing something I never thought I’d do, like going into the clinic, doesn’t mean that I have to give in to that shame.

Support groups are valuable.

A non judgemental environment, where I’m accepted, is so important. I want to surround myself with such people, and spend more time with those who make me feel like I matter, that I’m accepted and loved just the way I am. I need to find those types of people too.

I need to keep my heart open. Because the most unlikely person, might just become someone really important. Go out and meet more people. You never know who might be going through similar challenges.

Routine is valuable and important to me.

I can’t just help and support others all the time, I must also allow others to help and support me. I can’t be responsible for everyone to the detriment of myself (thanks for this revelation Therapist).

Some people are just draining. Spending more time with those who lift me up and make me feel good, is so healing. Limit my time with people who deplete my energy. I say “limit” because I don’t want to not spend any time with them, as there’s a difference between those who drain my energy due to a difference in personality (introvert vs. extrovert), and those who are a negative force in my life.

And most important of all…
The clinic isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, hence my avoidance of them my entire life. Making assumptions and judgements about things, from other people’s accounts, or from what I see in the media, is a recipe for disaster. Everyone’s experiences are different, so why fear those things that might end up not being scary at all.

Broken Hearts

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If you’re reading these words…

I wish I could take your tears away. I wish I could take away your hurt.
I need you to know, that just because I wasn’t crying, didn’t mean I didn’t feel anything.

I felt so much inside. I felt it all. I still do. I just didn’t know how to release it without falling apart. You say that I don’t always have to be the strong one. But I wanted to be strong for you. I still do. But the truth is, I’m not all that strong. And I’m so sorry.

When I first met you, I didn’t know that you would become my deepest love. You crept into my heart and became my world. I won’t forget how it felt to have your hand in mine. How it felt to kiss you and lie in your arms. To hold you in mine.

When you held onto me this morning as we said goodbye, I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to beg you to stay with me, and for things to remain the same. I hoped that I would wake up and realize it had just been a nightmare. But it isn’t, is it? I didn’t ask you to stay and come back with me. Because I knew we are doing the best thing for us both. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Watching you walk away, broke through every defense I had.

No one is to blame. Time just wasn’t on our side. The connection we share will never fade away. Time can’t take that away from us. I’ll never give up on you. I’ll always be close.

You’re my best friend. My soulmate. I love you. Forever.

Making Progress Even When You Can’t See It

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A few sessions ago, I told my therapist that I finally felt like I was making progress. That therapy is finally helping me. She jokingly asked me if I was saying that therapy hasn’t helped me before that? I told her that the seeds had been there all along, but I just hadn’t been aware of the growth until now.

Often, we don’t see the progress we have made. Hell, we may even feel like we’re just moving backward. And sometimes that’s the truth. We take a step forward, only to move two steps back. But that’s okay. That’s the thing with mental illness. There are no quick fixes. The road to recovery isn’t straight and easy. It takes a lot of work, and there will be relapses and set backs. It’s completely normal, even though it can be extremely frustrating.

When I do something different to how I would have done it in the past, Therapist will point it out and tell me to look at the growth I’ve made, and how far I’ve come. Most of the time I don’t even see what’s right in front of me, due to the negative way I tend to see myself. Other times when she points these things out to me, it fills me with a sense of pride. Because at that moment, I can see it. All the little things I do differently. All the ways in which I have improved. They’re there. I just need to open up my eyes.

If you feel like you’re not making any progress, take a look back, and you might be surprised to find that you have indeed made progress. Small steps in the right direction. When I’m in crisis, and I feel I’m getting worse or therapy isn’t working, and I just want to give up, I like using the DBT skills from the Distress Tolerance (Crisis Survival Skills) module. The Distract Skill, which is broken down into ACCEPTS as follows:

Activities – Find an activity you can get lost in.
Contribute – Help someone else. Contribute in any way you can, such as smiling at a stranger.
Compare – Compare your past self with your present self.
Emotions – Try to find a way to switch into a different emotion. Through music for example.
Pushing Away – If you can’t solve a problem right then and there, pick that problem up and imagine putting it into a box. Place it on a shelf until you’re in a better space to deal with it.
Thoughts – Name things around you. Or breathe in a word, and choose another word for the out breath.
Sensations – An ice cold shower, or lying on cold tiles seems to do the trick for me. Or if it’s raining, I stand in the rain until I’m shivering. Eat or drink something bitter or sweet. Anything that engages one or more of your senses is helpful.

I use the ‘Compare’ part quite often now. Looking at my past self, and comparing that to how I am now. It’s a very good way to see the little bits of progress I have made. It helps get me out of that crisis state, and into what Marsha Linehan (the creator of DBT) calls Wise Mind. Writing down all the improvements. It’s not easy in those moments of intensity, in the midst of the emotional storm, but once started, and written down, I usually find that storm start to slowly die down a little. Because then my mind is engaged in the current task. A positive task. Something that isn’t harming me.

Just as a side note. Using these skills in the heat of an emotional storm is difficult. Mostly because you won’t always remember them. At least that’s the case with me. So it’s important to write these skills down, along with a list of what you feel would help you in each of those ‘catagories’ during these difficult moments.

Right now, I’m treating myself to a delicious, creamy mug of hot chocolate to celebrate the ways in which I have grown over these past few months. It’s my special treat for a job well done. And even though I still have a long way to go, that doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate the little steps I have already made.

So go on and treat yourself to something you enjoy, or that warms your heart. You deserve it.

Empty

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Today I just feel empty.

Like I’m walking through this world without a soul right now.

Last week I set up a meeting with my boss. I wanted to tell her that I’ve been feeling uncomfortable in the office, as though they don’t want me there. I asked her what I could do to improve. She was angry that I had requested a meeting, since we were scheduled to only have a meeting at the end of the month. But that didn’t cut it for me. I wanted to find out what I need to work and improve on. Because it won’t help me to ask that the end of the month, as my probation period will be over. So what good will it do me then? A few months ago, I would never have had the courage to speak to her, tell her my concerns and ask for feedback on my work. But I did it last week. I really feel like therapy is helping me. I’ve noticed a few changes already. This being one of them.

Those of you who have read my previous post on my work situation, know that I wasn’t happy there. On Friday, I got handed my week’s notice, which really shocked me. I wasn’t expecting that. I was planning on leaving at the end of the month anyway, but now my last working day is the 18th, so I’ll only be getting part of my salary. I was counting on my full salary. But there’s nothing I can do about it. It is what it is. When I got that notice, I had surges of different emotions flooding me. But then, the emptiness set in. I didn’t know how I felt about it. My girlfriend spent a few nights at my place, so when I got home after work on Friday she was there, and she could see I wasn’t okay. She asked me what was going on and I told her. But I was emotionless while talking about it. She asked how I felt about it, and I told her I feel empty. After one of those deep hugs that she gives me, and just being in her presence, I started feeling again. Content. Loved. Happy. But she had to leave yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been alone since then. Been working on my photography website and trying to get this business up and running. My back up plan.

When I woke up this morning, that emptiness grabbed a hold of me again.

Jasmine (gf) sent me this video, and I’m totally obsessed with it. The lyrics and music are beautiful. The song is called “Flatlands”.

Now I just need to tell my dad about this, since I live with him. I’m not looking forward to that conversation. He’s going to flip. He doesn’t understand that I’m an adult, and shouldn’t have to get his approval for everything. He’ll most probably blame me. That’s how it’s always been. I get blamed for everything that goes wrong in my life, and even in his.

I need to go into work this week, knowing that I’m not wanted there. That’s going to be hard. A part of me wants to rebel and not do anything I’m supposed to be doing. But I know I should probably just continue to work hard. I was thinking of not going in tomorrow, but then I won’t get paid up until the 18th, so I need to just push through.

I wish I can just sleep through the week, and wake up when it’s all over.

My Universe

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I’m in love. My first real love. I never thought I would feel this way. I never thought someone could love me as much as she does. It still feels like a dream. One I never want to wake up from.

my-universe

 

 

Work and Mental Health Issues

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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. 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.

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 10/10. 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 for me, 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.

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. 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.

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.

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.