Start Of A New (Business) Journey

This has been an incredibly long week. I feel like it should be the Friday two weeks from today. Wednesday was a public holiday here, and while I love these days, it also messes with my head. Yesterday felt like a Monday. Long week, holiday… Confusion. I haven’t been sleeping well at all, so that just adds to the length of my days.

Group started up again on Tuesday, which I’m so happy about. The weeks without it just aren’t the same. As one of the other ladies said, the group is like a safety blanket. I couldn’t agree more. Before the start of this weeks group I had a final session with the OT I’ve been seeing. Even though it ended well, and the time was right to end our regular sessions, I still feel a little lost.

Since then, I’ve been in that clingy, young place again with regards to my therapist. I just want her all the time. I only get to see her on Thursday again. It’s so long. There’s only one other person who I’ll feel comfortable being close to (and connect to), while in this head space. She doesn’t know though, and I don’t plan on telling her. Sometimes it’s better to just keep quiet, and avoid shooting yourself in the foot.

As those of you who regularly read my posts know, I’ve started a wedding photography business with another photographer. We received our business cards on Monday, and I finally completed the website on Tuesday morning. We couldn’t afford to get someone to design the cards and website, so I did it myself, even though that meant it took me a lot longer than if a professional had done it. But now it’s done and we’re officially “open for business”.

I enjoy our business meetings. We get together once a week. We spend more time laughing and messing around than actually getting things done. We always manage to do everything we had planned for that day’s meeting though. But instead of it taking us an hour, it takes us over two, and sometimes even three hours. But it’s worth it. I was disappointed that she didn’t wear her flashing shoes at our meeting yesterday. Apparently they were on charge.

The one part I don’t enjoy is the marketing. But at least I’m not doing it alone, which makes it seem more manageable. There’s a reason people study this stuff. Oh well, we’ll get there. It might take time, but the day we get our first wedding booking we’re going to go crazy!

And then I might just buy myself a pair of those flashing shoes.

Adult Children

I had another great night’s rest. I’m constantly tired (the story of my life), but for most of the day, much less than usual. Wow, I really needed all the sleep I’ve been getting. So I was in a good, healthy mood this morning. I had a few not so good moments, but they were bearable.

After work I met up with my business partner (let’s call her Kim) and Jasmine (who helps us with our marketing) to take some photo’s of ourselves for our new website and Facebook page. We had such an amazing time. Kim took photo’s of me, I of her, and Jasmine took some of the two of us together. I set my camera to auto mode for her, and gave her a quick tutorial on how to work it, as well as some composition tips. She took some good shots, and seemed to be having fun. She was just snapping away, even when Kim and I were fooling around in between our “professional mode”. We were running around, semi-climbing the trees. Just being big children. I felt happy. I was having fun, and it felt so damn good. I’m at my happiest when playing with children. My inner child feels free during those moments. I connect better with children than I do adults. I’m that person who you’ll see running around with the kids at an event or party, instead of sitting at the “adult’s table”. Kim, who is young at heart, is also a real adult child. I tell her that all the time, and she loves hearing it!

She’s 58, which I found out today! There’s no way! I thought she was 50! She’s one of those happy, full of energy, extroverted, and confident people. I always enjoy spending time with her and Jasmine. Even when we have our meetings over a cup of coffee, we have fun. It’s laid back and easy. Jokes abound. I’ll give you an example of what a character she is. She has these white sneakers that flash different colours when she walks. She wears them often, even in crowded shopping malls, restaurants, etc. She certainly draws attention. The first time she wore them when we went for dinner, I freaked out when I saw them. But she made it seem cool! Seriously! The next time we went for lunch and she was wearing those shoes, one of them stopped flashing (apparently it was flat- shoes going flat? Who knew). When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress whether they have a charger lying around so my friend could charge her shoe. Jasmine went bright red. But Kim and I (and the waitress of course) just laughed. Now that’s the effect Kim has on me. When I’m around her, I feel confident and couldn’t care less about what people think. Her energy is contagious. After a couple of hours with her, I’m left feeling happy, but exhausted.

I’m coming off that high now. I don’t have any of the strong feel good emotions I had earlier, but I’m not feeling bad either. Just tired.

It was a good day, and I’m so grateful for that.

A Hostile Takeover

I’m an introvert.

When I spend too much time with a person or people, I start getting frustrated. Even with my friends. I need time alone. I don’t want to spend every weekend with people. Sometimes I just want to spend time with myself. Being lazy, watching TV, reading, studying up on things that I find interesting (such as psychology). There are many times where I crave closeness though. And it comes at the worst possible times. When everyone else is so busy with their lives that they don’t have time to spend with me. I tend to fall into a depression then, and feel unimportant and rejected. I’ve never actually had anyone hold space for me while I was going through a difficult time. When I really needed someone, just anyone, I was alone. Which is probably one of the reasons I’m so attached to my therapist. She’s helped me through a lot of dark moments. When I had no one, she was there. She was (and is) my person. I hold onto the hope that one day I’ll find that person who will walk with me through it all, and let me do the same for them. Through both the good and the bad.

Right now I’ve withdrawn into my shell.

I had to photograph a wedding on Friday. I’m a photographer but I don’t do weddings. But I made an exception in this case, as it was a small wedding and I know the bride. I was terrified. One of the reasons I don’t do weddings is because it’s the one event that you just can’t mess up on. You don’t get a second chance. And I just don’t have the confidence that I feel every other photographer has. I wanted to cancel every day for a week, wondering what the hell had come over me in accepting the job. But when I make a commitment, I stick to it, even if it hurts. Besides, it was a job, and I desperately needed it.

It was so stressful. And now I’m working on the photo’s, before putting together the package that they selected. I’m going to be working on it for the rest of this week. At least I enjoy it. All that anxiety had built up over the week, and now that it’s over, I’m exhausted and just want to be alone.

The photo’s came out better than I expected, but less perfect than I wanted. People keep telling me my photography is really good. But no matter how many times I’ve heard that, it just doesn’t stick. Unfortunately our brains have a negativity bias. The bad sticks, while the good seeps away quickly. It’s automatic, as the brain has a high sensitivity to negative stimuli. Fortunately, it can be changed (with a lot of hard work). You can read more here.

When I’m doing a photo shoot, I pretend to be confident, calm and collected. One of the reviews I received said “she was professional, calm and comfortable”. If only this client knew how I was trembling inside, feeling like a fraud. Don’t get me wrong. I love taking photos. It’s the interacting with people that I struggle with. And the fear of messing up.

In other news, my stepmom’s parents are here for the next two weeks (and they might even stay for 3 weeks), and I’ve been exiled from my room. I’m now staying in my step brother’s room (he’s sharing with his sister- obviously in separate beds). There are now 8 people in the house. It’s crowded, and noisy. I want peace and quiet when I wake up in the morning. To be able to sit outside and not hear twenty voices. I’m not a morning person. I have my own bathroom in my room. Now I need to share one with the kids and my uncle. I can’t shower when I want to, I need to schedule it around when they want to shower, and then I’m stuck with lukewarm or cold water. Even the kids get preference over me, which is frustrating.

I think of it this as a hostile takeover, hence the title. See how I blow things way out of proportion? It’s a talent of mine.

In our last session, my therapist used a REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) “technique”. It goes something like this:
My beliefs: I should have my room to myself. I should have all my stuff around me. I mustn’t let this upset me so much. I must get over it. She’s helping me eliminate the words “should”, “have to” “must”, etc. So I’ve been trying to re-frame those thoughts. Instead of “I should have all my stuff around me and have my space to myself” I’ve been saying: “I would prefer to have my room and space to myself, but they’re not going to be here forever. I’ll get my room back when they leave. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, and yes, I’m annoyed about it, and I get to feel that way”. It’s the anger that I’m trying to replace with less destructive, intense emotions. So I’m practicing this (my homework).

Wish me luck for these next few weeks!

Kindness & Gratitude #1

It’s so easy to get stuck in the darkness, and feel that we’ll never get out of that place. To feel like the whole world is against us. Which is why it’s so important to notice the kindness and compassion that exists, and focus on those things for which we are grateful. I’ve decided to start a series of posts to remind us that there is hope. I don’t know how often I’ll write a post for this series, but I’ll try to do one at least once a month.

A little while ago, Jasmine and I went for a walk through one of the many forests in the countryside. On our way back to the car, a guy came running after us. I froze, my heart pounding. Until I saw what was happening. My driver’s license had fallen off my key holder, and he had picked it up to give back to me. I was so relieved. And exceptionally grateful. I had my driver’s license stolen in a smash and grab last year, so I know how much of an inconvenience and hassle it is to get a new one. The kindness of a stranger.

After our walk, I drove Jasmine back to the clinic where she was staying. Sitting with her on the bench just before I left, so close. Not talking. Just feeling. I felt sad. She wasn’t feeling too great, and lay her head on my shoulder. It was a bittersweet moment. I realized that we might have lost some of the things we had being in an intimate relationship, but the connection and love is still there. It’s the simple things that are the most important. Not taking anything for granted.

I was sitting on the beach a few weeks ago, enjoying my alone time, and watching the sun set. These words came to me:

If you can look at a sunset and feel the beauty of it in your heart, there’s still life and hope inside you.

sunset-journeytowardhealingwordpress

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.

The Ocean In Me

I was recently featured on a beautiful website, Broken Light Collective, and thought I’d share it here too. Photography is an amazing art form, which helps me find the beauty in life and this incredible planet we call home. It’s also a great way to express and explore our feelings.

I wrote a little something that I feel ties in with this photo of the same name “The Ocean In Me”:

A calm and beautiful ocean lies in front of me
But today, today she has other plans
Clouds gather in the distance
Close, closer
The light breeze not content anymore
Sweeping over me, blowing faster
Running from the intensity to follow
Thunder rages, announcing the storm

They don’t understand, they can’t
Waves crashing over one another
Emotions rising and falling
Fast, faster
Sweeping me up in the current
Struggling beneath the waves
Desperate, coming up for air
Only to be swept up, and away again

A calm and beautiful ocean lies in front of me
And today, today she is content

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

Please welcome first-time contributor Rayne, a woman in her early thirties who was recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, as well as Borderline Personality Disorder. She’s struggled with depression her entire life, and never felt that she truly belonged anywhere. Passionate about photography and helping others, her goal is to start studying psychology as soon as she is able to.

About these photos: “You can be staring out at the ocean, on a beautiful cloudless day, and all of a sudden the wind starts blowing, clouds appear in the sky, and a storm approaches. That’s what happened the day this photo was taken. The wind had just picked up, and the clouds were starting to come in from behind us. This photograph reminds me of my own emotions. How quickly they can change, and how it can feel like an unstoppable force at times. It also represents loneliness, abandonment, and the…

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The Many Faces Of Emptiness

One of the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder according to the DSM-IV is:

“chronic feelings of emptiness”

“Yes, I get that. But how does it feel?” A friend asked me the other day.

Good question. How does it feel? Can it even be felt? Doesn’t the very definition suggest “blankness”?

Yet, it can most certainly be “felt” in a sense.

Most people will experience a feeling of emptiness during their lives. But for those of us who experience it almost daily, it’s difficult to explain. It comes in many forms. It’s like asking someone who has had a heart attack how it felt. Sure, they can describe it and we “get it”, but in a limited way, and only as far as our imaginations allow. As we all know, imagination isn’t the most accurate of things.

I’ve always loved this Egyptian proverb, which I believe can also be used in this instance:

What reveals itself to me ceases to be mysterious for me alone: if I unveil it to anyone else, he hears mere words which betray the living sense: Profanation, but never revelation.

The Mirriam Webster dictionary defines “empty” and “emptiness” as follows:

“Containing nothing”, “empty space”
“Having no real purpose or value”
“The quality or state of being empty”

A few synonyms: black hole, blankness, vacancy, void, hollowness, nothingness, depletion, desolateness.

Dictionary definitions aside, here is how I personally experience this emptiness:

I can sense all the emotions inside myself, but am unable to reach them. To fully connect with them. To experience and “feel” them. As though there’s a layer of glass between the feeling and my conscious awareness (if I can call it that – my vocabulary is somewhat limited) , as this photo suggests:

journeyhealingbpd

It can also feel as though I have nothing inside of me. Just a large black hole. Nothing to give. Nothing can enter either. Like a glass of water that got knocked over, spilling the liquid everywhere, then picked up and placed back on the counter, devoid of it’s contents.

Possibly the best way I have ever been able to describe it, is through a bit of writing I did a few years back while experiencing this emptiness:

Shadow

I see her in my dreams…

She is but a lifeless form, a shadow, wandering aimlessly through this world.

No longer do her eyes behold the wonders of the world, the beauty of a sunrise. No longer does the cool breeze tickle her skin, nor the raindrops sting her face. The sounds filling the air are no longer music to her ears.

Never seeing, never tasting, never feeling…

Never having existed at all.

Not everyone experiences things the exact same way. How do you experience the state of emptiness?