On the move….

I’ve decided to move…. not physically but my blog. I’ve finally managed to set up my own website (long story) and will continue my blogging adventure there.

My website address is https://sassyscot79.org you can find all my previous blogs there and it is where you can keep up to date with my musings. I’m still @sassyscot and my profile picture is still the same…hope to see you there 😊

You can also find me on instagram @sassyscot79 and on Twitter @SScot79

It’s good to talk

As a person, I’ve always very much been an observer. I’m happier behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight. When it comes to making decisions, I’m very much someone who likes to have all of the information to take my time and make an informed decision. I’m a listener rather than a talker, definitely an introvert who prefers a quiet life rather than one full of noise.

I think that has been to my cost recently. I’ve never had any difficulty in asking for help until recently. I knew that I was struggling with my mental health but I did it in silence and on my own. My parents have always said that no matter what is happening, I can always tell them. No matter what, they want to know. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them about the work issue. I has no qualms or reservations telling them about the breakdown of my previous relationship or my ex contacting me seeking support after we split.

I was embarrassed and I actually believed what I was consistently being told. I believed that I was a failure. I was scared of making my manager aware of my mental health difficulties as it would have been used against me. I didn’t want them to have anymore ammunition to use against me. The harder I tried, the more “evidence” my manager found to use against me. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. I was constantly on a state of high alert. I was exhausted. I was so anxious and it was constant. I was spending time with my family at Christmas and was still in a heightened state of anxiety. I was even anxious about making dinner for them one evening. I know that’s ridiculous but that was my reality and still I didn’t tell them until months later.

I did eventually confide in one of my friends. I’m incredibly lucky to have the most amazing friends who support me and are there for me. Even when I was telling my friend what had been going on, I still felt that I was a f**k up. My friend instantly told me that what I was experiencing at work was wrong. She then gave out to me in a supportive way that I hadn’t told her before. I felt like a weight had been lifted. For the first time in a long time, I realised that I was trying my best and wasn’t a failure. I also recognised that supports that should have been in place at work, were not.

I then started to confide in my boyfriend. He just knows when I’m not myself or something is bothering me. We talk about everything and I can tell him exactly what is on my mind no matter how big or small. He has also experienced something similar in a previous job so knows exactly what I was going through. It was round about this time that my physical health started to suffer…I’m convinced that this is linked to me starting to open up and acknowledge to myself that I was struggling. I also told my boyfriend that I was taking medication for my mental health.

I had some annual leave and visited my family and caught up with another one of my friends who also had previous experience of my situation. I felt more comfortable talking about my work situation as I was realising that while my work had suffered, I no longer saw myself as a failure or f**k up. I didn’t tell my family or friends about my being on medication though. I guess that is something that I’m still a bit vexed about. I don’t feel ashamed about being on medication, I don’t see my anti-depressants as different to my asthma medication. I think I’m just more aware that there’s still a stigma around mental health and the prescribing of medication for it. Maybe there is still part of me that feels a bit embarrassed.

I also then started to seek support from work. I’ve found this to be both supportive and anxiety provoking. My employer has been very supportive, I’ve been open with the HR department about my situation and the background to it. It was a relief to get it all off my chest. A meeting has been arranged to discuss my return to work. I do have a feeling of trepidation about it but I also need to have my voice heard. I need this opportunity to say my piece. I want to draw a line under all this and move forward. I need closure. One way or another, I hope all will end well.

Heart of the matter

As a part of the process to get to the route cause of my recent high blood pressure, I’ve been having different tests and scans.

Blood tests are always a challenge, especially if I’ve had to fast first. My veins just disappear into my body and I end up looking like a bruised pincushion! Of course I bruise easily just to add insult to injury.

My high blood pressure was first apparent in April, my GP regularly monitors my blood pressure as I take the oral contraceptive pill. I put it down to stress caused by work. It didn’t improve and my readings over the course of 24 hours were sky high and so I started taking medication. My GP also referred me on to a consultant for further investigations.

So far, I’ve had blood tests done. This showed that my levels of renin and aldosterone were high. To investigate further, I had a CT scan with contrast dye of my kidneys. Thankfully, my veins behaved that day and although it took two radiographers to insert the canula, it was successful. Its an odd sensation having the dye injected. First there’s the metallic taste, then, much more bizarrely is the warm sensation and feeling that you have wet yourself. I’ve had a few CT scans in my time but that is still the weirdest feeling!

Today’s test was an ECG. This was to see how my heart is functioning and to check if the high blood pressure has caused the muscle of my heart to thicken. Thankfully my heart is normal size and there is no thickening of the muscle. Its quite something to see and hear your heart beating on the screen. I really realised how much I take it for granted. There it is, beating away countless times over my forty years keeping me alive.

It really does make e appreciate the work it does. I really do need to kickstart my weight loss, I haven’t quite got back on track after my birthday. Time to get back on the low carb lifestyle and exercise – my heart and I deserve it and I want to be as healthy as I can to start a family. No more excuses. ❤️

A political post

I try to avoid politics as a subject, not because I’m not interested, far from it, but because I find it so very divisive. From Scotland’s independence referendum in 2014 to the Brexit referendum in 2016. I’m very concerned at the tone of the Brexit debates…nobody should have to face death threats because their views are different or they are reporting on political debates. The depth of the division I also find very worrying. The division seems to have brought racism to the fore and very right wing opinions on immigration.

I no longer live in the UK but my family and most of my friends do. I still visit fairly regularly…something I need to work on doing more of. I will however still be affected by Brexit. I still have a bank account in the UK and a British passport. I’ve exchanged my driving licence already – my UK one would have been invalid had Britain left the EU in March and would be invalid if they leave on October 31st. My driving licence should have my current address on it anyway and Ireland is my home now.

I’m in the process of applying to have my birth to be registered as a foreign birth, so I can apply for an Irish passport. That’s not because I no longer want to be British. (I’ve always considered myself to be Scottish anyway.) I’m just ensuring that I can stay living and working in Ireland. All being well, after Britain leaves the EU, my living and working here should be covered under the arrangements of the Common Travel Area that was in place before Britain joined the EU. I’m just covering my options and applying for a passport that I’m entitled to due to having an Irish grandparent. It’ll also do no harm when holiday time comes around, I’ll still be able to use the EU customs channel using my Irish passport rather than queue at the non EU checkpoint.

I don’t know if Britain will leave the EU on October 31st or not. Its taken more than three years to negotiate an exit deal and with 16 days to go, there is still no agreement. Once an exit deal has been agreed then the task of negotiating trade, movement of goods, travel and everything else will begin. Its a massive task. It could take years. It could also wreak havoc on the British economy, sterling is down against the euro as it is. Great for me, not so my family or friends who plan on holidaying in Europe.

I honestly don’t know if people knew what exactly they were voting for in 2016. I don’t know if the politicians advocating for leave or remain knew what they were endorsing. I certainly don’t think anyone could have foreseen what has happened in the nearly 4 years since the referendum. That was only an advisory referendum anyway. Only time will tell what will happen…I don’t think it’ll end well though. I hope I’m wrong, but sadly I can’t see it somehow.

Maybe baby

Today, I finally sat down and composed my grievance document for work. It has made me feel sick with anxiety and taken me back to a very stressful and unhappy time. I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve attempted it several times and parked it as my anxiety levels went through the roof. In all honesty, I don’t want to go back to that work place. My GP won’t sanction it anyway.

I could ask for a transfer to a different location but if I’m totally honest, all I want to do is stay home and have babies. I’ve worked at my career since I graduated from university and now I want to be a Mum. More specifically a stay at home Mum. I don’t see the point in having children and having a child minder raise them. That’s only my opinion and I respect other people’s choices and views that are different to mine.

I know babies are expensive and being financially secure would be ideal but we don’t live in an ideal world. Fact is, I’m forty. Time is not on my side. My biological click is ticking, it has been ticking for a while and it is getting louder.

I like being at home. I feel safe at home, not that I feel unsafe when I’m out, but my house is my space. I’m in control when I’m home. I’m not really big into nights out – the hangovers are just not worth it. I’m ready to put my needs to one side and prioritise those of my child. It won’t be a huge wrench to put work aside to have a baby. I’m content.

I’ve also finally met a man that I want to have children with. He has a child from a previous relationship so I know already that he’s a good Dad. Its still fairly early days for our relationship and we have talked about having a child together. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned!

There are some health issues to get under control, my blood pressure medication is necessary but not compatible with pregnancy. I’d also like to be off my medication for anxiety and depression too. I’m not quite there yet. They are definitely my security net and I’m not ready to relinquish that right now. I can’t think of a better reason to keep focused on my recovery than having a baby.

World Mental Health Day

I decided that today will be the day that I take action to try to resolve my work issue. What I didn’t realise was all the anxiety that it would stir up and all the insecurities it would bring flooding back.

I have to laugh at the irony of my timing…only I could chose such an anxiety provoking activity on World Mental Health day! What has shocked me is the strength of the feelings I’m experiencing. It feels like I’m reliving it. I’m annoyed at myself for feeling so strongly. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve been wronged. I feel like I’m giving my power away. I know I need to take action, I need to get back to work….I want to get back to work.

What these last few months have taught me is the impact mental health can have on life. What I realised today is how shaky my confidence is. I know my action will have consequences and I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with those just yet. I also know that the more I stew on this, the worse I’ll feel. It’s a catch 22.

I don’t like confrontation. I do however need to be assertive. I wasn’t able to stand up for myself before. I need to do this. What I need to remember is that I tried my best and worked my hardest at a time when I wasn’t ok. I didn’t realise how not ok I was. At a time when I needed someone to recognise it for me, it didn’t happen. While I can’t go back and change the past, I can change my future.

I deserve better than I experienced. I need to be assertive and state my case. I have made a start and written out my grievances. Maybe I need to settle for that being enough for today. Its a step closer than I was yesterday.

While the past is unchangeable, I have learned a lot. I’m definitely better at listening to my body. I also feel that I know my mind better too. While going back over the events that led me to where I am today, I can see when my mental health started to go downhill. I’m older and definitely wiser now. Its always easy to be wise after the event though.

So, for the rest of today, I’m going to be kind to myself. Practice my self-care and write my ‘To do’ list for tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.

Reasons to be cheerful/ grateful/ positive

So my anxiety has sucker punched me in the gut today….its been a while. I know it will pass, so to distract myself I’m going to think about all the positive things in my life. Here goes:

1. My family. My family are the best. They know me better than I know myself and ALWAYS have my back. They are supportive and wise. I am so lucky to still have both of my parents. They are my go to people. They always give me wise counsel.

2. My boyfriend. I am so lucky and thankful that he is in my life. I’ve been happier these last eight months despite everything and that’s all down to him. He really understands me and knows how I’m feeling instinctively. He is also a huge support.

3. My friends. I have the most fantastic loyal and supportive friends. We may not live close to each other and we’re at different phases on our lives but I consider myself incredibly lucky that I can call, text or message my friends for a chat/ support/ honesty/ a good laugh and to take the piss out of me depending what I need at the time or they need from me.

4. My cat. He makes me laugh, is my shadow and looks at me sometimes like I’m bananas but I love him and would not be without him. Its been good for me to have him to look after and he takes care of me too. He’s my boy and I’m his human.

5. This blog. Blogging has really helped me. I’m still very new to it but I enjoy it. It’s a welcome distraction. I’ve always loved writing and have kept a journal for years. Sassy has given me an alter ego to express my thoughts without feeling exposed. It’s also been a great outlet for me to channel my thoughts on life, my mental health and anything else that comes to my mind.

6. Autumn. My favourite season of the year. Much as I love summer and the sunshine, by far and away my favourite time of year is autumn. Being able to wrap up in cosy jumpers, cuddle up under a blanket watching movies, light my autumnal candles (Yankee Candle scents Golden Chestnut, Spiced Orange and Soft Blanket are my current favourites.) I’m an Autumn baby so its in my nature. I just love being cosy!

7. Walking through crunchy leaves on a crisp day. Very much linked to my love of autumn. Pulling on a pair of boots, scarf and heading out for a walk is one of my favourite things to be able to do. I love the crunchy sound and all the colours of the season. All while getting fresh air, stretching my legs and clearing my head.

8. Cooking/ baking. I love getting into the kitchen and cooking or baking. I love making old favourites, batch cooking or baking scones, banana bread, muffins…whatever the mood takes me. I find it very therapeutic. This is definitely soup weather and I love it! Time to get my cook on!!

9. Being independent. I’m lucky that I’m very comfortable in my own company. I’m also well able to give new things a go. Whether that is building a flat pack bookcase, varnishing a pine blanket box or changing a light bulb. I’ll get on with it. I love the sense of satisfaction achieved when I succeed or accomplish a task. This sister is doing it for herself!