Love is all you need

Love. Just four letters but together they make a word that is massively important. Love is amazing and life changing. Love makes you smile, makes your heart sing and makes you feel like you are walking on air.

You don’t get to my age without having experienced the highs of first love and the lows of having had your heart broken. It’s not all hearts, flowers, sunshine and rainbows but real love is amazing. As much as my cat has been my constant companion and shadow since he adopted me and through my recent physical and mental health challenges, my boyfriend has been my rock.

He is so supportive. He has my back but will also give me a metaphorical kick up the bum when I need it. I’m incredibly lucky. We just had an instant connection that had deepened as our relationship has progressed. He gets me and for the first time, I feel I can be completely myself.

Long live love ❤️

What DO I want to be when I grow up?

I’m starting to think that I’ve been settling. I’ve been off work for several months now, I’ve always said that I love my job and I don’t want to leave. I was asked how I feel about having been off and my honest reply was that I miss the people but not the work.

I’ve also come to realise that I’ve defined myself by my job. I’ve let it become who I am rather than the job I do. That’s not healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’m good at what I do and I have more years of experience than I care to admit, but maybe I need a change.

Herein lies my question and if I’m honest, my difficulty. I know what I’d love to do – become a sommelier. My difficulty is that it is a complete change and it is scary. I had a light bulb moment when reading Laura Clery’s brilliant book IDIOT. (I read it in one sitting, I just could not put it down. I definitely recommend it. So does Dawn O’Porter, if my recommendation isn’t enough.) I realised that I too make decisions based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of taking a risk, fear of not knowing what will happen, fear of not being able to pay the bills. I could go on but you get my point.

I wasn’t always scared. Even if I was, I didn’t let it stop me. I’ve upped sticks and moved to a different country. I’ve moved to completely new places where I knew nobody and I’ve succeeded. I’ve even ended a long term relationship when I knew it wasn’t right for either of us. I’ve also taken some risks (I think that was more about my mental health signaling that I wasn’t well rather than a calculated risk though.) I’ve made those brave decisions in the past, so what is stopping me now?

I’ve exhausted my full sick pay entitlement and I’m managing. I do have the security of a permanent position and am very broody. (I’m very aware of my age when it comes to my desire to be a mother. I’ll be classed as a geriatric mother, which just sounds unbelievably awful.) I think it boils down to confidence. I am far from the most confident person but following my dream gave me the courage to do whatever it took. Move to a different city, not a bother. Need to drive for work, drop me off a hire car and I’ll drive there. (Back in the days when I hated driving and had no car.) I can’t quite figure out at what point I stopped dreaming.

There’s no doubt that my recent physical and mental health difficulties compounded by my work issues have knocked my confidence. Truth be told, it was on the floor. I had none. I was convinced that I was a failure. I’m not fully back to myself yet but I’m getting my confidence back. A wise woman once told me that “energy follows thought” and my friend is a big advocate of having a vision board so maybe it’s time I start to create my vision board, think those positive thoughts, create that positive energy…and start dreaming again.

This too shall pass….hopefully

While it is true to say that I am feeling much more like myself than I have in a long time….something that my Mum commented on having noticed. These past few days, or more specifically nights, my anxiety has reared its ugly head.

I’ve always had fairly crazy dreams and have definitely woken up shaking my head on more than one occasion. These past few nights though have been different. I’ve found myself waking up drenched in sweat after dreaming of being chased, trapped, attacked, assaulted and feeling cornered. I’ve been finding myself trying to shout out in my sleep at my attacker and have woken myself trying to do so.

I’ve had nightmares before but previously when I’ve fallen back to sleep, I’ve had more pleasant dreams and woken feeling refreshed. Certainly not saturated in sweat with my heart racing. Recently though when I’ve managed to reassure myself that it was just a dream and I’m safe before going back to sleep, I’ve had another nightmare more disturbing than the one before.

Worse still, this feeling has lingered. Still is. I know what the cause is too – work. Ow that I’m feeling better, I find myself feeling more and more angry at the way I was treated by my manager. I’m wanting to go back to work but need a resolution to the manager issue. I’ve had a follow up meeting with the Occupational Therapist who is on agreement that a resolution is needed to allow my successful return to work.

Patience is not my strong point, so waiting to hear from my employer is causing me anxiety. I don’t know whether to take the bull by the horns and make the first move? I don’t feel that I’m calm enough to put my grievance in writing as yet. I’m stuck. I’m also tired of feeling like I’m out of control or of waiting for things to happen.

As the weather has taken a cooler turn, I’ve felt myself struggling to get warm. Its not uncommon for me to feel cold when I’m tired but I’ve also felt achey all over. I haven’t gotten around to getting my flu vaccination yet this year…I don’t know whether to go for it or hold off till I feel better. I’m worried that I might be getting a cold. Long gone are the days that a cold would come and go. The joys of being asthmatic means I now worry that it goes into my chest.

Its also fair to say that I am exhausted tired. I’m never fully rational or think straight when I’m tired. Unfortunately I’m also not really able to sleep during the day, unless I’m ill or having a migraine. I badly need a good and restful nights sleep. I really hope it happens. Until then, today will be fueled by caffeine and sugar.

Sassy 1 – 0 Anxiety

Its been quite a journey over the last few months, not always an easy one as I’ve battled my anxiety. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve always been a worrier and been anxious at different times of stress, e.g. exams, waiting for results but never to the extent that it has seriously impacted my ability to get on with my day to day life. That changed when things came to a head in April.

Now it’s September and I’m actually feeling like me again. That’s not to say that I’m not anxious, there are still some unresolved work issues that need to be tackled but I feel like I can cope with resolving them. Don’t get me wrong, I am still taking medication and will be for a while yet. (While I am feeling more like me, I’m not ready to give up my safety net just yet.)

I have also gained huge awareness of my mental health. Truth be told, I hadn’t realised just how unwell I actually was. I just kept on going and wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere and why I was constantly chasing my tail? I was exhausted, not sleeping properly and it took all of my energy to get up and get through the day. The really scary thing is, if my physical health hadn’t declined I would have kept on going and ended up in an even bigger mess. It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

I now know just how critical it is to listen to my body and really take care of myself. Nothing is worth risking my mental and physical health for. I am also incredibly lucky to have a supportive partner, family and friends as well as a GP that I can open up to and know that they will help and support me. I know that sadly this is not the case for everyone, GP’s are overstretched and don’t always have time to spend with their patients.

When I look back to Christmas 2018 that I spent with my family, I barely recognise myself. I was anxious about the smallest of things and kept my feelings to myself. I doubted myself. I felt stupid and like a failure. I felt like I let my family down. I did have an inkling that I wasn’t right but didn’t act upon it. I had recently had the dosage of my anti-depressant increased and figured that once it kicked in, I’d be fine! Now I see that there should have been major alarm bells ringing that all was not well. Hindsight really is a marvellous thing.

I can’t go back and change the past, I don’t have a time machine. I can definitely learn from it though. I feel I really have. I will do my damndest to ensure that I never go back to that dark place again. Nor will I ever let anyone take my power from me or allow them to make me feel that way. I am annoyed that it wasn’t picked up on, but that’s another issue and not one I have control of. I can however, control my actions and behaviour. I am only responsible for me and my choices.

I am proud of the choices that I have made and am continuing to make to get and stay healthy – both physically and mentally. I’m on a positive path and well on the way to getting my sass back. Long may it last. Look out world, Sassy is coming for you…

Autumn and Asthma

I love autumn, its my favourite season. I love the colours as the leaves change and fall. I love wearing boots, cosy jumpers and scrunching through the leaves. I love wearing scarves and feeling cosy. I love the crisp mornings and autumn sunshine too. I love knowing that when “Strictly Come Dancing” is back on TV that Hallowe’en and Christmas are coming.

There is one thing I don’t love. Catching a cold. My lungs don’t share my love of the change of season. The cooler air is not for them, nor is the return to school and the increase in coughs and colds. Congestion is my nemesis. My asthma hates it. Catching a simple cold earlier in the year led to real respiratory woes (https://sassyscot.blog/2019/04/28/adult-onset-asthma and https://sassyscot.blog/2019/05/16/your-health-is-your-wealth/)

Its early September and once again I’m congested…at least this time I’m better prepared. I’m stocked up on my inhalers and nasal sprays and I’ll continue to use them. I’m going to do my damndest to avoid a repeat of April. I’ll also have to nip this in the bud quickly and then get my flu jab. Its all glamour being asthmatic!! Better to be safe than sorry though, I’m in no hurry to let a sinus infection floor me again and there’s no way I’ll risk the flu.

In the meantime, I’ll look out my cosy jumpers get my boots on wrap my scarf round me making sure to cover my mouth and nose and enjoy the autumn.

Crossroads

I feel like I’m at a real crossroads. I’m imminently about to turn 40. I think I’m still in denial about that….I don’t feel 40. I don’t even know what being 40 should feel like! In my head, I’m still 21. I think that 40 is a really grown up age, I’m nowhere near a grown up….I’m still making it up, hoping I get it right and trying to get my s**t together! Grown ups are together!!

I digress. There are two key things that are bothering me and causing me to feel unsure what direction to go in. The first is my desire to be a mother. I can hear that biological clock of mine ticking and its getting louder and louder all the time. I’m terrified that I’ve left it too late. I’m also very aware that if I do conceive, because of my age the pregnancy will be much higher risk and there are increased risks of birth defects. My relationship with my boyfriend is also fairly new…we’ve been together 7 months. I know with every fibre of my being that he is my soulmate and the man I want to be the father of our child. (Much as I’d love to have 2 children, I won’t push my luck!)

The other is work. Not the whole unresolved issues (see my previous post: Decision deadline approaches…) but what do I want to do for the rest of my working life? I’d love to be able to work from home but I’m not in a place financially to do that right now. Realistically, I need to find a sideline that I can do in my spare time whilst continuing to work full time. I’d love to go down the counselling route, so would need to save to go back into education to achieve that. I’m also fortunate enough to be on a permanent contract, do I really want to give that up?

This is also where the things that are playing on my mind converge. If my dream of having a child is to be realised, I’ll need to do that sooner rather than later. Of course that’s a decision to be made jointly with my boyfriend. There is also a huge financial element to having children, small people need lots of stuff!! All flippancy aside, having children means that they come first and their needs need to be met emotionally, physically and financially. Raising a child needs financial stability….not realistic if I’m planning on going back to education.

So here I am. At a real crossroads with no idea which way to go?

Decision deadline approaches…

I feel overall that I’m winning my battle with anxiety. I’m feeling more positive and more like myself. Whether that is due to medication, my self-care or a combination of both, I don’t know but whatever it is, I’m not complaining. Long may it last!

There is one black cloud approaching on the horizon. Work. The issues there are still unresolved. As I write this I can feel my stomach tying itself into knots and my mouth getting dry. I don’t know how to start to resolve this issue. It’s also not fully my decision; my GP, employer, an Occupational Therapist are also part of this decision and my partner is also involved.

I do know that if I’m to return to my job, I need a different manager. I don’t feel comfortable with my current manager. I don’t feel that I can trust my current manager. I don’t want to leave my job, I love it and I am good at it. I’ve been made to doubt my abilities over the last year or so and its taken me till now to recognise how skilled and experienced I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and am still learning everyday but I am good at my job.

I think I’m ready to get back to work and all that it entails. Its been a long time that I’ve been off sick. Home is definitely my cocoon, my safe place but I think I’m ready to face the world again. That said, I’m kind of relieved that its not my decision to make alone. I’ve definitely been guilty of rushing back to work too soon in the past. I can’t afford to make that mistake again. I now know that my health is my top priority and I will never again let myself get into a situation that is so detrimental to both my physical and mental health.

I feel kind of stuck and a bit out of control. I don’t like feeling out of control. I need to wait for a second appointment with the Occupational Therapist – patience is not always my strong point. What I can control, is continuing with my medication and going back to my GP for guidance. I can also continue with my self-care. Putting my reasons for seeking a change of manager onto paper may also help….it’ll clarify my thoughts and be helpful when making the application to change manager to my employer. In the meantime, I’m going to breathe and trust that everything will work out for the best.