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.

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.

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…

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.

Trying to think positively

I’ve felt a bit off today, a bit stressed and anxious but nothing I can really put my finger on. My sleep hasn’t been great for a few weeks which doesn’t help, but then I’ve never been a great sleeper anyway. The milk was sour this morning but it is summer so it happens and it’s easily replaced. I decided to get some fresh air to clear my head and follow the advice of the medical professionals whose care I am currently under.

I said goodbye to my cat who was dozing on the sofa, pulled on my trainers and pulled the door closed behind me….only to realise that my keys were still inside. Sigh! All was not lost, I had my mobile so called a locksmith who very quickly – within seconds – had me back inside and out of the rain….of course it rained, it’s summer in Ireland after all!! So after trying to avoid taking medication to calm me down, I did take a Xanax to calm me. A cup of tea (with fresh milk) just wasn’t going to cut it this afternoon.

I know that avoiding a problem is no way to solve it but right now, I’m not ready to leave my bubble. It feels safe in here. If locking myself out causes me so much stress, how on earth can I return to reality and work with all its stresses and difficulties currently?

I am trying to be positive and look on the bright side. Starting with my thinking. I’m a strong independent woman. I have lots of different skills and abilities and am working hard to get my confidence level back up. Its taken a bit of battering professionally and I hadn’t fully understood how much it has affected me.

I also have the most amazingly supportive boyfriend, family and friends who have my back. My boyfriend isn’t seeing the best of me at the moment, I want to get me back not only for me but for him. We have a bright future ahead of us and I want to be fully immersed in it with him.

I found today stressful, but I survived and ultimately its not the end of the world. I will get the better of my anxiety and I will find the courage to tackle the difficulties at work….but just not yet.