Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Hey guys,

So I've been AWOL recently. My bad. I've had a big ol' change of circumstance and environment which meant I have moved back home to Manchester and am now living with my parents and am looking for work. Again. 
But I'm back, and after a break in Turkey, I'm just taking a step back to sort out my priorities and what I need to do next, I'm back! And believe you me, I have so many thoughts that I cannot wait to get down onto paper or up onto the web. 

It took a while for me to see it as such, but coming back home and changing jobs was actually probably the best thing for me. Hindsight is such a valuable thing, because now, looking back, I can see that I should have done something about not being happy sooner. My environment meant I often felt anxious, which was stressful enough, but throw depression into the mix and friends... you have yourself a  problem. Because I was feeling tired, I was isolating myself and just getting myself through the day meant that I didn't have the energy, and stopped finding the time, to do any of the other things I wanted to do because I enjoyed them. 

I stopped writing, I didn't take enough care of myself and I got unhelpfully inside my own head. I felt like a failure, even when I was working my hardest. At the worst points, I'd sit at my desk and stare at my screen trying to stop the panic attack I could feel rising in my chest, like a living embodiment of the 'internally screaming' meme. I was desperate to not show anything through my expression because I knew that if anyone asked me "are you alright?" it would become clear that I wasn't. And even worse, I felt that if I admitted that, it meant I was being ungrateful. I had been given a fantastic opportunity, with a great team and with a great organisation and I didn't fit the role as I thought I would. I didn't want to say anything because not only did I not want to seem selfish to my friends who were still looking for work or who were also struggling, but I also didn't want to seem weak.

Honestly, I can be the most stubborn human in the world and I will want to stick something out because I want to prove a point or prove someone wrong. My anxiety makes me feel like people think I'm stupid, or that I'm wrong, or unimpressive and that 'they all hate me'. I've done so many things simply to prove that I could, or because I felt I needed to prove myself. Every one of those decisions was a bad idea. Not because what I was doing was bad necessarily, but because I was doing it for the wrong reason. The other side of my anxiety means that I don't want to let people down or leave a job unfinished or done badly. If I do something, I place 100% of my effort into it. Some call that high functioning anxiety, I call it bloody annoying. Yes, it means I give a lot, but if for some reason something doesn't feel right, or if my depression gets in the way, I can get stuck. I simultaneously want to do everything, and want to do it so perfectly that no-one could possibly be cross at me, and feel too useless to do anything right at all. It's exhausting. 

For example, I was cooking risotto for my family last week, and I knocked over a jug of stock which in turn knocked over a glass of wine, both of which were part of the recipe, and the liquid just went everywhere! All over me, all over the counter, all over the chopping board and the veggies I had prepped and I was so cross at myself, and embarrassed, that I burst into tears and cried for a solid few minutes before I even attempted a clear up. I hadn't had a bad day; I'd had plenty of sleep, no-one else was in the kitchen so no-one had seen me knock over the jug (and people only realised that I'd made a mess after I told them). I cried because I felt like an incompetent idiot in that moment, and like I was pathetic and clumsy and me spilling this stock suddenly became a metaphor for every stupid thing I'd ever done in my life ever and I hated it and I hated me aaannd ... I think you get my drift. My mental health just ran away with it, for no reason and completely out of the blue. It's stuff like that that's so hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand mental health problems first hand. To many people that response seems completely unnecessary and over dramatic. But to me, I was actually being relatively reigned in. 

I can't control how my mental health effects me as much as I want to. When I was at my worst, I tried to find control in so many areas. I took up habits that were ultimately bad for me, and developed behaviours that I hoped would make me feel in control of something, because there was so much I couldn't control. And it led to me hurting myself. I will always be affected by that time and even now, after I have given up so many of those habits and behaviours, I have developed others which indicate my desire for control manifesting itself in other ways (my GP recently diagnosed me with mild Trichotillomainia).  

Have you seen the Netflix show Riverdale? 
There's a character called Betty who tries too hard to remain under control, she clenches her hands into fists so tightly that her nails dig into her hands and cut her palms. I really relate to that. I used to do something similar. It's like you are so full of some horrible emotion - or lack of emotion - but you can't convey the depth and strength of what you are feeling to anyone so they can't help you. Because you can't express yourself verbally it comes out physically - but you don't want to look stupid by making a scene so you do something self destructive. I get it. I don't do it now though, at least not consciously. And you shouldn't either. Trust me. *

*if you find yourself wanting to do something like this, or similarly
 self destructive please, talk to someone, find help or look up information on why you feel the need to do so and how to take to next step to recovery. 

I cried in the kitchen because I lost control of the vegetable stock and couldn't control the mess it made or predict where it would go, and I didn't know how to communicate that to someone in a way that made sense and couldn't ask for help without feeling pathetic. Part of what I didn't enjoy in my old job was being unable control or predict the moods of those around me. I didn't know how to express my anxiety and unhappiness in a way that wouldn't make me feel stupid or pathetic, so I felt like I couldn't ask for help. 

In no way am I saying it was the fault of anyone I was with. Just like how I wouldn't blame the jug of stock for being in the way of my elbow. I moved my elbow, it knocked the jug, it spilled. That's what happened. That is why it happened. Not because I'm stupid, or pathetic or whatever other horrible name that my mind calls me. So at work, I did my best, I found that it wasn't the right role for me, and when the time came I chose to leave. That is what happened. Of course there are other factors that might have contributed, but there's no sense or place for me to say that it was someone else's fault or a failing on my part. Because not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I'm actually quite smart, and I'm braver than I believe and I work hard. There were parts of that role that I really enjoyed and that I was really good at, but I still need to work on communicating how I am doing and where I am struggling. I need to be braver, and find the right way to be braver with my honesty and say when and how I need help. 

So that's what happened guys, at a point where it became appropriate, I made the decision not to extend my contract and come home. Stepping away from the situation reminded me that a step forward is still a step forward, even if its in another direction, I wasn't as stuck as I thought I was. Staying where I was would have been like deciding to sort out my risotto disaster by scooping up the spilt liquid with my hands and trying to get it back into the jug. No, what I needed to do was clean up, make sure who ever came after me could start efficiently and without difficulty and make plans about what to do next.

Now that I'm home I'm applying for other jobs, I'm making other plans; I'm applying for courses and I'm looking after myself a whole lot better. Of course I miss my friends and I miss Hull, and it was tough to make the choice to come home but I'm here now. It's not the end of the book, it's just the next chapter. I'm working on getting therapy to help me, but for now I'm happy to control mainly what happens in the kitchen and de-clutter my life. Obviously I need to find work, and I'm doing what I can in that respect, but I'm not obsessing about what I could have done differently. There's no point crying over spilled vegetable stock.
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Thanks, see you soon


1 comment:

  1. Hi Connie
    Thank you for writing about your experience and feelings. By being so open I am sure you will be helping many and I hope it has helped you too. I am currently removing myself from a situation which has led me to feeling unhappy and am moving back to the NW as soon as my house is sold. I've enjoyed being nearer family and watched my granddaughter grow from 5-11 and I would not have missed that for the world, but now thinking of years to come I know I need to be back closer to my S Manchester friends and music. Its easy to feel we should persevere and make a bad situation work but sometimes as you have found it is not the best option. I am so glad you back in a safe place and that you will find your way into your 'next chapter' with love Andrea xx