Putting the best policy into practice…

It is highly unfortunate to find yourself in front of a doctor, being asked what sort of symptoms you’re experiencing, when one of those symptoms is the loss of the ability to concentrate or think clearly. Telling her what it is you want to happen is rather difficult as well when trying to make a decision is like trying to parachute onto a car speeding around Spaghetti junction. I know I’m writing more or less coherently now, but it’s not quite so hard when I’m hiding out at home on my own – although it’s still taken long enough just to write this paragraph. Urgh.

I’m off work sick. “Sick” meaning that I had to leave college two hours early yesterday because I’d spent most of the first lesson sitting in the staff room crying, the second lesson observing rather than joining in due to my brain being replaced by wet Kleenex, and the third one trying to decide whether to throw up or pass out. I had to concede defeat at that point, and told my tutor that on top of other stresses I had a tooth infection and didn’t know if I was just crazy or had a fever as well. It was true that I had been up since 6.30am and had spent the morning at the dental hospital being told I need yet another root canal. Eating disorders are such efficient destroyers of teeth.

I can’t sleep properly – I’m currently having several nights of tossing and turning followed by one of full on unconsciousness when I’m so exhausted I’m on the point of collapse, and then repeat. I’m having panic attacks on my way to work. I am disappearing off to cry briefly and pull myself together again repeatedly during the day at work. When someone asks me a question, I can’t answer. I can’t plan what I’m doing with the residents. If someone says something remotely critical I take it as a full scale attack and respond accordingly, shake a lot and cry when they are gone. I seem to be shaking a lot regardless of whether the person in front of me is critical or lovely, and in fact regardless of whether there is a person in front of me or not. I want to hurt myself, although I’m not going to. I want to stop eating, although I’m not going to. I have lost my appetite and keep eating things which are calorically adequate (example: somehow I convinced myself that a massive flapjack would do for dinner last night) but really not on for someone in recovery, and then wondering a couple of hours later why I feel like shit. Shit being cold, sick and shaky, not hungry, because I don’t DO hungry when stressed. It would be much easier if my appetite was not so affected by my anxiety.

I wasn’t really coping before the start of the year, but spending New Year’s Eve awake until 5am worrying and talking to the police about a close friend’s suicide attempt pushed me over the edge. For various reasons I was only told about the attempt, not the fact that they had then gone to hospital, so phoned the emergency services. The police phoned for the final time when they had discovered the whereabouts of my friend, but I was pretty much screwed by that point and had only just gotten to sleep around 5 when I was woken up by a loud repetitive noise a couple of hours later. I think it was that moment when I saw my friend’s text on my mobile informing me that they had overdosed that my brain decided it had had enough. I’ve felt completely numb since then, except when my body decides it’s going to cry without warning and when I had an attack of wanting to throw things a couple of days ago. Throwing things would probably help, actually.

I’m angry with myself as much as anyone else. I am full of “should haves”. I should have done something about my work and relationship much sooner, I should have had my mobile on me at the time my friend texted me, I should have said or done this or that to my manager, I should have gone to the doctor before now. I shouldn’t be whinging to my housemate because she has her own stuff to deal with, I shouldn’t be whinging at all because EVERYONE goes through shitty stuff and not everyone has a full blown nervous breakdown when they are under pressure, I shouldn’t have a problem with work because it’s normal to be paid next to nothing for having three peoples’ worth of responsibility and pressure. I shouldn’t be taking time off when I won’t get paid for the first three days. I shouldn’t be eating into my comparatively tiny savings. I should just pull myself together and stop making a fuss.

I can’t.

I keep telling myself that I’ve survived worse and will be okay, but that doesn’t stop this from absolutely and completely sucking. I see it as a personal failure to allow myself to become so unwell, when I’ve spent the last three years trying to sort out my mental health so that I CAN deal with a bit of stress without immediately becoming depressed or too anxious to function. Although really, I think the emphasis in that sentence should have been on “a bit”.


11 responses to “Putting the best policy into practice…

  1. Beverley Osborne

    Dear Katie, I am listening… wish I could help… Please don’t beat yourself up with ‘should haves’ / ‘what might have beens’. It’s not productive and doesn’t achieve anything. Far better to focus on the future.

    Yesterday our psych came up with a really good way at looking at what can seem like bleak futures. I wish I’d had my voice recorder with me to tape it and I’m b*ggered if I remember exactly what she said, but it was bl**dy good. Simply a way of looking at the same future, with essentially the same outlook and feelings, but turning it on its head. I guess a way to do this would be to sum up your thinking in a short paragraph (if possible!!!) and then rewrite this paragraph so it says the same thing, only in a more positive way. (Okay, I know you’ve heard it all before… blah blah blah… sorry if you have… just putting in my twopenneth!)

    Someone also said the other day that if you never go in search of doors then you won’t be there when they open, which I thought was rather good. It was Carole King, the 1970s singer, I think.

    Anyway, I am listening… take a deep breath, Katie, you can do it.


  2. “I shouldn’t be whinging at all because EVERYONE goes through shitty stuff”. True, everyone does. But isn’t it the fact people share what they’re going through that helps others to see different points of view/ to see the experiences of others that they themselves might not have directly experienced, and so can offer support to others who may go through something similar in the future? We are little bags of shared knowledge, us humans. If we all kept everything to ourselves then we wouldn’t be able to help each other.
    If there’s anything I can do, then please let me know. And there isn’t any reason to be angry with yourself. We always say “I should have done this sooner” etc, but the fact is you HAVE been to the doctor, you are sorting the work situation out. If ‘should haves’ are going to rear their ugly heads then whatever you do do, the other side would have been a “should have” regardless. Such as, if you’d given your notice in three months ago would you now be saying “I should have waited til January”? I don’t mean to be firm here (and I’m not, so apologies if it comes across that way). I grew up around someone with perpetual ‘should haves’, and have watched the way they eat away at them. Should haves only seem to contribute to the negativities. They are like poking the wound. Consequently, I appear to have developed a strong aversion to ‘should haves’ and I can get a little “GAH!!! NOO!!!! NO MORE SHOULD HAVES!!!” (insert blushing emoticon here: I don’t know how to make one).
    Sometimes it takes the life in between points A and B (point A being the start of something problematic, and B being the start of taking action) to cause the catalyst for that action. We can’t expect anything more: we aren’t magical Magician Seers. So please, don’t beat yourself up.
    You are aware of what is going on, and you are trying to refind the balance. That is the best anyone can do. That isn’t personal failure.
    Also, as a side note: about the whole Modern Day Life expecting people to do the work of three people in the time of half a person. I have my suspicions that this is why so many people suffer work related meltdowns. At the end of the day we are organisms, and no, I don’t think we were designed to cope with that sort of stuff. Modern life just keeps piling more and more on (especially in the lower pay jobs, it seems), and there’s really only so much a person can realistically do.
    Apologies if I’ve said anything wrong in this comment. It’s good to see you being more open. Please take care, and be kind to yourself, and try to get in all your food groups! 😛
    x x

  3. Katie, you pack more stress into a week than most people have in a month. It’s not your fault, obviously, it’s just that life seems to throw a lot of crap at you, and as I’ve mentioned before, it isn’t fair. I swear to God that the series of events you’ve relayed would push anyone to breaking point – you set an unfair standard for yourself not just to be human, and thus fallible, but superhuman. Who are these people that get paid disgracefully low wages and go through the amount of sh*t that you do and just breeze through as if it’s nothing? Where are they lurking, because I swear to God I’ve never met any of them. Everyone crumbles under enough pressure, and Lord do I know what insomnia can do to a person. I have the same pattern as you, in a 10 nights off, 2 on pattern with sleep, and by the 7th it’s all I can do just to try and keep myself Safe (and away from the computer…) let alone work and deal with the emotional baggage other people seem to like imparting upon you.

    You KNOW what sleep deprivation and high anxiety levels result in biologically – no amount of pulling oneself together can override that. You deserve time off to regroup, you’re genuinely ill and it’s just bollocks that you don’t get paid for your days off.

    I wish I could offer more than just a *hug* and a friendly ear…


  4. It DOES absolutely and completely suck. My sympathies, and may your strategies help you into the turnaround you need and SOON! Hate to think of people I care about suffering. Wish you could come to my home and let me give you a vacation and a fuss over you a bit. I’m feeling all mother-heny. Take good care, Katie, and keep reaching out for the help you need.

  5. It does suck, Katie. and that’s okay! I am so glad you’re being honest here because I can really relate and that just…helps me. I always think I should just ‘get it together and deal’. but I can’t. and that’s okay, for the both of us.


  6. p.s. does writing it out here help you at all? I hope so.

  7. OH katie, Im so sorry everything sucks right now 😦 It will get better. It HAS to get better. Hold onto that hope. Try to let go of all the ‘should haves’ and focus on the only thing you NEED to do right now which is to take care of yourself. Keep eating. Reach out for help when you feel like hurting yourself. Take long hot showers and get some good sleep. I wish I was close by and could give you a big hug. You should clearly hop on a place to Seattle and come let me and Colleen and MJ take care of you for a bit. Let me know if there is anything I can do from a distance.


  8. I am really sorry you’re going through such a tough time right now. You WILL come out of it, provided you don’t resort (albeit unconsciously) to ED or self-harming behaviours. I know that these behaviours feel to ‘work’ short-term, but, well…. I am actually telling you what you wisely told me a few months ago when I was overwhelmed by stress. I know that you know what is best for you, but I also know that it’s so damn hard 😦

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing… There are so many things I would like to re-do differently in my life, but they’ve been and gone.

    You are so NOT a failure. How many people make the huge strides in ED recovery that you have made via DIY recovery? Very, very few.

    Thinking of you xxx

  9. Sure everyone goes through crap, but that doesn’t make your crap any less crappy! You DESERVE to feel crappy, because that’s what happens in real life; feelings happen! And not eating miiight just make the crappy feelings go away, but they also will make the good ones fade, &cue the ‘real life’ part fading away as well. No crap is worth going back there.
    Keep taking (good!) care of yourself, because thát you also deserve. Yes, you do. Re-read that if you must, And again. Yes?
    And if you’re staying home sick anyway, do it well. Don’t sit around feeling guilty of sitting around, but enjoy your rest. I know how destructive insomnia can be, and if catching up on sleep is really impossible, some hardcore couchpotato action at least helps a bit when it comes to getting some rest. Hang on in there. This too shall pass…

  10. Katie,
    I read a lot of blogs where people complain of stress, life being too much, too busy, and they congratulate themselves upon summoning the courage to visit the doctor, take their packet of pills and accept that for someone who is struggling with x, y or z mental health problem, they simply CAN’T do as much as ‘normal folk.’
    Your schedule, on the other hand, would skeeve out the most grounded, stable psyche. You are so, so far removed from ‘failure’ or ‘settler’ that I don’t really know how to articulate it effectively!
    Insomnia is horrific. I suffer from it very badly. I was actually going to write a post about it later today, because I know all too well the extent to which it truly can reduce you to some kind of subhuman walking talking mess!
    ‘Should have, would have, could have.’ You’re human; you’re doing your best and for the most part, you’re succeeding beyond what (I suspect) you ever could have dreamed for yourself three or four years ago. I am unbelievably proud of you and proud of how far you’ve come; I hope that in a brighter moment, you can share that 🙂

  11. I’m so sorry that you are struggling at the moment. The amount of stress you are under is HUGE – don’t underestimate it. It IS more than ANYONE could reasonably hope to cope with without help.

    I was reminded of you today when I met a friend, Jane. She is my age (50 so not ancient) and sufferers from arthritis. Her knee is playing up at the moment. It has been under stress from the damp weather. She’s a teacher. She can’t work at the moment because she’s not mobile enough. Nobody’s fault. That’s what her knee does when it is under the kind of stress that most people’s knees take for granted. Goodness only what it would do to the poor woman if she was forced to play football.

    Just as Jane’s knee responds badly to stress, so does your brain. ANYONE’S would respond badly to the amount of stress that yours has been under, just as any 50 year old woman’s knee would respond badly to 50 minutes on the football pitch.

    PLEASE take the sick leave and rest. Breathe, eat, sleep, repeat. I hope this makes some sense.

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