Here's the Thing

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Strength Deployment Inventory

I was out all day yesterday - in training. All of the PAs (well, bar two, one of which was in Scotland... which is a wee bit of a commute, and the other ill) and me sat up in one of our meeting rooms for a whole day and had training on a thing called the Strength Deployment Inventory.

This, is basically a system that sorts you into a personality type based on what your personal strengths are when things are going well, and when they are not going well and how you can use them to over-come when things are not going so well.

My results were not surprising for me, I had a hunch what type I would turn out to be. That is a Blue-Green blend (Cautious-Supporting). Then, when in conflict, I slip fully into being much more Green (Cautious-Analytical).

What was revealing for me in the day, I think, was not finding out about myself - since, mostly it was stuff I already knew. It was discovering that the other PAs were mostly Blue (Altruistic-Nurturing), with one Hub (Flexible-Cohering) and that the idea of using your strengths to work with people who have other strengths is not the reality of the situation at all.

Instead, what the course expected people to do, was second guess the strengths of others and then steer your actions towards what suited them. What this means, is that as the other PAs are Blue's and the Hub can be seen as a potential Blue, my Analytical, formal and details driven style has to be put on the back-burner while I write in an in-formal, pleasant people focused style to them... even when I am trying to do my job, of asking them to meet a deadline, or format a document correctly and on time.

Oh, and I have been told not to do that as often... even though the reason I do, is that the deadlines are rarely ever met, so I remind them more often.

We did a whole section in the afternoon that just felt like an attack on my style of working. In effect, because everyone else already fit into the Blue Zone, I was the one expected to do all the work to please them, because the deadlines and structure and routine that make me comfortable and safe, and that I work with best, do not work with/for them. I instead have to be 'open-minded' and flexible, to be informal and step away from routine communications that are fairly straightforward to understand, because they need to be padded out with superfluous niceties.

There were a few pointers for them to work with me, but it felt like they were undercut by the discussion and this, by the end of the day, just re-affirmed everything I already knew: I love my job and I am good at what I do, I just do not fit with the other PAs. We are too different.

I took many good things away from the day. I just also took away that sour taste in the mouth that you get when you know you have hit a dead end.

I guess in many ways, I am fairly strong in the green sections of my personality. I am a bit socially-autistic. I have social-anxiety! When I was younger my communication was frequently attacked as stupid or I was told to shut up if I ever gushed over something. So I stopped doing it. I am an awkward communicator, the formal, standardised style suits me as I can do it without stepping away from what is needed, without having to do the whole informal thing that makes me squirm at the very thought. It is a learned response - and I have just been told that in order to work with others I have to unlearn it, and they don't have to lift a finger to try to unlearn the fact that they can not handle something formal.

I will stop ranting now, it isn't going anywhere. Just needed the grumble.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Paranoia, Self-worth & a lack of caring

Sometimes I think Paranoia is the thing that breaks me. It makes me loose what little faith I have in human beings - that is, the ones I know and would normally trust, not the ones I am shite scared of when my social anxiety is playing up.

To explain. If you have a friend, a colleague, that tends to imply that you value their opinion. Say one day you are walking down a corridor and you see said friend or colleague, talking, maybe laughing or seeming cross and gesticulating in your general area. The human brains natural reaction is to be defensive and assume they are somehow laughing at you, because you must be stupid, or look ridiculous or they are just plain fed up with your attempt to be friendly and normal around them. A lot of people are able to brush aside this thought and assume it is something completely irrelevant to them. I am unable to do this, at the moment (note: sometimes I can) as my perception gets more and more distorted by the workings of my own brain against itself.

With Paranoia/Depression/Social-anxiety, this is made worse by the belief that everyone hates you, that you are worthless and truly a waste of time and that any of the evaluations your brain says others are saying about you are not just correct, but under-exaggerated. You are, in fact, much much worse.

What if they found this out? How much would they hate you and laugh at you then? How can you stop it, when you are not even sure you can pin-point what part of you it is that is so flawed and distorted?

I say this may be the thing to break me, because I have such a low self-esteem. Because my brain tells me, all by itself exactly how bad I am - The last thing I need is to believe that this is what everyone else thinks of me as well. If anything, I try to achieve the opposite. I do my best to be 'normal' and 'stable' and friendly. I do everything I can to try to help others, to please them. All I want, in some part of me, is for other people's approval. I get horribly upset if I feel I have done anything wrong. Anything that may prove that negative self-destructive part of my brain just may be correct.

I will be honest in saying I am struggling at the moment. I spend much of my time trying to improve myself - I have bought a rowing machine to try to help with my fitness, I try to jog during the week (even if this does mean accepting that people will sneer and laugh at me, because I will never be one of those people that is just skinny as a rake and looks good in sports clothes).

I can not, however I try, crawl my way out of the black hole I have been sucked into - The one that sung so loudly from my last posts. I feel stuck in this low phase and everything is gradually getting harder - To the point where sometimes, I really do not care. I do not have the energy to stand trying to tidy my eyebrows (however much they need it), I really don't care if I have showered or got dressed (frankly on the weekend, I rarely do) and getting out of bed is just something that takes too much effort. More importantly, I am beginning to not care about whether or not I continue to fight this thing. What is the point? All I will do is go around the same road and reach the same conclusions. There is no point. There is no magical value to my existence - so why fight to improve or continue it any further?

If people hate me so much, if I am that bad that they have to talk about me behind their backs, or I somehow do something that annoys them - Why bother?

I was watching a Dylan Moran DVD at the weekend, he made the point that humanity is the only species that the world is trying to tell to 'Fuck off'. One may well do it a favour and get it over with.

I have a holiday in March. It has been paid for, so I will go. There is nothing after that though. Nothing planned, nothing scheduled, no people to let down.

I have found my when.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Moments of Decision

I have come to the rather distressing conclusion that I am running out of 'go and fight'. That is, the thing that keeps one going even when depression is gnawing its way through your heart and soul. It is often said that such times can be got through by breaking them into smaller segments; minutes and hours that form the days and weeks of our lives. Doing this, however, can take a lot of self-talking and stubbornness and can be very tiring.

Imagine those mornings when your alarm goes off and you really wish it did not have to, that you did not need to get up out of bed, or move, or take the next breath. That there was no need to reach across and switch the damned thing off to save it waking the house-hold. Say, it is cold outside, or you did not get to bed until much later than planned. Now times that, tenfold. Mix in a lack of self-worth, a lethargy that makes breathing feel energetic and the realisation that you are somehow still here, alive even though a large chunk of you wishes it were otherwise.

All that, just to get up. Mostly, I am able to force myself out of bed. One of the things I have learnt through years of practice is that if I let myself just lie there. I will never get up. I will stagnate and this makes things worse. I know this, as I have done it. It gets you nowhere - least of all, out of bed.

When I write that I am running out of go and fight. It is that stubbornness and self-bullying that forces me to move. To keep breathing. To keep fighting. To ignore the dark caverns of my mind and soul as they scream and tug at me, trying to pull me down. Each moment is getting harder to push myself through - As though there is some thick myre in the air, a sludge that pulls me backwards.

The thing that makes this distressing, is that in previous moments when this has happened I have ballasted myself on the promise that I would speak to a Doctor, a Psychiatrist, or a Therapist and we would find a solution. We could change my medicine or see what is going on that is wearing me down in that moment. This time, I feel like that ballast has floated off into some distant dark place that I can no longer see or reach. The Medical Profession has given up on me and essentially said there is nothing they can do.

Oddly, there is very little that has held me upright this week and weekend.

Firstly, the lethargy is a strange thing in that, there is such a thing as being so depressed, one does not have the energy to act on the suicidal and self-harming impulses - This lasts for a while until one reaches the Moment of Decision - That famous bit where the depressed person decides on their course of action and is somehow magically better to outside viewers, because they can see an end to all of it. A literal end. A permanent one. I am not at that point yet, I have, however, had constant thoughts and plans swirling around in my head and know that without the second thing that has held me up, I probably would have acted and taken that Moment of Decision. It is at that point now where I am having dreams about it.

The second thing that has held me up, is also odd. It has been the British Weather. Anyone that knows me, knows I hate the snow, and it does very little to improve my mood. What it has done however is acted as a logical delay. Any decision to take action normally takes everything into consideration. Mine, included how overly stretched out British Emergency Services are. Why, would I want them to be wasting their valuable time on me, if there are people out there who genuinely want to live and are struggling through the snow and ice, who may have fallen and injured themselves, or who may have hypothermia or need help that is stuck somewhere in a snow drift. All very mellow dramatic, but also very true and reflective of our current News Reports. The weather is so bad, people are dying in it. People that shouldn't.

I know some-where deep inside that there is an inevitability to all this. It will happen. It is just a case of when. I suppose I write here in order to help sort out the mass of thoughts in my head and ensure I can not deny it to myself at a later point. These are true thoughts, they are mine and I have been having them increasingly over the last few weeks.

I do not write here as a cry for help, or for attention. This is not a little-white flag that is being waved in hope that someone will come magic everything better. I am beyond believing such things work. Please, if you are reading this, do not patronise me by assuming that is all this is. I did my 'cries for help' when I made appointments with the Doctor's and the Psychiatrists. I went and told them what was going on in my head and asked for help. They sent me away with nothing to show for the effort. Unless you are able to clobber them over the head with a mountain of common sense, I doubt there is little that can be done but watch as it unfolds. Which it will. I can feel it unravelling slowly but surely.

I know what my final messages will be though, my dream told me that, short and simple and sweet and sent in every format achievable. E-mail and text and twitter. My dream showed me the way and it was surprisingly simple.

I woke crying, as I am now, but it still made sense to me. I just have to wait for the right time.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Institutional Walls

It can take a long time for me to gain trust in people and I have a natural lack of trust when it comes to the medical profession. They make me weary. I think possibly because I saw so much of them growing up, but mostly because I had a very bad GP (and surgery) for quite a while and it left me with the belief that they really did not give a toss one way or the other.

Sadly, this means I am a bit shaky with any local services. Today, I lost my trust and belief in the local CMHT resource center. I last saw them a couple of weeks before Christmas, and spoke with my Psychotherapist, Chris, who had previously mentioned that she would discuss my case with the Occupational Therapy team and her other colleagues as Psychotherapy did not seem suitable to me. I saw Chris, and we were joined by Judith, one of the Occupational Therapists. Judith discussed my needs with me and possible reasons for my social-anxiety. She picked up on my hearing straight away and that warmed me to her.

I guess I was too gullible because of that and gave more faith than I should have.

Judith discussed having a couple of appointments to get me used to the service and an anxiety course, which would be either in January or March. As I am one to put practical suggestions to use sooner rather than later, I said I would prefer to join the January one... hence my mentioning it in previous posts. I left that appointment with the impression I would receive more information in the post, along with appointments to see Judith.

By yesterday, I had received nothing and had already been trying for a couple of weeks to get in touch with Judith, Chris or one of their colleagues.

It turns out if someone calls you from the Resource Center, it goes through a central number, and that this is the number I have always been given for the center. It also turns out that if you call a direct number and it rings over a certain number of times, it diverts to this central number.

That number is as useless as a map written in Kanji. They could not tell me who had wrung me. They claimed not to have anything to do with the course, and stated it was dealt with by a different department, who they could not put me through to, but said would call me back (they didn't).

I finally got a call this morning from Runwell Hospital. The main hub of CMHT in my local area. It is basically the Mental Hospital (yep, it used to be the old fashioned kind too) and has their appointments centre.

They informed me that they could not put me through to Judith, but would send me an Assessment Pack, which I would have to fill in to then receive a phone call to see if I even qualified to receive the service in the first place.... That I did all this before seeing the Psychotherapist was irrespective. They could not put me on the anxiety course without the forms filled in and the phone call had. The course was meant to start today, so effectively, I am not going on it anymore.

Stupid NHS red tape.

I am back to square one with the entirety of CMHT because I went through all this to get to see Chris. I am no longer seeing Chris as I was supposedly referred on to OT and am not suited for her type of therapy.

The Psychiatrist there were useless as ants in shoes (I asked for help, they said there was nothing they could do and to use coping mechanisms) and I only held out for the fact that therapy may well have been what I needed to deal with my social anxiety and the seeing things and the loosing all faith in human beings and believing they were monsters.

Maybe that is the problem? The entirety of the NHS is being run by monsters. Anyone would be hard pressed to convince me otherwise right now.

I really do have the belief that the only way anything ever gets done when it comes to MH issues is if someone rocks up to A&E having done some serious harm to themselves. It is unsurprisingly tempting and yet, the fact that I use every ounce of my strength to not do that, somehow means I will never get the help I need.

Writing this, and thinking about it is making me tearful, but I do constantly find it amazing that the NHS is unable to be more pro-active and preventative. If someone asks for help, that should mean they need it, not that they are somehow fine. There should be some acknowledgement that maybe it took a lot for that someone to ask for help in the first place and that they haven't just asked the moment the sky looked a little grey.

Frankly, I have given up on them ever doing anything to help me. Why should I put faith in an institution that does not listen to a word I say and judges me before I even say a word? Maybe that will piss of anyone that reads and works in the medical profession, but I have yet to see proof that says otherwise.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Grizzly Bug

I find my self incredibly irritable today. Possibly the remaining parts of the mixed-state, most likely my brain's way of announcing its dissatisfaction at the realisation I am back in work and had, indeed, dragged it out of bed at an early hour this morning.

This - of course, means I am tired. Tired makes me grizzly (think toddler tired).

One hopes it will come to accept it soon enough and just stick to its normal routine of demanding regular caffeine intake instead. A demand I am more than happy to oblige.

I have been busy this morning, partly as I am irritable and I know it is best to keep moving rather than try to sit still when in such frame of mind. Trying to keep still is like telling someone who had an itch not to scratch it... never works, makes things ten times worse and anything that was meant to be done, is left incomplete.

One other thing that is not helping, is that the Anxiety Course is meant to be starting tomorrow and I still have no information on it... I do not even know if there is a space for me to attend. This makes me sad, and, what the hey, it makes me anxious as well. I have organised with work to be able to work from home on Tuesday's... but I do not want to stay home tomorrow on the whim that it may take place, or they may have a seat free... I have chased it up. I am waiting for them to call me back.

Right, on with the work thing, before I wind myself up over things anymore than I already have.

May go make a coffee first though.....

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Disproportionate Woes

Thanks to the generosity of my Mother, I went shopping in WHSmith today, in the hope of spending a £10 gift card she had given to me. Why people think WHSmith is a place for gifts escapes me, but at least it is not quite as bad as an Argos voucher - By which I mean, you can at least go into the store and browse for things and spend said money on impulse.

I came out of the shop with more than £10 worth of books and an 4GB SD card (hp) for whatever it is one of those can be used for in my little eepc.

Whilst browsing the somewhat depressing selection of books my local WHSmith holds, I came to the conclusion that in every single one of the 'woes of my life' book, the person in question had been abused and horrifically treated and this is attributed as the cause for whatever mental illness and/or spate of self-harm they have had. It occurred to me that there are far too few books out there about people who have or do suffer from some type of mental illness, or who have been swallowed whole by the addiction of self-harm without having been abused, abandoned or somehow hit over the head with a mallet or the worst of societies parenting.

I have a mental illness (woohoo... ?) and yet I have at no point in my life been abused. I have had good parenting, nothing major or tragic has happened in my life and I am pretty sure I have never been hit over the head with a mallet of any kind. So, one can see where the problem lies. I am often faced with the stereotype that because I do not come from a broken family, because I have not been abused, because I am intelligent and able to 'function' (by which they mean, I go to work) I somehow do not qualify for the term 'mentally ill'. Better yet, I have been accused of being a hypochondriac, an attention seeker and worse yet, I have been told that I have taken on board the very things the people in all these 'woe is me' books do and think and somehow merged my personality thoughts and actions to fit, as some kind of attempt to seek attention and affection.

Ummm... No. The problem is, there is a HUGE stereotype and stigma created and it goes so far and so deep that I have met Psychiatrists that live by the notion that there must be something in my past, or my environment that makes me the way I am, else I simply can not be the way I am.

Bollocks to that, I say. I have lived my life and no amount of digging will reveal anything untoward at all. My problem is purely chemical. My brain has a chemical imbalance - that, is the sense in which I say I have a mental illness. At least a part of my problem is dealt with by medicine. Everything else is dealing with the way this has distorted my thinking (for example, I am due to attend an 'anxiety course', by which one learns mechanisms to deal with anxiety, not by which one is given lots of anxiety and expected to somehow magically come out unscathed). It has nothing to do with 'coming to terms with my past'.

If anything, this is probably part of why every time I go to a counsellor or psychotherapist they come back with the fact that it is 'not suited to me'. Of course it isn't. There is nothing to dig up. Of course I am not going to suddenly peel back like and Onion and reveal some hidden gem we can work through. There is no gem. Well, that, and I am ruddy difficult to get talking in the first place. Sure, I can type about myself here, but if you sat with me and expected me to talk about myself you would quickly find that I would have to know and trust you a LOT before the walls were moved and I would reveal anything.

Maybe one day I will consider myself to have enough life experience to even this disproportionate balance. I am not at that point yet. I am only 27 - There is apparently a lot more life to live, however much I may kick and scream about it.

And as a completely aside note - my legs are complaining from yesterday's bout of exercise so I guess it must have done some good. Key now is to try to make some kind of habit of it.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly duckling

There is a term used when describing moods, called a mixed state, literally all the worst bits of depression with all the worst bits of the hypo-manic stages of mood. Today, has been mixed on many levels, without a drop of consideration for moods.

To start with, my aim to get sleep back-fired and I ended with a result of very little sleep indeed. I was still awake at around 04:30 am in the midst of a bout of hyperactivity in which my brain would not sit still for thoughts and my body could not settle into one place or another. One quickly becomes bored in such places of time, when the majority of the world seems barely moving and everything else seems completely ground to a halt.

I finally convinced myself to get out of bed in time for lunch. Had lunch, sat in monotony for a while wondering why there was nothing decent on television anymore... I had no focus or concentration and no motivation to move even though part of me could not stop doing so.

I eventually built up the will to get changed and go out to try out my new jogging kit. I set out on my normal route, walking mostly - since I still have a cold and it is very cold outside. I was pleasantly surprised to find my layers kept me nice and warm so I was not shivering like I have in the past when going out. Much good news. Having walked and jogged around my normal route, I then decided to test out the trail part of my new trainers and took to jogging a couple of light circuits around the field that is sat behind our street. I was equally impressed with the trainers. I think my Asics are still best for the pavement, but the trail trainers are brilliant for grass, mud and slippery stuffs - which is what they are designed for.

In some ways - it helped, it got me out, gave me fresh air, made me smile and eased my thoughts for a little bit. It is just a shame that I am so damned unfit at the moment and have to head back home eventually. I hated seeing my shadow while out and about, simply because I know how badly disfigured it is. Ugly to the world, but impossible to stay hidden.

I think my moods instability over the last few days has hit a head today and I have reached a point of stagnation. Stuck neither here nor there, knowing both exist but reaching for neither. This evening, I feel like I am walking downwards towards some dark hole in the ground and have forgotten how I got there in the first place, or what one may hope to obtain by turning around. It is an unwieldy feeling that makes me feel hollow in the pit of my stomach and brings tears to my eyes. It makes me want to blaze.

Maybe work on Monday will help to re-instill some routine, some security into my system and it can step back up to gain some faith in this existence. Right now, stood where I am, I do not see enough in it to push through. It takes too much effort.

I wonder how many people feel the sensation of being stuck in a rut. That somehow they can pound the pavement of this life as much as they like in one direction or another - but still end up in exactly the same spot. The same concerns, the same questions, the same insecurities and obsessions. The same aims and goals.

There are a few things I have as goals in life, and unfortunately, none of them are simple or cheap. Else I would have them already.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Things to do when you are dancing

So, tomorrow is Saturday, and the last one before the larger majority of us in the UK have to return to the world of work on Monday... after far too long a time to be spoilt out of the habit of getting up and out and being focused on anything for very long at all.

So, things this Mouse has to do before Monday are:
  • Go for a jog of one kind or another (this is ignoring the forecast of -1 and snow/rain)
  • Tidy bedroom, as it won't get done after Monday.
  • Sleep - ideally, else Monday will be torture.
  • Sort out lunches for the week - Cous-cous is my friend.
  • Resist temptation to log on to work e-mails and make self panic about the approach of Monday
  • Sort sugars out - as much as anyone can in two days....
Actually, scrap that last one, lets just eat chocolate, drink much and be merry for the last two days of freedom??

Lets embrace this little glimpse of hyper while it is here and do with it what is best done! What do you think? After all, they nearly always come before a bad crash, so why not use them for their best?

If it all goes wrong, there is always Monument bridge to sit awaiting.