Friends are the family we choose for ourselves

I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and good wishes that have come my way over the past couple of weeks.  Not only because of the work thing, but also the parent thing.  Friends who I know are crazy-busy have emailed me, great long sweeping emails that I re-read.  The tweets, the texts, the cards, the comments on here.  All remind me that I am blessed.

Last night I had a massive ‘a-ha!’ moment.  I mean HUGE.  One that took my breath away, made me stare in silence at the wall and rethink my whole life.  Funnily enough, it came from a book that I have read before, will read again and recommend to anyone who struggles with depression.  Richard Carlson’s Stop Thinking Start Living.  I found the book one day in Waterstones, I was walking around Camberley town lost, changing my address with the opticians, the bank etc. after my ex-husband had left me.  I was in a right muddle, kept crying and thought ‘I need help with this’.  I walked in, stood in front of the self-help section and saw this book.  At £8.99, I could barely afford it, but I certainly couldn’t afford the £12, £15 or £20 books, so I brought it.  Within a couple of chapters, I could feel the pain leaving me.  It was the first book I turned to this time when I was signed off work, and slowly worked my way through, highlighting passages in blue biro.  When I first read it, I used a pencil, little faint lines show what spoke to me then, bold blue lines show what shouted to me now.

Last night I read this:  Unhappiness is your curriculum. …You can think of your central issue or issues as your ‘curriculum’, an education that you must go through to make your life feel complete. …The name of the game is learning how to deal effectively with, and eventually conquer, the central issues in your life.  Sometimes conquering your curriculum means making the symptom go away. …. When you understand where your depression is coming from, and when you view it from a distance, the ‘game’ begins to change.  Depression is no longer an emergency, something that is destroying your life, but rather a part of your ‘course work’, a necessary part of your education in life, something that you must learn to conquer.  You can conquer it. … While every curriculum is unique, every solution is identical. … I must acknowledge my struggle yet choose my healthy functioning instead of my destructive urge.  I must remind myself I have a choice.  I must have faith that my inner strength is more powerful than my helpless feeling of struggle.  Each time I choose peace instead of fear, love instead of hate, happiness instead of struggle, I solidify my faith in my healthy functioning and it gets easier.

I realised that all my life I have been searching for approval.  Searching for validation from my actions.  I have to be told, I am good enough, I have to be told that I am ok.  Because inside me, there is a voice telling me that no matter I do, it isn’t good enough.  How long has this been going on for?  I came home from a junior school fete, with a butterfly face painted on me, I showed it to my Mum, then washed it off before Dad came home, in case he didn’t like it.  I would have been 7 or 8 – I am now 35 years old.

It is a long time to search for approval, it is a long time to wait for praise, it is a long time to have that spectre hang over you.  I am good enough, and I am going to show up in my life as myself, not as an imitation of myself or what you think I should be. 

This constant need for approval leapt from my father to the man who has been bullying me, because no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough.  If it was close, he’d change his mind.  Constantly making me work harder, try harder to anticipate and achieve what he wanted me to do, then constantly setting me up to fail.  And like an idiot, for months I kept trying to work it out, kept thinking it was a communication problem.  It wasn’t a communication problem, he is insecure so uses his position to enhance his power.  I am insecure, so let him.  Then came the line in the sand.  Where my body and my mind said ‘Enough’. 

It is just a shame I had to fall apart to be rebuilt for me to learn this.  People out there, learn from me, learn that what you are struggling with needs to be addressed and tackled, not thought over and over until you collapse.  Learn that when you stop, be still and quiet your mind, answers will come.  Learn to listen to your gut and your body, they will guide you where you need to go.  If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right.  Don’t put up with it.  Be strong and stand up for yourself.  No-one else will.  If people get hurt along the way, remember, you teach people how to treat you.  If you make yourself a door-mat, people will wipe their feet on you.

Well, I wasn’t expecting that

I woke up, curled myself around my husband and settled in for our morning cuddle listening to the radio.  I rolled over, he followed to spoon me, and as I moved my head, I had the unmistakable flashing lights and swirling that comes from a migraine being on its way.  I’ve had them for half my life, probably longer, so I know if I catch them early enough, I can head them off at the pass.  I took some pills and tried to get back off to sleep. 

When I woke up at noon to the sound of grass being mown outside the house, (funny how the smell is lovely, the sound jars you), my head was clear.  I was also hungry, so staggered downstairs with hair all over the place and nuked some of the left over stew from last night.  Followed by hot cross bunnage and a couple of cups of tea, I watched Oprah interview Jay Leno, wondering what all the fuss was about.  But then, having never watched The Late Show or whatever the brouhaha was all about, I will never get it.  I had plans for this morning, but life got in the way, so I carried on with the ‘listening to my body’ thing and just let myself come to on the couch, not beating myself up about it.

When the mail man puttered past on his motorbike, I collected the post in my dressing gown and brown knee high biker boots, (hoping no-one saw me), and was overjoyed to see a card from Wiz.  She sent me some forget-me-nots, which will come into work to sit on my desk on Monday morning.

Yup, you read that right.  I am back at work on Monday.  Still don’t know what hours I will be working, still don’t know what I will say to people if they ask what I’ve been out for a month with.  Still don’t know what will happen when I get there.  But I can’t stay at home forever, I have a life to get on with.  I will spend this afternoon thinking about what I want from next week, I will also think about what to say for the inevitable ‘Where have you been?’ I don’t want to lie.  But I can’t tell the truth either; I am likely to be hung, drawn and quartered if I do.  Answers/suggestions on a postcard please. 

Should also say on here, that yesterday’s meeting went well, thank you to everyone who sent good luck messages and lurve over the interweb.  It will also have a ripple effect across my colleagues.  Which can only be a good thing.  It is reassuring (again) that a government agency doesn’t think I am mad, doesn’t think that I have a problem, doesn’t think it is me.  This meeting was followed by an uplifting and enlightening session with my counsellor.  It is reassuring that while this has knocked me sideways, I can, at last, sleep easy knowing I have done everything, everything, in my power to try and resolve it. 

So, I am in the position of power when I walk back into the office on Monday, I can hold my head high.  I am not absolving myself of all blame, I am not portraying myself as a patron saint or martyr.  I am saying: I tried, I did my best.  Which is all I or anyone can ever do, and as something that has haunted me for a long time is being penalised for not doing ‘enough’.  Boo sucks, because everyone who has been consulted outside the office has reassured me that I did.  Including WorkSafe, who have seen a huge amount of information from both sides of the table, not just mine.

I am off for a shower and to feed the ducks.  I will take a pad and pen with me, and think about next week and what I can do when I walk back in there.  I don’t want to be a contaminator, I want to be a contributor to the relationship.  I’ve drawn a line, both for behaviour that I don’t want to see again, but also for my sanity.  Enough is (and was) enough.

Roar.

For those who missed it…

I am signed off work at the moment, I put a post on here yesterday, but took it down as although I felt better for writing it, having it on the interweb probably wasn’t a good idea.  However, if you want me to email it to you – then please let me know and I will do. 

I have been having so many conversations with one guy at work, people are going to start thinking we’re having an affair.  However, we are not, we just miss each other terribly.  Sad isn’t it, not being able to toddle down to see each other in the office when I deliver the mail or whatever, or when he comes up to the front of the office to get a drink, we are pining for each other.  I’ve talked about my buddy at work on here before, but it is only now that I am out the office we have truly discovered the depths of our friendship.

One of the reasons I am struggling is that my support network, or at least the majority of them, are in the UK.  Some of them are also going through shit at the moment, and I am conscious of that so don’t want to add to their burden.  So when you find someone you feel comfortable in your skin with, as I do with him, you tend to gravitate towards them.  It doesn’t help that we make each other laugh, so hard we can be crying with the giggles, and when you are struggling with work, laughing keeps you going.

I’ve also been told that I need to get out and walk for a minimum of an hour, every day, every morning.  This is in addition to the yoga.  Which as I fell over and wrecked my knee I have been missing, and missing sorely; mind, body and soul.  Tomorrow I am back for the 9:30 class and I can’t wait.  While I haven’t had a breakdown, I am clinically depressed, she is optimistic I will soon be back to normal, as long as I am given the space and room to get my head back together.  So if you are waiting for an email from me, I apologise.  I am working on catching up with my correspondence this week.  But don’t nag me, I am liable to tell you where to put it at the moment.

TFI Friday

There aren’t many things in the week I actively look forward to.  But today, I am so pleased it is Friday.  I am so pleased this week is over and done with.  I am so pleased I have a weekend to look forward to, with my hair finally getting cut tomorrow, the prospect of the afternoon on my own in the glorious city of Melbourne, and then catching up with a good friend on Sunday, again in the city.

I have promised myself to live this year listening to my body.  Last night after a mare at work, and trying in vain to get to see Angela to wave her magic wand over my hair, and getting stuck on a train platform, then in traffic – I just cried.  Cried and said to Dan, ‘I am fed up of struggling’ as soon as I said it, I felt better.  As soon as I gave in and just wept the frustration, anger, annoyance and general niggles away I felt better.

I am not going to pretend that my life was all roses straight away, because it won’t be.  I will always be working on me, I cried again when I got a text from a friend in the UK, I cried again this morning emailing my sister in law and no doubt there will be more tears in the future.  I am fully aware that when I am this frustrated, my emotions are RIGHT THERE ready to go pop at a moments notice.  I am doing my best to swallow them, I am doing my best to build myself up ready for the next week – as next week will be hard.  Very hard, I could be out of a job on Monday.  Always easier to get rid of the victim, than the bully.  A nice prospect to have in the back of your mind, or in the front of it as may be.  So that is why getting my hair cut, mooching about in the city, going for a coffee and some lunch, wandering around the National Gallery of Victoria and catching up on my people watching is so important.  Which is why when I asked to put Amelie on DVD, Dan sat down next to we both gloried in the warm, rich tones, sumptuous writing, filming and editing and just the general silliness of the film.   I also demolished the best part of a bottle of wine, but that is by the by.

I need time with myself to remind me of who I am.  At my core, what no-one can take away from me, and where the root of me and the strength that gets me through life comes from.  When you are continually bashed and battered, that is the bit that retreats the furthest, to protect you.  However, I know that when she comes out, she is invincible. 

Strength and Joy, will get me through.

I’ll think of a title later

It’s been a funny old day, starting very early in the morning when I was dreaming (goodness knows what about) and had a pop at Dan for rolling over in bed, poor boy.  He in turn had a pop at me, then told me unceremoniously to go into the spare room.  Being female I flounced off like it was my idea in the first place.

The alarm went off at 5:20, I peered at it as if to ask ‘Are you sure?’ but staggered out of bed and pulled on my yoga clothes and dragged a brush through my hair.  Dylan took the class today, my first boy instructor and he was good too, we had two newbies in, and he was constantly giving us extra tips and descriptions for us to follow.  For those who haven’t done Bikram Yoga before, the instructor rarely demonstrates, they talk you through the poses, complete with several ‘Bikram’ phrases; ‘Pulling is the object of stretching; from the side you will look like a ham sandwich; go back, fall back, way back’.  I am not sure if this is so you learn about your body, and push yourself more each time, either way it works.  Although I find it difficult at times to see what I am doing from the side, (ham sandwich or not), as I am looking straight ahead at myself getting pink and sweaty in the mirror, every class I can feel a difference.  Every time I am getting more and more used to the poses and pushing further.  I am getting abs back, my back isn’t hurting as much and I am sitting and standing straighter.

I drove to work after having an illuminating conversation with Marcelle, another instructor, and reminded myself that it is just a job.  I called DG we both apologised for being grumpy and decided we’d have an early night, now my early night doesn’t marry up with his, I am talking 8:30, whereas he is about 10:30.

 I got my head down over my desk and cleared quite a lot, but hit a wall about 2:30 when I thought it was 4:30 and did a double take against the clock, that was depressing.  Getting home, DG had prepped dinner for tonight and cooked another one for tomorrow when I am in the city getting my hair cut.  We chatted through my little wibble last night, decided that it was a combination of stress, being hot and listening to my audiobooks while I try and sleep.

Because my mind is going a mile a minute, I am struggling to sleep, it is consuming me, so I concentrate on the words being spoken to switch off and sleep.  It is similar to what I was like when my marriage was falling apart, I would read to go to sleep, drop the book, wake up.  Read, get sleepy eyes, book down, light off, wake up.  This carried on for weeks, until I was a wreck.  In the end I was given a few sleeping tablets to take, but the after effects were worse than not sleeping, for one – the revolting taste in my mouth for the whole morning, so I only took 2 or 3.

I have a doctors appointment on Friday, I need a prescription for my scalp lotion, I will also talk to him about everything at work, see what he comes up with.  It is now 8:34, I’m off to bed.  Night!

Yogini

I am just back in the door and fed and red wined from my yoga class.  The first one I’ve done in the evening on the way home from work, and to be fair, probably the last unless I cannot get there at any other time.  It was unbearably hot, we’ve had another 30+ day and I was parked by the windows (pffft), and really busy.  I had a newbie slot herself in next to me so close she could have shared my towel.  I asked her to move as I couldn’t move any where, and then another stupid bint came in on the other side to me, so I was wedged in and couldn’t do some of the postures.  *mutter*

Any hoo, I feel fab for going, it is 90 minutes out of my day, and you really feel on top of the world afterwards.  I was talking to one guy that had also started today, he said that was easily the hardest thing he had ever done, and it is yoga.  One of the guys at work started last week too, his gym is offering the 10 classes for $19, Adrian is fit.  He runs, cycles, weight trains and even he was surprised at how hard it was.

I will miss tomorrow, as I am going to go back to going in the morning, less people and it doesn’t eat into my evening, but I can’t go within 12 hours yet.  I keel over halfway through as I am still learning and still getting used to it, but up until I couldn’t move my arms out and about from my body I was in the yoga zone.   Boo yah!

Had a strange day at work, got lots done as J is away in the Northern Territory (by the time I can spell it right, he’ll be back in Victoria).  But goodness me it was frustrating as well.  But never mind, we’ll get there., or I’ll leave for the sake of my sanity and my marriage.  It is a massive week workload wise, so I am hoping it goes relatively smoothly!

I’ve booked a haircut for Thursday evening.  And now it is booked, the hair-fairy has visited and I can’t do anything with it.  I haven’t had it cut since 21st November, can you believe it?  I can’t when I looked it up, I didn’t realise it was that long ago, despite how long it has got.  My fringe is in my eyes like an emo, not really me, I never did get the hang of ringing my eyes with black eyeliner.  I am waking up in the morning with the most amazing bed hair though, especially as the last couple of days I’ve had a shower in the evening, so go to bed with damp hair.  I vary from Ace Ventura through to Wings through to Spinal Tap.  You will have to take my word for it though, I am not sharing it with you!

Will close for now, but will share this first.  I do hear cyclists when they complain incessantly that they have been knocked off, squished and run over; but then they cycle the wrong way down one-way streets with their sodding iPods in while they are on the road.  Take some responsibility for your actions!

Hump day

As I am working a 3 day week this week, today was officially hump day.  I wish I could say I was looking forward to the weekend, despite going to watch Toy Story 1 & 2 in 3D on Saturday, the cricket at the MCG on Sunday, and trying to fit in 2 yoga classes, I will have to work over the weekend too.  I’ve already put in an hour at home tonight already writing a job description for some admin support for me before I spontaneously combust or sit sobbing in a corner.  My life is resembling a Dilbert cartoon more and more (just without the sanctuary of a cubicle):

 

I was even given sympathy today by the person who is causing all the problems, for him to then ask me to do some more stuff!  Despite me saying, I am at capacity, I can’t do any more, “Can you just?”

I just sit there dumbfounded, wondering what I did to piss him off.  Why doesn’t he listen to me when I say ‘I am too busy’.  I am breaking out the broken record tomorrow.  I think it is because I am:

* female and;

* qualified and;

* know what I am talking about, but because he is

* male and;

* on a power trip;

* has tried to put fingers in every pie in the business; and a

* micro-managing, control freak, with no people or management skills, who has to show himself in the best light – to the detriment of everyone else in the office;

but as everyone  is in the same boat and until now we’ve been wondering who will be the first rat to leave, one left today.  Odds are there are another three shortly to jump ship too…

We keep hoping he drops such a big clanger that he can’t stay.  I wish I could share some of the emails that leave his desk, however, I can share the experience of greeting people coming for interviews that can barely speak English.  That’ll impress the people that have already complained that there is no-one in accounts that has English as first languague.  In our weekly meeting today he told them that he didn’t want them to not do their filing, he wanted the file everything as they went.  Which is such bad time management to be laughable, so I suggested as an alternative, to write in the top right hand corner where it goes, put it in a ‘filing tray’, and file every morning while their computer warms up so it is done in one batch, not so you are jumping up and down from your desk every 2 minutes.  He agreed with what I suggested, then said “So from Monday you will be filing as you go”.

*sigh*

 

Back at work with a bump

In the past 3 weeks I have had a 4 day week; a 3 day week; and thanks to sleeping for all but 16 hours of 4 days; another 3 day week.  Consequently, I am slightly frazzled about all I have to do and the severe lack of time I have to get it done in.

But, (A-HA!) I have a plan.  This is a great article I found through Twitter last week, the Not To Do List.  9 things to stop doing now, to free your time up to do other stuff.  I love it, I’ve already set up the diary reminders so that I only look at emails twice a day, something I did try to do but now am attempting religiously, and the mail alert telling people when I am looking at my emails, if they want me – call me.

I sent it on to all the boys at work, J particularly loved it.  And I am now concentrating on 1 thing a day.  ONE THING.  So today, I pulled together the 7 kits for the Outreach Mission, they leave on Saturday.  I collated all their e-tickets, insurance, paperwork, pre-reading, post-reading, coaching materials, everything I could think of that they would need, it took me nearly all day.  But because I was focussed on getting 1 thing done, and worked methodically to getting that done, I did it.  I didn’t feel rushed, harrassed, harried, I didn’t keep chopping and changing and faff-arsing about with other stuff.  If something came in, I put it to one side and I actually used my time management skills, I addressed and stamped all the post in one sitting for another example.

I do try and work like this all the time, but as you know I am being pulled about in all sorts of directions, but slowly, surely I am starting to sit up straighter and say ‘No’.  It’s a steep learning curve.  I’ll get there one day.

Manic Mondays

We all straggled in over the course of the first hour at work, giving each other kisses, hugs, back slaps and congratulating each other on the New Year. We looked relaxed, calm and stress free – until about lunchtime. It is amazing, I have completed one day at work and already it feels like my week and a bit off is a distant memory. I am fully back into the work zone, although now I am sat in my study, putting the last Harry Potter into iTunes and listening to Dr Phil, he’s giving me my daily pep talk.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly you slip back into real life from any break. Whether a long weekend, a couple of weeks off or even a month or more, as soon as you sit back down at your desk, switch your computer on, you get sucked into Outlook and the Pavlov Dog reaction of replying to every email the nanosecond it comes in. Then people wonder why they don’t get any work done. Some of my colleagues complain because I haven’t answered their email yet, when I tell them I haven’t even read it, they can get apoplectic. I’ve taken off all alerts, the only thing that will tell me I have an email is the cursor when it changes, and then I have to be looking at it to see it. I check my emails when I get in, at lunchtime and before I go home. Moving them over to my folders and task bar, I then work from my task bar, so I can get work done with minimum interruption. The phone will keep ringing, people will stop by my desk, but I read email when I am reading emails. It focuses my mind, helps me prioritise what I am doing, and because people who are now used to how I work KNOW I will get back to them, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t that day – triaging your work flow and all. They know I will action it.

(You can get that Outlook tip for free, I have more if you want them, drop me a line.)

I nearly always have a to-do list as long as my arm, I am a PA, that is what I do. I juggle plates for a living. This year I am going to make a concerted effort to concentrate every day, give my best every day, work as hard as I can every day. There are some days when you think, ‘Nah, it’s just not happening today’ I want to irradicate them from my life. Not only at work, but also the days where you flump onto the couch and stare at the TV with the remote control in your hand, a few hours go by, you look at the ironing, look at the dust and think, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. I don’t know about you, I am fed up with going to bed, picking up my gratitude journal and thinking ‘I could have done better today’ and kicking myself. This year will be the making of me, I know that already.

2010 is going to be a big year, there is a sense of optimism in the air, let’s all grasp it, hang on to it and use it. After all, it will soon be Friday, then the weekend will whizz past, and before you know it’ll be Monday again.

Fridge over Christmas break

One of the physios that shares our office said to me today.  “I love your emails when you’re angry!”  This is what he was referring to.

 

Morning,

 

I will be clearing out the fridge/freezer on Monday, so we don’t leave any food festering in there while we are out for nearly 2 weeks in case of a power cut etc.  Can I ask you either to claim your foodstuffs and take them home, or you will lose them.  Having had a quick look, most of the things in there are past their use-by date anyway. 

 

While we’re talking fridge, if there is an open bottle of milk in there, don’t open another one!  We now have 2 bottles and a carton open; and it will be ‘someone else’s problem’ to remove the wasted, off and stinking milk because people haven’t used any common sense or the brains they’ve been blessed with.  In this office, N and I are the someone else, constantly clearing up after a group of bears with clothes. 

 

(If you think this is a bit harsh, be grateful.  I took some other sentences out this email before I sent it)

 

Kind Regards