Thursday, 27 April 2017

Blog 3: Work *Sensitive/Possible Trigger Material

*Edit: Just to mention that there is a possible trigger warning further down. Will put a warning in bold next to it and next to where it ends*

Blog 3: Work

Work, work, work, work, work. As I am constantly in a state of anxiety I find it hard to stay in one job for long – paid or not. If I could work in charity shops for free my whole life I would but even that gives me panic attacks. Money aside (I’m more into helping others than expecting to get paid for it) because I feel so wound up all the time I forget what tasks I’ve been asked to do, where things go and even how to work a till (cash register) even if I’ve been there for a while. As I said in my previously blog; my mind goes blank. It is, unfortunately, a sign of severe anxiety and it’s embarrassing. I know what to do but my mind prevents me from being able to do even the simplest of tasks. It blocks me from being able to do anything out of fear of doing the wrong thing or coming across as stupid or an idiot (which is a blog post all on its own for another day). I become forgetful and less observational which isn’t great if you’re the only one on the shop floor and your shop is prone to shoplifters because it’s “only a charity shop”. A charity shop! Imagine stealing from charity! I get that some people shoplift because they have kleptomania (a recurring compulsion to steal) but if you shoplift because you don’t have any money then there are CHARITIES and government schemes that can help you out if you are unable to work or find work.

The last job I had I worked in a call centre for a popular TV, Phone and Broadband company (I know; what is someone who can’t answer phones doing working in a place where they HAVE to answer phones? We’ll get to that.) I won’t name the company as I actually have no issue with them or anyone that I worked with but it is there that I became so unwell. When I started there I went from volunteering a couple of hours a week to working a 40+ hour weekly shift pattern. One week I’d be in for 8am until around 4/4:30 and the next I’d be starting at 2:30pm and finishing at 11pm so I’d either wake up to it being dark and be home as it was getting dark, or sleeping until the last minute and coming home when it was pitch black outside. I was also struggling with my depression back then (I didn’t quite realise how bad it was or that it was anxiety tag-teaming up with it) so getting out of bed at 6am was difficult as I’d either been up all night because of insomnia or feel unable to get out of bed. My limbs would feel heavy and my stomach would ache. I would be physically sick out of pure dread when I had nothing to fear.
Over time it became distressing to answer the numerous phone calls I got because I felt flustered and rushed into finding a solution (or answering the call) within seconds because of disgruntled customers or because of targets set in the work place. It became hard to hear them either due to faulty equipment or because my hearing was failing. I thought I was going deaf. Turns out it’s a common symptom of anxiety.

Next it became a chore to walk from the train station to work (20 mins tops). Soon I was getting off the train simply to board the next one going home because the very thought of going to work terrified me. I was ill and extremely panicked at the thought of letting my team, my boss and the customers done because I couldn’t hear and my heavy limbs felt like I was moving in quicksand. I didn’t feel like I was doing anything right despite my manager telling me that I was really good at my job and that the number of praise calls I had received proved so. My confidence was (and still is) so low that I didn’t believe him. Train journeys became fewer and trips to the doctor became more frequent. I was petrified that I was getting to the point of no return – *trigger warning* the point where being unable to get out of bed turns into self-harm and, quite frankly, suicide.*end of trigger* I got given anti-depressants which, apart from making my teeth chatter, did very little and went back to work. After that I had a very messy breakdown in the staff toilets that had warranted my manager to get a colleague to come and see if I was OK. I wasn’t. I went straight back to the doctor and spent some time off on sick leave. I couldn’t cope when I returned so it was a mutual decision for me to leave the company. I felt so ashamed, so disappointed in myself. I wanted to work and I wanted working to work for me but it didn’t; it just made my illness all the more prominent. I haven't worked since. Not because I don’t want to or because I’m using my illness as an “excuse” (another explanation on another blog post some time?) but because being around other people terrifies me and the sheer thought of having a panic attack makes me have, well, a panic attack, on top of the other symptoms I constantly feel and it sends me into a ball of anxious mess. And it’s not through lack of trying to get better, no, which leads me onto my next post: treatment.



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