Nightshift…a love/hate relationship

Laid in bed tonight, I was quietly congratulating myself on my latest victory. This week is my fiancé’s week of nightshift at work. Usually it’s a hard week for me. My anxiety comes alive at night and being home alone is a massive thing for me. My health anxiety and emetophobia kick in and I start to worry that I will be ill while I’m home alone.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think night time is anxiety’s favourite play time. The world seems a little bigger, communication more difficult. For a world where we can communicate at the swipe of a touch screen; night time makes that seem small and feeble. You don’t want to be that person who’s waking a friend at 3am to convince you that you’re safe tucked up in bed. Not only do you feel embarrassed that you can’t cope, you feel like a burden to those you love. And that’s a terrible feeling. 

This week was a massive source of anxiety for me. Due to our holiday and Christmas, it’s been a couple of months since Glenn worked nights and I was alone. And it’s been even longer since I’ve done a full week and not caved by staying out. So this week I decided something had to give. I was determined to do it alone. I was determined to spend every night in my own bed and actually sleep instead of laying awake distracting myself with Netflix and games on my phone. 

I wasn’t particularly hopeful. Even my own overnight shifts are hard for me. Granted, as a support worker I do sleepovers and am actually expected to get a full 8 hours; anxiety is not friends with an alien bedroom. Maybe if I was awake all night and actually working a 12 hour night instead of a 24 hour sleepover I’d cope better. Maybe I wouldn’t (I’ll find out in a couple of weeks).  But so far, I’m kicking the shit out of this week! I’m on night 3 with zero panic attacks. I don’t want to say zero anxiety because I’ve felt it creeping up a few times. And the last 2 nights I’ve used my medication to help me relax. 

It’s a wonderful feeling to not be scared of being on my own home. After all, this is my safe place. My place where I can be myself and do what I want to do without judgement. I’m going med free tonight so if I need a little longer with Netflix, guess what, that’s okay. If I need to get up and get my meds in an hour, that’s okay to. 

Living with anxiety is a marathon not a sprint. It’s trial and error. It’s sleepless nights. It’s overindulgence and comfort eating. And it’s my life. This can either make me or break me…and I know which option I’m choosing!

Over and out!

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Riding the roads…public transport and me 

I thought that today I would use my commute to write about public transport.

We have a love/hate relationship. Some days I thoroughly enjoy the travelling; it gives me time to read my book and have some quiet time before a busy day. Other times (like today) I hate it.

I’ve had flu which has now settled into a cold that I can’t shift. So already I was on the edge this morning. What if I cough so hard I’m sick? What if I get dizzy and faint? What if I’m really ill and it’s a 2 hours journey home? You can see the pattern emerging.  Add to that the fact that the bus seems to just come when it wants and I was already 20 minutes late starting my journey before I even got on the bus.

Once I was on I realised that it was ram packed. What if I couldn’t get a seat? What if I have to sit next to a stranger? What if a stranger sits next to me and I’m pinned in next to the window?

I found a seat and settled in. Now I wish I could be the type of person that leaves my bag on the seat so no one else can sit there. But I’m far too polite for that and so every stop I pick it up and put it on my knee so that whoever is boarding has the choice of the full spectrum of seats. It’s a British curse 😂

It may seem like a lot of stress just to get to work. But the truth is I adore my job. I get to go to work and make a difference. I can help others who are suffering (some with the same conditions as me) get some semblance of balance and normality in their lives. I can help them live independently and feel confident about having their own home. And to be honest, I refuse to let anxiety win. I refuse to let it deprive me of a career that I love. And I definitely refuse to let it make my decisions for me.

So yes, I may feel helpless. I may be exhausted before I even start work. I may feel pathetic and wrung out. But I’m doing it! I know it will pass, I just need to ride it out. I’m sure it’ll rear its head again before I come home tonight and when I’m traveling back it’ll be waiting for me on the bus. But if I can take the journey stop by stop and remind myself that it will all be worth it in the end then it definitely isn’t a wasted journey.

Over and out!

Stacey

Xxx

Is there anybody out there?!

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a blog about my journey with anxiety before and strangely enough it was the anxiety that stopped me. Everytime I thought about it my brain flooded with unanswerable questions…

Will people think I’m attention seeking? Will people laugh at my efforts? Will people think it’s stupid?

And then I realised I was concentrating far too much on what other people think and not what I want to do. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child and I’ve always fancied the idea of my very own blog, so I’ll be buggered if I don’t give it a try.

So, I’m Stacey, a 26 (almost 27) year old support worker for adults with learning disabilities. I have a fantastic fiance, Glenn, who has been a breath of fresh air for me and my mental health. We’re planning our wedding and I literally cannot wait to be Mrs Glenn! We don’t have any children yet but we do have two cats, Crowley and Castiel. They’re totally what you would expect from cats; self-centred but loving.

I have suffered with my mental health for as long as I can remember. I have General Anxiety Disorder, Health Anxiety and mild Social Anxiety.

I must say, I think it’s the General Anxiety Disorder that is the killer. That creeping feeling of dread that is constantly peeking over your shoulder; pointing out all the things you’re trying to ignore and bringing things to the fore that aren’t even happening. It reminds you of every dumb thing you ever said, every time you hurt someone’s feelings, every mistake you made. It reminds you that you’re stupid, you’re nothing special, that people tolerate rather than like you. It can plague you for minutes, hours, days, weeks. You don’t know when it started and you don’t know when it will end. It stirs up your other issues and brings them into the party. Pulls them in to overwhelm you and mentally suffocate you. It waits for the cover of darkness, when everyone else is sleeping and you’re all alone to really bring out the big guns. To make you helpless. To make you feel pathetic and challenge your self esteem even further.

My Health Anxiety is a strange one for me. It’s not what you would automatically assume. I don’t worry about cancer or Ebola or death… I am emetophobic. In basic terms I am afraid of vomit and vomiting. Now I know that no one actually likes being sick, but this goes deeper than that. Any emetophobe will tell the fear is all encompassing. You would do anything (and I mean anything) to prevent vomiting. You become paranoid about how food is cooked and whether the kitchen is clean. I even study the hands of people in restaurants to see if they are clean. If anyone I know gets a bug I will keep away from them until they haven’t vomited for at least 48 hours and even then I will constantly wash my hands and clean my toilet. Your mantras become health facts and Google is your best friend. You learn how to use your logic about feeling ill and over analysing every single thing your body does and every noise it makes. You can’t stand to be away from home, to travel abroad or even to use public transport by yourself in case you’re sick. You attach yourself to “safe people” who you think can keep vomiting away. Not one part of it makes any sense to anyone, even me and it’s coming from inside my head. The happiest day of my life was when I learned that people with emetophobia can never vomit. The vomit trigger is in your brain rather than your stomach, and because of the phobia, your brain sees vomiting as a threat and therefore will not allow it to happen. So it comes from, erm, other exits.  It is mental to know that I turned down therapy to rid me of this soul-sucking phobia, because all I could think was that I would have to start vomiting again.

So there you go. A short introduction to me and my inner workings. I’m going to keep the blogs coming on various subjects but always centering around mental health. Drop me a comment and let me know what you want to hear about or ask any questions you may have. Honestly I’m not easily offended haha!

I’ll be back soon. Over and out

Stacey

xxx