Tagged: cbt

Jul 19

The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Job – Part Two

As I described here – in part one – I was sailing along quite nicely, moving up through the employment food chain and spending it as fast as I was making it, infact this is one of the things that sickens me now about how we were living back then, I know it was the ‘boom’ years and most of us were like this but our frivolous nature with money doesnt sit well with me anymore – when I think of what we spent and on what and how little we have to show for it, compared to now, where we have so little but seem to make it go miles.. well enough said there I think

At work everything on the surface appeared to be fine – I was scrambling for the big sales award – which I won – in a Gala Black Tie Event I heard them call my name – I went up on stage and accepted my award as well as an all expenses £10k trip to NY with Tim – I was utterly shocked – thrilled – overwhelmed – all those words… when I got back to my room the overwhelming thought was not ‘Im so proud or excited’ it was ‘I dont deserve this, Im a fraud, Im a liar, Im not good enough’ it kept me awake, it was like a musical merry go round in my head, of course I was so excited to go but also wracked with negative thoughts about myself and how I might be ‘exposed’.

I couldnt rest for thoughts of how to keep up the charade, how I could maintain this level of achievement, instead of thinking how well I had done, it then became how on earth would I better it or achieve it again? if I didnt do it again next year they would think I was rubbish and it was a fluke or a mistake?

All sounds really irrational now doesnt it? I know… cue wheels falling off

I went to NY with Tim, was AMAZING trip, I could spend a whole post describing the stuff they set up for us to do, a true experience, but all the while I was looking around me thinking ‘I dont deserve to be here’

I got married in the December all the while thinking ‘I dont know why he wants to marry me… I dont deserve him’

We went back to New York in the February as a delayed Honeymoon, and thats when the problems really started to escalate I was up all night, no sleep, no relaxation, checking emails, taking work calls, snapping and mental domino’s a plenty

When we got home there was a single tiny incident, everything about my job was about me controlling everything, that was how I managed, I managed the arse out of everything, that way I limited anyone else getting involved and me being exposed (I know)… well anyway one day one of the admin team left me a voicemail about a customer ringing and saying something hadnt been done, and that was it.. the straw that broke the camels back…

In my poorly head this mean that she knew I was a fraud, she thought I was rubbish, she was going to complain about me, she would tell my boss, he would pull me in, expose more about me being rubbish, and ultimately I would be fired… that was the thought stream that flew round my head in less than 10 seconds and plonked me outside the job centre.

I immediately took up a attacking tactic – made an appointment to see my boss – try and minimise the damage – I went to see him, we sat in a room and I just started shaking uncontrollably, heart racing, tears bursting to come out, and all this bilge came spilling out of my mouth about how hard I was working and ‘she was bang out of order for saying Im not doing my job properly..’ etc etc.. my boss looked stunned, shocked and a bit scared.. turns out the admin hadnt actually said anything but he could recognise a donkey on the edge when he saw one

He told me I wasnt thinking rationally, told me to go and see the doctor and make an immediate appointment… I looked incredulously at him…’what? theres nothing wrong with me?’ he was insistant and I left the office without a clue of what was coming – completely oblivious to the shower of shit that was to follow

To be continued

 

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Feb 27

Having it all or Having Nothing – the Sequel

It took about 3 long, hideous weeks for the anti depressants to start kicking in, they were mostly spent on the sofa, sobbing, incapable of even the simplest tasks, barely caring for myself, raising my game marginally to cope with the children. In total 18 months to find my feet in truth

The main fear was that this was going to be my life, and I think that’s a big worry for many with depression and anxiety issues, the fear that this is it, that feeling so dreadful, utterly unable to even hold a conversation, to stop shaking, stop crying, stop feeling like something fundamental is broken, the fear that this will never end.

My brain used to race with mental dominos, one thought crashing into the next, and the next and the next, racing, stumbling falling into a catastrophic negative end, a simple thing would set me off and then one by one the dominos would come down and I seemed completely incapable of controlling it.

The CBT counselling carried on throughout, a questionnaire found that I am a perfectionist, with a strong inclination towards black and white thinking, very little grey, relentlessly high standards and frankly none of it it I could argue with. My self esteem was on the floor, it just seemed such an insurmountable task to try and get my life back.

My counsellor told me that the day she knew I was making progress was the day I stopped begging to go back to work, I accepted that I couldn’t go back and do what I had done before in the same way, it made me ill, actually it didn’t…. I made me ill.

CBT, homework and countless types of anti depressants later, I was making some small steps, some progress, I picked up a camera again and it opened a world into a side of myself that had been hiding for such a long time. It changed my life, it really did. Its added a dimension of joy to my life that I find really hard to articulate – but its mine and its for me – its indulgent and makes my heart sing. Im no ace photographer but it opened the creative window enough to crowbar it open and climb in.

After finishing counselling, 18 months on I still very often employ the skills I have learnt, so much so I wanted to know more and started a degree in counselling and psychotherapy. It changed my life, how amazing would it be to offer someone else the same opportunity?

I’m often asked why I live at the rate I do, ie flat out, break neck speed, with all the stuff I get involved with be it creative, uni, giving back, children etc…and for me it’s an easy one to answer, because on those dark days on then sofa when I thought something core was broken, I could never have dreamed that I would take back my life and make it into something worthwhile again, make it better. I got a second chance at life and I’m determined to make a damn better job at it.. so many aren’t nearly so lucky.

My focus was on the material, it was about stuff, I would justify never seeing or fully enjoying my children saying to myself, I’m giving them the best of everything, but I wasn’t, it was a lie, I wasn’t giving them the best of me. We live now on a fraction of what we used to, it’s not easy, but it’s more rewarding than hitting any sales target ever was.

In my humble opinion ‘having it all’ doesn’t exist, I don’t know one single full time working woman who feels like the balance is just right, and doesn’t feel guilt, and don’t we know how mothers guilt can be such a bitch. This absolutely isnt about me judging full time working mothers, quite the opposite, man it is tough, and you have the ultimate respect from me, you really do. I wouldn’t want to solely be a SAHM either, I need other dimensions to my life, for me the key to making this work is about compromise and balance, doing what you have to do, finding a balance that works for you and making it work for your family, if you have a job that you love, be it in the home or working, I think it’s a lot easier to do too.

I failed royally at trying to have it all, my black and white thinking left no areas of grey to go easy on myself, to just do an average job and have an average life, I had to be the best at this and the best at that and that’s pretty unforgiving I can tell you, not only on me but on those around me too, I had the same standards for them too. Poor buggers

I’ve come to a place in my life where I can forgive myself for not being superwoman, for not being the perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect employee in the perfect home, I’m getting comfortable being the person that I am, letting go of who I thought I *should* be and embracing who I actually am.

I’m alright and I am enough.

I’m coming to love the grey areas now, it’s a good colour… grey, so many shades and all very forgiving, I still lurch between black and white now and then, but I have the skills now to spot the signs and start waving.. Not drowning

Thanks for reading, I know I blather on about this a lot

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Feb 27

Having it all or having nothing?

I used to work full time, it was all I knew, I’m a grafter the sort that is always busy, it was the sole source of my self worth, my self esteem, of achievement and satisfaction, thats already on dodgy territory isn’t it, to have work be the sole source of your whole value system. If you add to that the fact that I had 2 children, and a fiancé but found little to no joy in that, then you will know that my foundations were certainly built on sand.

I’ve been successful at work, I worked in sales, in new business, the ‘kicking the door in’ type of sales that many fear, I didn’t fear it, I HATED it, it ate me up, it dominated me, but against all the odds I was good at it, I consistently overachieved, earned a lot of money, won awards, many had a perception that I was good at my job and superficially I was…blah blah blah

Prior to appointments I used to sit outside in the car park, feeling sickened, punched in the guts, sweaty palms, heart racing with a domino effect, a familiar soundtrack racing through my head

‘I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this, they won’t want to see me, they wont like me, I am going to make a fool of myself and they’ll see that I am a fraud, they wont see me again and then I wont hit target, and then everyone at work will know how crap I really am, I’ve just been lucky up till this point haven’t I? I just can’t do this..I’m so fecking useless’

Anxiety.. Though I didn’t know that’s what it was, is an utter bitch

So what did I do? I slapped on my happy confident face and put on the cabaret of my life, externally you would never have known, in fact my manager used to accompany me on visits which just added even more layers and depth to my fears and apprehensions, I would come out of the appointment and want to be violently sick and all the while he would tell me what an amazing job I just did, 2 opinions of the same situation which couldn’t have been anymore different.

My customers saw me as capable, and my colleagues, I know now, thought I did a good job, but I just didn’t feel it, it felt like someone else on automatic pilot, once I got past the first 5 minutes of any appointment I began to feel a bit better, the disaster I was expecting never seemed to be realised, but that just made it more imminent in my silly unwell head.

I had been unwell for a long time I think now, I had been sexually harassed at a previous workplace, and in retrospect I believe that had a much greater effect on me than I gave it credit. It affected me deeply, my thoughts about myself and how others perceive me, and I think something broke that needed fixing but I ignored it, pushed it away, thought that was how I would deal with it

My life was freewheeling out of my control, in the run up I would sit behind my laptop in my living room sobbing silent, hot tears, that my fiancé couldn’t see, it was falling apart.

When the day it all fell apart came, a colleague called me and asked why I hadn’t attended an appointment, and that was it, in my broken head that meant the game was up, I had been found a fraud, I had been exposed, in truth she didn’t mean it like that, but in the house of cards that had been constructed in my head, it was the bottom card pulled deftly out from under me. I was useless and soon everybody would know it.

I went to meet my boss, in what I now know was my version of flight or fight, I chose fight, I was going to prove her wrong, how dare she accuse me of this blah blah… As all this nonsense fell out of my mouth, my words seemed to speed up, and my brain seemed to run 3 times as fast, my entire self shook, it shook for weeks after too, i sweated and retched and words, irrational words streamed from my head, my boss looked horrified, tried to reason with me, then *knew* this was more than he could solve.

He made me book a doctors appointment there and then, I begged to go back to work, I sat in the doctors surgery, didn’t speak a word and cried for 45 minutes, leaving with a prescription for anti depressants and a referral for a psychiatrist. Luckily I was on the company private medical scheme so got into the Priory really quickly seeing a psychiatrist there and from there I was referred onto the woman who changed, infact saved my life.

My CBT counsellor

Weekly visits to Helen, to start with were just awful, irrational doesn’t cover how horrendous my thinking was back then, I pleaded to go back to work, as much as it was the thing that got me into that room in the first place it was also the only place I felt any self worth, I was so reliant on other peoples judgement of me, so if I hit target and worked hard enough then I had to be a good person… Right? Wrong, my perception was completely skewed, faulty and unhelpful thinking just dogged me.

This is turning into an epic so I’m going to make it a 2 parter I think, well done for getting this far, it gets better, it really does, I promise

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