Thursday, 20 November 2014

'Fine, Thank You?!'

So I've purposely left my blog until I settled back in to some sort of normality at work.

Plus I entered a book writing competition!! ITV's #thismorning are running a #BeaBestSeller competition! I've always wanted to write so I got my backside in to gear for a change and submitted an entry! Ho ho ho!!!
Anyway back to reality - I'm on a staged return which means stating off at minimal hours and then working gradually back up to normal.
Literally my first day back was the 5th November and I did two hours and left again. My boss did sit me down and gave me a little lecture on how to manage stress and he seemed to think seeing all my complainants face to face and not making any telephone calls would resolve my stress issues.

I think the UK cops have a lot to learn about managing people with depression and anxiety. I have been totally honest with them. Probably too honest! I've told them I'm on anti-depressants and taking beta blockers for anxiety. They know I was off for five and a half months. They know I'm on a staged return. But still I walk back through the door and nothing has changed really. I have not seen the occupational health people prior to or since returning. The job know I am waiting for counselling. There should at least be other fellow sufferers who could mentor you or contact you surely? It feels so lonely and isolating but in reality there must be others going through the same traumas?

I had a very bad day today and at one point was sat at my desk with tears rolling down my face but I gave myself a stern talking to and swallowed them away. The trigger for that particular emotion welling up was the fact HR have sent me through course dates/warnings for next February. A course that runs on three consecutive days from 1330 x 2130 daily. I single parent and have no overnight/evening child care. I stupidly said out loud how bloody ridiculous this was for me. The office sort of turned on me and told me to man up and then suggested 'perhaps do the early one instead then'. Apparently there is also a course at 0730 x 1230. Also no use to me for similar reasons. My daughter doesn't stay overnight with her dad as she gets very anxious and upset. So she is always home with me. The idea of sorting this particular problem out to manage to be able to attend this course was enough to push me over the edge. The office mean well but do not have the faintest idea how it feels to be freaked out by such simple things. They do not know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and scared by daft day to day worries such as a silly course and child care arrangements. What's is worse is that I know in my heart of hearts how pathetic I sound whining about it and worrying about it out loud. But that is how I feel, I cannot change it, much as I would love to.
It's like people keep asking me how I am, 'are you better?' Grrr my pet hate because I have to lie and paint on a false smile on my face to cover the hurt I'm really feeling.  I was on the verge today because when one person asked I snapped back 'you don't really want an honest answer to that do you? Nobody really wants to know they just expect back that bog standard 'fine thank you' The look I got was priceless and realising the confusion he was experiencing at my outburst I just wound my neck in really quickly and smiled sweetly and said 'fine thank you'!!!
As I drove home I couldn't help but think about my future and how the hell I am going to get through another ten years to make my full pension?! Even five years seems like a life time. If I'm already back to crying at three hours twice a week what hope is there for me?

I was also thinking today how confusing it is to not be able to pull myself together. What I mean is as a cop we generally just shrug things off. Get on with stuff. Keep on moving. But I'm struggling badly as I cannot shake off this darkness. I'm trying to pull myself together so hard but it's just not happening. How long will I get away with pretending to be 'normal' I wonder?! I feel like such a fraud sitting there at my desk dressed in my business clothes looking like I'm a professional when I feel anything but professional!

I feel like an empty husk, the grass seed that was my former self has floated away on an unseen gust of wind!
Anyway making tea beckons..... Catch you all soon x

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Hi ho Hi ho - it's back to work I go......

So an update as to my current whereabouts upon life's confusing map is called for I feel!?

Tomorrow I have to start a phased return to work after five and a half months off on sickness leave. I am therefore probably at the opening of a dense forest, heading into uncharted territory! A forest full of mean veracious beasties ready to nip at my heels and maul me at the slightest trip! Or is that unfair of me? Perhaps I'm at a style that will lead me in to a meadow full of spring flowers. A colourful, joyful place that smells sweetly with all the flowers swaying in unison as a mild spring breeze ripples them gently? A soft beautiful natural carpet that will cushion any falls?

If my analogies leave you cold then I'm asking this question...will it be a friendly, happy supported return to work or will it be dark, cold and full of mean spirited experiences?

Time will obviously tell but what I am definitely not sure how about, is how to answer the inevitable question...'Are you feeling better now?' or 'How are you?' I guess it harps back to a previous blog I wrote when I said people really are not truly interested in the answer but merely observing an accepted social ritual by asking that daily question. The answer they probably want is 'Fine thank you' or 'yes much better thanks' The trouble is I don't feel much like lying or saying 'fine thank you' I sort of want to try and explain what's been going on.
I feel that I have discovered a truth about myself that I've been keeping hidden for many years even from my own conscious self and I want to share my new found knowledge. I'm finding it very cathartic to be honest for a change and admit I am suffering with depression. The trouble is if I do say 'I have depression and am suffering with anxiety and panic attacks' I think that people will start treating me differently. I have seen and read from the experiences of other depression suffers that the minute anyone gets to the truth of such an illness that they react in often extraordinary ways and quite frequently side-line individuals or even dismiss them from their lives altogether.
This is clearly borne from fear is it not? Fear maybe of not knowing what to say to people suffering with mental illness, fear of it being something you could catch maybe!? Fear that anyone suffering from a mental illness could at any time turn violent and harm them? What is it that we are scared of when someone says they have a mental illness? Is it purely just an animalistic reaction? Animals eject those pack members that are unstable and unbalanced from their ranks don't they? The weak and unbalanced are hounded out of the group so that their weaknesses and instabilities do not endanger the packs survival. Lose one member as opposed to putting the majority in danger.  Is it then that our human reactions to mental illness are based around just such an instinct I wonder? Eject the perceived unstable and weak links?
In purely visual terms and painting a picture with words AND purely as an analogy I hasten to add... it would be like in a video game whereby the 'heroes' in this instance those not suffering with any mental illness chase down and eradicates the 'zombies' who in this analogy would be those of us suffering with a mental illness!!
I think this may be especially inherent in the  police service where we deal daily with so many calls relating to mental illness sufferers.  Perhaps the rank and file may feel that you, the sufferer, have crossed a moral boundary and become one of 'them' .. the afflicted! Almost as if you've committed some heinous crime like robbing an old lady and become a criminal. Instantly thereby loathed as a low life and thereby drawing an immediate desire to eject you from the group for having crossed a moral boundary?

But having just said all that, could that concept of instability and weakness not just be my depression talking? Are those of us suffering with mental illness not just as valuable members of society as the next person? We are strong people who have fought adversity and conquered life's battles. We have haven't we persisted in quests to weave our way through lives traumas where perhaps others would have fallen sooner?

Rhetoric aside...the fact remains I'm going back to work tomorrow!

As I walk through those gates and in to that building my heart will be pounding....but why? What is likely to happen? What motivates my fears? Maybe it is the thought of people seeing me and talking amongst themselves about me that bothers me so intensely? But why should other people's opinions mean so much to me? Or any of us for that matter? I think a lot of my stresses and strains come from being far too wrapped up in wondering what other people think of me. Why for instance do we draw comparisons of our own lives, looks and achievements with others? Why do I have to live my life according to the 'is that fair' rule ? If it weren't for my drawing a constant comparison of myself to others lives and then my asking the question 'is that fair?' I know my life would be so much simpler and less fraught! But I do ask myself and I can't seem to stop. Don't we all though? Someone wins the lottery...are they more deserving than us?.. 'is that fair?!' That rude person that joins the other check out queue after you and yet gets served before that fair?! There is a never ending cycle of 'is that fair' going on in my head!

So tomorrow morning at 9am GMT as I climb those four flights of stairs to our offices knees trembling, heart pounding to re-join the rank and file spare a thought for me!! Spare a thought for me as I decide whether to say 'I'm fine thank you' or be more candid!

What I need to do is swallow a positive pill. The glass is half full not half empty like normal! The rain is such a gift to the crops not that it's blooming awful and made me completely soaked through!

Positivity would be the key if it weren't for the black dog of depression burying that damned key deep in a big black hole!

Spare me a thought tomorrow x