Work stress

Work has been incredibly stressful. One of the women has resigned and for two weeks building up to her resignation she complained to me constantly. I realise I need to take some accountability, I should have shut that down, but I didn’t. I took it all on, so I became increasingly exhausted, drained, miserable etc. I wasn’t sleeping, I was doubting myself, dreading work. I’d already found my starting at the company incredibly stressful but I’ve stuck at it. When things finally felt like they were levelling out, this happened. She was asked to leave the company within days of her resignation as opposed to work her 4 week notice period. She felt very hard done by. Of course there’s two sides to every story and I shouldn’t have been so quick to believe her side. Gradually the story has unraveled and in fact her conduct has been anything but professional. She jumped ship before disciplinary action commenced. I have taken on some of her clients; so I can see her poor work. It’s been a total head fuck. On Thursday I completely broke down. I was so exhausted from not sleeping and the atmosphere at work was grinding me down. My mood has dropped and I’m TERRIFIED of becoming unwell. I miss seeing the kids everyday and the relationship with Steve is either civil or horrible – there’s no middle ground. I had reached my end. Instead of taking time out, I forced myself to conduct a meeting with a client in the mental health ward, he was incredibly aggressive and security was called. I lost it. I panicked and ran out (obviously the ward is locked down so I could only run to the doors). I did this in front of my colleagues. Totally unprofessional. I hate that I did that.

I took a huge gamble and told my boss I felt under huge stress and the thing with my colleague had really affected me. She seemed to be really understanding. If I go by the colleague that left, I’ve just made a huge mistake. But I don’t know what’s real anymore and who to trust.

I’ve spoken to my CPN, he knows I want a new psychiatrist. This current one has done nothing for my sleep. She won’t prescribe zopiclone, and whilst I understand her concerns – she’s not prescribed an alternative either! And everyone knows sleep is a major trigger for people with mood disorders. I think it’s really poor management on her part. My CPN is arranging that for me in the long term but is arranging an urgent referral in the short term. He has been really good to talk to. He really put my reaction in the ward into perspective. He said a lot of mental health workers have days where they get easily triggered by patients. It’s part of the job, but it’s important to talk about it. I just feel like I’m being judged all the time.

Last weekend Steve was away and I had an absolutely fantastic time with the kids. It meant the world to me. This weekend Steve is with the kids and I’m making an effort to catch up with friends. Also a friend has given me some zopiclone so I’m having some good sleep which is making a world of difference. I’m making a concerted effort not to keep thinking about work and I’m planning to try and start Monday afresh.

I just hope with everything I’m doing I can keep my mood from slipping.

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Dinner fail

Failed at not making passive aggressive comments. It seems entrenched in me. Definitely something I inherited from my mother. As usual I felt like shit during the meal. Steve made me feel like an idiot, or rather I let Steve make me feel like an idiot. I’d spent the day battling traffic, I don’t feel well, I’m tired, I just wanted to crawl into bed but made a show for my daughter. I made the passive aggressive comments, Steve made the outright comments about not giving a shit about me. Then my 14 year old made the remark that everything I say is pointless. So in all, I should have just rain checked dinner and taken my daughter out for breakfast or something over the weekend. I think this family dinner thing is past it’s use by date – it simply isn’t working. I dread to think what Xmas will be like. Although neither Steve nor I will be willing to relinquish any time with the kids. Anyway luckily there’s some before that.

My counselling session was a bit disappointing. But again, I’m supposed to lead that, so it’s a fail on my part. It ended up just being a superficial chat. I didn’t get anything out of it. I had mentioned the dinner afterwards, so perhaps my counsellor was avoiding anything heavy.

Tomorrow I have my ‘formal support’ where my boss identifies any weaknesses and areas where I need training or support. That should be fun! And as the name suggests, it’s formal so it’s all documented and passed to HR. What a week!

The client

Today I met a client that seemed to read me like a book. She sensed my uncertainty and pounced on it. When I asked her anything she cried and wouldn’t answer, but her tears were very short lived. She doesn’t want an advocate – by her own admission, she wants a support person. As the story unfolded what she essentially wants is a taxi service to drive her around. Although it’s not my place to make those judgments, I just write the paperwork. The thing that got to me was in amongst her aches and pains she confided she had been raped. It sounded like a disclosure. She started to cry. I’m not good at hiding my feelings. I blanched, I know I did, she caught it. So she seemed to get graphic. I struggled to keep my composure, lots of things whirring through my head. The next minute she was up showing me her paintings. Then she picked up her bag and requested I drive her to the shops (which is not something we do). I was so taken aback by the whole thing I didn’t object. The woman isn’t under the mental health act, so there’s no illness. I felt well and truly manipulated. Which is not uncommon in this sort of job. I duly dropped her off and then drove back to the office in tears. I felt really angry with myself for losing control in the meeting, for being triggered, for letting my past get in the way. This woman’s story may or may not have been true, but I should have controlled the meeting better. She took control and walked all over me. I feel like such an idiot.

Fortunately I have counselling tomorrow so I can go over it then. I need to learn to manage my triggers.

The rest of the day was fairly nondescript. I went back to the Ward, which used to be my trigger, or at least triggered me the first time I went, but now I’m in and out and don’t think anything of it. The client I was seeing there was just arriving the same time as me in the back of a police car, and I thought, yep, here we go! At least this job isn’t predictable!

My daughter has twisted her ankle (my 11 year old) which is a common occurrence with her. She is hell bent on having crutches- I have no idea why. So every so often we go through this bloody thing of her twisting her ankle and saying she can’t walk and needs crutches. Then we feel like horrible parents making her keep walking. This time however, she has completely put her foot down, or not, as the case may be. She’s adamant she’s really hurt herself. Her father definitely wouldn’t put up with it, but I’ve decided on this occasion to take her to the GP. Just in case. Most likely response is he’ll say she’s sprained it and to rest it where possible. No crutches. No time off school. No bandages (which she also loves). It’s a really frustrating situation. We all know the story about the boy that cried wolf. I’ll never know when/if she’s truly injured unless she’s got a bone jutting out somewhere.

Tomorrow is Egg’s birthday. She’s insisted that I join in the birthday dinner, much to Steve’s chagrin. He has no choice, so it’s a family affair. A couple of hours of being civil. I’ll have to try and not make my passive aggressive comments.

Visual representation in therapy

My therapist today told me that I’ve worked incredibly hard, particularly over the last few months and I’ve achieved a lot. The way I talk about things is different. And she sees us moving forward onto the ‘next level’ of things. I didn’t understand what any of this meant and asked her what that might look like. She actually did a visual representation for me which was really helpful and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

She took a bunch of toys and books from the box and laid them out on the floor in different spots. Each item represented some aspect of my life. The abuse I’ve experienced, Steve, the kids, my home, my job, my friends. She showed me how it was all a jumble when I started counselling. But things have separated and I no longer mix them all up. She showed what things are my priority (kids) how my home has moved closer to me (it feels more like home) and how my past has less power over me. How my friends are of great value to me, and how, despite a Baptism by fire, I have continued to stick it out with my job – and who knows where that might lead for me in terms of a career. Seeing my life laid out in an external format was really enlightening. I couldn’t identify the emotional connections, but I know I felt some contentment that it wasn’t as overwhelming as I always think of my life to be. My therapist explained that I would, in my own time, work through the different dynamics and discover new feelings, identify things I hadn’t worked through or considered before. Carefully unraveling layers, but ultimately consolidating foundations with the ultimate goal of becoming stronger, more aware, healing.

I’d really like to be handed a manual and told exactly what the processes are and rush through to the end. I find all this work very painful and often wonder if I’ll ever truly be at peace. But I guess I just have to trust the process.

This session certainly wasn’t like last session which was incredibly intense and I felt the pain for days. I didn’t think I’d stop hurting but obviously I did because at some point normal life resumed. The weekend was pretty tough but that’s because the kids didn’t want to stay with me so I was pretty gutted. I felt the familiar tug to wallow in bed the whole time; and I pretty much did. But on Sunday I went out to watch a movie – The Wife. I enjoyed it immensely. I like watching movies alone. I cried during the movie, it was really just an excuse to release some emotions.

I’ve had the kids the last couple of nights and I feel so much better for it. And Steve is away for most of next week, so I’m looking forward to next week with them. Time with the kids means everything to me – even though they’re messy and noisy! They make my house a home, they’re my whole world.

I feel a bit numb from this afternoon. I tend to after a therapy session, unless it’s been particularly intense, in which case it’s harder to control, I have to seal it off as I’m looking after the kids. But I’ll be thinking about that visual representation a lot. I can move things around in my head and think about what issues are requiring my attention sooner.

Pain

Yesterday was really tough.

I had a really intense therapy session. I knew I’d been feeling sad, but I’d not been able to really let myself ‘feel’ it which I’ve learnt is integral to healing. I told my counsellor what I’d felt, but I never expected the depth at which it came flowing. I uncovered so much that I’ve not said before. I felt really ripped raw. Don’t get me wrong, although it was incredibly painful, I knew it was incredibly powerful. I could have curled up right there and sobbed the night away. I had unpicked a scab and the pain was unbearable. But the tears flowed freely. The pain was being released that had been trapped inside.

When I left I felt raw, but I was going to Steve’s as he was away and I was looking forward to spending time with the kids. It was my focus. I called him on the way back and asked him where he was, no reason it was just by chance, this turned into a saga in which it was pretty clear he was lying. He back peddled, lied, stumbled and fucked his way through an awkward conversation in which I sounded like a paranoid insecure wife and he sounded like lying, cheating scum caught out. Of course, he’s not cheating – we’re not together anymore. And I’m not his wife. But my god, it was like a white hot knife to the heart. I’ve had my suspicions with his travel but this has just confirmed it. And the bumbling lying has just made it a hundred times worse. I knew it was inevitable, I’m not an idiot, I knew he wouldn’t stay single forever. I just didn’t expect to find out this way – although any way would have hurt to be honest. It really felt like salt to a tender wound. I broke down and cried more. The kids of course saw this. But I was tired, and I couldn’t hide my sadness. I explained I was sad with their dad. We hugged and moved on. Although of course at night while they slept I sobbed quietly. All the pain of the day washing over me.

Today I put my game face on for work, but alone I’ve felt the tears welling. I’ve felt tired and at times numb. The temptation to crawl into bed overwhelming but somehow I’ve managed to plod on.

I feel I’ve reached yet another junction in my life where I can either choose to give in or drag myself together and keep going. Things never seem to happen at once for me, or I never seem able to coast. I always feel like I’m surviving.

I feel sick about everything from yesterday. The feelings I experienced from the past, my ex husband moving on with another woman and blatantly lying about it. I just have to hope that the pay off is that I get stronger from this.

All work, no play

I’ve been to so many support groups recently – I’m feeling pretty drained! Not to mention my boss has got me driving constantly as a resident ‘leaflet distributor.’ – I’ve come to realise that she’s so threatened by me, she’s keeping me busy in other ways. Unfortunately for her it’s backfiring because people are talking to me and wanting to sit and chat with me which is going to get me in a whole new load of trouble. She’s been off the last couple of days. But I’m already in trouble because the groups she’s sent me to have resulted in connections – which you’d think would be the point, but I think it unnerves her that I’m able to establish a rapport with people so quickly. I’m trying my best to just keep my head down and stick at it. But it’s a really unpleasant work environment.

The other night I was invited to a ‘Realities’ group – a group for people with distorted realities. My company have been trying to get in there for months, to effectively market to the participants. But were told not to go by the people that run it. I was invited, which my boss was happy about and pushed me to go, even though I can’t relate to the content of the group. It was late at night in the city too, and the weather was shocking. But I thought I might garner brownie points. That, and a few others, plus I had my own survivors group on Sunday. I’ve been pretty tired.

The group on Sunday was good though. I did talk about the job and the difficulties I’m facing. It’s good to get a fresh perspective and get reassurance that I’m not just paranoid. I can also hear new coping strategies. I do want to make this work. I’d much rather be working than doing nothing all day. Although I’m missing the kids terribly.

My weekend was busy. I caught up with a good friend on Saturday although I was late because I slept in (unusual for me, but my sleep has been shocking) and caught up with another friend before group on Sunday (which I was also late for because I slept in!). Sleep is really off the charts. And my psychiatrist is being really anal about zopiclone which is having a big impact on me. She’s irritated the hell out of me, so I’d rather just not see her at the moment and pick up what basic prescription she gives me. I don’t have the energy to argue or ironically, advocate for myself.

I’m still really enjoying my home! I’ve realised that I’ve completely stopped looking at other houses. That may change eventually. I miss having a garden – but it helps coming up to Steve’s periodically, and I know the kids get plenty of room up here.

Things between Steve and I remain mostly civil. It’s hard to capture! It changes so often. My feelings can be excruciating at times. I miss him terribly and get hit by tidal waves of grief. Anything can trigger it and there’s a lot I avoid (songs, movies, places, etc). Memories can suddenly overwhelm me and make me feel like my guts are falling out. But I’m not sobbing everyday. I’m not texting everyday looking for some kind of response. Small steps, maybe progress? I think it’s taken a long time to accept it’s really over. And before that happened I was never really going to grieve. I miss his friendship more than anything else. It’s weird to have lived in a bubble with someone for so long only to find yourself having new experiences alone. And these experiences keep happening and therefore this realisation keeps happening.

Team meeting tomorrow. Dreading it.

Therapy, medication

Counselling was really good again. I got to off load and work through some triggers that had been bothering me. I felt much lighter from the session. I really get a lot from these regular sessions.

I went to the mood disorder group as well. There were only a few people there. But they seemed friendly and welcoming. I particularly clicked with the falicitator that seems well connected and she’s keen to introduce me to some interesting people next week. It was really nice to be regarded so highly.

I’m not sure if the boss will let me go though. She doesn’t like me doing stuff off my own back. She’s been off Thursday and Friday, so I’ve felt more relaxed. Come Monday she’ll be back to have a go. I’m still going to ride it out though.

I’ve seen the GP about my ear and have been referred to audiology to check there’s no nerve damage following my ear infection.

I’ve made a huge mess of my medication. Which I admitted to, but found the psychiatrist really patronising about. I’m not an idiot – I just made a mistake. She’s American, newly graduated, keen to treat me as a textbook not a person. I find that quite hard. I find it especially hard at the moment while being treated badly by my boss. I’m just too sensitive to being treated badly by anyone at the moment. She’s also restricted my zopiclone which I use for sleep. Even though I don’t use much I tend to use it a bit during periods of poor sleep. That I am annoyed about. She didn’t listen to me.

I’m dreading Monday, team meeting, which is usually when I get it in the neck! But hopefully for the week I can be busy and get on with my own stuff and not have much to do with the boss.