Stress Management & Where I’ve Been

As I write this I am at home, sitting at my desk with the fan blowing at my back. The heat in England is just barely manageable if I remember to keep the blinds drawn and the lights off throughout the day. It’s a bank holiday weekend and my husband and I are using this time to get everything in order before the podcast we’re doing with our friend Mary goes live on June 7th.

It’s been awhile since I last updated my blog, so let’s play a little game of catch up, shall we?

2016 was a great year in terms of personal growth thanks to my year-long photo journal. Throughout the course of the year I captured the ups and the downs of my day-to-day life and it was instrumental in building my self confidence. Incidentally, it was also an excellent way for my friends and family to gain some insight into my life and, as a result, I feel like it strengthened my relationships tremendously.

Since finishing the photo journal, however, I’ve felt extremely empty, and I don’t use that word lightly. I had just completed a huge passion project and didn’t know where to go next, and before I knew it, it was as though all of that confidence I had built up during the previous year had been washed away. I didn’t know what my purpose was and I felt miserable. It was like I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t creating something.

In an effort to feel like I was actually doing something with my life, I began searching for a job. The process took almost three months and numerous terrible interviews until I finally landed a role that sounded perfect. I was elated! All of my suffering had been worth it! I was finally going to be a contributing member of society and there was nothing that was going to stand in my way from being excellent at my new job.

But stepping into a full-time job after doing my own thing for the last two years was like being thrown into the deep end, and before I knew it I was in over my head.

One thing I’ve noticed since starting my new job is the increase in people making light of how tough I’ve found the adjustment. Comments like “That’s work, for ya!” or “Welcome to the corporate life!” or “I get days like that, too!” made me feel like I should have been able to cope with the demands of a high pressure job, or that I would eventually find my footing and be able to leave the stress at the office.

Instead, I found myself piling the guilt on myself and wondering why I couldn’t just get it together like everybody else. I had just spent nearly three months searching for a job that ticked all the boxes and now that I had one, why couldn’t I just be happy that I was finally getting paid? I kept convincing myself that, surely, the fatigue and the lack of concentration was just a passing phase. Eventually the sense of dread I felt during my commute would be a thing of the past, right?

The last few weeks have been especially difficult for me in terms of mental health. My stress has reached an all-time high and even though I’ve always viewed myself as ‘high-functioning’ when it comes to anxiety and stress, it took a doctor telling me I need two weeks off of work for me to realize that I’m not functioning at all.

If you’ve read any of my 2016 photo journal, it might not come as a shock to know that I’m always stressed. In fact, I remember writing several entries about that topic alone. When the doctor gave me the sick note, it was like a wave washed over me and I came out on the other side to see someone tossing me a life jacket.

So, since I’m off of work for the next two weeks I’ve got some serious stress management to do. Obviously I’ve never been great at this kind of stuff, but hopefully with the help of a new medication and perhaps some much needed therapy, I might be able to find something that works for me and is sustainable, too. The truth of the matter is that I’m tired of feeling like I’m not a functioning human being and I’m ready to take back control. It’s not going to happen over night, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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