It's been an interesting couple of days.
I thought it would be easier getting my thoughts down here rather than on Facebook where I, for absolutely no reason, never post a status, or on Twitter, where I would be limited to 140 characters at a time and this bit so far would be like, 3 tweets, making me "THAT GUY".
This is not so much a happy-go-lucky post, it's not a brain meltingly sad post either.. but it's for anyone who has ever struggled with or IS struggling with anxiety, depression or worry of any sort.
So for those not in the know, a little history
The office was way out in bumfuck nowhere.. (it literally looked like an aircraft hanger in the middle of a field, our available views were "fields", "car park", "a prison in the distance", "some mountains" and occasionally "deer") ...and commuting there would be a nigh on 3 hour trip one way. I was somewhere between "OK" and "pretty damn good" at my job, but the money was awful* and the 6 hour travelling PER DAY was getting beyond being a "minor inconvenience".
*(be nice to people in call centres, they make dick seriously)
So, when [OldJob] got bought out by a "worldwide leader in multichannel customer experience" which happened to have an office 10 mins down the road, needless to say I was keen to get transferred.
That brings us to October 2014, I start [SortOfNewJob] at this place down the road and for a while everything seemed ok, had WAY more time after my shifts, time I could spend talking to other humans who didn't make me want to gouge my own eyes out with a bit of old tin, time to spend with the other half (who also, funnily enough, doesn't make me want to gouge my own eyes out with a bit of old tin), more time for commissions and customs and writing.. AND I would be able to start saving money, rather than spunking it up the wall of ScotRail. Brilliant!
Rather predictably however, things started to go awry.
The team I get put into once out of training are all still fairly new, not a bad thing, means we're all learning together? and I get put into it with 2 from my training group, so at least there's some familiar faces right?
2 days in, one of them quits, a week after that the other one just, stops coming in.
...okay, no big.. just, press on I guess?
And I did! for a month! with no feedback besides one "error" (which is a whole double sided A4 about what you did wrong, what [THE COMPANY] had to do to fix it, how it impacted Mr/Mrs Customer etc etc etc).. but nothing saying "here's what you did well this week, please continue doing this".
Now, I don't do anything solely for praise, I'm actually AWFUL at taking any, at all, ever. But when you're in a job where you handling, shall we say, important shit? ...and it's all just on a screen, where it can go VERY wrong VERY quickly?.. it's good to know you're not leaving a trail of abject devastation and potential stories for The Sun/The Mirror/The Star/The FuckNugget Times.
So I start bringing it up with my manager, who's also fairly new. I ask for feedback, side by side call marking,.. I leave out the fact no-one in the team makes eye contact with me, or acknowledges me, I leave out the fact whenever I ask her a question, the first thing her brain does is send the necessary signals to the muscles in her eye sockets, commanding them to roll.. I also leave out the fact that, of a team of only 10 or so people, I know exactly 2 of their names, after a month.
If you hadn't guessed yet, I was starting to feel a bit lonely, a bit miserable to be honest.
I'm not there to make BFF's with everyone in the place, but straight up blanking me when I come in every morning and say hi is a little much surely?
So then me and my manager start playing what I like to call the "Later Game".
The Later Game is basically where I ask for a chat or some feedback or call marking for myself, and am told that it would be at a set, finite time or time frame, later on in the day. This could range from "before first break" to "right after lunch". However, the intricate part of The Later Game, is that when previously advised, finite allocated time has lapsed, the arrangement is then transposed to another time, further into the future. This could be "before last break" or "before the end of the shift".
This goes on for a while until I'm unfortunately signed off in early December with a fairly nasty chest infection. I'm off right the way through until just after the new year, scheduled to go back to work on the 2nd.
I've had my shifts written down since the start of December, only to walk in Friday lunchtime, due to start at half 12, only to be informed I'm an hour late. I apologise but point out that I've had my rota since I was off sick and that it must have been changed, only to be told I've "wrote it down wrong" and that I'm there now at least.
I ask to have a chat, again, based on my concerns only further added to whilst I was off, in the respect that I felt I'd forgotten a lot of what I didn't really know to begin with, only to be told just to log on and get going and she'll chat to me later (see: The Later Game, which in this round started as "before break" > "after lunch" > "tomorrow" > "Monday and it'll be with someone else"). Eventually she asks if it's ok to move it to another day, if it can wait, and I foolishly, at the time feeling this to have been the correct answer, say yes.
So another day spent of not speaking to anyone who isn't a crackly voice on the phone whilst "team mates" shoot glances and look past me if my line of sight meets theirs. Come home time, I'm not ashamed to admit I'm feeling a little delicate. However a night in with the other half, dinner and a movie or two on TV distracts me for a while.
That night I must have woken up 8 or 9 times with very non-specific worry.. between some of those random "boot ups" I felt like I've been laying there with my eyes open the whole time. 9am rolls round all too quickly and I get up to start getting ready to go back and repeat the whole miserable fucking exercise all over again.
And right there is where it starts to hit me, like the boulder from Indiana Jones.. only a boulder of feels I don't understand, feels and fuck.
I'm standing in the bathroom, staring into nothing but space, eventually going through to the bedroom to tell the other half that I don't feel I can cope with another day like the one prior, and then the boulder finally catches up with me and I spend the next, I dunno, 40mins ish?.. bawling my godamn eyes out in frustration and anguish.
It's agreed that I'm, probably, not up to going into work that day, as the concept has rendered me a sore eyed simpering mess.. and I leave them probably the most mournful voicemail they've ever received. It's at this point, somewhere deep down, I'm absolutely resolute that something needs to change.. manager, role at work, job entirely, something has to change and soon.
The manager calls me back with, all credit to her, the sound of genuine concern for another human being in her voice, confirming she is actually capable of such a thing. We talk, she says she'd been leaving me to it as she felt I was doing fine and that I'd said it could wait. I concur, only on the basis that when she asked I felt that was the case. I go on to explain how I felt, what was getting to me, there's that boulder again.
I say I'll do my best to come in on Monday, she says she'll definitely speak to me then as she doesn't want any one in her team feeling that way (tiny bit late?).
Thank all the Old Gods for the missus, within an hour she decrees that we're going out for the day just to have an adventure, go around some shops, drive etc. We do and save for some minor boulder-creeping moments, it works excellently. I even have the rarest juiciest steak for dinner and it is magnificent.
Skip ahead to today, still feeling a bit ropey this morning but overall, not feeling like Monday is the gaping maw of fuck that it previously seemed. I'm still not looking forward to it, but knowing I'm more likely to start getting things moving feels like a positive step. .....Right up until about mid afternoon, middle of Tesco, and I start feeling like everything around me is within a foot radius and I need to not be there. I need to be away from, everywhere at once (somehow).
Being the astute (and frankly all round pillar of awesomeness) wonder she is, the missus notices somethings amiss. Short shallow breathing, feeling of encroaching but formless unease, fingers tingle like I've been sat on them, legs, don't quite feel like their mine,.. this all later turns out to be my first ever and fairly stressful, 3 hour panic attack.
By the time we get home, my leg is bouncing up and down like I'm trying to split the Earth asunder and my arms only want to wrap around my ribs and hold on as if to stop them from springing open for no reason. Quick phone call to, a genuinely lovely woman on NHS24, details taken and appointment booked, I'm off to the Out Of Hours doc for some advice and Diazepam.
Although recounting the whole thing to the doctor ended up bring on another, only very minor one, he felt it was safe to say despite my feeling not-too-dreadful about Monday, this had been brought on by my subconscious processing everything from the last few months, in particular the preceeding 48 hours.
So, here we are. Diazepam in hand for bed time/if I feel another one coming (which ever's first) and ready to speak to my GP at some point, hopefully able to see him Thursday. This is where I wanted to make this whole, thing, about you, the reader.
I'm not by any stretch an extrovert, but there is a lot I am not ashamed of. Stress, anxiety, depression, "mental health issues", are all words that still seem to carry a lot of shame and stigma and this should never ever be the case. If you, the reader of what I am trying to pass of as a blog thinly veiled as "writing", feel like you need to speak about about something that's getting to you, getting you down, causing you undue stress or upset, any of the above.. then please for the love of sweet zombie Jesus, talk to someone.
It can be a friend, your family, your GP, dedicated mental health doctors, a teacher at school, your frigging dog/cat/blind cave salamander.. one of the hardest parts is talking about it.. and coming from someone who has in the past, repeatedly and at length, struggled with depression and anxiety, believe me when I say that talking about it to someone for the first time is a big step. Yes, if you need further help/treatment/whatever, then that to is absolutely fine. Again, first hand I can speak of the legitimate clusterfuck that is "bottling it up". This is a very, very, very bad idea.
There is utterly no shame in being able to admit that you need help or have an issue. People hear "mental health" and assume all sorts of ridiculous things.. people hear that someone's depressed and then have a bee up their dick when they see said person laughing, because they "aren't sad" (which isn't how depression works btw!). It takes the bigger person to say they need help than one who won't seek it. Trying to tackle something like that, all on your own is foolish and doomed to failure.
So please, if anyone reading this has found similarities to what I've been waffling on about for, quite a lot of lines now.. speak to someone :)
This blog post however, as drawn out, "funnier-in-my-head" in parts, and probably for the most part absolutely piss-ass boring as it may be, has been me taking those first few steps (again) at getting it all out of my head, mentally decompiling, taking a big ol' brain shit if you will. Which in it's own regard has helped me a little. It's not made anything better in the slightest, not yet, but it's all here now...
It's a start.. and a start has nothing but potential to lead to positive things.