Tag: Christmas

An evening of baking

What a week it’s been. I feel frazzled. Every day my anxiety has been hitting hard and every challenge exhausting, needing rest and feeling every chance for it is snatched away by the next problem. Therapy was really hard today and I’m very worried for someone else in my group. I told the PD Service and I don’t think they heard or recognise the danger I can see so clear and imminent for the person.

It’s Advent. It’s a precious time. It’s slipping away from me so fast. I really need stillness, to acknowledge what I’m feeling and to draw close to God in prayer. Every day passes and I have the same weaknesses and struggles.

Tonight part of me wants to curl up and escape – but I’m baking because some friends from my old job are coming for coffee tomorrow morning. I put some Christmas carols on and feel a little bit of peace creeping into my heart in the simple repetitive tasks.

20161209_165422.jpg

Ginny xxx

 

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

I am sorry for being away for many days and for being behind on replying to comments. The last two weeks have been very mixed. I’ve been blessed to have the friendship of a couple of very supportive friends local to me, who were so kind to me over the Christmas days. Also, I’ve had a struggle over this time as always, and a very upsetting event through which I felt I absolutely couldn’t go on.  Again I was blessed with a friend who could see hope for me.

I will write more at the weekend and catch up on everything once this busy week at work is concluded.

You are all in my thoughts. I’m praying particularly for anyone who finds this time of Christmas and New Year taxing and hard or painful, as I know so many of us do. All we cannot find or do or be can be all the more hollow and isolating round this time. Loss is more raw. I’m praying for tiny little lights and encouragements and the knowledge that you are good, can do good, to help you through one hour at a time.

In my belief, at Christmas Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He came as a little baby to ask for a place in our hearts and He came right into our darkness and poverty. So we are with Him right now in the midst of all the hardships. He asks no great deeds of us, only love. We need not overcome all our weaknesses to be with Him because precisely in weakness He came to us. We only need to be still, with Him.

Another year ended (Perhaps, just for a minute, I can believe.)

Another year ended (Perhaps, just for a minute, I can believe.)

Today in my church we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the church calendar year. Next Sunday will be the First Sunday of Advent.

Time passes too quickly.

It’s easy to regret, at this time of year.

Advent is a time of joyful waiting and hope in darkness – for me in my faith, preparing to receive in our heart’s God’s gift of love, and placing all our hope in a God who comes into our darkness just as He came as a helpless little baby to Bethlehem that first Christmas. He does not fear to enter our need, confusion and darkness and we need not fear our darkness and confusion because He delights to come to us.

This time of year is one of heightened scary emotions too. It can feel like being pulled back into too intense memories of the past, of past events and tensions, past failures to make things what I should have. We talked about the emotion of regret in my therapy group and I said, trying to give hope to someone else who said she felt regret, that the idea of regret implies perhaps that we know some way in which we would have liked things to have been different. Perhaps we can build on that.

Right now I don’t think I know how to make things different. Looking back this year or so has been terrible on the face of it with loss after loss. Loss of two jobs. Loss of a very close friend (former partner) when our relationship finally was dashed away completely. Leaving two temporary homes. Loss of the ability to carry on or hold it together. Loss of my job and loss of the ability to work full time; with it loss of stability, colleagues, confidence to be able to do anything at all good. I have been in hospital three times for a length of time as an inpatient and at least twice more for a period of hours when I was suicidal.

There is constant news of so much suffering, fear and terror (in all senses of the word) in the world and more and more hurt that cannot be stemmed. What do we do faced with this? What can we do that is good? What is going to win out in the end? I hurt so much too for people close to me who are ill or struggling or suffering and feel their pain to a point I cannot breathe. I wish I could be any good to them.

Is my grip on reality slipping further and further away? The voices, seeing things, explosive emotions, longing not to be alone…. trying to keep going seems more of a fake and more of an act, more exhausting and harder to keep up. Asking for help fills me with fears of unworthiness, having lied, being a fraud and my intense inner evil that I can’t purge.

Yet a couple of people close to me have said that they see a change in me and something getting better that wasn’t there before. I cannot see it yet but they can.

I have a flat of “my own” rather than just one room as a lodger. I can make it home.

I have discovered friends who do not abandon me even when to myself I am totally repulsive and when I cannot believe that anyone would choose me or want to be around me and when I feel I can be no good to them.

I got to work with someone I truly trusted and respected and learnt from him, not only specific skills and knowledge, but how to be fair and calm and how to give generously and work always in a dedicated manner, yet still keeping boundaries and structure and still holding on to a sense of one’s worth when everything around is screaming the opposite and deriding you. I cannot in any way hold that myself yet, but I watched and learnt and it stays with me somewhere. I hope we may stay in touch.

The Lord has treated me tenderly and shown me He is with me and in a moment of the most impossible despairing distress, showed me that at the deepest point and longing of our heart, there is love and there is Jesus, and just for a few minutes I could believe.

I have a therapist. I have one to one and group therapy. I can go to a support group sometimes. I can ask for help when I need it from a specialist PD service, which is a blessing and luxury in the NHS that such a thing is available in my geographical area.

I can join in a therapy which explores emotions and thoughts and reveals something to me every week. It hurts and shakes me but I have to trust that this can somehow lead me to coping and living better and being able to reach the same plane as everyone else in some way. I don’t think my BPD will ever suddenly disappear like with a magic curative pill but I do think I will learn to feel and live better and learn to let the good things ground me rather than the terror. The darkness will not grip so hard.

It’s the end of another year and Christmas is coming (and everything that means in my head, my heart, my family and out in the world). It’s a scary and shaken year and it has passed so fast.

Still, just for a few minutes, perhaps I can believe.

Ginny xx

Financial disaster again

Financial disaster again

Disaster is a strong word, I know, but it’s what it feels like right now. I know that many people have suffered and struggled with far more and I am fortunate that I do not have my own family to support – no partner, no children – it is only me, otherwise this would be hundreds of time worse.

I had to leave my last job for my health. I could no longer cope and I was getting daily bullying, harassment, intimidation, pressure, then was told I was completely useless anyway. I tried to make a choice to stop my health deteriorating further and to enable me to keep on going to my therapy sessions. I hoped it would be a choice for the positive. I was so so thankful when I was able to find another job quickly. Although it was much lower paid I could do part-time hours that I needed and I thought it would at least give me a chance. I was just starting to hope again.

Mistake.

Wrong again.

Why haven’t I learned my lesson by now?

I found out last night that instead of the nearly 1 month’s pay I was expecting next week, I will get just 1 week. They have some strange system for temps of pay being at least 2 weeks behind everyone else, and something I don’t understand about different cut-off dates according to when you start for when you get paid. Apparently you get the pay you’re missing at the end of the temp contract. I assume so that if you leave without giving notice they can withhold it.

Even my manager didn’t know about this and couldn’t believe it. I am very thankful and appreciative that she phoned payroll and tried to get things sorted out for me, or an advance. She really did much more than I would expect a manager too. It isn’t really her problem. But payroll flatly said there was nothing they could do.

So now I have the prospect of living on 1 week’s pay until the end of December, which evidently is impossible. Rent? Council tax? Electricity, gas and water bills? Food? Travelling to my hospital appointments? And let’s just pretend to forget that Christmas is coming up and I have nothing to give some of my family or my godchildren! It was already a total pardon-my-French mess because I was paid only Statutory Sick Pay when I was signed off in my old job, and wasn’t told this until after the event, so I didn’t know to claim Housing Benefit as soon as I should have done.

I had just climbed out of debt and now I will be straight back in again – overdraft? Applying for credit cards? I don’t know. That would be the best case scenario. I do not know how I’m going to live. I’m already eating rubbish because things are so desperate financially, trying to live on coffee and toast and whatever I can find in the pound store.

This really was the last straw last night and I was completely wrecked. It had been awful already before this. Just as soon as there was a tiny bit of hope it was smashed away again, like God and the world is saying, how dare you hope, how dare you think you can have anything good, you don’t deserve it, you’re dirt.

I was put through to a support line and there may perhaps be a possibility of a loan until next month, but if it were all to be paid back next month I have no idea whether it would help or just postpone the same situation happening again next month.

I was distressed at work (in private) after this was all dropped on me – none of it was explained before I started work and even my manager didn’t know. I know I’m fortunate to possibly be in a situation of getting help from my employer and not many people would have that assistance. But I just don’t know.

And the support service were helpful and did seem to appreciate some things when I explained my situation but they also said if you think you want to be kept on you will really have to prove yourself, perhaps they will forgive you this time for having a meltdown but if you ever let it happen again there are any number of people standing beside you, if you aren’t strong or if you have any time off your job will be taken away and given to the next person. This was the support team, not my manager, and they do not actually have any say on my performance or whether I have a job or not. I already thought and knew the things they said but it did make it even more painful and anxiety provoking to have it spelled out by another person who is there to provide support.

I wonder whether it’s worth going on. Is it just postponing ultimate complete disaster? I should be more thankful and hopeful but I’ve really run out of strength. I really needed something to hope in.

Ginny xx

“When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” Then again, if one door closes when another one opens, your house is probably haunted.

“When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” Then again, if one door closes when another one opens, your house is probably haunted.

What a week of decisions and emotions rocketing out of control.

I resigned from my job on Wednesday. (My post “not working out” explains some of the reasons behind this.) It has to be one of the hardest decisions I have made and I can only begin to describe the feelings around it. It wasn’t a hastily made decision and came after months of trying to make things better and stay in my job. I am very sad because I had wanted to stay in that role for a long time. I wanted to be able to give back to the firm, to thank them for keeping me on after I was off sick with three hospital admissions at the end of last year and in January 2015 and for letting me come back part time (in principle at least). I owed them. Also as I am longing for some stability and security. Also because I had met two colleagues who were very special and I felt privileged to work with them, clicheed as that may sound. They were kind and compassionate and thinking and brought something much needed, special and rare to the team. I learned from them. I really hope we stay in touch.

Having said that, I do know I feel that this choice is going to be better for my health. I have had to leave jobs before, but it has been a question of giving up at the point I am totally exhausted and cannot cope anymore, my health is spiralling down (well that part still applies, I guess!) and have lost all hope and there just seems to be nothingness. This time, it doesn’t feel like nothing. Making this choice, I have borne in mind being able to be stable and being able to find a job I can sustain whilst also having some balance in my life – being able to do some work but also not being so utterly drained from coping with it that I can’t do anything else (I stop eating properly, can’t look after my home, don’t do housework, cut myself off and have even less contact with friends than I usually do, can’t manage my finances because I’m so vulnerable to giving in to impulsivity). I have also borne in mind being able to fully participate in the treatment programme I’m in at the moment – getting to appointments, being able to be present in them not having to keep part of me shut off because I will not be able to bear the pain of openness and exposure necessary to examine thoughts and emotions and relationships, if I am then to rush back to work afterwards and somehow keep it together.

Admitting my limitations and my fragility at the moment takes humility and trust in the support systems that are there at the hospital community team and willingness to make myself vulnerable in order to begin to learn. Knowing what I fear, what I love, what I care about, what I struggle with, what I feel, what I think; learning to understand what is in other people’s minds and hearts and how to be able to reach out and walk forward, to respond to what I feel from them without being terrified or crushed and without the spiralling storms of thoughts in my head obsessionally spinning, trying to prevent disaster…. This takes energy, hope and a space in which it is possible to be vulnerable but not crushed and somehow also hold on to hope despite knowing all I cannot, at the moment, do.

I feel so many things right now. The actual meeting on Wednesday was made much easier for me than I thought that it would be. I was surprised to encounter compassion I did not expect. I was pleased to find that there is someone who has come as a temp into my post and who seemed very calm and very nice, so I know that the team I used to work for do have secretarial help. I was very thankful to get to speak to two colleagues in particular – and I really, really hope that we will be able to stay in contact – and to leave a couple of notes. I was reassured to be able to “hand over” on a few points of work  to be assured that things will not be lost or forgotten (though as ever I’ve remembered so many more things I should have let people know – where things are kept, where things are up to, etc, etc!).

It was a very very hard day with the highest anxiety for a long length of time that I have experienced for a while. I cried a lot. I walked a lot, trying to stay out of the flat where I’d be alone, to at least be around people if not with anyone, because I would be less likely to crumple completely that way and give in to the self-destructive urges.

It was done.

And somehow I did get through that night to the next morning, even though it was one of those nights where I hurt so much it blacked out everything else. I know it sounds so terribly ridiculous writing this. So childish and stupid and self-centred and incapable. It is no disaster or tragedy and it is a very very little thing in the scheme of things. Everyone else will move on in an instant. Yet that is the reality of what these things are for me at the moment. I am ashamed afterwards and feel ridiculous thinking how much I felt it would be impossible for emotion to pass but at the time it is absolutely that complete and total that it as if a cloud or a wall has fallen over every other factor in my world, enclosing me in spiralling thoughts and plunging emotions and frightening voices.

***

I can’t really describe what I’m feeling now. After the meeting on Wednesday, more happened, which left me feeling further conflicted and intensifying the guilt I feel over leaving and that I really should have been able to keep doing it. I think these will have to wait for another post.

This week there were many little gifts too. I started applying for other jobs. It is incredibly fortunate that I came to my decision at the time that there is an abundance of Christmas work which gave me more hope of being able to find something, at least temporary. Trying to keep focus I took a deep breath and a lot of coffee (not at exactly the same time 😉 ) and redid my CV, walked round town to clock the job adverts in windows and shopping centres and made several applications. Thanks be to God that once I had got over the initial frozen feeling (which was a hard fight) it was not as awful as I had felt it would be.

My confidence is very low right now and I was so frightened walking in to shops to give my applications, actually physically feeling I was shaking. It was not helped by a couple of very difficult experiences. I went into one store to give in my application and went up to the two assistants who were chatting to each other. Instantly I felt incredibly intimidated and uncomfortable and that they thought I was ridiculous. Swallowing my feelings I spoke with the supervisor and handed in my application and she told me she would pass it on to her manager and I thanked her and turned to leave.  As I was walking out I am certain that she and her colleague burst into laughter and made comments about me. I was shaken, not least because instantly I did not know, had that actually happened? Had they actually laughed and teased or had I imagined it and heard it all in my head because I was so much expecting that to be what people would really think of me? I still have no answer. I am just trying not to think of it.

That one clearly was not going to go forward, but I did have some better news and was extremely surprised and thankful to be offered two interviews, including one for a sales assistant in a department store. The selection process was scary for me because after quite in-depth online testing it involved a group task assessment as well as individual assessment. Though I did not feel that I had done well and looking back, could see so many things I had done wrong and ways I should have responded differently – and again, so many ways people would see how stupid I am – I did also somehow manage to enjoy some of it and enjoy being with the people I met, which had to be a good sign, I thought. It suggested I would find some common ground with colleagues and be able to interact with them. It was interesting too. The managers who were present seemed supportive and one was even encouraging when I needed to discuss my health/disability needs – straight away she said that she thought it would certainly be possible to adjust my hours so that I could attend all my hospital appointments.

A couple of days later, I was absolutely astounded to receive a conditional offer! In a very hard week this was a very precious gift! Not least because this means that things will not be completely terrible financially in the next few weeks, though this is a major source of anxiety, both because I will be working fewer hours so managing with a much lower salary, and because in times of distress and anxiety I can be much less able to resist the impulsive urges that come as part of BPD, and one area in which I can be far far too impulsive and irresponsible is spending money.

I still cannot believe it and it does not seem real and I do not think I will quite dare to count on it until I actually get to my first day. I’ve been completing the final questionnaires and going through the health screen, which was much less uncomfortable than I had expected – I’ll post about that another day soon because it certainly was food for thought – and was passed fit with a couple of suggested “reasonable adjustments”.

I thank the Lord for this opportunity. Yet again, it is a situation I did not think I would be in, which I really did not want to come to. Something I really counted on – being able to have a little bit of trust that I could do my work and do a good job and try to please and help people – was taken away and even seemed never to have been real, when I discovered how poorly everyone thought I was performing and how little they thought I could cope. But there is a better way forward being illuminated bit by bit and right now (since this is a moment of relative rationality!) I can remember that we may not be where we planned to be, but we are right where God needs us to be.

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” I hope it will be a French window because otherwise it’ll be a bit tricky to walk through, not that I’d complain at this point.

Ginny xx

(Title – first line from “The Sound of Music”; second line adapted from a funny meme someone sent me a while back – I am not sure whose was the original idea.)