So in case you missed it, I have been a little absent lately, if you follow my social media it may not have appeared so, but definitely in this little space I have been. I wasn't sure whether to write about it or not because I generally try and keep this a jolly little place but I realised that in order for 2016 to be different I need to discuss what happened, I need to process how I have been affected and develop a way to control it. Also being honest, blogging is one of my "homeworks" (I'll get into that more soon).
For pretty much the whole of 2015 I had been struggling with ever increasing stress. I can't remember when it started, probably I have been stressed for a long time but over the past year it has continued to increase, and has now morphed into anxiety. I know anxiety seems to be the thing to have at the moment, but I wanted to share my experience. As young professionals it is so easy to become overwhelmed, and it is important to understand your limits.
You may recall that at the end of 2014 I had a major allergic reaction, I had hives covering my whole body and was in A&E twice in 24 hours unable to breathe., as a result of that I have been on a high dose of anti-histamines ever since. That allergic reaction also triggered (I'm not a doctor so forgive me if this is wrong, but it is my understanding) underlying mild asthma, previously so mild i didn't even know i had it, and made it into a roaring monster, that was why I couldn't breathe.
It took several months to try and sort out my medication, get me to the point where I could breathe when outside in the cold, and still now if it rains my capacities are vastly reduced. My fitness was obliterated but me being me I kept trying to find ways I could keep moving, countryside walks, cycling in the summer, and an exercise bike for the colder damper days.
Now I can understand why you may be thinking "so what?" at this point, lots of people have asthma, but to go from being perfectly healthy and full of life to not even being able to go out to the dustbin without taking your inhaler is hard. Really hard. All of this I generally managed, I am a highly organised individual and I generally had a schedule to manage.
On top of my health issues I was also going through a crazy time at work, I've mentioned several times about big projects I had been working on, and they have been constant for the past year, the past 6 months particularly so. I had also been covering two full time jobs, my own and a maternity leave cover, and although I do not blame my work because we were all very stretched and understaffed, I did not have enough support.
I went on holiday at the end of August, a trip which should have been a break, a trip my family and I have been dreaming of for years, but as we were going to Florida it was pretty full on. We crammed as much into a week as possible, and the combination of exhaustion, jet lag and working right up until the night before we flew left me spinning out of control. My carefully maintained control over my world was thrown out of balance and as much as i desperately attempted to claw it back I could not.
My stress levels were so high when i came back from my holiday that I kept believing I was having asthma attacks, which turned out to be panic attacks and eventually I was so unable to cope that i broke down and sobbed in the stack at work with my team around me. They were amazing, and told me enough was enough and it was time to do something about the situation. I couldn't cope, I had lost all concentration and my memory was a black hole.
After seeing my doctor they diagnosed work based stress and I had to be referred to occupational health, work were pretty good at this point, I was determined to keep going for as long as I could because the nature of my job is that if I am not there to do it there is no-one else to pick up the slack, It is just waiting when you come back so taking time off just made me panic all the more. Carefully I managed my workload and learnt to delegate and prioritise it properly. Now two months on I am awaiting my first CBT appointment, my workload has been reduced by my maternity leave colleague returning and I am beginning to know when I am pushing myself too hard.
Throughout all of this I lost the ability to do the things I loved, the only one I kept up was my Etsy shop (because I knew if i closed that I would be admitting defeat) I stopped blogging, I stopped reading, I stopped baking or cooking anything except a cycle of repeated basics. My personal library grew dusty and for the first time in my life I could be found sitting staring mindlessly at the television for stretches at a time (I'm really not a TV person, this was a bad sign!)
As part of my CBT homework getting back to those things I love is on the cards, I have spent my christmas break reading christmas mysteries, baking cookies and mince pies and dipping my toe back into the online world in a real way. I have filmed a few snippets of my break which I hope to turn into a vlog (though I don't talk in it, because I forgot to, duh!) and maybe that will be something that will develop a little more during 2016. I am thriving designing items for my shop and hope to grow into making greetings cards this year, and finally, I want to write. I want to share adventures and happy moments and I hope that you will share with me.
See you soon!