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It's now two hours since I should have gone to a voluntary work placement. Two hours of peace?
Am I ill? I feel disabled. Disability is not an illness but when anxiety strikes or in this case seeps into my thoughts, my body is stricken. No decisions are made except ones of retreat.
Today anxiety claims me and I feel that I am that mental person. I feel weak.
Yesterday at work I smiled and chatted but felt myself slipping—the self doubt growing, the fears of past experiences looming. My mind became dark and filled with foreboding.
There was one bright light that pierced the darkness. A twenty year old young man (a fellow volunteer) told me he had wasted the best part of his life—on playing video games. I forgot about my own anxiety. We talked about his life ahead of him, about when he is in thirties he may feel different. He may feel more comfortable in his skin. How he must not compare himself to other people. Each person's success is individual. What may be a tiny achievement to some may be massive for him. He thanked me for being so positive.
Positive? Its my belief. I believe in everything we talked about.
Today I feel negative about me. Yesterday I felt negative about me.
Anxiety is a struggle between a settling of my mind to strive forward or settling of my body to remain stuck, disabled.
Anxiety brings conflicting thoughts, conflicting words and trying to make sense of the conflict is like trying to find peace.
The bottom line_______ My anxiety is my physical response to my low self esteem, my lack of confidence, my past experiences, my not feeling worthy.
Yesterday I met a young man who I felt was worthy of a future, a positive life.
So what about me?
Tonight lying in bed with my cat stretched out on my legs, I can hear the faint sounds of the TV, hushed voices and music drifting in from various rooms, I am at peace. My world is predictable. The familiar face of family life and I know my place within. Hell I love my place here. I am safe. I feel confident because here I am loved.
To ease obsessive anxiety I used to visualise challenging events or even people as being in a bubble. I would watch them drift away, far away from me never to be seen again.
The fearful thing is I have made my own bubble. Malleable enough to protect me from life, thin enough to burst.
My job coach rang me today. Asking why I didn't attend the work experience. I could hear her impatience hrrrmp down the phone as I tried to explain my anxiety about the work place. And she repeatedly pinned me down to answer would I go in to work tomorrow? Of course I said yes.
So what about me? Did I just give in and retreat from the challenge of explaining my anxiety? Or do I dare to believe I deserve a positive life too. A working life balanced with my safe home.
Tomorrow I will try again.
It's evening now. I began this morning thinking this is going to be my last day and this thought quietened my mind. Feeling numb I went through the morning rituals with the dead weight of impending failure.
With a deep breathe and a fixed smile I walked in... To be greeted with a smile and a "Let's go and have a chat and a cup of tea." Suddenly I found my self explaining my anxiety and she listened and said we want you stay... we have arranged for a mentor for you... How do you feel about that?
How do I feel about that?
I feel valued, understood, and most importantly, not judged.
Am I lucky to be given this opportunity? I hope not. I hope other people with any mental health issue, in other work environments will be validated too.
Imagine the surfer riding the wave, he seems sure and steadfast but he is small and vulnerable on a rolling wave. So it feels for me sharing my fears, but when it's done it's done... I believe it's worth letting yourself feel vulnerable if it helps others understand because each time the surfer comes down from the wave he is confident to go again.. He has achieved something powerful.
Which leaves me thankful for the push from my job coach. And with another deep breath, a genuine smile, and work to do. A positive day it became. Maybe a positive future... I have hope...