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Thoughts tumbling, jumbling, vying for attention

A Million thoughts travelling at a million miles per hour

How to slow the thoughts, creativity, action – alcohol?

All things tried and tested, but really is this the answer?

It’s been a testing day for all my team colleagues and myself – redundancy meetings, all of us looking at each other wondering, is it you or me that’s going. The redundancy process is supposed to ‘help’ and ‘justify’ reasons for those who are to be redundant, but essentially the months and months of the process dragging on just ends up in mental torture. Questioning of ones’ self worth, strained relationships with colleagues, trying to calm them down, helping them – who knows what lies in the future.

So. Corporate mental torture. How do you even describe it to your bosses or whatever? All you hear is ‘I know this is a tough time for you’ etc etc and you just think – ‘well, i wouldn’t be in this situation if the company hadn’t been so stupid’ and in my case, it’s incredible mis-management to why i’m in this position. And yet only this morning I switch on my computer and on the company internet is advertising vacant positions and ‘welcome the new staff of our latest acquisition’. They can buy whole companies elsewhere, but they feel the need to make one of us redundant. One person, on not exactly a very high wage.

But what do I know about business? Well, actually, it appears a lot more than the bumbling idiots in my organisation. My judgement could be clouded because of my personal circumstances, but, it is what it is. I cannot change any of it. I may be going through mental torture, both corporate and personal, and strangely my moods are cycling from highs to lows at lightning speed. I’ve always said through my life that i perform best under pressure, and perhaps i do. Or maybe it’s my adrenaline going into overdrive and triggering a mild mania. Who knows. I’m undiagnosed as yet, but it all seems to make sense. I feel like i could do a million things at once, i’ve started doing a million things at once – in fact right now i’m blogging (something i’ve neglected as i’ve been a bit down) tweeting, watching TV, holding a conversation with my OH and 12yo, and in the middle of 4 separate text conversations. And I could do more. I have the urge to do more, in fact, i forgot to mention i’m also surfing the net in between thought streams… Hmmm reading that back… that is… quite a lot isn’t it?

But i’m no Doctor, so, it’s just me, it’s what I do. I suppose what i’m trying to say is, if you are going through any mental problems, and you think something is not right, the first conclusion may not be the correct one. Depression is common, it’s often what Doctors will go to first – by their own admission. But how can you diagnose happiness – or hyper-happiness? You only ever hear of the chronic Bipolar issues of hallucination, delusions, crazy excessive behaviours – Stacey Slater off Eastenders if you will… but what about the rest of us? Those not so harshly afflicted? You mention Bipolar to friends and, well, it’s much more fearfully received than mentioning Depression. Everyone seems to expect you to go nuts and run around screaming like a freak. As I pointed out, i’m no different to however i’ve been all my life, yes I do extravagant things, over the top if you will – but before that was charming, now I have a label i’m a paraiah?

Well – maybe i’m ranting, in fact yes I am. I’m at the start of something which can potentially explain all the unanswered questions of my youth and beyond, but, it’s a lot more delicate than originally envisaged. Depression elicits sympathy, Bipolar elicits fear. Again, education is the key – you mention Stephen Fry and people think ‘ok – maybe it’s not so bad’ but then, you can see the uncertainty… something i will save only for my closest friends for the moment. A test of their friendship perhaps…

So, evidence of some of the million thoughts running through my head, i’m sure they will change in time – it’s been fairly stressful today, hence the long diatribe. Therapeutic in a way, at least some respite from ‘thinking’ too much…

When is Depression not Depression? When it quacks like a horse. What exactly do I mean? Well… Perhaps I should have noticed something odd when I named my blog. The Depressed Optimist. This is a little strange apparently. Depressives tend not to be Optimists. This I knew. So what is a Depressed Optimist? The last few weeks, I have been riding intense highs, and then crashing to deep lows, frustrated, not feeling right. Something was not right. Before Christmas, when I started this blog, my second ‘episode’ last year, I was put on tablets. I documented how they made me feel – happy, confident, conquer the world… Apparently they shouldn’t have done that.
So. Last week, I went back to my GP. The weeks before I had had a terrible time of it, making my partner’s life hell, I have no idea how he ever put up with me, especially during that period. I told him I didn’t feel right, explained my thoughts my feelings, everything. He asked some strange questions, which, I’ve researched since… and it appears, I may be Bipolar. Having a diagnosis is going to be a long and tough road. Will I ever know why I’m not normal? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been so called normal in my life, and I like it that way. There’s nothing worse than looking at everyone else looking bored and miserable when I can entertain myself no end with the crazy thoughts whizzing around my head. Problem is, they’re causing issues. They’re making me  lash out at those closest to me out of frustration, day-dreaming at work, my concentration is shot, it’s affecting my life. As much as being creative helps me, and is a wonderful outlet, I cannot rely on that all the time… It just isn’t practical, so I need to learn how to control this.
My GP took blood tests to check that there isn’t anything physically wrong with me, which there isn’t, and then I filled in a number of ‘evaluation’ forms. To which I scored very highly on all of them. He suggested I go on medication again, but I insisted that I wanted counselling – so, I have now been referred and waiting for the phone call. Could take up to 6 weeks apparently, but… I know I need this. I work in an industry where I need to be strong, firm, in control – I can’t convince a Client to leave lots of money in my care if I appear to be a gibbering flighty wreck… I have coped with this since my teenage years, so I know it is manageable. I’ve identified it happens every 5 – 7 years. I’m finding it hard at the moment to focus, hence why I’ve neglected this blog somewhat… but, it’s got me to understand this much about myself so far… it’s beneficial to carry on. 
Depressed. Bipolar. It’s all labels and tags – I’m no different to who I was before, the only thing that’s changed? How I understand myself – and more importantly, knowing how to cope with this.

Do I believe in Fate? I’m not sure. I used to, I used to pin a lot of explanations on ‘oh it was fate’ or ‘serendipity’ or whatever you wish to call it. But do we reasonably expect that there’s some higher being or higher something really bothered about whether we eat the pasta or the pizza on a Tuesday night that might or might not give us food poisoning? Thing is, people only ever liken something to ‘Fate’ if it’s a good thing, or if people are feeling particularly mean, karma or ‘what goes around comes around’ if it’s something horrible. I don’t see anyone saying people dying senselessly is ‘Fate’. So why am I preoccupied with this notion this morning. I think it’s the whole redundancy issue. I may lose my job.

I’ve heard many others describe the whole process as ‘oh well I’ll let Fate decide’. Nice. Anyone ever heard of fighting or evaluating a situation? I for one take the fighting option. Dangerous? Possibly so, but how do you know unless you try? We’ve been asked to put forward our views and thoughts on the situation, so should I be lambasted for fighting my corner? I think not. Personally, if the situation were reversed, I would be more disappointed in those who just sit there and let everyone else do the work for them, and let Fate decide. We make our own fate, and we then deal with whatever comes our way. I used to believe somewhat in psychic abilities, and moreso in a God of some sort –since I’ve started thinking logically, and stopped clutching at straws, I now realise that these things can be explained using science. Maybe science we don’t yet understand, but why should something be mystical just because we don’t understand it? Victorians would have probably thought mobile phones were the devil’s work. We know different, although saying that, you could probably still argue that point if you so wished –just from a philosophical rather than technical point of view…

Why am I feeling this way? I’m struggling, that’s the truth. I’m trying very hard to push down the panic right now –I simply cannot afford to lose my job –it’s a scary prospect. Yes, I know others are in the same position, but I simply can’t consider that at the moment. I’m trying to help the best I can, but who am I responsible for? My family, myself. There are times when you must be selfish. For the sake of yourself and those who depend on you. There’s not a great deal I can do about the whole process, it’s riding the wave of stress and disarray and upset from colleagues in my office, it’s doing what I can to get my opinions heard, for me, lying down and taking it is not an option. A little over two weeks and I’ll know either way. Hopeful? Well, yes, there’s a 75% chance I’ll stay, which is very good odds, however how will I feel should I be that 25%? This worries me. I’ve been made redundant twice before in my life, and the last time, although it was a company insolvency did knock my confidence somewhat. It caused my re-training to what I do now, (fate can I hear someone uttering?) but, do I really have the fight to pick myself up and carry on from there if it happens a 3 rd time?

Maybe that’s the point at which I just go with the flow… Worries like that are pointless, I know that. I just need to continue to fight and deal with everyday life as it is. My OH needs me right now, I fear he may be relapsing, but he’s much more communicative than the last times –I’m hopeful we can work through this together and he has already made an appointment for the Doctor –which is a MUCH better sign than the last times. He’s listening to me, he’s believing me, this gives me strength that both of us can get through this dark patch –2011 is definitely going to be better than 2010.

It’s the New Year. A time of mixed emotions for many, and over the last few days, it appears a time of sadness, loss and dread. I find this so strange to understand –surely ‘New Year’ is precisely that? A time of new starts, new beginnings, a new outlook on a new challenge? I find this time of year to be quite uplifting, a new chance at something that you might have been plugging away at last year unsuccessfully, just that little thing that was eluding you is finally within your grasp. I have the feeling this year is going to be a good one for me, I mean, last year was not so great. There was too much expectation, too many hopes pinned on too few reasons to be hopeful -whilst I can be an incredible optimist, I need also to be realistic and I find that challenging sometimes.

Last year I found myself looking for many things. Looking for ideas, answers, trying to find my path to who I am… Whilst I probably will never 100% know who I am, I’ve learned a hell of a lot more about myself on the journey… Two breakdowns, a revelation, Twitter, online forae and a Blog later, I feel rather strange sitting and thinking back to the heartache I went through to get here. But I’m a strong believer in experience is the only way to learn, and well, I am so very well known for always learning the hard way

So new challenges for me this year. Not to be so hard on myself. I am only human after all –and well, not to be so hard on others too. If I am only human then so are they! Begin the community volunteering. This is a big challenge for me –and the strangest thing about the volunteering is that the person I shall be visiting is the advert that I saw from the flyer that was posted through my door in the first instance. A coincidence? Of course, but little nudges in the right direction can also give you that sense of ‘serendipity’ –something that may not actually be divine in origin, but if what you see and think turns out to occur, then perhaps you’re thinking in the correct way after all. Intuition if you will. And on top of all of this? I intend to be kinder to my body. I am a rather forgetful health freak… I know what I should do to be super healthy, what I should eat, the exercise I should do –but I just don’t do it. Which is strange really because I enjoy getting out and going for walks and exercising and experiencing nature. I use the same excuses we all do ‘I’m tired from working’ or ‘I just don’t have the time’ or whatever, but I’m going to try and kick those age old pleas and treat myself to nice long walks in the fabulous countryside around where I live. Beaches, hills, mountains… Why not? It may even inspire me more to my arts.

New. New is not bad, it’s not time for regret of that lost, it’s time to celebrate the excitement of what can and will be. January isn’t a bad month, it’s a month for planning, reviewing and starting the way you mean to go on.

Well today, I’ve been matched with my Volunteering visitee. I think you’ll understand if I don’t say anything about them, their life is private and I intend to keep it that way. However, what I will talk about is how the experience makes me feel, how it affects my life, my thoughts. At the moment i’m actually feeling quite a lot of trepidation. Will they like me? Will they think I’m silly, will I actually be able to help at all? Do I actually need to help, or does just being there make the difference?

I’m holding on to the ‘just being there’ thoughts – I can make a good conversation, it’s not a difficult thing really, and well, I’ve been told mostly, that all we really need to do is listen. So as far as listening is concerned I keep re-reading my ‘Listen’ post. I must remember that. My charge may well be frustrated, upset, or equally happy and bouncy, but realistically, it could be anything. They’re just normal people like you and me – but with no one to listen. To hear what they’re saying.

This is worrying me too – what if I form a really close relationship with my charge? What will I do if they’re no longer around? How will that affect me? But again, i’m ahead of myself. So many what ifs… Deal with the here and now. My first vists won’t be until after Christmas now, gives me time to ponder and get used to the idea. I often wonder how I can shoe horn more value and time into my life, but as far as I’m concerned, a few hours a week to give a listening ear to a neighbour is such a valuable thing. It costs nothing. It reminds me that beyond my circle of experience and friends and family, there are more people out there – not glamourised, or stigmatised and demonised by prejudicial media broadcasts.

So – overall, I’m terrified, but I’m also excited. I can feel that little bubble in the pit of my stomach. I can feel that something is changing – is it me? My perceptions? Will this change me for the better? I think it will.

Well after the meeting it wasn’t particularly good news. Was to be expected, but everyone is in a state of numb shock. Others in complete tumult. I tend to hit tumult as when I feel an injustice is coming I get frustrated and angry. Very rarely do I hit despondent, but I know… that there will be injustices served. When people get fearful, oftentimes the really ugly side to human nature comes out. It’s not like I haven’t been through this process before a couple of times though, so other than getting annoyed about other’s reactions and the lengths some will go to to preserve themselves, I’m attempting to remain calm.

There are a couple of young colleagues it’s hit quite hard, so I’m trying to remain calm for them too. I’m hoping that it won’t be bad for them in the end – there’s a possibility it won’t, and I’m holding on to that hope. Funny thing is, there has to be a good side in all of this too. On the other side of the doom and gloom there can only be positives to come. Once the worst has happened, how can it get any worse? Other options may occur but at least you’re prepared for them, if you expect the worse in such situations, anything else that occurs can only be better.

Anyway. Having plugged in to my most soothing music,  I’m now reflecting on the Volunteering Induction I had last night. I was  starting to get a little lethargic over the whole thing as I had to keep putting my induction off due to work and other issues and I was beginning to think that perhaps I just didn’t have the time in my life to do this. But. I went along last night and everything was explained to me, procedures etc and I found myself looking forward to the opportunity again. And it is an opportunity, to help someone, to just be a ‘friend’ to someone who needs one if I can. So now, I am an official Volunteer. Something that when I was younger, I had NO idea why anyone would give up free time to do something like this. Funny how priorities change as you age and experience life.

Experiencing life is exactly what I’m after. In order to be able to write music, write words, how can I hope to express myself if I can’t experience what I want to write? Other than the companionship aspect of personal fulfilment, I love listening to the views of others, the thoughts, the turns of phrase, the experiences of others in their lives… Also to help if I can, I doubt I can help anyone much, despite being in my own little world, I have no doubts I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. I’m quite fearful of a lot of things deep down, so I often try to push my boundaries to rid myself of the fears, to conquer them if I can… Mostly successfully, I can often fail badly too…

The point is, life is for living. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in the mundanes of life. Sleep, work, money, tv, sleep, work, money, tv… but there is so much more out there to be experienced if you just take time out to step back and look for it…

I was speaking to a good friend of mine yesterday about Identity. We live in a free society, we can forge out our own roles, our own careers, our own paths. We can pretty much do as we please, but still, we find ourselves increasingly despondent and lacking, down about our options, and increasingly dependent on money. We might be able to do what we want to a certain extent, but we all still have to have money to live, and also, a little bit of money to do the things that make us happy.

I hear the low hum of dissent ‘you don’t need money to take a walk in the countryside’, ‘you don’t need money to sit on a beach’, no – I know all that – I do such things as often as I can. But you do need money to feed yourself, to heat your house, to rent or own a property, so I see such things as going for a nice walk as something you can do after all the other things are done. So for instance. If I want to indulge in my hobbies of singing and composing and writing – I can not do any of that for free. Manuscript paper costs, as do pencils etc. What’s my point? We all have a goal which makes us truly happy – but there are limits, constraints, big compromises you have to make to get there. How does this affect identity? As a woman, I sadly have to concede that in my mid 30’s it affects me a lot.

Call me broody, hormonal, ticking clock – whatever you like, but my identity is difficult to mark. Something’s missing. I do not have the money or luxury to pursue my creative endeavours as much as I want, and more than that, I really feel the gap of no children in my life. I immerse and throw myself into many different tasks to ‘give me a purpose’ and quieten that ticking in the background. But we are all still animals, instinctive beings, as much as civilised society can mitigate such instincts to a certain degree, we have to still acknowledge that huge part of us all. What actually is my identity?

Men – provide, take care of their families, earn money, ‘hunt’ for food, protect. Old fashioned – but how I’ve been feeling for the past year – and I know i’m not the only one… Women – nest, care for their family, take care of the home, worry, cook, clean, I know not the same in all cases, but I know this is how I ‘feel’ and how a lot of my friends of the same age feel. So when we can’t do what we feel we should be doing we feel lost. Lethargic, inertia, trapped. I can’t immerse mysef in the things I love because the day job must come first. It pays the mortgage. It is stressful though, and my hobbies help with that, but… it still doesn’t help with my identity. I’m not a career woman, i’m nothing special at my job, so therefore I just pootle along – another worker on the treadmill.

What’s the answer? I don’t know. Life isn’t easy. We all know that, I feel a change coming, I feel restless and agitated and frustrated. Maybe it’s the looming of the meeting on the 13th? Maybe I’m just not happy with my career choices – I can’t regret what I’ve done because it’s got me a home, and I do participate in many things which make me happy, so it could be SO much worse. Ungrateful? Perhaps I am. But I just can’t ignore my feelings. Ignoring my feelings put me on medication twice this year so I need to face this head on. Just not sure where to start quite yet – maybe it’s time to relax and enjoy the festive season, the new year brings new challenges, I always find a new determination too…

Yes – a famous Fleetwood Mac Album. Also – something the office is rife with at the moment. As the 13th looms ever closer, more ‘confirmed’ elements are revealing themselves and people are ‘making assumptions’ based on the ‘facts’ presented. As a depressive i’m excellent at making assumptions based on ‘facts’. They’re usually not the most positive of assumptions either. But to be honest, in this case, how can the news that’s going to be imparted be anything but bad?

This is not my depressive side talking, this is common sense. We’re in a recession. We rely on Public Funding. The Public Funding as recently been cut. Our office has made a loss for the past five years. Doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out bad things are afoot. Athough we’re actually not doing as badly as other offices, the fact all the other offices are having meetings with an HR member present and at exactly the same time as us on Monday it really doesn’t bode well.

So how am I going to cope with the rumours and the inevitable fallout? Quite honestly I’m rather nervous. I’ve been coping really well since the last of the medication left my system – occasional moods, but then that’s normal for me, keeps me on my toes, lets me feel nice and human. Am I scared that bad news is going to tip me over the edge? Yes. TBH I am. I suppose it all does depend on what the bad news will be, which is why i’m not panicking yet. I’m not going to give it a second thought. How can you control something that you know nothing about?

But again, it’s control that is my big thing isn’t it? I like being in control, and well, this takes away my control. Uncertainty and rumours and the worried comments of others always does that. So. I must take a deep breath. Try to be calm and to prepare everything as best I can. Assume the worst, hope for the best, and keep my head at all times. Sometimes there is surprise in life, who’s to say that what will happen on Monday will be for the worst in any sense?

I’m sitting listening to Sigur Ros today working, and I can’t quite believe I’d forgotten just how much just ‘listening’ to my music raises my spirits and makes me more productive! I’m a bit annoyed with myself really, all through my low time and withdrawal from my tablets, I had not been listening to my music.

After all I preach about ‘doing the little things to cope’ and how much my singing was helping me, I suddenly realised I’d not been ‘disengaging’ myself from everyday stresses by just plugging into my MP3 player. Shame on me. Such an easy thing, such an effective thing, and how it’s making me feel this morning, it could have helped me so much! One huge note and post to self ‘Listen to Sigur Ros, or some other chilled music – nothing compares!’.

And it doesn’t, nothing compares to this feeling. The huge expanse of sound, freeing the mind, taking my thoughts elsewhere, the conscious slowing of my heart rate, the reduction of stress, the small smile that just emerges and sheds all that tension. You would really think it was so obvious to do. Definitely time to listen to more before I kick myself so hard I’ll give myself a complex!

Suffice to say, I purchased the ‘budget’ tree for the office yesterday, and everyone is really pleased with it (well, at least they’re saying they are…) so tomorrow I’ll go and get the chocolates. Colleagues are very excited about the chocolate prospect… Just a nice treat through December, again, little things lift the spirits! In my case, where chocolate is concerned my spirits always need lifting!

Time to re-immerse in music and work – strangely enough Monday doesn’t seem that bad with such wonderful music to listen to…

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