It’s 1am and here I am, unable to sleep for what must be the third time this week.
This week I did something for the first time: I took annual leave from work. It was…weird.
I wasn’t originally planning on taking any leave this early into my six month contract; I didn’t feel like I’d really ‘earned’ any yet. However, the end of the financial year was approaching and I needed to use some up – so I booked a couple days off.
The act of requesting leave was an odd mixture of exciting and scary. I was expecting the former but not the latter. It was hard for me to reason with myself that having annual leave is an important part of working life. It isn’t all that surprising, considering that before this job came along, I had convinced myself that I would never, ever, get to call myself an employee.
I’ve adjusted my body clock to working hours; getting up on time and going to sleep early enough that I’ll still be able to function in the morning, but, to be honest, I’m still working on accepting that I’m worthy of a job. I had to fight the urge to check my work e-mails approximately every five minutes.
This weekend is Easter weekend. Here in the UK that means that we don’t work on Good Friday or Easter Monday. I feel completely different about this. The rest of my team are off work too. This feels okay. It feels like I’m ‘allowed’ (by my own standards) to relax this time. I was holding myself back before. I know that.
I also know I need to work on that. This is an important step in my working life. I hope there are more to come.
When I was unemployed I looked forward to, and dreaded weekends.
I looked forward to them because all of my family and friends were employed, so weekends meant I could spend time with them. Plus, for two days a week it felt like it didn’t matter that my body clock was a mess because lots of other people would be staying up late and sleeping in. I felt like everyone else. For most of it.
The hardest day of the week for me it the five and a half years I was jobless wasn’t, as you might think, a Monday morning. By the end of it I’d reached the point where I mostly slept Monday morning (well, most mornings actually) away so that I wouldn’t be as lonely.
Sundays, especially the afternoons and evenings, sucked way more.
Everyone would spent it[ complaining that they didn’t want to go to work the next day and I couldn’t wait until I could say that sort of thing too, even if I didn’t mean it. I hated knowing that another Monday was about to go by without a shiny new job for me to go to.
Now, after two months of working, I look forward to weekends because I feel like I’ve earned them. Sundays don’t suck any more, and I haven’t quite reached the point where I have that ‘Oh poop, it’s Monday tomorrow’ feeling. I’m sure that will come in time though.
The other day while I was in the shower it hit me: February marked four years since I started taking antidepressants, and as well as wondering where the time had gone, I realised I wasn’t sure how I feel about this. I’m still not.
Before I go any further with this post, I want to make it clear that right from the first couple of weeks of taking my meds I knew I’d done the right thing. It’s actually the best thing I’ve ever done. I have no regrets.
But I still remember how I felt in my doctors appointment that day. I’d been offered meds before in the past and refused them, but this time I knew I’d do anything they suggested. At the time, my anxiety was more of an issue than depression, and, as dramatic as I know this sounds, I was genuinely scared by how bad things had become.
I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit still, and my germ anxiety was so bad I changed my clothes every time went into the bathroom, even it is was just to scrub my face. I washed my hands before, during and after using the toilet. I laugh about this last part now when I bring it up to show people how far I’ve come, but honestly, I don’t find it funny in the slightest. I find it terrifying.
Then the doctor told me that he’d like me to be on them ‘until I’m feeling a bit brighter, plus another six months’.
I felt like the bottom had just fallen out of my world. I wanted to take it back. I wanted to take it all back, even the CBT I’d agreed to try instead of counselling like I’d had several times before (I’ve actually had CBT since then too). I’d agreed to give over at least half a year of my life to taking these meds. That was way too long! I’d made a huge mistake! I couldn’t take it back because the prescription was already in my hand.
I got home and paced my room as I listened to Twenty One Pilots in my earphones as loudly as the volume would let. This, as trivial as it sounds, is actually quite significant and proves how angry I was with myself. When someone bought me my very first tape walkman as a kid, I hardly used it because I was so afraid it would make me go deaf, and on the rare occasions I did use it, I would spend at least 10 minutes after I’d taken the headphones off repeating everything my parents said back to them so they (and I ) could check I hadn’t gone deaf. I had to do this for quite a while to prove that my ears were’t playing tricks on me for the first few sentences…
I’m over this particular worry now, but it’s always in the back of my mind whenever I use my earphones.
Fast-forward to 2018 and I’m taking antidepressants way, way, way more for depression than anxiety and I feel strangely okay about it. I’ve had so many ‘dips’ in this time that I know I’m not ready come off them yet. They’ve not been a magical cure, I’ve had to switch tablets once and raise my doseage more than once, but most of the time they keep me level enough that I can drag myself out of bed, even on my ‘bad’ days, and can actually distinguish one thought from another rather than being sucked into a rabbit hole of thoughts and worries.
I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom at least three times in the last four years, but I’ve found my way back every time. When all is said and done, that’s what’s important.
I uploaded a video about my new job, my cerebral palsy and my mental health the other day. Check it out!
It recently occurred to me that a lot of new people have started reading View from a Walking Frame since Employable Me aired. I realised that not all of those people will know a lot about me or this blog, so I thought today it might be nice to re-introduce myself and explain a few of the things I natter on about on here.
So, here is a bit of a potted history of my life.
I’m pretty sure most of you will have worked this out already, but if you haven’t then I’m Nicola Golding (although I go by Nic) and I have cerebral palsy. I write a lot, read just as much and drink way, way, way too much tea.
I also have anxiety and depression that flares up a various points in my life, which I talk about a lot on here (and my YouTube channel too).
I have a boyfriend of nine years, two cats, a dog, and a degree in multimedia journalism.
That’s about as interesting as I get to be honest, but if you want to know more about me that isn’t related to my disability or mental health, then you can always look through my old Fun Fact Friday posts.
About my cerebral palsy
There are about 17 million people in the world who have cerebral palsy, and while I’m definitely not a CP (or disability) expert, I am perhaps the only expert in how cerebral palsy truly effects me.
To cut a very long story short, I was born 14 weeks premature and had a bleed in my brain, and that is how I got CP, or spastic diaplegic cerebral palsy to be specific. There are four main types of cerebral palsy, but mine is the spastic kind, which means I have muscle tightness. Diaplegic means I have it in two limbs (both of my legs). Although, my left arm is also impacted a bit, so some professionals call me triplegic (three limbs).
There is no cure for it, but I can learn to manage my pain and the various other challenges my disability throws at me.
The main problem I have is pain. There is not a single day where I am ever completely pain free. Some days are worse than others. Now I’m getting older (I’m 27) I’m noticing that the bad days are getting more and more frequent, and some months they outnumber the good.
The main thing is that I wouldn’t change my life. I wouldn’t take away my disability.
In truth, it actually makes me quite sad when people tell me they think ‘it’s a shame’ that I’m like this, because it’s really not.
Anyway, I think that’s enough about me. Why not tell me a little bit about yourself in the comments.
Well the first week of 2018 was definitely eventful for me. I had my birthday, three freelance work deadlines, two full days of volunteering, and I even bothered to put my makeup on at least three times. And I managed to survive on that on less sleep than I would’ve like, and without getting so anxious that I turned into a puff of smoke.
I’m so proud of myself. It might not sound like a big deal, but I haven’t been this busy in a long time, and I’d started to become afraid that I might not be able to handle it any more. Turns out I can. Cool.
Over the years I’ve learned the hard way that setting myself too many long-term goals at once isn’t great. I have a habit of turning them into sticks to beat myself with. As much as I’m working hard to not do that, but I find it’s better not to take chances. That said, I’m (so far) still feeling pretty positive about everything to I do have a couple of things I want to try achieve this year:
Make more content
Believe it or not, there was once time when I used to update this blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and my YouTube channel every Sunday, and I loved it. That was before my mental health took the biggest nose-dive it has ever taken and I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed, let alone do anything else.
I’m not sure if going to commit to that schedule again straightaway, but I’m hoping for at least two blog posts a week and two YouTube videos a month. We’ll see.
Complete a second draft of my YA eating disorders novel
I have way too many novels on the go. I think around three or four, but the one I’m furthest along with is a YA novel about teenagers with eating disorders. I’ve even had feedback on it from an editor.
I say here that I want to finish a second draft, but I’ve actually redrafted the first third of it too many times to count. By the end of the year, I want to have actually re-drafted it all the way to the end so I can send it back to my editor.
Wish me luck!