Back to work with a baptism of fire

Over the past year due to my yoyo mental health and several bad experiences with employers I’ve been unemployed more than I have been employed. Not only has this had massive effects on mine and my boyfriends finances (which adds it’s own level of stresses with mounting bills and returning to living with parents) but it’s also had massive effects on my confidence and self belief.  Since my last failed employment ended in December I’ve been trying to battle my spiraling mental health as well as my spiraling self esteem in a bid to get back to work, back earning money and regain my independence and control on my life.

Wednesday was a big day for me. My first day in my new job. This new start is a little different than others I’ve encountered as this venue was actually my first job back when I was 16. I left 8 years ago and to return was like being welcomed back by a family. Although it was familiar territory and there were a few familiar faces it was the most nervous I have ever been.

Now my chosen industry isn’t one that’s recommended for people with mental health issues. Ive always worked in hospitality and my new role is assistant manager of a fine dining restaurant within a large hotel, with aspirations of pushing hard to gain a michelin star. It’s long hours, physically demanding on your feet all day, a test of mental stamina during busy services, often little sleep, irregular shift patterns, and no place to hide in the customer eye. It’s tough, I’m not going to lie, but I love it and I wouldn’t do anything else.

Upon starting, due to the restaurant manager taking some time off, I’m actually going to be working 9 days straight before my first day off and being left to run the restaurant and my new team of colleagues on my own for 4 days. Nothing like being thrown in the deep end hey!?  Oddly though this isn’t the thing I’m struggling with, I’m actually loving and thriving on the challenge and prefer to be thrown to the lions and to learn my job quickly.

The problem I’m having is with me. I’ve gone from being out of work for 3 months, having had a lot of knocks from previous employers and my health  to being pretty much “better” or “normal” overnight and that jump in change is huge. Don’t get me wrong I’m so grateful for my job and the opportunity I’ve been given and the wonders it’s doing for my mental state and self belief is amazing. But I feel like my confidence and self esteem has a bit of catching up to do, dawdling in the background somewhere.

It’s a lot of big changes, a lot of responsibility, and a huge leap in the right direction; it’s a such a brilliant gift I’ve been given but it’s terrifying at the same time. My insecurities about myself are the worst theyve ever been. I’m finally getting control of my life again and discovering who I am once depression has been taken out of the situation. I’m scared I might not like who I’m turning into, that others and my boyfriend might not like who I’m turning into and I’m terrified of making a wrong move which could trigger a downward spiral sending myself back to where I’ve come from.

I’m taking the pressures of work in my stride and being honest with myself if things get too much. But I need to take it easy on myself in this new time of self discovery too. As with getting better, becoming ‘me’ is going to take time and things arent going to change overnight. I’ve got the ability and opportunity to be who I want to be. I just need to grow some balls, believe in myself and with a bit of patience I’ll be able to do it

J x

My new dilema

As of yesterday, I have a fantastic new job. (finally!) Far better than I could have expected and if I keep my cool, don’t put too much pressure on myself and keep my head down this could be the most amazing opportunity for learning, development and to be a part of something truly amazing.

As excited as I am, there is one big issue weighing on my mind. I’ve struggled for so long with my health and had a lot of my career over the past year affected by it, I don’t want it to become an issue again.

So, to pre-empt any potential struggles or tough days I might have, do I tell my new employers a little bit about my anxiety and medication and risk them making a u-turn on the decision to employ me or do I just keep my head down and cross that bridge when I come to it?

Any advice on this would be amazing. Genuinely really struggling to work out which would be the best thing. It’s such a good opportunity I dont want to risk it ending before its even begun, but I also don’t want it to ever be a serious issue in the future and it come as a surprise to those I’d be working for.

Tough one.

J x

The (overdue) Jen Project

It was nearly a month ago I blogged about scrapping ‘The Happiness Project’ idea and re-branding it as ‘The Jen Project’.  I’m not going to lie, with being away, trying my hardest to find a job and having a few tough weeks on a new higher dosage of medication it’s gone a bit on the back burner and I’ve just been concentrating on getting through each day.  After yet another disappointing CBT session on Tuesday though, I’m now even more determined than ever to go solo and not have to rely on medical professionals to get me out of this…


The big plan….not very revolutionary and nowhere as thorough and organised at the happiness project was set out.  No monthly aims or goals, no monthly tasks, no deadlines and I’m not going to try and predict and outline my happiness for the coming months.  Organised fun is bad enough, but organised happiness? Definitely not for me.

Instead I’ve had a big think about 4 fundamental basic things I should be doing and can easily be doing to make life a little bit easier, more productive and most importantly happier.  It basically breaks down to health, wealth, passions and people, some of which actually interlink (which is handy!)

1) Health

To me this is crucial; to improve both my mental and physical well being and in turn improve how I look and feel about myself and raise my confidence – a part of me that’s been significantly knocked.  This is going to be the hardest of my aims as these are all changes of routine, instead of introducing new habits and tasks

– On the physical side eating healthier, cutting out the crap, drinking a lot more water, getting fresh air every day, exercising a little bit every day

– As of today I’ve started running which will also help my mental health but as soon as possible I’m going to join either classes at the gym or start dance classes.  This will help give me goals and friendly competition – I hate being the worst in a class

– At the moment my skin is terrible and although I’m a size 8 (UK) I’m getting a bit squidgy around the edges and starting to see lumps and bumps in places there weren’t any before.  I’ve taken ‘before pics’ of the key areas I want to see improvement and I can use them for inspiration and for motivation to see how much I’ve improved

– making an effort with my hair, make up and clothes as much as possible.  I’ve noticed even something as little as wearing a good pair of knickers or matching underwear that are hidden from public view can really boost my self esteem.  Idea is how I look and how I feel are interlinked.  If I’ve not done my hair or make up and I go to the shops looking like a sack of potatoes, I’ll feel like it

– For mental well-being I’m reading a lot of books on mindfulness (which is something I’m really trying to bring into my everyday thinking).  I’m also practicing meditation most days, keeping up to date with my thoughts diary to track any patterns and attempting yoga most nights before bed

2) Wealth

With being out of work more than I’ve been in work over the past year, my finances are in a pretty bad way (i.e. none existent).  At the nearly ripe old age of 27 it’s time to be a bit more sensible and think of the future.  Although money doesn’t equal happiness, the stresses it can bring certainly makes us unhappy, and some of the opportunities it can bring may lead to happy experiences.  After a tough year relying on my boyfriend a lot for money, it’ll be incredible for both of us to be financially independent and not have to worry about how we’re going to make ends meet as well as treat ourselves to somethings we’ve had to completely forget about 

– Getting back working, in a job I enjoy which will give me stability, confidence and develop me

– Clear off all of my overhanging bills and debts as quickly as possible so they’re no longer the black cloud I’ve got following me around.  Also want to start paying back the various family members who’ve bailed me out

– Be a lot more careful with my money – make a plan and stick to it

– Wherever possible put money away into a savings account.  Not going to save for anything in particular, but given the state of my health and employment over the past year it’d only be sensible to give myself a buffer against any possible future bad times – that alone will be unbelievably reassuring

3) Passions

Over the past 6 years for reasons ranging from health, controlling relationships, and money I’ve gradually lost all of the passions I once had and have found little enthusiasm for anything in particular.  Now I’m finding myself again, learning a lot about myself and getting my life back on track these are all going to be rekindled to fulfill the voids I’ve had and to give my life a big boost of enjoyment and purpose

– Food – is a big part of my life both in and out of work so I’m going to read all I can buying second cookery books and subscribing to a magazine, I’m going to get in the kitchen a lot more both cooking and baking, and going to try new restaurants to get ideas

– Music – another big passion of mine and originally the career path I wanted to take.  I’m going to absorb and listen to as much new music as my ears will handle, make sure I’m listening to old cd’s and playlists around the house a lot more, going to gigs and reading my favourite musicians autobiographies

– Books – a bit of a new passion but something I’m keen to develop.  I want to read as much as possible, starting with most of my other half’s books and one’s in my collection I’ve never opened.  Im going hunt down and cherish new hidden little book shops and rifle through charity shops for hidden gems

– Dancing – used to be a big part of my life going to classes in and out of school several times a week from age 3-19.  When I left for uni I never pursued it in my new city and it’s one of my biggest regrets.  Encompassing fitness, fun, music and meeting new people it really ticks all the boxes for what I want to achieve

4) People

I’m very much a people person and I work in a very customer serviced based industry.  I always love talking to someone new and I love the feeling of being able to help others.  Also recently, with everything that’s gone on a lot of ‘friends’ have drifted away, so I’m seeing this time of change within myself as a time to change those around me

– Volunteering in a charity shop to help others and meet a new group of people

– Making an effort when meeting a new group of people to befriend at least one person and do my best to stay in touch

– Making a bigger effort with those poor suffering friends who have amazingly stuck by my side.  Lack of money and enthusiasm for life has put all of these relationships on the back burner and now’s the time to make amends and make the effort to get them in foreground of my social life

– trying to not let people down and really going to extra mile.  I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down over the past year, burnt a lot of bridges and my illness has made me quite self-centered around my own problems.  I’m going to seize the opportunity to help others, be more reliable, not let people down especially when plans have been made and really make amends wherever possible

I’m going to achieve all of these overnight and I’m not going to be pursuing them all at once.  But I’m not going to section them off for achieving in separate months as I can do several at once – like eating healthier and exercising go hand in hand, but I can also do those and meet up with people and bake a cake for my new dance class or book group.  I’m going to take each day as it comes and seize any and every opportunity to work these new goals into my world and get my life into a place where I am happy and content again.  Ultimately, even if I succeed at keeping up a few of these, then I’ll have regained some control over my life – something I’ve not had for a very long time – and hopefully get closer to a strategy for tackling my mental health for good

Let me know what methods and ‘projects’ you’re trying

J x

Reblog – How I have dealt with PMDD naturally

PMDD is a term I’ve only recently learnt about, but perfectly describes something that for so long I’ve been trying to put my finger on and understand.  I love this post on natural ways to deal with it, as my doctors haven’t listened to me describing these sympthoms and I’m wary that when they do listen they’ll mess my body around again with different contraceptives or pills