The Full Story

On Monday, the police reached the decision to drop all charges on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient circumstantial evidence which would lead to an 85% chance of conviction in court, which is the minimum they require.  Despite all the evidence they did have and despite the police believing me. Since then I’ve been deliberating whether to take to my laptop and tell the full story of what happened that night – something I’ve so far only divulged to a hand-full of people.  In lieu of proper counselling (which the police have kindly said they would sort for me) writing this blog is pretty much the only form of catharsis I have. So. Here’s my full story.

Friday 13th November, I had my car packed ready to start a new job and a new life, leaving behind recent dramas of bad jobs, bad housemates, ready to stick two fingers up at the world and prove myself in the job of my dreams.  This job as restaurant manager would have not only made my career but also sorted out my finances for good; allowing me to make the big changes and live the life I wanted to.  In the weeks leading up to this date, after I’d accepted the job, the main advice people had given me was “Don’t fuck it up”….all the drive up there, this resonated in my head.

Before leaving I was told I’d be contacted by the current Operations /Restaurant Manager (I’ll refer to him as OM) who was due to leave the following week; I’d be shadowing him for my first week, training me and he’d be taking me out for dinner that first night to welcome to me to the hotel and show me around Ambleside – rather a lovely way to start a new job! I felt welcome and part of the team before I’d even left home! So, I left about 2pm and landed at the hotel about 4pm, to be staying in one of the hotel rooms for my first week until a space in staff accommodation was available.  Once I got there, I was given a quick tour around and met a few of the other staff before settling back into my room, freshening up for dinner and reading over my menus and training notes.  About 6.45pm there was a knock on the door and OM introduced himself, apologised for the delay.  He said he’d quickly freshen up and book a taxi.  A few minutes later he knocked at my door again; the taxi was here and a bottle of beer was waiting for me.  I went down, drank about half the beer and got in the taxi to town.

We headed straight to a little Italian restaurant, which was heaving.  We had a wait of about half an hour at the bar so had a gin and tonic before being seated.  3 courses of dinner, sharing a bottle of wine followed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude and given I’ve worked with chefs for 12 years I hardly have the mind of an angel – but there’s certainly an appropriateness required.  The conversation that flowed made me feel very uncomfortable; heavily laden with sexual innuendos, heavily flirty.  No matter how hard I tried to keep things as unassuming as possible, he managed to twist whatever I said into something creepy.  If this was a normal situation I would have said things weren’t appropriate, and looking back maybe I should have.  But given I’d just moved to a new job I didn’t want to rock the boat and seem like I was being difficult and stuck up from the offset.  I also kept in mind, I’d only have to work with him for the next week and then I’d probably never have to see him again.

The meal ended and although I was tired, full and ready for bed, OM insisted on going for another drink.  So we headed to a bar round the corner where a shocking open mic night was playing out.  On the way round I was discussing the on-goings of my last job, the unnecessary drama that played out.  He felt this was an opportunity to try and hug me, in some form of comfort – but my story wouldn’t have warranted comfort from any of my closest family or friends, let alone a stranger who was my manager for the following week.  I shrugged him off and asked for him to not touch me again.  Reluctantly, we continued for another drink.  The bar was packed and I really wasn’t in the mood – I just wanted to get back to the hotel so I could get a good sleep ahead of my first day.  We sat close to the bar on a small tall table on our own.  The level of heavy sexually orientated conversation from his side continued, and I was getting fed up of it, so I was being pretty short – something I really don’t like being.  At one point my shirt dress folded open more than it should due to how I was sat, revealing the inner slight edge of the cup of my bra.  He saw that as an opportunity to lean over the table and grab at my boob, joking about how heavily padded it was – definitely not appropriate behaviour.  Again, I told him to get off me.

I sparked up conversation with a local lady who was there with her husband and friend.  Her husbands friend was wearing a Liverpool top so I was talking to them about that, and conversation about my new chapter in life followed.  At this point OM got protective and almost possessive, not happy I wasn’t giving him my full attention and not happy I was speaking with others (“look what you’ve done, you’ll never get rid of them now”).  The locals I was speaking to tried to engage him in conversation, instead he stood up to go to the bar and made a reference to me being his girlfriend.  I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard.  My new friends took one look at me, one look at him and another look at me.  They asked to check “you’re not his girlfriend are you? that’s not right is it?”.  I explained I’d just met him and his behaviour had been making me feel on edge all evening.  Instantly the lady I was talking to gave me her number and asked me to message her when I got back home safe and also to get in touch for a coffee and to show me around – make sure I had some friend’s outside of work.  After he returned we swiftly went as he was on night manager duty at the hotel.  As we left the bar I text a few of my friends, including the guy I was dating to let them know how relieved I was to be going back to the hotel, because OM had been such a creep.

Walking down the street, again he tried to hug me and again he was told to get off.  Getting into the taxi, he tried to kiss me and again he was told no.  Conversation on the way back was solely between him and the taxi driver.  I was tired and starting to be apprehensive about the new job and the move I’d made.  Getting back to the hotel, he insisted on showing me to my hotel room, wanting more wine.  He showed me to my door and I did not let him in.  He joked, a recurring joke he’d made throughout the night, that it didn’t matter if I locked my door as he had access to the master key. What a way to make a girl feel safe! Feeling very awkward and uneasy after turning him away from my door, I took my make-up and jewellery off and got into bed how I did back then, which was naked.  Tired from travelling and the new situation, I fell straight asleep.

In the morning I woke, and straight away I could tell something was wrong.  I woke up to a ridiculous amount of missed calls of my guy I was dating, wondering if I’d got back to the hotel safely – I ALWAYS wake up when he calls, so he’d been panicking something had happened.  I went to the bathroom, put on my shirt dress and got back into bed to give him a call.  It was then, the penny started to drop.  The toilet lid and seat where both up when I got there, as if a man had used it – I have never left a toilet in such a way.  I then found a condom on the side.  In it’s packet, unused. But I don’t carry condoms and it definitely hadn’t been there before.  I felt so tingly and uncomfortable and could smell the stench of a rubber condom on me; I’m sensitive to them so I could instantly tell.  My stomach somersaulted, I felt sick, and not hungover.

It was obvious what had happened but I gave OM one chance to confess.  I text, asking what had gone on “nothing” was the original response, then with more digging and after drawing his attention to the condom, the toilet and “I didn’t consent to this” more details followed which didn’t add up and then a hurried offer to meet me in the office to discuss things.  I thought I was going to throw up.  He’d done something terrible to me and was trying to convince me I’d let it happen.  Without any hesitation, I phoned the police and pulled a dresser in front of the door.

Waiting for the police to arrive was the most agonising 30 minutes of my life.  Pacing the room, going over all of the details in my head.  I felt rotten, a lot worse than I had in a long long time, in no way correlating with the amount I’d drunk the night before (1 beer, 1/2 bottle of wine with dinner, 2 gin and tonics all with a hearty 3 course meal in the middle…..and it takes A LOT more than that to make me feel that way).  I tried to cry and couldn’t.  I kept replaying the night in my head.  On so so so many levels I wouldn’t have let this happen

a) happily dating someone amazing back home.  Even if I’m dating I’m 100% loyal, wouldn’t have dreamed hook up with anyone else

b) I’ve moved away from drama, why would I jump straight into bed with someone I’d just met on my first night, jeopardise the fantastic opportunity I’d been given, bringing drama to my door again?

c) professionally – I’d never involve myself with anyone from work, let alone before I’d even started work there – what impression would that make!?

d) Bottom line – He was really unattractive.  No….just no

11.00am I should have been starting my first shift of my new job. The police were with me at about 10.30am, taking initial reports, taking some of my clothes and bedding for investigation as well as a sample of my wee and the tissues I’d used to wipe.  I was told to get my things together, pack them into my car ready for later as I wouldn’t be able to stay back at the hotel that night – I’d have to go back home where I’d only left 20 hours earlier. I was taken to the local police station and was told I’d have to wait there until a safe centre in Preston was ready to conduct all of the examinations on me.  I was in so much shock, I could barely react, almost making light of some things; I just shut down.

8 hours I waited at the police station.  8 long, agonising hours.  Not able to shower, brush my hair, put make-up on.  Nothing.  I was walking, talking evidence.  I felt horrific.  Inside and out.  The “hangover” was getting worse and unlike anything I’ve ever felt; I knew something wasn’t right, it wasn’t just alcohol I’d consumed, I’d been drugged.  If it hadn’t been the guy I was dating’s dad’s birthday he would have been right there with me, but as it stood, I was alone.  I didn’t want to tell anyone until  I knew exactly what was going on; and what would I tell them anyway!? It felt like I’d lost a battle before it had even begun, like I can’t be let loose out of sight for 24 hours without something horrific happening.  Those 8 hours in the police station were the most horrible 8 hours of my life; I’ll never forget how lonely I was, how much I craved a hug, a cry, any form of humanity.  Because I lacked this, I closed myself off from everything, probably why I’ve still not reacted and still struggling with my emotions. Sadly, my phone charger was in my car, 2 hours into this wait, my phone died.  Nothing but the posters in the police station and the odd stranger who came in to pass the time.  It’s not like I was in the mood for talking either.  All I could do was replay everything, over and over and over in my head; it was torture.

Eventually my time came to be taken by a female police officer to Preston safe centre.  It was about 8.00pm.  I felt so sorry for the poor woman taking me.  I had no conversation at all.  Shocked, numb, confused, still feeling rough as anything, just focusing on getting these horrid examinations out of the way.  The two ladies at the safe centre could not have been more lovely, kind, and gentle.  They made the whole process so much easier.  Normal questions answered about medical and sex history, swabs taken of my nose, mouth, neck, groin.  I had a mouthwash to spit back and return.  I had the horrid internal examinations; swabs, pictures.  “do you want me to do the back passage too?” is something I never want to be asked again. I had to put on a loose gown, allowing the doctor to fold back one area at a time, keeping the rest concealed while she checked for bruising and marks.  I was given an injection for hepatitis and a selection of tablets for HIV that make you feel horrific.  Finally, bloods were taken.  As I got dressed, my dressing from the blood test bled and I nearly fainted.  I think the adrenaline of the day had worn off and as the last of the personal examinations were over, it had all started to drop into place.

Waiting after my examination to make sure everything had been done properly, I phoned my mum from the police officers phone.  It was 10pm.  12 hours after I’d reported it.  I’d been on my own this entire time.  Just hearing a friendly, familiar voice broke me.  The hotel had made arrangements with a taxi for me to go all the way back home – they didn’t want me driving in the state I was in. Once back at the hotel, I was informed the police of the bail conditions OM had been put under, I’d be summoned to give a video statement over the next week.  I had time to hurriedly pack a bag from the belongings in my car, frantically grabbing at things in the rain and dark (when I got home I realised I’d packed my laptop but no charger, 3 jumpers, no bottoms, no knickers and still no phone charger, you’ve got to laugh!) Before I knew it my Lake District adventure was over before it had begun, and I was on my way home.

In shock at how rapidly the job of my dreams had unravelled before my eyes.  I’d moved to the Lakes to get away from the drama and within 24 hours of leaving home, look what had happened!?

It was gone midnight when I got home.  Everything was so familiar, but at the same time it all seemed so surreal and life as I knew it had changed.  Craving a hug, and a cry I dumped my things in my room and popped my head round my mum and dads ajar door.  Lights on, TV on, both of them sat upright in bed, fast asleep; I didn’t have the heart to wake them.  Broken, lonely, numb and feeling pretty empty I climbed into bed.

The only comfort I had that day was the hot water bottle and flask of hot chocolate my mum had left for me.

“Don’t fuck it up” still resonating with me….

As deflating as it is there won’t be a conviction – which feels like could only have been possible if the whole thing was caught on camera and I was covered in his sperm, I’m glad I can move on with my life.  I don’t have a horrid painful trial to go through which wouldn’t even guarantee conviction.  The police are being amazing helping me put counselling into place, because they believe me and can see how much this has changed me; which is positive. I’m grateful that because I was spiked I don’t remember anything and other than a pair of bruised bum cheeks I wasn’t hurt

Two things this has taught me though, is how strong I am – I’ve really surprised myself in how I’ve dealt with it.  And also just how many bloody amazing people I am ridiculously lucky to have in my life.  I wouldn’t have this strength without them.

Now to move on…

 

MHAW16 – relationships

With the theme for mental health awareness week being relationships, I’m taking this opportunity to look at those not just in my life now but have shaped my mental health over the years

Boyfriends
Over the 8 years I’ve suffered with depression I’ve had 2 long term relationships, each lasting around 2-2.5 years. Throughout both relationships my mental health spiralled. Both failed to see me as an equal part of the partnership, neither saw me as a girlfriend or treated me like one, but treated me as a commodity. There was very little comprise in either relationship with each of the others demons being seen as priority over my health and well being, with me often being left not being understood or even heard. When you have one bad relationship you do everything you can to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again and the next guy will be different, but over the course of my second relationship it became apparent how shockingly similar they were. As soon as both relationships ended it was glaringly obvious how much my mental health lifted, no longer being in the shackles, being held back, unrecognised and unappreciated. Now ensuring I find someone who actually makes me feel good about myself and appreciates me and respects me warts and all seems like an impossible task, but I understand how important it is to get it right. I’m not having my head wobbling off from someone else again. I’ve worked far too hard on my mental health to risk jeopardising it letting another wrongun into my life

Doctors
My relationship with my doctors and health care has been non existent to say the least. They’re supposed to be the person you can confide it, open up to in a nonjudged situation in order to get help. Because I’ve moved house so much I’ve not had one steady doctor who knows my full story. Even when Ive visited my local GP surgery. due to staffing issues they don’t have a steady doctor I can see but a locum who float in to cover and as such the last 6 visits I’ve made I have had a different doctor every time. This wouldn’t be such a problem if it was physical problems I was speaking to them about. But having to open up, give my back story and explain where I’m at each and every time is not only frustrating but exhausting. It also means my care has been slap dash, each doctor giving me the first treatment that comes to mind rather than looking at what’s been tried so far and actually knowing what works for me and what doesn’t. And do you know what, a lot of doctors still don’t know how to deal with mental health issues. Over the last 4 years I’ve also struggled with the level of counselling cbt I’ve been put forward for. With my sessions either being cancelled last minute knocking my confidence and recovery or other treatments have been rushed for the sake of making up a few extra minutes of over run time and even changed therapists half way through treatment due to maternity leave. All very disruptive and unnecessary. They say mental health is better to be talked about, something I fully agree with but having to unnecessarily open up to so many different people is unbelievably difficult. It’s not the doctor’s fault, I know that. But equally it makes me reluctant to go to them about anything at all.

Family
We’re not a close family at all. But one thing I am proud of is that in me being so open about my mental health and my attack, it’s meant my family have opened up and we’re now all talking a bit more. Particularly my relationship with my mum which was pretty nonexistent about 6 years ago after a massive falling out, now we’re closer than ever. Living back at home at the age of 28 is less than ideal and isn’t something I’d boast about if I had an online dating profile, but for now its what’s needed. Just having people around, not necessarily to open up to, but just company I can trust is making the world of difference. If you’d told me a few years ago I’d be sat in most nights binge watching Grace and Frankie with mum and a bottle of wine or two putting the world to rights, I would never have believed you. So I guess that’s a huge silver lining in all of this. I’m very glad to have a family I can fall back on when needed. They drive me insane a lot of the time, but they’re the only one I’ve got and I guess they’ll do. In all seriousness, I’d be lost without their support. 

friendships
My friendships are unusual in a have a lot of scattered friends, none of whom really know each other. I can’t just get them all in one room or on a night out and catch up with them all at once, which would be a hell of a lot easier, especially while Im out of work and don’t have any money to be able to do anything when I see them. Despite this shortcoming, my friends are the best.
Each and every single time I get knocked down, I have a parade of cheerleaders picking me back up. After I left my last job in March, a dear friend I’d not seen properly in about a year took me out drinking pretty much for a full week, knowing that I needed to let off steam and they were going to make sure I did it semi-responsibly and get home safe. I’ve got those friends who I just nip to, unannounced, demand cups of tea and cuddles with their menagerie of fur babies. I’ve got the friends I don’t see for years but check up on me in a text most days. I’ve also got the friends I see once every few years and it’s like we were never apart. As much as I love the latter type, I always feel like my life is in some utter turmoil everytime I see them. One day, I’ll get there and be able to say everything is fine. It’s probably a little while off yet, but for the moment I’m quite happy with them feeding me all the tea, cake and bourbon while they listen to me rant. There’s also the friends who I have met over the last few months, and have been hugely accepting, non-judgemental and ultimately supportive in everything is going through. Each and everyone of my friends are beautiful understanding people. I wish I could give them all a medal for putting up with my shit.

Strangers
This might seem an odd one, how can I have a relationship with a stranger? But. I can. On the night I was attacked I started talking to a group of locals in the pub, making friends on my first night in the Lake District. The female in the group could instantly pick up that something wasn’t right and the guy who later attacked me was behaving very oddly and I was obviously very uncomfortable. As a complete stranger, she gave me her number and insisted I text her when I got back safe to the hotel and also that I meet up with her the following week, promising that I wouldn’t be alone and she’d show me round. She’s also been the only witness to give evidence regarding my side of the police case. Imagine meeting someone and within 24 hours having to give an account of the night because of such a horrid crime? She’s been an absolute angel, not just on the night being a good samaritain and not just in how she’s handled the case. At least once every few weeks I’ll get a text off her checking on me and we’re now even Facebook friends. What an absolute gem! It’s people like this who make the world go round.

My situation right now may have been caused by one or two key vile people I’ve crossed paths with, but it’s all of the other wonderful human beings I am lucky enough to have in my life that have given me faith in humanity and have kept me moving forwards. I cannot thank them enough. Talking is crucial to anyone dealing with a mental health issue and our relationships are our means to be heard.

Go give someone a hug!!!

The power of talk and starting my journey to positive thinking

Something I’ve struggled with since being diagnosed with depression is being able to accurately describe my thoughts, feelings and what’s wrong. I don’t normally have a problem with opening up and sharing personal information but for some reason my depression has had me tongue tied. Whether it’s embarrassment, shame, denial, fear of not being understood or laughed at or a combination of all of them somethings held me back from laying it all out on the table to the people that can help the most. Even doctors and therapists I find myself struggling to summon up exactly the correct thoughts and feelings, kicking myself later when I get home “why didn’t I mention that…” and “I should have said this”

Yesterday I was due to start a new job. A trial waitressing a nearby newly opened pub. Whilst it didn’t exactly offer the greatest prospects money is money right now when I’m in a state of unemployment and the social benefits of getting out of the house, meeting new people were really exciting thoughts. In my previous post I was really looking forward to making a positive step in the right direction. I didn’t make it. Despite pep talks from the other half and myself I fell apart. Anxiety took over, a panic attack spread throughout me and before I knew it I was curled in a ball on my floor with a blanket crying uncontrollably for a out an hour. I couldn’t put it into words where this had come from and I could barely fathom myself what was going on.

Truth be told I’m not sure I’m quite ready for work. Certainly not when my moods and head are so unpredictable. Who’s to say if I was fine and had made it to my shift that a panic attack wouldn’t have happened in a day or a weeks time. I just can’t trust my health at the moment to be relied upon for work. While I’m eager to get back to work for the financial and social benefits I have to take a step back and make sure I’m in a state fit enough to do so, so the same doesn’t happen again. The guilt I felt yesterday for not being able to go and feeling like a failure was horrid and it was only through giving myself a good talking to that I’ve managed to shake off my relapse so quickly. Spending time with my partner talking over my plans for the next step in my recovery has given me a massive boost. He’s the one person I can talk to candidly about everything I know he’ll not only listen, offer support and show understanding but he’ll also offer feedback which helps me put my actions into perspective. whilst I’m not seeing any professionals and my support network of friends and family to have real life conversations with is limited, these talks with my boyfriend are crucial in being able manage my illness better myself and be reassured in his understanding. Speaking with him has given me the confidence to speak with my doctors and cbt in the same way – both big daunting appointments I have upcoming this week about my care.

My mindfulness meditation book and the course itself are helping to change my way of thinking and approaches to tasks in every day life. With advice I’m getting from the happiness project book I’m trying to make lots of little adjustments to my daily routine which will coax me back in the right direction and help me make the most of the choices I have. With my parents away this week I have a free house to focus on my health and getting better without the normal distractions. Little bits of exercise, getting into a routine getting out of bed, eating a bit healthier and continuing my reading, mindfulness programme and happiness project with all help me make the initial positive steps I need to take to help find my jen-ness again

Will keep updating with how things are going.

Stay safe
J x

Fighting Fire with Fire

Christmas generally isn’t the easiest time for me, as it isn’t for most other people suffering from some form of mental illness.  For me, anxiety is a big downer on my festive spirit with a nice juicy dose before I’m due to go out anywhere, especially if its to be meeting groups of people I’m unfamiliar with.  This normally leaves me at home, on my own, feeling lonely, down, guilty with this generally spiraling into further anxiety and depression as I sit there feeling sorry for myself.

This year, as being at home has also given me strong feelings of anxiety, social awkwardness and generally not wanting to be around certain members for too long, I’ve found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place – anxiety coming head on with anxiety.

Every night or day I’ve been going out to see my other half’s friends and family, catching up with people I barely know and meeting a lot of others for the first time (who I probably won’t see for another year).  I’m so proud of myself for doing it and so pleased with the results.  If I hadn’t, Christmas being sat in my little box room at my parents would have been particularly grim.  It’s been tough and I may not have been the “normal happy jen” but I did it.  Unfortunately, one of the standard questions asked by people you rarely see or who don’t know you is something work related which I’ve had to tactfully steer around so as not to bore people with the complicated trials and tribulations of the past few weeks of my life, leaving them wishing they’d never asked. Pretty impressed at how I’ve handled things, throwing myself into situations that would normally have me a little on edge, being able to put recent events behind me and successfully enjoyed myself.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the bits of time I have spent with my family.  Unnecessary sarcastic comments about work, money, living situation and how well my other siblings are doing sneaking in to normal conversation taking the wind out of my sails and putting me back to square one in feeling pretty shit about myself.  The big kicker was the massive elephant in the room (or lack of) on Christmas Day.  I woke to a text saying I wasn’t to expect any presents under the tree for me.  Low and behold while everyone else is tearing wrapping paper off lovely gifts there I am sat with a cup of tea.  I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m being a spoiled brat, throwing my dummy out of the pram.  But it’s a pretty cruel punishment for recent events and on the one day I wanted to try and put everything behind me and not be reminded of my situation, it couldn’t have been made more obvious.  Completely heartbreaking when even my younger brothers notice and ask what’s going on.

Whilst I may not have been rich in gifts this year, I have been rich in love and support from my other half and his family and friends.  It’s these amazing people that have got me through a ridiculous past month and hopefully will be there as I gather my life back together over the coming weeks.  I can also take away from this time how strong I’ve managed to be in a difficult and upsetting time; this I am really proud of and I feel like I can walk into the next chapter with confidence and my head held high.

Stay safe

J x

The importance of emotional support

My parents have never been the particularly supportive, talkative, emotional types. No hugs and kisses as we left the door for school, no catching up on each others days over the dinner table (because we didn’t have one), no i love yous.

Each time I have a set back, it’s instinctive to go to my parents, as it is with most people – they’re the people who made you and are there for you regardless.  Each time I’m left frustrated and feeling worse about myself than before, almost punishing myself for their emotional unavailability.

If I had any other illness or disease, I’m sure they would have spent hours trawling the internet and chatting to their friends seeking advice on understanding the illness and how best to support their child.  A mental illness should surely be the same thing.  Unfortunately, my family just don’t understand.  They think I’m simply “a bit down” and “I need to pull myself together”.

Yesterday, I came back from a routine doctors appointment with 2 new words to ponder over – bi polar.  My doctors are looking to test for it and think it could be a strong contender for another form of the condition I suffer from.  When I came home, naturally I spoke to my parents about what had been said.  Dead pan reaction from one (genuinely no reaction at all, despite the waterfall of tears down my face) and the other “well, at least we know what it is now”, as if depression wasn’t IT, completely unaware this is something different.  Ignorance and lack of understanding is one thing, but a complete lack of trying to understand or support is another.

As frustrating as this all is (the amount of tears I cried yesterday will probably be testament to that) I’m trying to approach things in a new positive light today.  Yes my parents aren’t great with emotion and support and I know this, so I shouldn’t expect it from them.  Its tough, as that’s what parents are for.  But if it’s not something they’re capable of or accustomed to then why would they suddenly change now?  So, I’ve decided to almost play the tough love card on myself.  Don’t expect and seek the support I need from my family.  Instead lean on the other amazing people I have around me; partner, friends, those on twitter and the rest of the internet I’ve connected to through this horrid illness.

It’s certainly not easy, as I currently live with my parents and friends aren’t ALWAYS available.  But learning to not beat myself up for my parents not doing something they’ve never done is a huge thing and a massive weight off my mind.  Instead I’ve got an army of amazing people behind me with tissues, duvet forts, harry potter films and inspirational quotes to keep me going.

This new level of thinking and approach to my source for emotional support is my main drive and motivation for accomplishing my little goals.  Moving out, getting my independence and cats back, getting on with my life.  Whilst its appreciated not having to pay bills, you can’t put a price on the value of your own space and being within a few minutes walking distance of a friend which isn’t a luxury I currently have.  Without proper emotional support for the good days and the bad, I’m going to find it significantly harder and a lot more lengthy process getting back to the me I recognise.

Today I went for an interview, just part time waiting work but its another few pennies in the jar and it’ll all help my recovery.  Just being able to accomplish that (and get the job) was a lovely little boost to my confidence and a little tick in the list of positive things i’ve done today.  Normally interviews (especially one for just a waitress job) wouldn’t bother me.  But today I was riddled with anxiety.  Impressively I held it together with a few deep breaths whilst parking my car and now I can look back and see what can be achieved with just a little self management.  This whole situation wouldn’t have been possible at all without the emotional support I’ve had from my friends over the past 24 hours and also from the strength I’ve had to ignore the negative comments coming back from my family.

Happy positive steps, no matter how small are all a step closer to getting where I want to be.  It really is amazing how much difference the right support, and the right kick up the arse can help.  Look how much I’ve achieved today.  I’m already excited to see what steps forwards I’m going to be making tomorrow

Keep smiling and stay safe

J

11 ways to be average

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Something I’ve just found which is pretty resonant with the battle I’m facing against disapproving family. As my life’s had such a shake up and I’ve got a lot of fresh starts to face, I’ve taken this as an opportunity to explore a possible different avenue with my career. I’ve been working in catering for 10 years and whilst I do love working with food, drink, good service and different people every day my past few jobs weren’t right but were the only options available to me at the time. As such my career has suffered and considering my length of service I’ve endured, I’ve not really seen any rewards for my hard work. So, why not use my strengths and experience in a slightly alternative field I thought. Get out of hospitality and really try to make a name for myself being good at something.

Digital marketing is something that has (as geeky as this sounds) always interested me and something I have basic experience in from the venues I’ve worked for.  When presenting this option and plan of my life to move back to a city I used to live in for a familiar fresh start in a new career my parents weren’t exactly impressed. Gaining qualifications and staying in this same quiet part of the world for “stability” being their main arguments and only points of view.  Why would I prolong getting back on my feet and financially stable any more, especially when I can pretty much walk the walk already and am doing unpaid work experience in a digital marketing agency to get my knowledge up to scratch.  In an industry that’s constantly developing and morphing, at least the bits I’m learning now are current unlike what I would have learnt had I done a degree in marketing when it was “my time” for a further education which would all be out of date and redundant by now.

What life skills, experience and happiness would ever benefit from staying in one (quiet) town going through the same mundane day to day chores?! I’m not running off to the other side of the world or even following my other half to the capital. I’m getting my independence back, my cats back, being self reliant, strong like I used to be and most importantly getting the life back that I’ve had shaken up so heavily through my health and recent events. Bottom line. I Want my happiness.

Anyway. This just kind of hit home.  I shouldn’t live my life the way people expect me to; living at home in the same career I’m becoming a little tiresome of dawdling through the days.  I should live my life the way to want to live it; with happiness.

J

Blood thicker than water?

Some people say you can’t chose your family, which might be right but you can chose people who you value as close as family or closer

Yesterday I returned to Manchester after a few days back on my home stomping round of the Wirral while my better half was in Edinburgh on a stag do. Instead of staying with my parents while in still struggling to spend too much time on my own, I stayed with his parents and I’ll tell you a secret……I’ve never felt so part of a family.

It’s been a bit of a wake up call that unfortunately as much as I love my family to pieces they aren’t the best for support and talking to each other. But it’s so empowering knowing that this doesn’t leave me alone, I have another fabulous family to be a part of! Even just to be able to get a big motherly hug or a fatherly bit of guidance over the past few days has been so reassuring and above anything my parents have offered me

I have had the best weekend I’ve had in a long time and it’s completely changed my perspective on my current situation. I feel motivated, focused, clear headed and most of all happy. It’s been ultimately refreshing to have spent a full weekend with people I love and to have not spoken about my feelings and what’s going on in my head. I’ve started to really see light at the end of this horrid dark tunnel that’s consumed me the past few months

For anyone who is having a bit of tough time and struggling at the moment, here are some little tips and bits of advice I’ve adopted over the past week that have really helped:

– get out of bed. While this seems so basic it really works. I love sleep, who doesn’t!? But sleeping in til 4 or dozing all day doesn’t help anything. If you get up at a reasonable time that’s the biggest battle won already. Nothing is more debilitating and de-motivating than the guilt you get for sleeping in and feeling like you’ve wasted the day

– set yourself goals. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are but start with setting yourself 1 goal when you go to bed for something to achieve the next day and then build from there in baby steps. Last week my goals were just to get dressed and actually leave the house. Now they’re applying for jobs and investigating holidays. It gives your day a sense of purpose, makes you feel like you’re achieving things which will boost your confidence and it’ll reflect my previous point of not feeling guilty about wasting a day. And if you really want, when you’ve finished your goals you have earned to go back to bed if that’s what you want…..chances are though you’ll like the buzz of achieving so you’ll carry on

– see people. Have someone round for dinner, go for a dog walk with an old friend, go the cinema. Surround yourself with people you love. They’re the ones who don’t mind if you’re having a down day or all you’ve done is moan about your head. They’re the ones who’ll pick you up when you need it and be there to give you a hug. Sitting inside on your own doesn’t do anyone any good and chances are when you speak to someone they will have their own problems to open up about and you’ll be reassured that you’re not alone

– fresh air. I’ve made it a goal each day to go for a walk. Even to the corner shop. Fresh air, being out of the house and the endorphins from a little wander all help boost your mood and make you feel good

– keep yourself busy. Fill your time with happy things you enjoy doing. The past week for me has been filled with baking, having people round for dinner, driving, shopping, reading, going to the museum….anything that fills your head with happy thoughts and doesn’t allow time for any bad clouds to develop over head

– don’t beat yourself up. This is a big one and something I need to remember on a daily basis. If you feel down or you do want to sit in bed all day watching come dine with me eating ham out of the packet or all you want to do is cry…..don’t feel guilty. Youre human. You’re allowed to have down days and you’re allowed to cry and eat ham out of the packet. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just write the day off, enjoy it and look to bettering it tomorrow. Feeling guilty about it only makes it worse. At the moment I’m trying not beat myself up about my finances and that my boyfriend is currently paying for everything. I don’t have a Job so there’s not a lot I can do about it. I just have to acknowledge how amazing he is, do what I can to support him and to try and get myself back on my feet. If I let the guilt monster take over and start beating myself up about it nothing will change.

While I love how positive I’m feeling at the moment I know a bad day will follow. But it’s how I approach and deal with it that will get me through it. It will happen but if I try and keep an open mind and follow at least a few of points above it won’t be nearly as bad as the last one

Keep smiling and stay safe
J