This blog post mentions suicide and self harm. If you find these subjects distressing or they might potentially affect your wellbeing, please read with caution.
As mentioned in my last blog post, I had an interview yesterday at Rochdale CAB. More later on how that went but I want first to document the weekend. I have thought long and hard as to whether to include the events of the weekend as they were distressing for me but this is a blog about my recovery and that includes difficult experiences too, as well as positive ones. I also thought perhaps it was worth including because in both real life and online, I appear as though I’ve pretty much got it sorted and to an extent, I have but I still struggle and that veneer is not always an accurate reflection of how things are going for me.
So, the weekend was full of panic for me. I’ve not had full-blown panic attacks very often this year. I’m frequently sick through anxiety and I experience anxiety every day however, the not being able to breathe type panic happens a lot less often for me these days. The panic, as is to be expected before a stressful and important event such a job interview, increased as the interview got closer. On Sunday evening, I had a chain of panic attacks. These left me curled up on the sofa, crying and struggling to breathe. I was so distressed that I had my first urges to self harm or commit suicide in a long time. I often get thoughts of suicide when depressed still but actual urges haven’t been present in my life for several months. This was a surprise but not a complete shock and we had done some work around this during my discharge planning for DBT. I thought about getting absolutely wasted to escape the distress and the pressure (pressure I’ve put on myself to get back into the world of work a lot sooner than some of the professionals in my care are happy with). I also felt that urge to break apart my razor and feel the relief of tearing open my flesh, on a hidden area, causing damage and again with the aim of escaping the emotional pain. I even considered suicide and had ideas as to how to more effectively carry it out than I have tried in the past.
However, the above didn’t occur. Why? I know that thoughts/urges come and go and that having self harmed from the age of 8, such thoughts and urges are still an automatic ‘go to’ at times of extreme distress – they hold no power and are not predictive of behaviours for me. I’m no longer a person who attempts to solve distress with these methods. I was having to an extent a normal feeling – anxiety/panic at the prospect of an interview for a job that I really wanted, it’s just I experience these emotions to a greater degree than the average person. That emotional sensitivity is going to be lifelong. Although I’ve recovered from BPD, my very essence hasn’t changed and that essence includes that higher emotional sensitivity. Instead, I had a giggle at my familiar thought patterns of catastrophising, took time to experience the anxiety and panic – to give it the space and respect/validation it demanded – and spent some time soothing myself.
Yesterday morning, my anxiety wasn’t any worse, probably because there wasn’t really another level to which it could go. Transport issues, tiredness and anxiety did take its toll and I was crying on public transport. I got a lot of support from people on Twitter for which I am very grateful – especially you, Georgina :). When I got to the interview, I was calm and ready. I had prepared for it and knew that it was a job to which I am suited. I came out of the interview feeling it went quite well. Although my head did later try to dissect every little bit to persuade me otherwise, I chose not to engage with these thoughts, returning instead to the present moment. I recognised those thoughts, let them come and go but didn’t become entangled in them – mindfulness rocks!
As many of you will be aware from Twitter, yesterday afternoon I got a call offering me the job. I now have a job offer for a paid role at Rochdale CAB as a gateway assessor. Despite them advertising for a full-time position, I had asked them to consider part-time and they offered me my ideal of 3 days a week. I’m so excited (as well as utterly terrified). They are keen for me to continue to pursue further learning and knowledge, there is potential for me to increase my hours in the future, although the position is fixed until 31.03.2014 they expect it to continue beyond, and best of all, they are aware of my reasons for wanting part-time work initially. I was able to explain that my mental health problems had led to me needing a gradual introduction back to work and that given I am currently volunteering 1.5 days a week, 3 days a week would be a more realistic and sustainable number of hours for me – that I wanted to be able to work to the high standards I usually do. I’m going to be working for an organisation for which I have an incredible amount of respect and which really interests me – knowledge wise and also being able to help people 🙂
I am more than aware that this is going to be a difficult time for me. I am due to start work at the very beginning of November. I’m going to be tired and experience high anxiety. My mood disorder is such that I will experience further episodes of depression and happymental (hypomania). I need to do this though. Work for me is so important and hopefully all the difficulties ahead of me will pay off.