Last week was my first week back at work. Well, no. The week before was, but for a whole week I had no email account so just sort of loitered and attended meetings and caught up with people face to face. And nothing much had changed. Apart from some of my favourite friendly faces having left the company, the deal was pretty much the same. It’s like I could’ve just pressed pause 3 months ago.
I’ve always been a bit…what was it my school reports consistently said? Conscientious. That bloody word. Every single school report.
A synonym of it is painstaking.
Pains taking. Taking pain?
I’m used to putting my all into my projects. Over the last 8 years in my current job I’ve worked silly hours, many times being at the office until 11pm while working through a TV show launch. And I’ve loved it. A labour of love indeed. Had I already had a few babies since getting married some 6 years ago then maybe I’d still be that version of me.
But I’m not.
There is now no ‘work me’ and a separate ‘me me’. That’s just too exhausting. There’s just me.
Last Monday I suffered my first ever full on panic attack at 4am – they’re lols aren’t they? Christ I thought my heart was trying to thump its way out of my chest while someone had their hands around my throat.
Since then, the slightest thing can make me panic. Things I’ve breezily dealt with in the past no problem, both in and out of work.
So now, I am having to come to terms with the fact that I cannot give 100% anymore. Maybe not even 75%. Again, both in and out of work.
Someone said to me in the office last week that 70% of me will probably still be better than 100% of someone else (very sweet comment by the way), but it doesn’t come naturally to me to not throw myself in to my work.
Colleagues are being so understanding and supportive and I’m truly grateful to work somewhere that cares once your concerns are aired. I mean, we’re all human right?
For now I shall just do the best I can. Day by day. Right now. Not my best ever, certainly not my PB. My best right now. I’ll do what I can handle without tailspinning. It’s just a shame that the tailspinning threshold is a lot lower than it was before.
I’m not alone in this either. My Insta friend who also suffered an ectopic pregnancy recently shared her story of going back to work (also in Marketing!) on her blog here. Similar huh? Anxiety, how things are very different now, more perspective.
I am going to seek some counselling which I’m really looking forward to. I thought sharing with closest friends and my husband was more than enough. But I’ve realised that I still try and force a little mask on even with them at times. The ‘I’M FINE’ mask. Sometimes the ‘I DON’T WANT TO WORRY OR BURDEN YOU SO LOOK HOW OK I AM, NOW HOW ARE YOU?’ mask.
I was tempted to start some kind of therapy in the final two weeks of my sabbatical actually but thought ‘no no, I’ve got this’. Well, my racing heart and iffy sleep patterns would beg to differ as it goes. There’s no amount of rescue remedy I can pour on to my tongue on the daily commute that will steady whatever the hell is going on here. The telltale signs are all those bulleted on any googled ‘anxiety symptoms’ list.
I’m not even, you know, saving lives in my day job. Those that do have filled our TV screens and papers over the last week in unbelievably harrowing scenes. Those are the guys who I would not be surprised suffer from anxiety, or PTSD. So why anxiety is walloping me all of a sudden I just don’t know. It’s just got to be the heady mix of fertility fears, sadness for what’s happened and worry for what’s to come. Why can’t I feel excited about what’s to come instead?
The irony in all this is that I am studying Mindfulness. I know the drill. Deep, long breathes. The now is all that exists. Bringing awareness to my breathing, or on different parts of my body. Sensations. Or the sounds and smells around me. I can totally get into the zone. I can quieten the worries and slow my heart rate in minutes. But anxiety has decided to truly test that new ability in the wee small hours and at intervals throughout the day. An almost fizzing sensation coursing through my veins. Quickened, shallow breaths. Difficulty in making quick, measured decisions.
Maybe that’s the plan here then? Maybe anxiety is here to test my interest in and commitment to Mindfulness. Ha! As if. I’m far too studious (another conscientious synonym) to give in, haven’t you seen my school reports?
I’ve found a lady counsellor who seems well versed in counselling people with fertility problems. She covers loss and grief and fears. I’ve dropped her a note.
Sharing this new development about my new pal Anne (Ziety; a pal that sort of gives meaning to ‘three’s a crowd’) is a little eeeeeeeek. But as I turn pages of Bryony Gordon’s new book ‘Mad Girl’ I’m just like FUCK IT. And as I listen to Lewis Howes podcast about your vulnerability being your power I’m like YES.
We have to talk about it. Just because we’re anxious doesn’t make us any less valuable or unwilling. We don’t want to be anxious. And we’re not all of the time. Sometimes we’re on top of the world.
The greatest of minds suffer periods of angst, often unbeknownst to the people around them because they’re in full masquerade.
I’ve just decided to be open about it, to let go of perfectionism. As Lewis Howes says and of which I agree, ‘vulnerability creates so much more trust, community and unity’.