|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2011-03-25 10:14:00
State of the Meg - Breakdown
I've finished my contract, and it's just about finished me.
I should explain. One of the fun things about being me (and having the various problems I have) is being in public requires me to put forth psychological effort to maintain an appearance of normality - I'm constantly checking my behaviour to make sure I'm not doing anything "crazy". This is stressful, both mentally and physically. In addition, I have some minor auditory processing issues - effectively, for me, it requires actual thought and effort to identify a sound (or in other words, I have to pay attention to things to be able to identify them as things I don't need to be paying attention to) - which requires mental and physical effort. I worked for six weeks in an incoming call centre (a noisy environment), driving about 160km (100 miles) each way to and from each day (a very noisy environment - engine noise, road noise etc). The end result of which is that by the end of each working week, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I then had two days each week to recharge my batteries, which for me was problematic in the first place (because I find I need at least 1 quiet day to recharge after a single stressful day - if it's not a good day, I'll need more). The end result is I was slowly burning through every single one of my inner resources, just in order to be able to cope with working a "normal" workweek.
The other problem is I didn't have too much by way of resources to begin with. I'd burned through about a year's worth of accumulated buffer in six months at the beginning of 2010 (doing 1 semester of full-time study) and wound up bombing out of the second semester as a result (first I dropped down to part-time study, then I wound up withdrawing altogether). Depressive periods don't draw on my resources any more than normal, but they prevent me from accumulating anything, and I'd had a depressive period from about the 11th of January through 5th of February. So I had maybe about a month's worth of stored mental and physical capacity by the time I got this contract - if everything had gone right the whole way.
Which it didn't. Nothing major went wrong - I feel I should point this out. There was no single "big" issue I could point to as being a trigger for something. Instead, there were lots of little things, and each little thing was an extra draw on the scarce amount of extra capacity I had.
In the end, it was very much a case of a straw breaking the camel's back - on Tuesday, the Bunbury port was loading something dusty which covered the windows of the car and made visibility more difficult and hazardous; on Wednesday morning I planned to take the car through a car-wash to clean the windows off before I did the drive down south. The petrol station where I went to go through the carwash sold me a carwash ticket, but it turned out while the physical car wash itself was working just fine (or so I presume), the PINpad onto which I was supposed to enter the number to get the carwash to activate wasn't working properly. So I had to drive out of the carwash, explain to the person behind the counter that the pinpad wasn't working, and get the money credited back to my account. Then I still had to wash all the windows of the car (discovering, in the process, that the bucket with the only squeegee had approximately 1cm of water across the bottom of it - barely enough to get the squeegee wet) while waiting in a queue for a pump for unleaded petrol (because the other one in the rank I was in had died). By the time I got back to the car, I was stressed out of my tiny mind, and I spent a lot of the journey down to Bunbury that morning either worrying I was going to be late, or crying because I was just so stressed and exhausted. I'd managed to pull myself together a little bit by the time I got to work, but I knew well and truly that the first tricky call I was going to take that morning was also going to be the last.
That tricky call arrived about a half an hour into my workday, at which point I finished the call, got up, and explained to my supervisor I'd reached the end of my rope, and asked to be allowed to leave early. Which I did.
I got home, still stressed, still tired, and still on edge, and tried to get some rest, but found myself being overloaded by the amount of noise nearby. I should note I live in a fairly quiet street, and this was a pretty normal day. I wound up overloaded to the point of breakdown (tears, hysterical sobbing, wanting to scream) - I just couldn't get the world to shut up for long enough for me to fall asleep and start recharging - and for a while there I was seriously considering calling the psychiatric emergency line. I wound up shutting up the house, closing all the doors and windows, and sitting in a very quiet part of the house with my fingers in my ears, just for long enough for my poor unfortunate brain to start getting a grip on things, and allow me to calm down enough to deal.
So, where am I now? Well, mentally, I'm in the same sort of place as a rather over-stimulated toddler. I'm tired and cranky, and all I want to do is rest, but I can't reliably get my brain to shut down for long enough to do so. I'm wanting to sleep a lot, although it takes me forever to drop off to sleep, and what sleep I get is easily interrupted (last night I got woken up by the neighbour's dog, and then couldn't get back to sleep because the cistern in the loo is leaking in a thoroughly inconsistent fashion). I'll be okay sitting up for a couple of hours, but then something just cuts out, and I need to lie down. I can't concentrate long enough to read (which for me is really bad news) so I've been playing a lot of FF2 on the PSP. Noises, particularly noises in the lower registers, are very stressful for me at present, and I dread the idea of being around other people (so shopping is right off the list). What do I think would help? Well, at present I'm leaning toward the idea of a very quiet, somewhat darkened room with an absolute minimum of visual and audio clutter.
Unfortunately, the world doesn't stop just because I really need to recharge my batteries. Indeed, my need to recharge my batteries is making things much more difficult for me in the short term, because some time very soon, I need to speak with a doctor about getting a medical certificate to allow me enough time to pull myself together (I can feel myself teetering on the edge of a depressive breakdown as it is; I don't want to have one of those on top of everything else). This means I have to make an appointment at the local practice, and because my previous GP is no longer working there, I'll have to try my luck with another doctor. Which means I'll probably have to explain the whole damn mess of what's wrong with me all over again (at a time when I really don't have the mental spoons to do so) to someone I don't know, and whose reaction to what's going on I can't readily judge. If I'm lucky, I'll get a doctor who's willing to accept I'm in a position to have a certain degree of expert knowledge of what's going on inside my head, and who's willing to believe me (rather than prescribing diet, exercise and interacting with people as a "cure" - it's a measure of how far down I am at present that just the thought of those is making me feel weepy).
There's also the little dichotomy that while my being constantly on the point of public breakdown is wonderful in terms of getting recognition of my mental health condition (because me bursting into tears over nothing is evidence there's something wrong), it doesn't actually help with the condition itself. When I break down (even in private) I feel as though I've failed - part of the web of neuroses surrounding my condition is a strong self-imposed requirement to be a "good loony" by not demonstrating non-sane behaviours. Given my primary mental health issue is depression, which can be intensified by feelings of failure, I'm sure you all see the problem.
On my list of things to do when I finally have the resources is speaking to a GP regarding getting some kind of medical recognition of my energy management issues. I really do not have the resources to handle full-time work at all (I think maybe three weeks would have been okay, six was clearly too much, and I suspect ongoing full-time work would have me reaching permanent burnout point by about the two-month mark) and I'd prefer to have some kind of recognition of this. I'd be okay with part-time work, maybe three days a week maximum, because it would provide me with the known mental health benefits of working (interacting with other people, accomplishing something on a regular basis, earning a bit of money, seeing an environment outside the four walls of the house, etc) while not pushing me to the point where I'm draining myself attempting to maintain apparent normality. The problem is finding part-time work - every single ad out there appears to be for full-time jobs; all the contracts available are on a full-time basis, and the only hint I've found for finding part time work involves getting a full-time job, working at it for a year or more, and then asking to be put onto reduced hours - and I'm sure you can all see the problem there.
This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/12827.htm