This morning, I woke up with practically every possible common ailment forcing its way into my system. On top of a terrible night’s sleep, I did not wake up happy. The day only got worse and worse from there. I felt as if sadness was completely suffocating my core and I knew that I’d be stuck with it all day. When I’m sad, all of those buried thoughts and feelings rise up to the surface. I have to write them down today. I think it’s about time.
I’m completely embarrassed and nervous that I’m attempting to put these thoughts and feelings into words, but here goes…
Today marks the start of my final week at work. I’ll be heading back to university very soon and I just can’t wait. Frankly, this work placement has been the worst thing I’ve ever done but, I’ve got to admit, I’ve learnt loads. The experience I’ve gained will undoubtedly benefit me in my final year of university but that will never make up for the damage this year has had on my mental health.
Despite what work decides to believe, it wasn’t at all their fault that I broke into tiny pieces – it was a combination of lots of little things that pushed me into a very dark place. When I started my placement, I was so excited. I felt as if I’d achieved something great by being accepted onto the course. I expected this would be the most exciting year of my life! Maybe if I was stronger I would have been okay.
The office environment very quickly began to make me feel claustrophobic, trapped and lonely. I was nervous of my colleagues. I wasn’t used to being in a strange environment for so long. I was completely uncomfortable. All of those emotions were making me beyond stressed. Then, as the nights quickly became darker, leaving work once the sun had set completely wrecked my confidence. I was terrified. I’ve always been scared of the dark. I began to dread leaving the house.
Things only got worse. I’d leave work with chest pains from the constant nerves, anxiety and stress of being away from home. I became paranoid. I was adamant that I was going to die whenever I left the house or, if it wasn’t me in trouble, my cats would be burning alive in a house fire. I started inadvertently clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth, leaving me with a constantly locked jaw. My hair started falling out in clumps. I saw everything as a threat. I’d imagine somebody breaking into my home or the office with a gun. I’d be sure that the man walking behind me was going to stab me. Everywhere I went, all I could see were possible ways to die. Even in my own home, I’d be unable to walk from room to room unless Matt checked nobody was there. I was a mess.
In the end, I stopped sleeping because the nightmares were unmanageable. I developed completely irrational obsessive compulsions that I’m still unable to shake, I wanted to die, I couldn’t be alone and I was to frightened to leave the house. For months, I was utterly broken and terrified. I didn’t know what was happening to me.
I ended up getting help, but that’s a different story. I left work for a while and, with Matt by my side, I tried to get better.
Eventually, I had to decide whether I wanted to return to work or to leave and pretend it never happened. It would feel like such a waste of a year if I didn’t return so I did, with high hopes and a giant bag of nerves.
Although my mental health had improved massively over the period of time I wasn’t at work, the environment I left had become bitter. I ended up returning to a group of hostile colleagues who didn’t have a pleasant word to say to me. Instead, they chose to ignore me completely. When I was young, I always used to dread going to school because I knew I’d have to face my bullies. At work, I feel exactly the same.
I can already taste the relief of walking out of the office on Friday afternoon. It’s almost overwhelming. I’m completely ready for a new start.
“When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” – Dory, Finding Nemo.
You can read my previous post here.