So far, so good. One week in and no buildings have burned down, no angry mob with pitchforks chasing after me. Settling into a routine of regular, daily work has been less difficult than I imagined.
It’s still not without its insecurities. I have this niggling feeling in my mind that I’m not good enough, that in some way I’m going to give the game away, and do something that will spoil everything, or not be able to do the work I’m now paid to complete.
Everyone has these thoughts from time to time, however, and considering that I’ve spent almost a year grappling with the dark side of my mind, thoughts and emotions, it’s probably a perfectly natural reaction initially. Logically, I know I’m perfectly capable of completing the tasks at hand and every indication from peers and managers is that I’ve created a better than expected impression. All well and good.
Up to a point. There’s still the matter of missing my ex. She’s still the first person I think of when I wake up and last when I go to bed. The pain is still felt during the day too. It manifested itself in an unexpected way one early afternoon too. A little break to get a drink from the vending machine gave me a bottle with her name on it. I have, of course, kept it.
It’s not something I talk about, however, and almost all of the work time is focused solely on getting the job done. Now that I have a wage packet I want to earn it. Inevitably, when you’re in the grip of, or coming out of, depression, it’s a big ask to achieve that, but I’ve gone out of my way to lessen any anxieties or any environment where a deep state of depression can creep back in. It’s little things but I think they’re making a big difference.
The first wee adjustment was how I get into work. With it being a few miles away, and public transport inaccessible, walking is the only solution for this non-driver until I’m fit and healthy enough to be able to pedal up hills on my bike without collapsing on the bed afterwards. The quickest route looked to be the most scenic on the face of it, being able to walk through a favourite park of mine.
As it turned out, the whole wander was spoilt by the sounds of cars, buses and lorries droning by, car horns tooting away constantly as drivers became more frustrated with each other. I found myself getting to work and home cursing under my breath.
A bit of variation ended with walking down a one way side street, where traffic is thankfully far less than the roads I’d previously encountered. I also, just by exploring, found a cycle path I could walk alongside, in a wee bit of countryside I never knew was there. It adds about around two minutes and incalculable positive emotions to my journey.
I make sure, too, that during break times, I either get myself out and about, even if it’s to do nothing other than get out, or sit in a place where there’s natural light, so I can let my mind drift and relax for a few fleeting moments. And something both Lesley and Anne would approve of, I’ve joined a gym I can head off to straight after work as well as the trade union. It all helps.
The home life has had a few routines put in place too. Before anything else in the morning – even dressing in underwear or a wash – breakfast, something I’ve often gone without. When I get home, I chill out for 10 minutes in my bedroom, slowly changing my work clothes for casual, or simply undressing for another shower.
I think of nothing and take a few deep breaths. It’s nothing special but it works for me. As does actually cooking an evening meal, again something I’ve been prone to miss out on. When your mind isn’t right, meals tend to go out of the window, so getting into a habit of making them is a good one for me.
After all that I still have that voice telling how useless I am, how I’ll soon lose the job, and the pain of missing my ex becomes more and more acute. What I’ve found, however, is that time with these negative thoughts are severely curtailed due to an overwhelming sense of tiredness soon after 10pm. Admittedly, no such thoughts is what I really need, to eradicate them completely, but to cut down from spending most of the day tormenting myself to a limited time is a big step forward.
With all these adjustments to my life, my headspace has been filled with far more positive reinforcements. That in turn has undoubtedly been a huge factor in having such an encouraging start to my return to the ranks of the paid professionals. It’s all about the headspace.
It won’t, of course, be this easy all of the time, but I feel I’m becoming equipped to deal with work, a broken heart, and everything else that turned my life into a mix of turmoil and mere existence. I’m really starting to get there.
By foot as well.