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celebratory sushi

I Survived My First Week At Work!

“Sometimes I’m so tired, I look down at what I’m wearing, and if it’s comfortable enough to sleep in, I don’t even make it into my pajamas. I’m looking down, and I’m like, ‘T-shirt and stretchy pants? Yup, that’s fine. It’s pajama-y, good night.'” ~ Rebecca Romijn

I made it through my first week of work.

I wasn’t sure that I would.

At one point I did think that I might well die of tiredness first.

Between the getting up super early, which I haven’t had to do for seven months, the commuting, the having to spend whole days on doing something, all the new things that I’ve had to learn, and the large quantities of highly sedating drugs that the doctor gave me to ensure that I’d be able cope with the adjustment I’ve been as tired as I ever have in my life.

Monday to Wednesday simply consisted of – get up, go to work, go home from work, fall asleep on the sofa, wake up, then go to bed until it’s time to get up for work again.

On Thursday I managed two hours of struggling desperately to stay awake and catch up with the person I live with before the falling asleep on the couch bit.

And on Friday I went for celebratory sushi but was still unconscious by 10pm.

The job itself is fine.

The people are nice enough.

IT haven’t gotten around to sorting me out with a computer yet, although we, the group of us who just started, spent the first week in training anyway so it hasn’t mattered too much.

We’ve covered a lot but for the most part it’s all stuff I’ve done before. I don’t get the sense that the job is going to be particularly challenging, but then given that my doctor is skeptical that I’m actually well enough to be going back to work that’s quite possibly a good thing.

And after I sort of accidentally took over delivering the training session we were in mid-week the trainer lady did say that there were always plenty of other opportunities within the company.

The main thing is that it should hopefully allow me to get back on feet – mentally, emotionally, and financially.

I meant to catch up on my life and blog stuff this weekend but I’ve spent most of the time on more sleeping and a chunk of it on revising for a test we have to take next week.

Hopefully as I get back into the swing of things it’ll start to become less exhausting and I’ll be able to find something a lot closer to a work life balance. I really want to find the energy to write because I’ve had loads of ideas while I’ve been sitting on a train for two hours every day with nothing better to do.

how to fake confidence

How to Project an Air of Confidence You Don’t Really Feel

“A diamond doesn’t start out polished and shining. It once was nothing special, but with enough pressure and time, becomes spectacular. I’m that diamond.” ~ Solange Nicole

So I’ve been out of work, suffering with severe depression and anxiety, and basically living like a hermit since November last year. But over the past few weeks I’ve had to start venturing back into the world again.

I’ve needed to look for work, to look for somewhere to live, and to start just spending time with other humans again.

All these things, but the job hunting in particular, have required a level of confidence that I don’t necessarily feel right now.

I’ve been really quite scared about life lately. I’m scared that I’m not well enough to get back to normal. I’m scared that if I am well enough I won’t stay that way for long enough to make it work this time. I’m scared that I’ve forgotten how to be good with people or how to be any good at working.

Until I got this job I was scared that all the time I’ve had off over the last few years, and my mental health history, were going to make it impossible for me to find decent employment ever again.

So I’ve had to fake it.

Faking confidence is a useful skill to have. Even if you aren’t prone to depression or anxiety, and however composed and together you usually are, every one has days when they don’t feel on top of their game and struggle to be their own cheerleader.

So, here’s how to do it.

>  Stand up straight

To project a confident attitude you need to adopt a confident posture. Sit or stand up straight and concentrate on using open body language.

When we feel small we tend to subconsciously make ourselves smaller. We sit with hunched, rounded shoulders, fold our arms, cross our legs and generally give an air of being very closed off from our surroundings. This can make us seem aloof; not an endearing quality.

Also keep an eye out for tell tale signs of nervousness like fidgeting, biting your nails, and twirling your fingers through your hair. If you spot yourself doing them stop immediately. To pull off the appearance of confidence you need to pretend to be relaxed.

>  Iron your clothes

Superficial I know, but we tend to imagine people who are well-groomed and put together have everything else together as well.

A coordinated and freshly pressed outfit also suggests that you’re well organised.

Plus, knowing that you look good will help you to feel better about yourself, hopefully making this whole confidence thing less of an act. Even if it doesn’t seeing that you look the part can be a useful armour to hide behind.

>  Wear your best underwear

The kind that makes you feel super-sexy. No-one else will know but it’ll give you a subtle confidence boost that will make a difference to the way you carry yourself.

>  Wear red lipstick

Or if you’re a man a boldly coloured tie. Strong colours make a subtle statement of confidence to those around us.

>  Walk in the room like you own the place, most people will believe that you do

An ex once told me this was the key to making people believe that you can do anything. I’m not sure that I’d go that far but most people’s first impressions take you at face value. If you act like you have a perfect right to be there – whether ‘there’ is a workplace, a social group, or a VIP room, most people won’t question you.

They’ll often be too busy worrying about their own image and how they fit into the situation to analyse how much of your confidence genuine.

>  Remember to make eye contact

People who are shy, nervous, or depressed can be really bad at making eye contact.  They’re as likely to focus on a spot on the wall or the table, or to keep glancing around the room, as they are to concentrate on the person or people they’re talking to.

To appear confident in the things you have to say; and to show that you’re listening to and understanding the people who are talking to you, make sure that you’re fixing your attention firmly on them – rather than the furniture or whatever might be happening outside the nearest window.

>  Speak from your diaphragm and slow down

Extreme nervousness can often tell in your voice.

People who don’t feel confident about what they are saying , or who are uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience, often telegraph this by speaking in a higher pitch then usual, or with a shaky voice.

One way to avoid this is to learn to project your voice from your diaphragm rather your larynx. That way when you speak you will sound firmer and more confident even if you don’t feel it.

Another trick is to make a conscious effort to speak slowly.

Nerves often make us hurry over our words without us even realising that we’re doing it. If you deliberately concentrate on speaking more slowly you’ll find that what you’re saying registers with the person you’re speaking to, or to your audience, as being at a normal pace.

>  Make small talk

It’s easy when we’re feeling shy and lacking in confidence to fall into the trap of concentrating on the things that we know that we need to say to get our message across, and trying to remember to say them in exactly the way we’ve rehearsed them.

We become so focussed on our answers to the questions we know we’ll be asked, or the presentation we have to give, or the message we want to deliver that we forget the social niceties.

Always remember the small talk.

Find little things to say to your interviewer/colleagues/potential clients/new acquaintances that demonstrates that you want to talk with them rather than at them. Discuss the weather, mention a mutual interest, comment on the room or some local news event, compliment someone’s shoes. Anything that will help to build a rapport.

It will make you seem friendlier.

We perceive friendly people as being more confident.

>  Always try to have some water to hand

A bottle in your handbag or a glass on your desk.

If you’re at an interview you’ll usually be offered a drink, say yes.

Water on hand is a handy prop to have. If you’re unsure what to say next or the best way of answering a question that’s been asked taking a quick drink will give you a legitimate pause to collect your thoughts and order your words where you might otherwise hurry to fill the silence.

 

Is there anything I’ve missed? How do you handle nervous situations?

how to be kind to yourself

How To Be Kind To Yourself

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

>  First, fix yourself a drink.

A nice cup of tea or coffee. A cool refreshing glass of fruit juice. A good whiskey or wine. Whatever beverage you think you’d most like right now.

And sit down somewhere quiet and enjoy it.

Put your phone to one side. Don’t check your work email. Don’t listen to the news. Don’t think about your To Do list. Don’t read anything that isn’t purely recreational.

Take 10, 15, 20 minutes just to switch off by yourself and relax.

 

>  Next, give yourself a break

Cut yourself some slack.

Forgive yourself for all the things that you haven’t done perfectly today, for the things that you haven’t gotten to yet, for the things that you’ve missed or forgotten.

Take satisfaction in the things that you’ve achieved today; the progress you’ve made, the things that went well, the help that you’ve given to other people.

Imagine that you’re your own coach or mentor. You wouldn’t second guess, beat up on, or micro-manage anyone else and expect to get the best out of them, it’s not going to work any better on yourself.

Remember to give yourself positive encouragement. Congratulate yourself on your successes.

If you notice mistakes or areas for improvement, acknowledge them, fix them, and move on. Dwelling on things won’t do anything for your confidence, your relationships, or your productivity.

 

>  Recognise that you don’t have to be perfect

Not by your own standards. Certainly not by anyone else’s.

Take a look around you, is anyone else perfect at everything? Of course not, they’re just regular old humans; going about their lives being, for the most part, the best humans that they know how to be.

That’s the best anyone can really do. Learn to be okay with it.

Understand that good people can make bad decisions. Recognise that you are more than your current situation or the last mistake that you made. You are the sum of all the things you have ever done, of all your previous intentions and all your future plans, and of all the people you’ve ever loved and ever been loved by. On balance you’re probably doing okay.

 

>  Prepare one of your favourite meals

Or if you hate to cook order from your favourite takeaway, or head to your favourite pub/restaurant/diner for dinner.

Everything seems better after a good meal.

And eating well is an important part of self-care – hunger saps our energy to deal with stress, work, depression, illness, life in general – so you can do this one guilt free.

 

>  Find an outlet

Everybody needs a way to unwind. Find something – a place, an activity, a piece of music, anything – that allows you to switch off from everything.

It may be through something peaceful like meditation, it could be releasing your pent-up frustrations by working up a sweat in the gym. It could be a happy place, a new intellectual challenge, or a mindless TV show. It might be a playlist or picture that evokes positive memories.

It can be a solitary activity or something you do with your partner, family, friends, or even a group of strangers.

Just make sure that you make space to recharge your batteries in whatever way you need.

All work and no play…leads to burnout. Fast.

 

>  Take a long hot shower

There’s something about feeling all clean and refreshed that just somehow seems to make you feel that little bit more human and everything else that little bit more bearable.

 

>  Get a good night’s sleep

It can be difficult when you’re feeling stressed out, depressed, or under the weather but it’s important to make sure that you get as much decent sleep as you can.

Tiredness makes your brain sluggish, which makes situations and problems seem worse than they really are and solutions harder to consider.  You’ll also be less productive when you’re tired and less able to adapt to unexpected interruptions to your schedule or routine.

Sleep is important for wellness.

Fresh sheets are always nice.

 

>  Arrange something to look forward to

It could be something big like a road trip or a holiday, or small like a coffee date with a friend or a TV show you’re saving to catch up on over your next free Sunday.

Gig tickets are good.

As are pre-planned parties.

If you’re struggling, and all your efforts to relax and unwind in the moment fail to find fulfillment you can always resort to the carrot on a stick approach. Plan a treat to keep thinking of to get you through your illness, rough patch, or just the daily grind.

The knowledge of good things to come can make the present easier to get through, or at least seem less interminable.

You deserve a reward for your current efforts, see to it that you get one.

Reasons to keep going

Reasons To Keep Going

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

So, I’ve noticed that a few people have arrived here over the last few weeks via Google searches relating to thoughts of suicide.

I always feel a bit weird when these things show up in my stats. I feel like because these people have come to my bit of the internet, presumably looking for help, then I should be actively doing something for them.

But I can’t because we’re on the internet so I can’t see them, or reach them, and in fact they’ve probably gone away again by the time I find out that they were ever here.

I can only hope that something that they found while I was otherwise occupied did them some good.

But thinking back over all the things that I’ve written I’m not entirely sure what would. So I thought that I should write something new, something with those people in mind, so that I feel like I’ve at least tried to do something to help them.

So, what to write?

Well, there doesn’t seem much point in writing a post trying to talk anybody out of it.

There are plenty of those online already.

And, besides, I’ve personally never found a single one of them remotely convincing. I don’t find people trying to argue me out of suicidal thinking in person convincing either. They all inevitably tell me the same things; that I’ll irreparably hurt a lot of people, that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and that the decision to kill yourself isn’t one you should take unless you’re definitely of sound mind, and the fact that you’re contemplating suicide is proof that you most definitely aren’t thinking sanely.

I always find all of these arguments really, really annoying.

Firstly, I’m not anybody’s mother, sister, daughter, or partner, so I don’t have the kind of relationship with anyone that would mean that my dying would leave a unfillable void in their life. I don’t say that in a self-pitying way, it’s just a fact that I’m not, and I wouldn’t. I also don’t have the kind of relationship with anyone that means that they get to expect me to factor them into my major life choices, and whether or not I want to live or die is pretty much a major life choice.

Secondly, anyone who thinks that this problem is temporary really hasn’t been paying attention. I’ve been dealing with this shit for years. It goes away temporarily but it’s going to keep coming back again; I have a permanent disability.

Thirdly, I just flat-out reject the idea that a person can’t possibly make a sane and rational decision to end their own life. Like, you can argue that that’s not what I might be doing, but making a blanket statement that no sane person could possibly decide that they don’t like living and they don’t want to carry on doing it really hurts your argument, because it just makes me think that you’re an idiot. Seriously, have you never considered anybody else’s life experiences outside your own?

And, finally, I tend to find the fact that the best anyone can do is fob me off and/or flat-out lie to me to be one more incentive to just give up. I mean, if there were any genuine reasons why it’s important for me to live then surely people would be able to think of them to tell me them, right?

So, I figured the best thing to do is list all the actual thoughts, things, reasons that have kept from killing myself in the hopes that maybe they’ll strike a cord with someone and they’ll find at least one or two of them that they can relate to their own situation.

Reasons I’ve Kept Going

>  Because my best friend had some really important work exams coming up that he’s only able to resit a few times and I didn’t want him to fail them because I’d made him upset.

>  Because my friend’s mum had just died and he was in bits and I didn’t want to make him feel any worse.

>  Because another friend was as depressed as me, and struggling just as hard to hang on, and I thought that if I hurt myself I might kill her too. I wasn’t bothered about me but I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else hurting themselves.

>  Because I’ve done my homework and I know that it’s actually really, really hard to successfully kill yourself, and I’m pretty inept when it comes to practical things, and I’m terrified that all I’d actually manage to do is really, really hurt myself and then have to carry on living with it.

>  Because I don’t want my best friend to have to deal with me physically being there dead.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, what ever situation you might be in, if you kill yourself somebody is going to have to deal with that shit; and notify the people who need to be notified and have you taken to wherever it is that you need to be taken.

Oh, and someone’s going to have to arrange your funeral. And they’re probably going to have to pay for it too. Funerals, as I understand it, are quite expensive.

>  Because I don’t want my friends to have to sort through, divvy up, deal with, and dispose of all my stuff. I have a lot of stuff.

>  Because some people who I’ve never met, who live on the other side of the world stayed up all night to talk to me to distract me from wanting to hurt myself, which made me look at the world in a whole new way. The internet still blows my mind nearly every day.

>  Because I didn’t think anyone would be willing to take in Natalie Portman if I was gone.

>  Because my best friend claims that if I kill myself he’ll stop being a doctor and then he’ll have no idea what to do with himself, and because since he’s supported me and looked after me for the best part of a year it’d probably be extremely ungrateful.

>  Because of fresh bed linen and homemade roast dinners. Because of perfect writing and beautiful photographs. Because of new stationary. Because of a bag of marshmallows. Because of The West Wing and The Good Wife. Because of the little things that make life just that tiny bit more bearable, because sometimes that’s enough for the time being.

>  Because a doctor told me on Monday that he thinks that there is another permanent solution for me and that we’re going to find it for me.

And if none of those work for you then call your best friend, or your mother, or your brother, or your doctor, or whoever it is you normally talk to about stuff and ask them for some better suggestions.

If you’re not already receiving it you probably need some professional medical help, because it’s very likely that you have depression, please make sure that you find this before making any unalterable decisions.

 

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