Nobody talks about the other loss, the loss that happens within us. We lose people and things, but we also lose parts of ourselves. We grieve those missing parts too.Caroline George
For only the second time this year, I’m back on this space to blog. To write freely. To express plenty of emotions that have been left unhealthily buried and hidden below the surface for slightly too long. While lots has changed for the better and I will recognise that as well, it feels important that I share the darker side of what’s happened in recent times. Be honest. Pull no punches. As I always have been in previous years when talking about mental health. Fantastic as it is to help others, writing this is more for my own freedom and comfort. And it is okay to say that.
When I started my new job in January, at an organisation that is so passionate about improving lives, I came into the role with great hope and ambitions that I could make my own positive contributions to this extremely worthwhile cause. With plenty going on in my personal life, of which I’ll delve into later, I am proud that I was able to put those problems ‘to the side’ and focus the lion’s share of my energy into doing my job effectively. Initially, to my delight, I was making progress. A large proportion of my job as a marketing and communications assistant involves recruiting volunteers, therefore noticing a considerable spike in volunteer sign-ups filled me with satisfaction. A feeling that the work I’d carried out was being rewarded. Slowly but surely I was getting there. Or so I thought…
Nevertheless, in the previous month or so, the progression of work has ground to a screeching halt. Whenever I turn on my laptop and sit down to tackle work tasks, I cannot maintain focus as my mind flickers from one place to another. Second by second. Minute by minute. One working day feels like a month. The high standards I set of myself are not being met. Not by a long stretch.
Spending copious time browsing and staring at a screen, the novelty of working from home has well and truly worn off as I seek changes of scenery, greater routine, regular face-to-face interaction and real-life conversations. Emails, zoom calls and screen sharing have their place- undoubtedly- however the lack of variety (for me anyway) is both monotonous and draining. With motivation low and productivity hindered, I also feel incredibly guilty and disappointed that I’m not contributing to the same degree as I was in the beginning. Am I cut out for this? Who knows. Do I look elsewhere? Or do I remain patient and pray it gets better with time? Not a fucking clue! Fears of possibly losing my job and being unable to support myself financially run wild in my brain.
Having experienced the loss of an extremely valuable friendship, which has hurt me deeply, not to mention a plethora of horror-like dating disasters, it’s clear to see that the adverse events of my personal life have increasingly spilled over and negatively influenced so many aspects of my life. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve felt empty. Numb. Unable to process the trauma I’ve encountered as I flip-flop between a state of denial and shock. Lamenting myself for how certain situations have transpired, I question how I continue to enter precarious situations and make the same types of mistakes that I’ve made in the past. Thoughts of ‘you should know better’ and ‘why have you done that?’ buzz around my head like a bumblebee in the height of summer.
Through attempting to fill a gaping void of those who have walked out on me (rightly or wrong), this has resulted in expending untold amounts of energy into other people. Rather than investing in myself and prioritising my own needs FIRST, I’m craving the love, respect and acceptance that is desperately required from within. The problem is, I’ve been stuck. In searching for validation and becoming overly reliant on others for your own sense of happiness, you set yourself a very dangerous trap. Because, whenever your strive for affection, attention or understanding isn’t met, the self-critique shouts louder. It becomes second nature to try even harder. Make extra effect. Sap your mind of almost all its energy. But the reality is it usually doesn’t make a difference. In fact, the harder you try the more likely you are to ‘drive a wedge’ and push people away. Sad but unfortunately true. And even if the validation does calm your anxiety or put a smile on your face, this is unsustainable and short-term relief at the very most.
Obvious as it probably seems, recent events have smacked me square in the face and confirmed one KEY point. You cannot control other people’s actions and how they feel. Facing a huge crisis in confidence and losing sight of who I really am deep down, it’s time for me to bring the real Adam back. To let go of mistakes and truly look inward. To focus on believing in what I can achieve, controlling the ‘controllables’ and doing more things that light up that ‘fire in the belly’.
As my therapist once asked: “how many friends would you have if you spoke to them the way you spoke to yourself?”
Without hesitation, I uttered “none”.
Thanks for reading,