Saturday, 3 October 2015

Intrusive Thoughts and the Slow, Tiring Battle Against Them

This post is about my most recurrent intrusive thought, 'maybe you don't have to go to work today'. It is not about other types of intrusive thought.

"An intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate." (Wikipedia)

...maybe you don't have to go to work today...maybe you are too *ill* to go to work today...

It all started, of course, with my mother. I was off sick for half, HALF of year 8 at secondary school. Partly because I felt victimised by my friends, but if I'm really honest, my mum manipulated me into staying off. Face it, she had 12, 10, 4, 3 and 2 year old children to look after. At home all day, every day with 2 toddlers is exhausting. I can't do it, and she couldn't either. I stayed home to help her out with the kids'. My brother was somehow immune to her voodoo, as he had an excellent attendance record!

School was my solace, my rock, my means of getting out of that hellhole, of becoming the empowered woman that my mum wanted me to be (the opposite of her...that irony hasn't escaped either of us). I just wanted some attention from my mum, and this was the way I got it, staying at home with her, getting to know her, sort of.

'Maybe you don't have to go to school today', played on my mind loads in secondary school. I try not to let myself wonder who I could have been had I had full attendance. I coped, I can't change it, it won't happen to me again.

I get through sixth form with zero sickness absence, although the two holiday jobs that I had, I called in sick probably every week. Even at McDonald's I was sick every other week, it wasn't that in was lazy. Perhaps the only thing that has kept me in employment without being sacked is the fact that I am a grafter, I throw my whole attention onto whatever job I'm doing. 5 years I made it, sure i annoyed a few managers with increasingly elaborate lies.

I got my first role in my current career after I had recognised my first mental breakdown. an on the job learning course, for a university diploma, that meant I could utilise my brain and my people skills (thanks to MCDs!).

Anyway, I continued my frequent sickness absence, i had been honest with my tutor about my depression, and I got the job regardless. In 2009, things came to a head as my workplace HR started to take sickness absence SERIOUSLY. I had a meeting with the head of HR, who asked me about each and ever absence on record. I answered, truthfully, that in had made up most of the (sometimes elaborate!) illnesses because I didn't think anyone would take notice of 'panic attacks'. I described my childhood, which I was still exploring through counselling at that time. Afterwards, the deputy manager of my department came and said how brave i was. She will never know how much that meant to me.

My absences improved significantly, and I was only absent when i was physically too sick to work...and I had the time, support and energy to fight the intrusive thoughts. It was so so hard, arriving at work in a state of panic. Very grateful to have found a career that I really love. I hope I have made it clear, that this has been a habit for 20 years. It doesn't negate my love for my job.

Until I got pregnant...I was troubled with Pelvic Girdle Pain (pgp), hyperemesis until 16 weeks, frequent UTIs (the toilet was my friend!) And of course my antenatal anxiety. Lots of reasons to be too unwell to work, I did my best and that was enough.

Basically, I'm re learning how to ignore the intrusive thoughts...'am I too ill to work today?'. I've done well, 3 full calendar months (I think). Proud of myself.

However, because I have pushed through 8 weeks of stomach problems and 3 weeks of allergic reactions (including skin too broken to work) I have made it though. Ignoring the intrusive thoughts, batting them away and ignoring the tiring effect that has on my psyche. It is exhausting being at war with yourself, as well as getting 2 small boys ready for nursery "don't want to go to nursery today" *facepalm* and making a tasty and healthy lunch with snacks and being ready to face the day...
And August was a very busy month in my workplace.

So here i am again, giving myself credit for my past, allowing myself to see how the land lies and where the sadness has come from.

I am pleased that I am so self aware that I know exactly what has caused this - because it means I can be kind to myself.

I'll get some strong steroid cream for my hands...!

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