I May Be Unemployed but I’m Feeling Empowered

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past week… I’ve been busy tying us loose ends at my own old job.

Last time I blogged I had just quit my job and I had a week of writing 16 page reports. What I have learnt is that 16 page reports are completely pointless and can easily break you.

Wednesday was particularly challenging as I woke to the news that one of our rabbits had escaped and eaten the TV wire AND the WiFi wire which is ideal when you’re trying to work from home!

That did push me over the edge on Wednesday and I spent most of the day crying. Chronic stress can truly rob you of any coping skills eh.

Friday came and I finished my work and switched my computer off for what I thought was the last time. Unfortunately my boss got caught up in stuff and I now have to do my handover on Monday (no doubt unpaid).

However, the relief I felt at 5pm was indescribable. It wasn’t just a ‘I quit my job’ sensation but definitely ‘I just quit my career’ and I truly could feel 6 years worth of tension beginning to unravel. Which is good on one hand, but not good if you have epilepsy. The imagery in my head of the tension leaving my shoulders really reminded me of when the Beast becomes the Prince again in Beauty and the Beast. Very Disney esque.

This weekend I have been trying to control my anxiety. Waiting to see if I have a seizure but also relieved I’m no longer an OT. Tim’s parents are here and I would really like to not ruin their weekend by having a seizure.

Tim meanwhile, has been an absolute angel. His love for me must be unquantifiable because I must have been a nightmare to live with and he’s just been so protective.

I’m nowhere near better yet but I’m definitely improving. My sleep has DOUBLED and according to my Fitbit, my awake time is the least it’s ever been. Definitely letting my poor brain rest.

I have also decided two further things in my quest to have a lifestyle overhaul.

1) I’m going to take up yoga – the tension in my body currently means I can’t even touch my toes and my right hamstring is the the tightest thing EVER. I feel sore every time I move and I’m only 31. I’m pretty sure it’s just tension based and I think I could really get into yoga.

2) This decision has not been made lightly. I recently posted on Instagram how I’m not a fan of water. This is partly due to associating it with indigestion and tummy issues as I had a hiatus hernia growing up. Secondly, it’s just got a really metallic taste to me which isn’t pleasant. Thirdly, I need to drink with liquids that have another dimension (bubbles or a thick milkshake) – definitely sensory related.

However, I’ve been reading up on Cola and I hadn’t realised that much about the impact of the acid – I feel so much emphasis is placed on the sugar or sweetener content but I definitely feel the acid has impacted on me the most. Starting Monday I am going to start reducing my Cola consumption. This will not only impact my sweetener intake but also my caffeine intake so I’m very excited about the impending headaches…. however, with all the plastic in the sea, I feel like I need to get my habit in control to reduce my plastic waste and and I can also take care of myself. If I’m honest, my love for Cola hasn’t been as strong for a while, so now is definitely a good time!

3) I’m already half way through my first module for my Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and a Weight Management and it’s only been a week. I’m hoping I might be able to start my case study in a week’s time (I’ll be doing it as well as my mother). I’ll be regularly blogging and instagramming about how it goes as obviously it will be the same formulae I’ll be using for my clients in the future and I need to see if it works!

With all this stress knocking around it’s definitely impacted on my weight and I can’t wait to get back in control of everything.

I still have about 20lbs to go (at least) and it will be an 8 week programme. I can’t tell you how excited I am about it!

Today we off are to take Tim’s parents sightseeing in Edinburgh (although the sky is looking a bit grey). I’d love to chill and lie in bed but that will have to wait til Tuesday.

For now, have a good Sunday and I’ll catch up with you guys in a few days!

Why I Quit My Job

Last time I blogged I was in a very dark place.

I’m still not in the best of places but I’m feeling slightly better.

The week got more disastrous after that post. On Tuesday I went on a visit to find a school in the community and TWO Sat Nav’s failed to get me to where I needed to be. I’d already been driving for 2 hours at this point and then I had to drive 2 hours back. I ended up going home. It broke me.

On Wednesday I was due to return to Scotland. I had a visit in Lincoln at 1.30PM and I was so excited because I’d be able to get away at 2.30 and be back in Scotland by 6.30!

Instead I had one of the worst journeys I’ve ever had. Obviously not as bad as the journey for the people in the crash that shut the A1, but I ended up detouring around Yorkshire and at 8.30 I had my mental breakdown. 90 minutes from home.

My triggers for my epilepsy were lining up and as the sun was setting; there was lots of flickering of light in my eyes. Although this has never caused a seizure for me, I am photosensitivite and it could have done. I pulled onto the hard shoulder and wept.

Fortunately I was only 1 mile from the services and I pulled in. My wonderful parents insisted I book into the hotel on site (they paid) and Tim travelled down to spend the night with me. If nothing else, I am more than blessed by the people I have around me.

We finished the journey Thursday morning and I took last minute annual leave (also my birthday) and didn’t move until about 3PM. I focused on the day and tried to forget about everything else.

Yesterday I logged onto my work emails and started to have heart palpitations for no apparent reason. I decided that was the end.

I had supervision scheduled at 12 and decided to hand my notice in. My mental and physical health are more important than any job. Yes, being unemployed may mean I have to wait a few more years for buying my first house, and I can only assume that there will be a reason for this.

I’ve always judged my brother for walking out of jobs with his mental health. I’ve always considered it a very irrational move. However, now I’ve experienced it, I can see why. Just one more day will finish you off. So to my brother…. I’m sorry for not understanding.

I can’t say this is how I wanted to celebrate my 31st birthday but it is what it is. I’ve worked out most of the scenarios that can play out, and even our worst case could be a lot worse.

So what’s my plan?

Prior to this I had signed up to a do a course in Nutrition and Weight Management and I will continue to do this. That starts Monday and I can’t wait to start!

I’m also going to work my week’s notice and tie up all loose ends there.

Longer term, I’m going to try to use the nutrition stuff to go self employed. I will be doing the programme myself to see if it works (if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!)

Obviously I’m going to need a job in the mean time, so I’m going to give myself a few days to heal before I start looking and applying. I’m going to be doing lots of yoga to calm and stretch the giant knot of muscles I currently possess (aka my body).

Something had to give. I was in such a rut with my mental health that no job is worth it.

I’m not sure I’ll stick in my profession as an OT. People keep saying it will be such a loss, which is very kind, but my happiness is worth more to me. We only have one life. I can use the skills in other roles if needs be, but I’m investing a lot and getting little in return.

Hitting Rock Bottom

I have been desperately trying to stay as positive as I can recently, but today I’m struggling.

To be honest, I know people go even lower than I am but today the feelings of disappointment, anger and failure are real to me.

I’ve discussed it before but I have always had a strong internal drive to succeed and be self sufficient. And I am failing. Big time.

I have worked for the past 10 years in my field. I have endured seizures to obtain my Masters to get to where I thought I needed to be. I have got myself in more debt by paying out for 88 miles of petrol per day when earning basic wages to gain experience in the field of OT and now I am stuck. Stuck in a job where I have spent £335 on diesel in the past 5 weeks and the only mileage I am being paid for is £35. Between travel time and mileage, I am reducing my hourly rate by £5 per hour. I am sacrificing my happiness, my marriage, my friendships and my future (now unobtainable house) for what?!

My savings for my house deposit are about to drop by £2000 when I walk out of my job. I was really hoping to buy my first property at the start of next year.

Yes it’s all money. But my vow to myself was that I’d be ‘comfortable’. Enough to cover the bills and go out for dinner once in a while. Is that really too much to ask?

It appears yes it is and my heart is breaking.

Career Update: I Think I Have A Plan

food-salad-healthy-lunch.jpg

As you may know my career and I have hit a bit of a rut and I’ve been busy planning/panicking about my next move. Last Tuesday I ended up having a bit of an epiphany at 1am.

Over the next few months, you may notice this blog may change a little as I have grand plans to create my own business and this will be the perfect platform to support it (considering I’ve paid for it and all).

Back to my epiphany. As usual, I was at my parents and I couldn’t sleep. I knew something had to change and I didn’t know what. So I said to myself ‘what do I spend most of my spare time thinking about/doing?’

Duuuuuh. Nutrition and weight loss.

My ultimate goal is to never use the word ‘diet’ on any of my posts or social media. My relationship with food has changed SO much in the past two years that the word ‘diet’ is now quite alien to me and the more I think about it the more I loathe the word. We will never successfully tackle obesity by using the word ‘diet’ as it is associated with deprivation, misery and implies a temporary solution to a long term problem.

I won’t deny I have become a huge convert to eating healthy and in part this is because of my yeast intolerance. It means I can’t eat the pizza and the bread, which makes it easier for me. But let me talk you through my history with food and why I’m a fan of a bit of spinach (avocado is a work in progress).

Growing up I always had a sweet tooth and I still do. I never enjoyed my meals except for cereal in the morning and most of my weight gain came through the consumption of Maltesers. That was until I discovered take away BBQ pizzas.

Anyway, my food was often freezer food – chicken grills, burgers, frozen chips, ready meals and packets of ready made pasta. I never enjoyed my meals – they were pointless. I remember being little and my Mum PLEADING with me to eat. But essentially food didn’t do it for me. Except those pesky Maltesers.

Fast forward to 2018. I can’t eat that food anymore (except the Maltesers) and most of my meals are made from fresh because of my difficulties with yeast (the consequences really aren’t worth it). A few years ago I would have judged the person I am now. Who can be bothered to make fresh food?! Chia seeds? What a snob.

However, I really enjoy my meals now. I enjoy thinking of new recipes, cooking them from fresh and knowing I’m not eating any extra crap to ensure the food is preserved(I’ve concluded that preservatives are pretty gross to eat). I enjoy the fact I can make my meals as mild or as spicy as I want and I have a recipe repertoire that is forever expanding. I’ve also discovered that I’m an alright cook. One thing that does make me a bit sad is that I continue to crave processed food but I’m massively aware of how bland it tastes when I eat it so it’s always a disappointment.

One of the things I want to discuss is sensory aversions and sensory seeking (can’t resist a bit of occupational therapy here). The biggest thing I’ve learnt is a lot of the food I eat is defined by what my mouth is seeking sensory wise, and if the meal isn’t providing it, I will go and seek something afterwards (which obviously increases my calorie intake). By having stronger flavoured meals, spicier meals, different textured meals, my need to seek out chocolate bars has reduced dramatically. In fact I’d say I’m down to 1 or 2 small bars a week rather than per day. It’s been really quite significant.

Anyway, I’ve hugely digressed. Back to my plan.

I have signed up to do an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss! I’m hugely passionate about this area and tend to spend most of my evenings watching weight loss programmes or on Instagram looking at all the weight loss stories. Why not turn that hobby into my career?

Needless to say I didn’t get any sleep that night and I’m now working hard to make this dream come true. I’ll keep you updated.

PS If you’d like to know more about sensory and food, please leave a comment and I can always do a post on it.

PPS Just so you know I remain in touch with reality – I had a bun-less cheeseburger and cookie dough milkshake last night. The milkshake was INSANE. The burger, less so.

PPS I will be completing a nutrition plan for myself and following it so keep your eyes peeled for further updates.

Things I Wish I’d Known: Having a University Degree Isn’t Everything

Things I Wish I’d Known: Having a University Degree Isn’t Everything

Back in 2004/05, we were encouraged to go to university and get our degrees. “It’s the only way to get a decent job” they said.

Skip forward to 2018 and was it worth it? Probably not.

Yes, I’m a good speller. Yes, I know how to access a journal article should I need one. Yes, I’m still friends with the people I met at uni. Yes, I got to experience life in Scotland and that is now where I’m based.

And don’t get me wrong. I love my friends and would be exceptionally sad if they weren’t in my life. I love Scotland equally as much and it is where my heart belongs.

But did it get me that ‘decent’ job I was promised. It did not. Realistically, I’m probably on at least £10,000 less than I would have guessed I would have been on all those years ago. I’ve lost the passion for the career I chose (which also has really nothing to do with my degree). I can’t afford to buy a house because between renting and saving, there isn’t enough money to go around.

It also means that I’m nearly 31, typing this in my bedroom at my parents house because the only job I can get is based in Leicestershire. So my husband is in Scotland socialising with my friends and I’m alone typing this article.

I’m considerably in more debt as the Bachelors degree became worthless and to make myself noticeable to employers I ended up doing two further Masters.

Now schools and colleges have no idea about how politics and financial economies will pan out. Afterall, not everyone used to have a degree. It was for the privileged few. However in 2018 it appears you’re in the minority if you don’t have a degree.

I resent the situation I’m in whole heartedly. But instead of wallowing in self pity (and trust me, there’s been plenty of wallowing), it’s time to be proactive.

The plan? Self employment. Do I need a degree? No. Is my degree relevant? We’ll see where this blog goes…

But my advice would be… If you are at school and are being “strongly encouraged” to go to university, think long and hard about whether you will genuinely benefit from going. If you want to do something more vocational, do it. It’s your life and careers aren’t what they were even a decade ago. It’s anyone’s game these days.

If You’re Feeling Anxious… Go and Meet Some Friends

If You’re Feeling Anxious… Go and Meet Some Friends

I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride these past few days and feeling particularly anxious. Why? I have this new job which requires me to travel about 800 miles per week in the car at the moment. It was supposed to be a short term plan but management haven’t been making the right kind of noises to suggest this might change anytime soon.

Anyway, as a result it means being away from home from Sunday to Wednesday and I’m really not enjoying the whole process so I’m beginning to explore the idea of going self-employed. But we shall see.

I attempted vlogging my feelings but I just came across as so flat and fed up that I decided not to share it with the world. I was a big ball of weeping anxiety from Wednesday to Saturday morning.

On Saturday we had arranged to meet up with friends for dinner. I got dressed up and felt like a big fat blob but persevered. And I had such a great night! It was relatively short and sweet but it was so nice to get out, go into Edinburgh and see more than the four walls I’ve been embracing since Wednesday evening.

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with the same thoughts running over and over. And yes, the problems will still be there when you get home, but it’s so nice to have that mental break and forget about it all.

Living Life with Epilepsy

Living Life with Epilepsy

I have been inspired by Hannah Witton to write this post as she continues to blog about her chronic illness.

I will confess that I am lucky. Which is an unusual comment to make when discussing a diagnosis of epilepsy.

I am lucky because I have been able to continue my life. It hasn’t come easy (but who’s life is easy) and I’ve had to work hard. But I sit here typing with 2 Master’s degrees,  a permanent job, albeit one that I am possibly over (find out more here), and I got married last September. Not doing too shabby if I do say so myself.

But as I said, it hasn’t all been fun and games. I was diagnosed at 19 (rather unexpectedly) and to say I was a bit down about it was an understatement. I remember crying A LOT. But giving up was never an option.

Of course you have to get used to the idea that you could have a seizure at any point. I try not to think about it because I would just be a HUGE ball of anxiety (even 11 years later). However, I’ve found two things to help with this… The Medic Alert bracelet, which means you could have an incident anywhere and they will be able to contact your Next of Kin and have access to what medication you’re on. People often confuse mine for a Tiffany’s bracelet which is never a bad thing.

Tim can also track my whereabouts on Google Maps (which isn’t as creepy as it sounds) but he is able to identify exactly where I am so if I text help or don’t answer my phone, he would be able to find me.

When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, the only thing I could find on the internet were forums with (no offence), horror stories. I ended up staying away from internet – it was better not to know. I have decided ignorance is definitely bliss.

It took me about 4 years to get my seizures under control, and every day I continue to implement strategies relating to stress management, fatigue management and the like. I don’t always get it right which can often lead to small bouts of anxiety (or a seizure), but I will do my very best to not let it defeat me.