Thursday, 1 March 2012

My Birthday - celebrating making it through another year!

First of all, my apologies for the lack of posting last week.  I’m dealing with a bit of a sticky employment situation that I’m afraid I’m not quite ready to talk about yet – I promise I will fill you in once things are a bit more sorted, as I think it’s an important area to discuss.  Anyway, the long and short of it is that I am currently out of work, which has put me on something of a downer.  I have not felt well enough to work for a while, but knowing I don’t have a job to go to once I’ve recovered a bit is a hard thought to deal with.  As it is, my husband is already practically killing himself working overtime to try and keep our heads above water, so I have an overwhelming feeling of guilt that I am not contributing financially.  I also derive an awful lot of my self-esteem from my work.  I take pride in doing the best I possibly can and get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing I’ve helped someone in whatever small way by doing my job well.

As I said, I’m not really ready to talk about that right now.  It’s making it rather difficult to write this, as that has been my most preoccupying thought this week.  A week that contained my 25th birthday, no less!  Despite that cloud hanging over me, I did manage to enjoy celebrating making it through another year.  I’ve taken the plunge and had a drastic haircut, which is something I like to do to sort of “reinvent myself” every now and then.  Having a fresh new look puts a bit of a spring in my step and helps me to feel like a new person, although I’m not exactly a “girly-girl” or anything.

My husband also took me down to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu on Saturday (at my request, I hasten to point out – I love my classic cars just as much as he does!  Plus they have an exhibition of Bond cars throughout this year, and I do so love my Bond films).  The day started rather chaotically, as I had neglected to print our e-tickets off until then, only to find my printer was out of ink.  Cue a hurried trip out for printer cartridges, which led to us leaving later than originally intended.  The stress was then further compounded by a massive queue at the McDonalds drive through when we went to get breakfast, and taking a wrong turning that led to us ending up hopelessly lost in Southampton.  We were just about at the point of giving up and going home when I managed to get my phone to show us where we were so we could work out how to at least get to the right side of Southampton, and then we were able to pick up signs for Beaulieu.  I came damn close to a full blown panic attack in the car, but I managed to keep it under enough control that I just got a bit teary.  We finally made it in one piece, and had a lovely day wandering around and having a bit of a dribble at some of the exhibits.  We then had a couple of friends over for the evening, which, to be honest, was the bit I was most nervous about.  In my circle of friends, birthday celebrations normally turn into mass drinking, with shots and cocktails and all sorts of crazy concoctions.  I’d made it clear from the off I wanted it to be quite low-key, and everyone is aware now that I’m currently not drinking at all due to being on the fluoxetine, but it still felt a little weird.  It turned out to be a nice, chilled evening and I felt very little pressure to liven things up a bit, which was a relief.  It was nice to just spend some time with friends in comfortable surroundings (and, as usual, got some funky, inspired pressies!  I don’t know how they do it).

On Sunday, I went to my grandparents’ house for our traditional birthday tea and cakes.  I think it’s probably my favourite bit of birthdays in my family.  We all get on really well, have a laugh and reminisce, along with some good-natured ribbing.  My husband was far too knackered from the week’s work to join us, which was a little awkward at first as I know my family really enjoy his company too, but thankfully they are very understanding of how hard he’s been working recently.  After all, they understand better than anyone just how tricky looking after me can be – I think they’re more concerned about his wellbeing than anything else, as it can be a real drain propping me up all the time.  I think, actually, that I enjoyed myself more than I would have done had I dragged him along, as I didn’t have to worry about him, and I knew that he was getting some valuable time to himself, which he gets very little of these days.  I felt recharged by some quality family time, and he got some well-deserved rest.

Tuesday was my actual birthday, and I spent the morning shopping in Guildford with my mum.  Being able to spend more one-to-one time with my mum is possibly the best thing about not working at the moment.  She has always been brilliant at listening to me and giving me just enough of a push when I need it.  She has been quite stretched of late between looking after my dad and my grandparents, so I do sometimes feel like it’s asking a lot of her to look after me as well, so I have a tendency to try not to burden her with too much of what’s going on in my life.  However, she knows when something is bothering me and gives me just enough gentle encouragement to share it.  We had a nice, relaxed day wandering round the shops – we didn’t actually do much shopping, but we had a good old natter and did our usual thing of laughing at some of the more ridiculous items of clothing in the shops.  We did have to cut things off a little promptly as I had to be back for my CBT session at three, but it worked out just about OK.  A few people have queried why I scheduled my CBT to take place on my birthday, but, to be honest, I’ve started seeing it as my weekly treat – a bit of time to take stock and talk about myself without worrying about being judged.  I find it a lot easier if I view my treatment this way, rather than as a chore.  After all, if the idea is to help me feel better, so what better definition is there?

Birthday celebrations continued last night with a meal out with my in-laws.  My father-in-law and I actually share the same birthday, so we always do some sort of joint celebration.  Fortunately, my appetite seems to have started to come back this week, so I could do the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet justice!  Actually, that’s reminded me of something I meant to mention, that I am now no longer taking the omeprazole (antacid) that I had previously been on.  I discussed it with my GP as I was getting a lot of stomach pain, and she agreed that it could be related.  Now that the fluoxetine seems to have kicked in, she was happy for me to try coming off of it, and I’ve barely had any pain since.  I think this might be why my appetite is returning as well.  I’ll be keeping an eye on it as one of the more helpful side effects of my reduced eating has been that I’ve shifted a fair bit of the extra weight I’ve been carrying around, and it has been a real help being able to look in the mirror and not see a wobbly mass of blubber staring back at me.

This week I will need to be a bit careful, as I often experience a bit of a “post-birthday slump”.  I’m hoping to resolve the situation with my previous employment over the next couple of days, which would give me a welcome boost, and would mean I’ll be able to talk about it!  Please keep watching this space.

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