This Woman’s Work

Love that song!!  Did anyone see X Factor where Simon got a young Irish lad to change his song to this?  He was great!  Simon certainly know’s how to do his job well eh?  I love my job, or at least, I did until I had a melt down.  For me, this melt down finally brought my drinking to my attention, well and truly.  I had been hiding behind the party figure, the stressed high functioning job (my job is in the top 5 most stressful apparently – I agree!) and all the other excuses under the sun.  But none, I realise, were actually true now I properly look at my drinking.  I just used them all as excuses because I couldn’t imagine my life without drink in it – what else would I do?  It was so confusing!  It was my reward system and like a child motivated by sweets after dinner or getting a toy bought on a promise of good behaviour I worked it greedily – I had to have it!

My partying had well and truly fell by the wayside as I chose to do my drinking indoors while binge watching Game of Thrones, Orange is the new black, Versailles, The Crown, Breaking Bad, Vikings, Stranger Things, Narcos, 13 reasons why and the list goes on – yep I have a Netflix and Prime subscription 😉  Now, how many episodes of each series I watched I can actually remember?  Your guess is as good as mine!  But I got the jist before I passed out on an evening.  Why go out, queue at bars, shout over crowds, have sore feet when you can get in your pj’s, turn on an absorbing show and drink at your own pace?  And sure why even have company?  You can’t watch the show if you are getting interrupted with chat!  So just me, 12 beers and some handsome vikings ahhhhh – loved it 🙂  Or did I?  I got so used to this being my life that I stopped trying anything else – anything else just interrupted my drinking.  So my weekends consisted of this – Friday, finish work, go to the shops and get a tasty dinner to cook for hubby along with my 12 beers and 4 or 6 cider or craft beer for the other half (bonus if he didn’t drink it for me!), enough sweets and cake to keep him from focusing on my beer (talking of addictions, he is massively addicted to sweet things!) and home to get the dinner on.  Chill beer, cook dinner that will satisfy hubby, lay out cake and sweeties, walk the dogs and get back in time to get my dinner down me and over with so I could start drinking at an acceptable hour – all I had been thinking about all day was doing this – actually all week!  Even when drinking I was thinking about drinking in the future!  Saturday would be up and out for a big hike with the dogs (trying to hide my fuzziness and dodgy tum – DO NOT SHOW WEAKNESS TO DRINK – or hubby will announce ‘oh, hangover?  You should give it a miss tonight’ – no chance!  I smiled and joked and hiked with a bounce in my step – urgh, dying.  Get lunch sorted, get the housework done so everything was sparkling, do the errands, sort unexpected family shenanigans, go to the shops and repeat Friday’s shopping list and do a slap up meal with all the trimmings – to keep hubby happy so he didn’t yap at me about drinking.  This is even tiring typing feck sake!!!!  Sunday repeat day before but key to today is buy a bottle of wine, hide in handbag and save for later when hubby goes to bed.  And…. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday the wine in handbag.  I worked really hard and I deserved the wine during the week and I worked really hard at home and I deserved the beer at the weekend.

But also what I was doing at least once a month near the end was taking a day off work that my husband didn’t know about and going to the off licence that opened the earliest and getting my 12 beer – going home, watching TV and passing out.  Only to wake, possibly get more drink and pretend I had only started when he came home or feign being ill and retire to bed for the evening.  Mostly I pulled it off as I had had a sleep in the afternoon but it was getting harder and harder to do and the hangover was a massive killer in work the next day.

My work had underwent changes over a year ago and although it was sad that good people had left we were all keen to get into a new way of working.  The new changes that came in were great to begin with and I excelled at my work – I even got a promotion.  But with a promotion came more responsibility and time in work.  I threw myself into it!  I literally got up went to work, came home late, did dinner and went to bed and repeat the above wine and weekend palava over and over.  I nearly put my head away from Christmas to early spring busting myself to hit targets and pull off a massive event on my own as my staff had been cut.  I broke down and cried after it, pulled myself together and got my 12 beer – I was obsessed with beer!!!  Work started to fall apart a bit when people got moved around and very different personalities were put together which caused a fractured toxic environment.  I’m a solution focused person and I create a positive way of working wherever I go but my newer colleagues were ambitious, cold and looking for blame – nothing was good enough and that mantra was being more and more backed up by the senior management.  It was nearly like everyone was pointing the finger somewhere so the focus would be taken off them.  We had a very unhappy workplace that was already fast paced and highly stressful.  But I kept up my facade and put my happy mask in place fighting a loosing battle for the sake of the other workers affected.  Initially my work wasn’t targeted but I had started to feel like an imposter in my own job.  Like I couldn’t do it and I didn’t deserve the promotion.  I became paranoid thinking my peers were talking about me and my anxiety went through the roof.  I was depressed and the drink wasn’t working – in fact it was making it worse.  My every thought, worry, being was about work and I was drowning.  It was horrendous!  My thoughts turned to, if drink couldn’t help and I can’t get this feeling out of chest and head then I can’t go on.  I didn’t think I was worthy of the job I loved.  I wasn’t worthy of family and friends and I definitely wasn’t worthy to be trusted with a child of my own!  And it was all my fault!  I was the imposter and I couldn’t cope anymore.  Lucky for me, I went and spoke to HR and they were really understanding.  They knew my mental health was affected and they advised me to get to the doctors.  I was signed off work and put on anti depressants, told they wouldn’t work for a while and to take the counselling work had offered.

2 and a half months on and I’m still signed off and will be for a while as I’ve so much to work through.  The act of kindness that got me through AA doors has been my life saver.  The Doctor that listened to me and supported me was my life saver and my friends and family too.  Work can wait as this is just too important and I can’t give them the best of me if I’m not well.  I just hope they understand and support me too.  I still can’t get work out of my head but it’s got better and I know with support from AA and others that I will get back and get through it.  I wasn’t an imposter – I was bloody good at my job and I will be again – no, I’ll be excellent!  Trying to be positive again 🙂  But I’m shit scared to be honest.  I’m worried about getting fired, how will I pay the bills, what will people think of me, what will my co workers say when I go back….??  Right I will have to stop thinking that as I feel a panic attack coming on!  I know there’s a lot of work still to be done with me but I’m willing and I’m going to do all that is asked of me.

So I’ll sign off with the AA prayer (I love it!  It always makes me feel calmer after I say it.)

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Cherry bye,

Sibi xx

9 thoughts on “This Woman’s Work

  1. This is a very courageous and honest post – bravo! I can empathize with almost everything you say, especially drooling over Vikings with a glass in my hand. 😁 My first diagnosis was in my 20’s. Since then I have worked on many good projects, lived on three continents and traveled most of the world. I have burned out on a number of jobs but I keep getting approached for work despite being honest about my health. Recently a boss told me that she also took anti-anxiety medication. When you are ready, perhaps you can start back for a few days per week until you feel comfortable? Perhaps you could consider a change and decide to do work from home, or in a less stressful environment? Mental ill health affects one in four people so it is likely that some of your colleagues have had a personal experience. You would not have received a promotion, if they didn’t have faith in your abilities.
    I continue to struggle with illness, medication, keeping my drinking/eating under control but I have a good life. I hope you will too. K x

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    1. Thanks for getting in touch Kerry! Wow you really haven’t let anxiety hold you back. That’s so inspirational! I’ve really taken comfort in your words and I hope I can be just as brave as you soon. I need some Viking strength and power lol!! Roll on the next series eh? Big hugs, Sibi xx

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    2. Hi Kerry, so sorry just getting back to you. I had typed out a reply on my phone and thought I had posted it grrrrr! Thanks so much for your comment and advice. It sounds like you have great ways in dealing with your mental health and you must do great work with being head hunted – that speaks volumes! I really hope work are supportive. I’m still waiting to hear when they are visiting me and I’m just going to be honest about my mental health and take the time I need. I’ll definitely ease myself back into it part time as well. Wishing you all the best and hope to chat again – take care, Sibi xxx

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      1. Curiously, I just had a dilemma about my head-hunter, Sibi. I was very flattered and said yes to the job offer, was overwhelmingly anxious and then asked if I could take a month to think about the offer (for contract work). The Operations Manager was very understanding and I really think there will be work available when I am ready. I spent much of my life hiding my mental illness but now I know it does not take anything away from my skills and adds to my empathy. Wishing you all the very best of good health. K x

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      2. Hi Kerry, just right taking the time to think about it. They obviously know the skills and experience you can bring and are happy to wait and hear your answer. So blessed to have a workplace that understands mental health. Mine should be the same but I overthink and worry about it as always. Just hoping I meet with them soon and get a feel for how they are towards me. Best wishes, S xx

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      3. Not all my workplaces were mental health friendly including one that worked for mentally ill people!!! That was 20 years ago, however, and people are less ignorant of a very common illness, It’s inevitable that you are worrying about going back – it is the same after any leave of absence. I have really cut down on alcohol of late and I feel much better. K x

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      4. Thanks Kerry, very true. Wishing you the best with cutting down. I’m so glad I’ve cut it out of life completely and feeling so much better for it mentally. I wonder now how I managed to juggle my mental health and drinking for all these years. It’s crazy!! Sibi xx

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  2. Sibi, you are just fantastic ! I feel for you, I relate to every word you write and I’m so pleased you have recognised the horrible effects of alcohol… big fan here, and big hug for you. Keep writing, and keep sober 😊 lily xx🌜🌷

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    1. Hi lily! That’s so kind of you, thank you. Sometimes I just feel like I’m rambling on and boring anyone looking at this lol 🙈 but it’s helping keep my head somewhat peaceful so that’s a good thing. I’m loving being sober!! Why was I so worried I’d be missing out on things if I didn’t drink? If anything, I missed out truly experiencing when I did drink 🙄 hope you are well, Sibi xx

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