Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Not stupid

OK, not quite weekly posts :)

I'm still missing my mojo, but I've at least got to the point where I am not on pills every day to take the edge off of life. I view that as progress.

There is already somthing that has come out of therapy that has helped though. Something that I have tried to put into action daily, and so far has had a somewhat positive impact. A long, long way to go yet, but any progress is good.

One of the biggest issues that I have is assuming that everyone things I am stupid. Before they speak to me, whilst they are speaking to me, anytime they look at my code and most certainly after our communication has ended.

Having a 5 minute conversation can lead to weeks or months (or years) of stress for me. Or writing a blog post - the amount of posts that I have discarded over the years before saving is not insignificant!

Yes it's wrong to think that way, yes it is irrational. No, knowing those things doesn't help.

So... For the last few weeks what I have tried to stop is calling myself stupid. I used to do it probably 10 times a day or more.

Make a mistake: 'Sorry guys, I've been stupid'
Knocked something over: 'Yeah, that was stupid of me'
Forgotten something: 'Yeah, I was stupid and it slipped my mind.'

No more.

'Sorry guys, I pushed the branch without the last change as I forgot I was using code and that doesn't save on committing changes like Visual Studio does. Give me a minute and I'll push the last change as well.'

This was such a simple change, not easy, but simple, and yet the impact has been huge already. Because I am not stupid. And I need to stop telling others that I am. And I need to stop telling myself that I am. I make mistakes, sometimes too often, sometimes caused by stress, sometimes caused by haste. Sometimes caused by severe tiredness :) But, that is all that they are. Mistakes. Which can be made by everyone.

I can learn from them.

I can analyse the ones that you don't want to repeat.

I can't stop worrying that everyone else in the world thinks I'm stupid overnight. That is what the therapy is supposed to help.

I can stop calling myself stupid and making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Getting by

Life immediately after my last post was not fun. For several days I was totally down, always on the verge of tears and constantly cimbing the walls. Knowing that it was needed did not make life any easier.

Oodly enough, for most of the people I spoke to about it, letting people know how I was feeling didn't help.

Having a group of people around you who want to help is great. Getting them to understand that I not just need to get over myself on the otherhand seems to be impossible. 

You just need to learn to relax
You just need to push yourself
You just need to be happy with what you have
Oh, I know, I hate being in the middle of a crowd as well

That last one proceeds them running into the middle of a crowd and engaging everyone in it with a beaming smile on their face

I've learnt that there are a couple of people who I can talk to, and how listen in return. The rest will likely get the "I'm fine" reaction from now. I know that they want to help, but the problem is that they are not...

But, I'm on the way up. The last few days have been much better.

Now I'm trying to get back to some projects that I have wanted to do for a while. And I'm trying a new toy to kick start me. Last year I treated myself to a Samgsung tablet. Today I got a keyboard to go with it. Now I can grab a computer out of my bag and type. Whether that is editing code, something that I am still trying to get working, or whether it is writing.

The first public thing is this very post.

Once I have had the keyboard for a few days I'll try to write a review for it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

But will it help?

Warning: Outpouring ahead...

Yesterday I had my first therapy intake session.

An hour of going over the worst experiences of growing up. Of the humiliations of childhood and teenage years. Which came at me from all sides, home, school, and extended family. That have all tuck to this day - to the point where some of them still make me recoil when I think of them.

Being told from the age of 7 or 8 that I had to bury and fight my emotions. That showing them was a bad thing. That I was too emotional, a baby, and more than that: a cry baby.

Recounting how it feels when something happens now.

Learning that the feelings I have 90% of the day are panic attacks. For some strange reason knowing what they are actually makes it more scary.

Talking about being paralyzed with fear when a great opportunity turns up. Or any opportunity.

Currently I'm sitting having another attack. It's been ongoing since about 7:30 this morning - I'm typing this at 8:25.

I'm exhausted from yesterday, numb, wanting to curl up and cry my heart out, but being unable to have that release.

I'm exhausted because since I came out of the session I've been spending the time assuming that the therapist thinks I am faking it all. Along with the rest of the world.

I'll be fine. I'm sure that the numbness will drop away over time. And I am positive that I can't possibly have therapy without going through this. Not that that helps right now.

All of the above has nothing to do with the title of today's post.

Well, almost. I have two opportunities to get involved in things that I care about. Both of which will involve me doing something that will trigger my anxiety to their maximum levels.

And here the title is twofold.

Will pushing myself help my situation? Or will it simply reinforce the negative emotions that I have. Or will it do neither and leave my at my current position whilst still taking all of my energy just to stand still.

On the flip side, say I decide to take one or both opportunities. Would explaining my current situation help or hinder me? Hey, yes, I'd love to be involved (I really, really would, even though I know it will be hard work and scary - which only increases the stress of making the choice), but be aware this is ultra confrontational for me and there is a good chance that I am going to crack at some point and I will need someone to help pick up my slack at that point.

Saying that I want to help, but have limitations in what I can do.

But I feel that I cannot do that. That it's TMI. That people are going to say: oh, everyone has social anxiety, you'll be fine, just get over it (not that I have ever heard that in the past...)

Why should having a mental disorder be something that you have to keep quiet about. When I had the bone tumors removed from my hand a year ago it was obvious that there were things I could not do. That I would need help in certain tasks and that I had limitations.

You can't see my anxiety. The people who know that I am going to therapy have said that they would never have known how much I was struggling unless I had told them. My therapist said that he could see when I was getting emotional over my past, but when it came to the anxiety part I closed up and hid it - he wouldn't have known if I wasn't verbalizing it. And apparently that is normal - at least for people in my position it becomes normal, otherwise you cannot function in society. But you feel like you are going insane when you are doing it.

The fact that you can't see it means that to let people know you have to tell them.

Which in my head is translated to me yelling to the world how special I am. Even though it shouldn't feel like that, and it's not what I am doing, I hope - jeez, even I even do it to myself. And the circle begins again...

Saturday, 14 April 2018

The dreaded lurgy!

So, I missed last week. (And a few after... This has been a post long in the making!)

You could be forgiven for thinking that I was not doing so well after the appointment with the doctor. Actually it's because for most of last week I was struggling to think straight full stop.

It started on Saturday after I wrote the last post. Half way through breakfast I got a bit of stomach cramp. Nothing too bad, but not something I wanted to go running with. So I figured that if I left it for an hour it would pass. After an hour I was back in bed feeling really not great, and pretty much given up on running...

And there I stayed for most of the day. The problem was that I was supposed to be seeing a colleague perform in the theater that evening. Pfff... And it was a long drive.

By the time I needed to be moving for a shower and getting ready I felt OK. Ish. Got ready, had food and left. The performance was fantastic, but by the time it was over I felt as though I was sitting in a freezer. Rather than waiting for my colleague to emerge from back stage I had to leave whilst I still had some energy.

The drive home was not pleasant. Heated seats on full blast, and the climate control set up to 24 degrees just to keep the chill and shivers at bay.

Got home, shivered my way into bed and stayed there for 48 hours, my temperature stayed at 38.5 for a day longer than that. I'm now nearly at two weeks and still not close to being ready to run (I feel like I have already ran my marathon that I want to do this year!) and my brain is only just really coming back online. Everything has been thinking through syrup for the last week, which when you are code reviewing and not knowing what you are looking at doesn't help your anxiety!.

So, the appointment with the doctor? Actually, doctors. Multiple. Tuesday the hospital was it's normal efficient self. My x-rays were taken with no delay, and inside of 30 minutes I was talking to a doctor about the results. All good I'm pleased to say, I don't need to go back for another year!

My appointment with my GP also went really well. He took me seriously when I said I had issues with anxiety, asked how they felt, and (it felt) like he was trying to see what was going on with me. There was no question about a referral, I was worried about that as, whilst Dutch health care is great, they are trying to save on mental health like most counties. But, thankfully, I got the referral straight away and he then spent some time asking questions about what I wanted from a therapist. I have no idea, except for someone that I have a good click with so that I can be open and comfortable.

He had someone in mind that he thought would be a good fit for me and I was one my way. Afterwards I made the call to the therapist and I have an appointment for in a couple of weeks now (this post has been three weeks in the making).

Which can't come soon enough. Whilst I am stressed about how the appointment is going to go, my anxiety is sky rocketing right now. I don't know why, maybe because I know that I am going to start the process of trying to get better... What I do know is that I'm now on regular doses of valerian, something that my doctor said was a good idea. Not the full dose, but as needed.

But, don't worry about me, I'll get there. I'm struggling, but I am still working through - and hopefully about to get the help I need.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Old Habbits

So... Saturday morning and I am up and awake far too early again...

Nothing like the past, it was at least 6:30 before I was up - but that was still before the little man (who is sitting next to me as I type this now).

It's not too bad, I wanted to be up in time to watch the qualification for Formula 1. Not that I particularly enjoy it anymore. Not for a few years, there is just not enough action anymore - and what action there is is quite often faked by using DRS etc. But still I've watched since I was a small child, not much older than my little man now, and so you there is always the hope that the glory days will return.

So, what's been happening this week? Well, I've killed my feet running. In the last 7 days I managed 25km in two stints. Today I want to do another 10, at least. I haven't decided where yet, after I've finished writing this I am going to look for a nice route on Google maps and see if I can get to the beach and back without being gone for too long. Watch this space!

One good thing about going for the run is the peace it can, note can, bring to my head. And I am starting to need it. The coming week is  starting to loom in my head.

Monday is not going to be fun in the office, there is a colleague who is deliberately making life difficult for the whole team. His way or he works without thinking and is just making life a bit of a misery. I'm planning to give him a last chance to talk on Monday and then I'm just escalating it.

Then on Tuesday I have my 12 month checkup for my hand. Seeing as the pain it has caused me since we moved (which I am pleased to say is starting to die down now) I am not looking forward to seeing what they find when they x-ray the hand again. And we need to talk about the future in this appointment I think, after all with the disorder that I have they need to make sure that the growths do no come back, either in the hand or elsewhere. I don't know what the plan is for that and think that it's time to ask.

And I think that I have a buyer for the R6. Not the price I wanted for it - but the guy found a lot more wrong than I had seen, and not far off of what I think i can get. I am going to call him today accept his offer. Then my ownership of a motorbike, which I have had since 28th July 2000, will end. They've been fun, but I can't really argue with Mrs Stace about having a toy car and a toy bike is excessive. And the money that I'll get for the bike will go into the car to try and get it as finished as possible without hitting our savings again. And I can't wait to drive it again!

And of course Wednesday is the day to talk to the doctor. I am so not looking forward to that. I'm not sure what else to write about it. My head is spinning a little just thinking about it, so I'm not going to...

What I am going to try and do is concentrate on the fun things of next week.

On Wednesday the last components of the kitchen are being delivered. And on Friday the builders come back to fit them and finish it up. Then the downstairs is done! Except for the curtains and pictures that we want to hang on the wall.

And tonight I am going to a musical that is being put on by the theater group of our product owner: Big Fish. That is something, that being in a large group of people aside, I am so looking forward to!

Concentrate on the good stuff!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Appointment made

First of all I'd like to thank people for the support, either via comments, mail or other mediums. It's means the world to me to have such support.

It's been a major feature I'd my week, and I'm not sorry that I have a weekend of nothing much planned coming up.

I've had a chat with my close team, and one other colleague who has helped me in the past.


I've made the appointment with the doctors.

Actually, i tried yesterday, but the first time the assistant was busy for 7 minutes with someone and I gave up waiting, and then they were closed for the afternoon. So I had to work up the courage the next day as well...

The call was fine, the assistant giving me a double appointment without asking why I wanted one. Now I'm stressing about what I'm going to say, how to word my feelings and where to go next. It feels good making this step. I know it's a step in the right direction, but it's not helped me yet.

Once I got off of the phone I updated our "out" board to say I wouldn't be in that morning. Then I told the team, they are really supportive and congratulated me on taking the step. Then I had to leave before I burst into tears...

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Happy weekend folks! The first week back on the office after three weeks at home is behind me now, and I am more than happy about that!

By Thursday I could barely keep my eyes open, my fuse was about .25 seconds long and I needed it done. 3 hours of commute due to bad traffic did not help that day!

Friday I was interviewing for a new Scrum Master. Not a day that I am normally in the office, but as it was during the little mans school day I could get there and back in time to pick him up. I hoped.

In the end I was really pleased I made the trip, it was very relaxed being in the office for 30 minutes without major deadlines to meet. It was also one of the most pleasant interviews I have ever had. But not something I can talk about...

The only fly in the ointment? I had to be home for 12, in good traffic it's 50 minutes to get home. I left the office with 52 minutes to spare! I may have got a ticket trying to make up some time. Which I didn't need to do. I got home with time to park, get the car, and cycle to his school to get him (trying to use the bike to get him to school as much as possible!).

Today? Well, here the reversal takes place. Not from the mood, I'm tired but happy, but the weather.

Last week I was skating in natural ice as a local pond. As most of Holland is low (that is North Holland where we used to live, and South Holland where we live now - not the normal replacing Nederland for Holland incorrectly ;p ) there are lots of ponds around the houses, with canals and brooks connecting them to allow for good drainage. This pond is 1/2 mile away from us and would be a park surrounded by houses if the drainage wasn't needed, leading to a second one. There is public access (good for canoeing next year as well), but is mainly just behind houses. As we had feels like temperatures of -18 during the week (that bad that running was cancelled by the instructor as the temperature meant the chance of injury was just too high) there was the upside that after just a couple of days there was enough ice to stand on, and by the weekend there were lots of people skating together on the canals and ponds. Even lakes and rivers in more inland parts of the country!

I'd had my skates sharpened a couple of weeks earlier, and had practiced in a skating hall, so it was time to try difficult natural ice! I still have the bruises! Coming in to stop after one session I must have hit a crack that had refrozen and went full flat on my face. Knees and arms hitting to the ice hard. I didn't realise how hard until I saw my knees later in the week and they were the colour of aubergines!

Today, well the ice has gone (from inches of ice to water in 4 days), the temperature was 15 degrees and I was skating with colleagues at an artificial ice rink. An inside rink where they skated (both are new to skating). I stayed with them for 30 minutes or so, trying to help, and when they wanted a rest I went to the 400m outside long-track rink and tried to clock up some mileage. I think that in all I managed 5 or 6 miles between the two rinks and loved it! But 15 degrees and an outdoor rink means that it was almost a swimming pool in places. When the Zamboni came around the clean the ice it didn't refreeze behind it! I can see why they close the rink at the end of March, which is a shame because I have really got into skating in the last week or so!

Aching now, but happy. I think that when the new season starts I am going to try and go more often. Sometimes in the figure skates that I inherited from Mrs Stace because I want to learn some tricks, and I am going to rent / buy some Noren skates to try and get my times down for the long distances.