So it’s Saturday morning, which is my favourite time of the weekend as work is a whole 2 days away so it isn’t looming over me, like a big scary monster who wants me to follow him around picking up his shit, fling it all over myself and other people, and then thank him for the privelige.
On Tuesday I had a panic attack at work, it’s been about 4 months since my last one. I was getting so upset and wound up at spending yet another day in a role and an environment that is so intrinsically at odds with who I am, that I worked myself up into an attack. I know it’s happening because I get a tremendous urge to cry like I’m about to burst, my mind is racing like it’s out of control and my chest hurts because I’m not breathing deeply enough. I guess it’s a build-up of adrenaline that is forcing itself to erupt.
Fortunately it was only 1.5 hours until home time, so, I took myself outside and breathed deeply for about 5 minutes while I tried to calm my racing thoughts. And then although I still felt panicky I decided to spend the remaining time focusing really hard on work blocking out my feelings about it as best I could.
The next day I felt panicky again and by the time I got home was heading for another attack but this time, because I was observing myself and knew what would happen if I didn’t release the adrenaline through either an attack or my normal pattern which is to veg on the sofa, fidget, get cross at my boyfriend, cause a fight, get upset, and let the tears come out that way, I meditated. And then I fell asleep lol. And when I woke up the adrenaline had gone and without it I was actually super sleepy.
The other symptom I have is nightmares. The frequency varies from a few nights a week to every single night. It’s always the same theme – I am being chased by someone or something that wants to kill me. They have a gun, they have a knife, they have fangs. They chase me and I’m running away desperately trying to escape but I always get trapped in a corner and they kill me.
I know, I feel in my gut, that me in the dream is the real me. The real me who has been forcing herself down the wrong path because it makes ends meet. Who has to repress herself every day she goes into work so she can emotionally cope. When I cry, when I have bad dreams, when I panic, that is the real me bubbling up just for a brief moment. The real me is terrified.
It isn’t right that a job should do this to me, or to you if you’re reading this and can relate. Even writing about it right now I feel the symptoms of a panic attack are brewing. Whether there’s something about this job in particular, or you’re like me and find yourself on the wrong path and desperate to get off it, these are the sorts of signs that I think denote you cannot continue to force yourself to fit this path. You were born for another path.
But how do you get onto the right path? Here is one thing that has really helped me.
Over the Christmas break I made myself a vision board. I found pictures that spoke to me on a real me level. It helps me remember who I am, because I’ve realised that I easily forget who I am. The emotional distress I go through every day and my coping strategy of patching over it, means that I get depressed and desperate and end up forgetting who I am and what I even enjoy about life anymore.
Part of this is repressing myself which, as I said above, is a coping mechanism to get through work. It’s also financial: my wages leave very little left over for anything else. So over time I’ve had to give up on the things I enjoy or which make me who I am – travelling, taking classes or trying new hobbies, expressing myself through the fashion choices I make or the way I make up my face. Even pleasure pursuits like going to the cinema or reading books.
So having a vision board helps me not to lose myself as the emotional toll of work takes hold. I look at it for a few minutes and it starts to feel familiar, and I start to remember who I am inside and how much I want those parts of me to be prevalent in my life every single day. Not just a rare treat on a Saturday morning.
I truly believe that this is no way to live, for me personally. I know many other people have jobs they don’t like and not a whole lot of money to show for it, and they choose to accept it as fact. I almost wish I could do that, but I can’t. Maybe I am more sensitive than average, maybe I’m idealistic, maybe I’m stubborn and non-conformist (I am an Aquarius) but I cannot rest until I have a life where the real me is expressed fully.
(Here’s my vision board, by the way)