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Thread: Pushing myself too hard?

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Pushing myself too hard?

    Hello everyone,

    Today is meant to be my final day off before I attempt another return to work. I write that opening sentence without any conviction because my morning anxiety has sharply increased over the weekend so that, since Friday, I've woken up each day with a tight chest and unsettled bowels, and I've felt utterly exhausted (big yawns!) despite decent-length sleeps.

    Having said that, the weekend was not without some success, and my anxiety tended to improve as the day wore on. On Saturday, I got first and second in the Epsom Derby, then celebrated by meeting friends in Leazes Park for the Newcastle Green Festival. And, on Sunday, I had a nice roast dinner with mum then, a bit later, watched the football with dad :football:

    It feels to me, though, as if that was the easy part and this coming week promises to be much tougher. For a start, I've agreed to go back on a 9-3 basis but I feel this is too much at this stage, and would prefer just to work four hours per day (9-1, 10-2). I need to discuss this as soon as I go in - if I go in as, at the moment, I'm struggling to see me even be able to get through this as the physical symptoms seem so debilitating

    Then, on Saturday, myself and three friends intend to go to Blackpool for the day (staying over one night). This should be an enjoyable occasion but I've already messed up this year by having panic attacks on previous trips to Norwich in January and Dublin in March. Finally, a week on Thursday, I'm away from home for two-and-a-half weeks on my main holiday for the year with that same group of friends.

    I agreed to return to work before my holiday because, without doing so, the department's procedures pointed out that I may lose my job - however, I accept that I am attempting a return when I'm not 100% and, perhaps worst of all, I've not told my GP about this latest attempt as I know he would not sanction it. I strongly doubt myself that I am returning to work for the right reasons... I just hope that, as I have been able to do the job to an effective standard previously, I can return to that standard.

    Meanwhile, I am trying to improve at being mindful but staying in the moment is so difficult when the physical symptoms are already there (as soon as I wake up), and I regularly find that I am getting lost in mind chatter.

    Apologies again for the long post - but I suppose I am garrulous in my nature. Thanks again for reading,
    Peter xx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    132

    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Hey Peter,

    I am glad to hear that you had a good weekend apart from the anxiety being there a bit. As I mentioned on my other post I think this is only normal because your body and mind knows that a big change is coming in the form of attempting your return to work.

    I'm sorry that you feel the hours are less than ideal but as you have said all you can do is give it a shot and go for it. Definitely arrange a back to work meeting with your line manager or someone on the day so that you can discuss hours. Don't be too hard on yourself though as a 9am start probably will be tough going at first but you may just cope with it.

    Although you don't want to speak with your doctor about this I would perhaps recommend a meeting with him if you stay in work at the reduced hours. Just from the point of view that you can update him- especially if it's going well. If it doesn't go so well you will be seeing him anyways I am guessing to discuss your sick notes and plans moving forward etc. I am sure either way your doctor will support you. I know he has said he wants you to take the full 6 weeks away but as others have said you have to balance this against how you feel and your job and the prospect of keeping it or not keeping it etc.

    I am due back to work in a week and awoke this morning with thoughts of dread and thinking "what if I don't cope" etc but like you I will have to deal with this nearer the time. I am expecting next weekend to be quite tough for me as I will be anticipating but that's just it its all "anticipatory" and not necessarily how I will actually feel when it comes around. Some of my fear is meds related too as had a few side effects but these will hopefully lessen as the weeks pass.

    With regards to the travelling I think it's a case of not anticipating you will feel the same as you did during previous trips. Who knows you may panic but you may not and you may have a great time. If you do panic I think you've answered it in your post that you still managed to stayon the trips or stay there which is highly commendable as I know my reaction would be first flight/train and get home ASAP so remember that is amazing that you are doing as much as you are whilst dealing with anxiety.

    Mindfulness does take time but that's great that you are practising. I find it easiest when I have something in the background too like listening to music whilst doing a chore or something around the house. Or getting out and listening to the birds or background noise. The weather seems so so again today so hoping to get out and walk. I have the challenge of living where I work so it's always a worry to me that I may see someone and when I went out with family last week I did bump into someone, we didn't say anything to one another I just smiled and then I panicked a bit after but when I got home I thought about it and like I said to you before although what we're going through isn't necessarily something others see physically it's still very real and I'm going through it alright so I've let that go now too and I did feel better- like I'd faced a fear I'd built up in my mind so now there's one less thing to worry about!

    Have a good day.

    Daisy

  3. #3
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Hey Peter,

    How did it go? Hope you're having a better day today.

    Daisy

  4. #4
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Hello everyone,

    Apologies for the delay in replying but yesterday was a bit of an inset day (reading, back to work meeting etc.), whereas today was more like the real thing. For those who do not know, my job is to take calls in a contact centre for a government department - like most jobs, it has its ups and downs, and can have stressful moments if something has gone wrong and/or the caller isn't very happy about it(!)

    As stated above, I am on a phased return so today I worked four hours (9-1), listening into another advisor for a couple of hours before taking my first calls myself, with support from someone sitting next to me. I was nervous when I began but I was actually absolutely fine and did most of my calls without a problem. I had a couple of unusual queries but even these got sorted in the end.

    Back home now and I am feeling rather exhausted because of the inevitable emotional rollercoaster. I came in from my inset day and crashed out asleep from 7-9pm but this had a knock-on effect whereby I did not sleep well last night and the mind chatter seemed to be at its worst. Eventually, I did get some sleep from 3am-7am - but I woke up very anxious.

    Indeed, I was so anxious that I gagged on acid/bile at the back of my mouth while chewing a 'Rescue' remedy and I was nearly physically ill while trying to concentrate on driving at 50mph. It was a really close call but somehow my brain overpowered my notoriously weak gag reflex.

    So, why do I get so anxious when I can actually do the job? Frankly, I wish I knew exactly why myself - but it obviously comes down to my fundamental automatic negative belief which is that I just don't believe I can do it. I've got to prove to myself over and over again that I CAN do it until the evidence in my head outweighs my irrational anxiety. Of course, there is now the additional problem that I have fear of fear itself and almost expect myself to be anxious in the morning.

    Unfortunately, I think now that there are only two answers to the problem - (a) to leave my job, taking another hit to my confidence, and then having the same issue in terms of lack of self-belief when looking for alternative employment OR (b) to continue facing my anxiety in the knowledge that I can actually do the job so that my brain will eventually accept this.

    My choice of two months of sick leave, encouraged by my GP - who I understand is only trying to do his job by keeping myself from vulnerable positions - was going to result in (a), and indeed I still have a standard Stage 1 meeting tomorrow. But now I am giving (b) a shot - if it works, it might just be the best thing that I could have done for my anxiety. If it doesn't, then I guess I will know that the job is not for me - a strange thing to write considering I can actually do it. I just need a little self-belief

    Thanks for reading anyway,
    Peter xx

  5. #5
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Peter, I'm so pleased you managed to go back to work and get through the day OK. It's really difficult when you know you can do the job, yet still become anxious that you can't. Do you think you would actually feel any different about a different job?

    I hope the rest of the week goes OK for you.

  6. #6
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Well done on getting back to work and I hope each day gets easier for you

  7. #7
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    First of all well done Peter- I no doubt it was so tough for you and sounds like you had an eventful few days managing the anxiety and getting to work...but you did it so that's fantastic !

    I feel the same about the actual job I do(i think it contributes to my anxiety) but like you I'm going to at least try to go back, work through it whilst maybe looking for something else again, all being well. It's a very tough market out there at the moment in my field and when I was feeling well I did look but not a lot going

    It's very encouraging to read your story also as I will be in the same boat come Monday. I am trying to stay as positive as I can and just keep thinking that I have done the job (well) before and will do it again and if I can't then that will have to wait and will cross that bridge if...and that's if it comes to it.

    I think you talked about the phased return and my doctor has insisted this so I have managed to agree this with my employer for at least two weeks and then a review so I am really happy that they agreed to this as I was worrying about the 9-5 already so this is one less thing to worry about. I really thought they would say no way but actually I was touched by their willingness to seem to want to genuinely help me- I hope this continues.

    Best of luck for tomorrow (nearly the weekend ) and keep in touch to let us know how you go. Will probably post about my experiences next week.

  8. #8
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Hello folks,

    Time for an update: I was back in work for four hours on Thursday and Saturday (Friday was a day off in lieu of Sat) and again the shifts themselves seemed to go without a hitch. Again, I woke up anxious on the mornings but equally I felt much better once I got there so I've just got to keep going, I think.

    @Edie: For my anxiety levels, I would prefer to do a back office role within the civil service but these opportunities on a full-time basis are scarce with more and more work being done by frontline staff. I do keep my eyes open on the Civil Service jobs website, though.

    Anyway, the Saturday shift meant that, disappointingly, I had to pull out of the trip to Blackpool - but I think my friends understood the greater good of me returning to work. Also, I have done quite a few trips recently anyway, and I have my main summer holiday coming up on Thursday with those same friends.

    @Annie: I think you asked in a different thread where I was going on holiday - we're flying into Budapest, Hungary then moving onto Zagreb, Croatia before finishing up and flying back from Ljubljana, Slovenia. We're getting trains between the cities (which should be fun) and I've just had a check of the weather and it looks good. Indeed, I think those countries may have avoided the worst of the floods which submerged southern Germany and parts of Prague in the Czech Republic... *takes deep breath* Then, when I'm back in Blighty, I'm heading straight to the Glastonbury Festival (for my fifth visit there), before finally getting back to the North East late on 1 July.

    It is quite convoluted and, no doubt, it'll be quite relentless but I was also away for 17 days in May last year when I went to Thailand. I did have an awful all-night panic attack a few nights before I was due to go, which resulted in the very first of my many visits to the doctor to be signed off with anxiety - but, following a couple of days of Valium, I was back down off the ceiling and still went and had fun.

    By now, normally, I would expect to have a bit of anticipatory anxiety about my adventure - but, without wanting to tempt fate, I seem to be in a really good mindset at the moment, and really proud to have made it back to work. @daisydaisy: I know it is easy for me to say - but, if you are anything like me, you will be all right, especially if you've done the job well before. Just try not to get put off by any morning anxiety, and - in the words of Dr Claire Weekes - do not fight it, accept it.

    For my holidays, I have just bought Dr Weekes' Self Help For Your Nerves book and her CD 'Passing Through Panic' which I intend to put on my mp3 player along with my Glastonbury 2013 music. Hopefully these resources, and another easy-read magazine, will be enough to keep my mind occupied, particularly on the 'moving days' between the cities where my anxiety may be higher.

    The only thing that is really troubling me at the moment is right at the back of my mouth. On Thu night, I must have cut the inside of my gum with the very last of my sharp upper teeth and the gum has swollen up really very badly around the back of my very last lower molar - so much so that I'm eating on a quite rudimentary basis at the moment. Normally, this would be because of anxiety but it is definitely a physical problem this time as it really hurts to eat anything much harder than a mousse or squished banana.

    I can't really get to the swollen area with a brush so I'm washing my mouth out thoroughly with mouthwash (Corsydol) and taking Ibuprofen for the sharp pain. I really don't want to have to go back to the doctors, or even the worse the dentist - which I have avoided for years - and I only have three full days before my holiday. Any tips greatly appreciated as this really does have the potential to affect my holiday, or my anxiety which will affect my holiday as well?

    Thanks for reading such a long post again,
    Peter x
    Last edited by NE21 worrier; 09-06-13 at 15:22.

  9. #9
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    I think I remember you saying before about going to Slovenia. please try to visit Lake Bled which is north of Ljubljana and really beautiful. I have to say it is one of the loveliest places I have been to, especially when viewed from the castle.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pushing myself too hard?

    Another day down, two to go until the holiday.

    @Annie: Yes, I remember you mentioning Lake Bled. I've got some time on the holiday to discuss it with my friends and I've even had a look on the map already. It does not seem too far out so I hope they agree with me to go there.

    In some good news, I slept well last night and the increase to six hours this week (9-3) made little difference as the time seemed to fly by.

    (It's a really busy time of year for tax credits so if anyone on here has any which they need to renew, I can only request your patience. The call queues today were about 20-30 minutes, I think, but it is only going to get worse before the renewals deadline on 31 July. Also, it is best to ring as close as possible to the opening time at 8am.)


    I also spoke to Occupational Health who said they would do another report which states that I can do the job generally and especially so on tax credits but that I find changing lines of business, if it has to happen again, would be a challenge and so I would need extra training and/or a mentor to help me adapt.

    In less good news, my mouth was still sore (though I have continued to manage bits and pieces of food) and also I retained that horrible sense of morning dread - allied with chest tightness, butterflies in the tummy - which stayed with me until I actually sat down and started doing the job.

    I'm still hoping really that it will go away soon,
    Peter x

    PS. @daisydaisy: was today your first day back? If so, how did it go?
    Last edited by NE21 worrier; 10-06-13 at 17:46.

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