I have struggled with these two visitors over the last few months.
It stems from change.
Change at work; change in my position in the community; personal change following the death of my Dad.
Today I want to focus on the struggles due to the change at work.
My Uncle (my Mum’s younger brother) worked as a vet. He said:
“ You’re as good or bad as your last client consultation. If it goes well, you can feel on top of the world; if it goes badly, you can feel a complete impostor and not worthy of your profession.”
Our cat Willow is the known thug on our block, even though he’s neutered. During the summer we took him twice to the vet with infected bites following a cat fight. Both times, as we waited outside the examination room, we realised the vet was having to put down an animal too poorly to survive. When it came to our turn, Willow was a kitten in that he responded well to treatment. The vet experienced failure and success in a matter of minutes.
Three years ago I discovered I have a specific learning disability related to dyspraxia. It is a complicated story which I won’t go into except to say I was in trouble at work and on a capability procedure. However hard I tried, in fact “trying” made it worse, I couldn’t get on top of my caseload.
For years I had struggled, getting bogged down when taking my A levels; working in the library days and nights to hand in an essay for a deadline when doing a degree; and at work I worked in my own time to compensate and try to keep on top of things. I thought I was lazy, chaotic, easily distracted, my own worst enemy. I am all of these.I am also conscientious, well organised, focused, and a problem solver. It takes a considerable effort. For years I suffered work related stress, which affected my sleep patterns. Then a series of difficult life events tipped me over the edge into severe anxiety and moderate to severe depression.
By pure fluke I discovered that dyspraxia was the cause of my difficulty at work due to a poor working memory, and slower than average ability to process information. It was January 2013 and I was aged 51. Was it a moment of serendipity that led me to that discovery or was it God’s gentle grace nudging me by putting me in the right place at the right time and then helping me to face my demons?
The diagnosis of dyspraxia came as a revelation. Suddenly I understood what was going on. It gave me back some power. Dyspraxia does not go away. It is how I am made. The struggles continued. My managers were not easily won over. And I had lost faith and confidence in myself. How it helped me was that I was able to gain the support of people who had my back, who coached and mentored me, and I together with them found strategies that worked. I began to win back my own self respect. Through months which turned into a couple of years, I persevered, step by painful step, and I regained control of my caseload.
In July everything changed. We were taken over by a new employer. In many ways everything is good. I like the change in emphasis. The employer is understanding and keen to make us as a team of excellence. And they are aware of my difficulties. Time of change is a risk factor for me. I requested a new mentor to help me learn the new computer systems and guide me towards short cuts through the use of technology. I feared that if I get behind I will be in trouble again.
The difficulty is that I still have not received the help. And like it or not, my caseload is creeping up. Like a circus clown, I have jumped through the necessary hoops. I asked my line manager; I applied to the coaching service; I waited for a suitable appointment. We met once and I signed a contract. We were due to meet again. Then I self sabotaged.
I was ten minutes late, classic for me, when floundering, even when highly motivated. My mentor did not wait,(I had broken the contract) and then did not return my calls for two weeks.This inexplicable lack of contact was when my stress levels were at their peak. Last week contact was regained and I am due to receive help the second week in December.
So far I have been struggling on my own. I know that I am not on my own. I have respite when I talk and listen to God Despite those conversations, I lurch from one anxious moment to the next as I make mistake after mistake.
I have tried to stay light, tried to mask the rising panic and smile through the pain. I am like a duck, gliding on a flooding river, appearing to be effortless, only under the water, my webbed feet are paddling furiously, in the effort to keep afloat. As usual it is me and my nearest and dearest who suffer for my stress.
Not Waving but Drowning
By Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
And yet, I am well off. I know that I am and I feel ashamed. My troubles are small compared to the people crossing the Mediterranean in their search for a safe haven. They too are searching for help and making a journey, step by painful step. They are at risk from the deep waters, the frailty of the boats and the enemy travelling among them.
I am well off compared to my clients. They seek help and have to jump through hoops of referrals, assessment, systems, money constraints, time, and sometimes things just not being possible.
I dedicate this post to all those struggling to find help, safety and success in their lives.