A Stressful Cinema Experience

I’m one of those really annoying people who likes to go to the cinema and actually watch a film.

Strange, I know.

Unfortunately, a seemingly disproportionate percentage of the Birmingham movie-going population haven’t quite grasped the concept.

The other night, The Bloke and I went to watch Infinity Wars (don’t worry, there’s no spoilers). After waiting for over a year and then looking forward to it all week, we decided that (as it would undoubtedly be one of the biggest movies of all time) we would spend more to see it on an IMAX 3D screen for maximum impact, something that we’ve never done before. Continue reading

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Rise and Fall

At the minute, most days are what I would describe as being ‘inoffensive’ – the hours generally pass without euphoria or incident, and I generally go about my business with a sense of contentment. Sometimes I experience enormous high moments, and on rare occasions, absolutely crashing lows.

Today was such a day. In direct contrast to the beauty of yesterday, my Tuesday was filled with constant lateness, rudeness, apathy, lethargy and tantrums.

All. Bloody. Day.

I can be extremely short-tempered in my personal life, but I’m surprised by the levels of patience I’ve developed over the years when I’m in professional mode and it takes an awful lot for me to lose my temper. However, I had to be conscious of taking deep breaths, communicating in a low, calm voice and frequently reminding myself that today was just ‘one of those days,’ and that it would be over soon.

It’s amazing how quickly the old feelings return during moments of weakness. I haven’t felt truly anxious or panicky in a long time, but this afternoon I returned home with a stress-induced headache, a tight chest, nausea and knots in my stomach.

As always, the person I consult in times of anger (or, for that matter, happiness, sadness and anything else on the emotional spectrum) is mum. The fountain of all knowledge, she knows exactly what to say to put things into perspective, and combined with enjoying a cheeky cigarette (I know, I know) and listening to the ultimate 80’s stadium rock playlist while lying in a hot bubble bath, I now feel a little more on-track than I did.

I also discovered something awesome happens when you sing Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious to Siri… It didn’t quite understand my accent (and yes, I sang all the right words before you question it)…

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I’m easily amused…

And while today has sucked monkey balls, I know that tomorrow is a new day and I’m privileged to be living it… And it will be better…

Frustrations With The Black Dog – Freewriting

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I had plans for this week for the blog. Having a few extra days to myself meant that I have had much more time to do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do over the last few weeks. However, while the urge to write has been as strong as ever, every time I have sat down to create something, my mind has gone blank. I’ve experienced bloggers block on numerous occasions, but never as bad as this before. I have avoided posting something just for the sake of it, like I used to do in the early days of Suzie81 Speaks, but my lack of ideas has left me feeling really frustrated. Today I have decided to sit down and just write – freewriting was something I used when studying A Level English and I find that it is an effective way of unclogging the mind.

I’ve had quite a bad bout of down days over the last week, and this hasn’t helped. I’ve tried to remain as positive as possible, but the problem with ‘The Black Dog’ is that it takes time for it to subside, and I have to take things one day at a time until things start to ease. Depression has been a feature of my life for a number of years, but it isn’t a constant in the way that it seems to be with others. I can go for months feeling absolutely fine, and then it will suddenly hit me, usually after a period of extreme stress (which is often work related) and the only way that I can deal with it is to live life one day at a time and avoid looking at the big picture until things get better.

I often refrain from writing about my mental health until I feel better, mainly due to the large number of family and friends that now read my blog, but on days like today I offer no apologies to those who are put off or offended by my thoughts. This was the reason why the blog was created in the first place – I needed a place to exorcise the inner demons that were plaguing my everyday life and blogging has proven to be the best form of therapy I’ve ever had. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health issues and I feel that it is important to discuss them when I need to.

It has been particularly bad over the last few days. I seem to have spent the last few days feeling an intense agitation – the insomnia has returned with a vengeance, I have experienced high levels of anxiety, and the slightest little thing has irritated me because I have been so tired. For example, as I write this, the man who lives on my road who frequently walks up and down shouting to himself is stood outside my house and shouting the same things over and over to himself. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, he clearly has mental health issues and needs to be treated with understanding and compassion, but in my current state of mind I’m resisting the urge to fling open my door and yell at him to shut the f*ck up. However, I know that this will only make the situation worse and it certainly won’t make me feel any better. I’ve spent the week trying to remain calm and I’ve also been conscious not to take it out on The Bloke, who has also had a week off and has been in pain due to a torn muscle in his back, but he’s noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet and, as usual, he’s been understanding and supportive.

I have also tried to be proactive – I’ve been into work on several occasions and have tidied up my classrooms and cupboards, I’ve done some washing and I’ve treated myself to some tat from the new home store that has opened up on the high street, which always makes me happy, and I’m proud of myself for not taking my usual approach and just retreating to the couch, but I’m getting a bit fed up of feeling like this.

What I need is a break – a proper break away from everything that has been bringing me down. My youngest sister and her new husband have been on their honeymoon over the last week in New York, my middle sister has been jetting off all over Europe with her job and I’ve seen all the lovely pictures that my friends have been posting on various social media accounts of their recent adventures and holidays, and while I’m delighted that they are all having a wonderful time, it has made me realise that The Bloke and I need to get away. We aren’t financially destitute by any means, but over the last few years we have been hit with large unexpected bills which have had to take priority, which we are just beginning to recover from. We try and visit London a few times a year, but the last time we went on holiday was in 2010, when I surprised him with a trip to Paris for five days. We have very different ideas of what makes a holiday – he likes to have lots of things to see and do, whereas I like to lay about by a pool in gloriously hot weather and do nothing for a while – but we’ve decided that our next destination is Washington D.C. I visited there when I was supervising a school trip in 2010, and we ended up being stranded in the city for a week longer than our planned excursion because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which grounded all flights back to the UK. The extra week gave us the opportunity to see and experience many more things than we had originally planned, and I completely fell in love with the place, but having 56 young students to take care of meant that I had to constantly be in ‘teacher mode’ and I couldn’t truly relax during the entire trip. I want to go back to experience all of the same things again without having to tell someone where the toilet is or answer random questions like ‘Miss, what’s your favourite pizza topping?’ when I am sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and contemplating Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Still, it gives me something to look forward to and I feel safe in the knowledge that these feelings will eventually subside – they always do. And when it does, I am always left feeling grateful that I have lots of people and things in my life to be thankful for…

What about you guys? What are your tips for dealing with depression?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Image Credit: AJ Giel

 

Anxiety Central

imageI don’t deal with high pressured and stressful situations. My whole body tenses up, my stomach starts to churn and as it gets worse, I panic. I stop sleeping, I start getting irritable and have an overwhelming urge to eat anything with a high carb content and covered in grease and smoke a packet of cigarettes. Stress is not my friend.

This week has been anxiety central. Important multiple deadlines at work has meant that since Monday my routine has included 15 hours of teaching and paperwork, four or five hours of sleep and, towards the end of the week, about half an hour of tears each day, including on the day that was supposed to be my day off. At one point, I was so worked up that my skin felt like it was buzzing all over my body. There was no fun, no relaxation and no chance to sit back and just breathe.

Thankfully, everything was completed by the end of today. I left work as early as I possibly could, avoiding taking my laptop with me, treated The Bloke and I to a celebratory McDonalds and even though it isn’t yet 6.00pm I have changed into my jammies and have snuggled under a duvet with him and the cats. He’s been absolutely wonderful – he always is, but I couldn’t have got through this week without him.

I’ve missed the blog so much this week. I’ve missed you guys and I’ve missed reading all your stories, poems and admiring your photographs. The interaction that I gain from this community and the process of writing things down helps me to maintain my sanity…

So, for the next few hours, I’m all yours. Tell me about your week, share with me your favourite posts, give me tips for dealing with stress, anything.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Kitten Therapy

The world is a busy place – our lives are filled with jobs, traffic, places, colleagues, family and children every day and many of us are living in a state of constant fatigue and stress. So what happens when a unsuspecting and stressed-out member of the the public sits in a glass box with a pair of headphones and a bunch of kittens? Have a look at this lovely video – as an avid cat lover (and owner of two) I think that every workplace should have a room filled with kittens!

What do you do to de-stress at the end of a long day?

You can also find me in Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Video uploaded by SoulPancake

Stand Back – My Head May Just Explode

imageIt’s been a tough few days. I’ve had several extremely busy teaching days, and as a music teacher there are always the added extras that accompany the new academic year – curriculum plans, open evenings, meetings, re-establishing rules and expectations, instrumental lessons, deadlines, data analysis… My head is swimming. Of course, everyone is in the same situation and I’m lucky that I work in a good school, but with the added anxiety caused by circumstances in my personal life I felt that I was walking around with almost a dark haze in front of my eyes and a huge weight pushing down on me today. Luckily, my lessons were focused around sixth form today and so there was a little more opportunity to attempt to try and organise myself and the department than there would have been if I had been surrounded by the younger ones all day.

I find that, as I age, I am becoming less resilient when coping with stress. In my twenties, I tackled everything head on and seemed to fly through things that I found difficult. Now, I still get the work done, but I often face an internal struggle and almost argue with myself rather than simply just getting on with it. I’m becoming more and more stubborn. However, I recently made a commitment to myself that I would ‘suck it up’ and just do what I needed to do.

Consequently, I’ve worked really hard, even more so than usual, and I’m proud of everything that I have achieved since I went back to work, but I’m shattered. After ticking off a large amount of items from an enormous list since 7.00am I decided that I was going to leave the laptop at school at the end of the meeting this evening, and when I stepped outside I was grateful that the weather was warm and the sky was blue. The Bloke is helping at the Open Evening at his own school, so on my way home I was able to take a little bit of time just to sit and try and breathe until I had calmed down a little. It helped, and after feeding the cats I find myself sitting on the couch with a precious few hours alone. I’m going to have a long hot bath, watch some mundane television and have an early night, and hopefully at some point the throbbing in my temples and knots in my stomach will subside… It still feels that my head may explode.

How do you cope with stress and anxiety? What do you do to relax?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

How to Pack for a House Move Without Getting Stressed

Packing for a house move

I move house tomorrow, for the second time in six months. Our last experience was hectic and disorganised and taught us valuable lessons, so I thought I would share with you my top tips for how to move house without getting stressed.

1. De-clutter. We lived in our previous house for four years and during that time we had amassed an enormous amount of stuff that we simply didn’t need. Consequently, when we came to move we were disheartened by the seemingly never-ending amount of rubbish and extra boxes. This time, however, we downsized and were ruthless with our possessions. If I hadn’t watched a film, read a book, played a CD or worn an item of clothing in the last year it was put in a bag and taken to a charity shop. I shredded paperwork that had been filed away for YEARS (I found bills from 2005). As a result we have packed about ten fewer boxes this time around.

For further tips on decluttering your house and life in general, click on the link here… Continue reading

A Revelation

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I went back to work yesterday.

After feeling so ill for the last few weeks I was surprised at how nervous I felt about it, but I was lucky in that it was a light teaching day and I received lots of support from my colleagues and the students, who surprised me by welcoming me back.

However, being ill doesn’t remove the pressures surrounding the submission of coursework and after only two days I feel absolutely shattered and quite anxious about the looming deadlines. I’m in the middle of packing for the house move in the next few weeks too, which doesn’t help, and this means that I won’t get much of a weekend to myself.

The last few weeks have been quite a revelation as to my goals, ambitions and expectations of what my life should be like, and at 32 years old I have the opportunity to do something about it. I don’t have children and I don’t have a mortgage and aside from student loan repayments I am not in debt, and so the options that are available to me are wider than I initially thought.

I know what it is I want to do, and for the first time in years I feel like I have a direction and something to work towards. While I’m not giving too many details as yet, I’m looking forward to the possibility of making this become a reality. 

What about you guys? Are you happy with the life that you’re living? 

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

I. Don’t. Believe. It.

I don’t mind admitting that the last six months have been tough. With a heavy workload, endless trips to the vets, the stress of moving house and the unexpected building work that accompanied it, illness and hospitalisation I have been through the inevitable phases of questioning my personal karma and wondering what else the universe is going to throw at The Bloke and I. I was hoping that the next few months would be an opportunity to recover both emotionally and financially, and after finally unpacking the last box a little while ago I had started to feel a little more settled.

However, something out there has other plans for us. Continue reading

Why I Am Never Moving House Ever Again. Never. Ever. Never Ever.

imageWhat a week! I’m currently sat on a train on the way up to visit my mother and I can genuinely say that I’m exhausted. This is what happened:

1. Up until the actual move I was feeling a little smug as everything had gone like clockwork. We’d found a beautiful house, we had helped to let our old house and we’d found a brilliant removal firm who could take the piano with all the other stuff without having to hire a specialist. However, they turned up four hours early which set us in a mad panic because we still had a loft to clear. NOTE TO SELF: Never underestimate how much stuff you actually have. I had to ring some of my friends to come and help us throw things into boxes.

2. When we signed the contracts, obtained the keys and let ourselves into the new property we discovered an ENORMOUS amount of rising damp in the kitchen that wasn’t there when we had originally viewed the house a few weeks prior. After frantic calls to the landlady and letting agents, who both denied all knowledge of it’s existence, it became clear that it had obviously been painted over for the viewings in order to ensure that the property had been let. I immediately called a contractor to come and look at it after threatening the landlady with legal action.

3. After we had cleaned the old house thoroughly and handed the keys into the agents I was feeling a little sad, so I went and sat in our new (beautiful) garden and had a cigarette. The Bloke joined me, shutting the back door without realising that neither of us had the key that was needed to get back in, so we had to call a locksmith. Thirty minutes and £60 later, a lovely man turned up and took less than thirty seconds to open the door with a large piece of plastic.

image4. I had to take the next day off work because the contractor came round to look at the kitchen. It turns out that the damp has been there a while and will need to have most of the plastering ripped out, damp treatment injected into the walls and then it will need to be left for two weeks to dry out before it is replastered and painted. The landlady, realising that we have an excellent case to sue, is paying for it to be done immediately and has agreed that we only pay a small amount of rent this month.

5. One of the cats, Daisy, is diabetic and needs to be injected twice daily with insulin. The insulin needs to be stored in the fridge, which has now had to be placed in the centre of the kitchen as it is dangerous to put it near the damp. They would normally stay in the kitchen at night, but because of the massive health and safety issues they have had to be put in the spare room when we go to bed. Unfortunately they have developed the nasty habit of waking up at 4.30am and crying loudly until they get let out. I’ve had about six hours sleep a night for the last week.

6. On the second move day I received a phonecall from my boss to say that I was due to be observed the following day. I work in an Academy, and I was being observed by none other than the Principal of the whole school and a member of the company that owns the school, who also happened to be a former OFSTED inspector. Shit. I was up to my eyeballs in boxes, my laptop was at work and I was stressed out. Luckily, I’d already planned the lesson a few days prior and just had to hope that it was good enough.

7. On the day of the observation I woke up in the new house without a clue where anything was. I scrabbled around in the dark to find the light switches, worked out how to use the shower and then realised I couldn’t find the toiletries that I had bought the day before. I had to wash my hair in shower gel and then spent fifteen minutes attempting to find my box of clean underwear. When I arrived at work I couldn’t find my work iPad, until half an hour later I was told that someone had found it on a table and put it in a drama locker, despite it having my name on it. I had a full teaching day and my observed one was the last lesson of the day so I had no time to prepare anything extra. In my first two lessons one student had a panic attack and another fainted. By the time my observation came up I was more stressed than I have been in a long time…

So, that has been my week. I’m looking forward to arriving at my mother’s house where all I plan to do is sleep. The Bloke is going to do the same and go up to his mother’s house next weekend. He’s been amazing at shifting everything around. I’ve found my shampoo, my underwear and my work clothes are set up for the next two weeks. The contractor starts next week so hopefully everything will be done by mid October. We’ve managed to get the house to a point where we can live in it and even though it isn’t ideal we’re working through all the boxes and attempting to organise the utter chaos that surrounds us. My truly wonderful friends have been a huge support and the last few weeks has demonstrated how incredibly lucky I am.

And my lesson observation? I got an Outstanding. Both the Principal and the other observer said it was one of the best lessons they’d seen in a while. The feedback I was given was so wonderful that I almost cried in her office! I still can’t believe I actually managed to get through that day without having a breakdown!!

I hope you’re all doing well!!!