Saturday, 3 May 2014

Revelations...

On May 1st, I went to see my brilliant therapist, Adam May. I've seen him a good few times now, based in his wonderfully converted tailors and drapers establishment on Anglesey. It's a building and environment that encourages relaxation and peace. He's always very welcoming, genuinely pleased to see me, very friendly and most importantly, he makes us both a nice cup of coffee to start the session! These sessions usually last around an hour or so, sometimes longer.


We've tried a couple of things in an attempt to establish the causes of my depression and why I find life so difficult sometimes. He is always able to help me understand myself that bit more each time I see him, as he has such a succinct way of putting things and every time I leave, I feel quite a bit better about myself and gain some clarity. This is directly attributed to Adam's experience, but also how I can make myself feel if I try hard enough; thinking positively really does help you feel better.
Since seeing him, I have been able to look at things differently, in a light I never used to, giving me a much more positive outlook on life.

I came to discover during the session why I have been generally unsuccessful in my life, at least where work is concerned. I have always worked very hard no matter where I've worked or what I've done, and it has only been the result of my often poor choices that have ruined things for me. I'm a great believer in expressing what you think and having the freedom to do so, but as long as your thoughts are presented in the right way; not something I've been great at over the years, often leading me into trouble.

So, the revelation from the session was simply this: my poor choices have led me to where I am today, and why at 38, I'm still not in a stable job or enjoying a career. I always said in my twenties that I wanted to be successful by the time I was 30, but I obviously never wanted it badly enough. But to be fair, my depression regularly got in the way and when it did, this was when the worst choices and decisions were made. I always knew the correct choice to make and what results I would hopefully reap, but I still chose the wrong option. I was, and still am to some extent, pretty narcissistic. If you're not quite sure what that means, then please read this interesting article. Some of it is true of my persona and behaviour, but a lot of it isn't; for example, I don't use people and I will not normally avoid discussing my personal feelings.

And this revelation, as simple as it seems, hit me like a sledge hammer. Sometimes, the simplest solution isn't always the most obvious. So, I have to work on my choices and think of the outcome before making the choice. I also need to work on the speed with which I make these choices; I'm not always the fastest when snap decisions are required! Ask me if I want a cup of tea or not, go on...

...it's actually quite frustrating!

We discussed a couple of things that I needed to set my mind to after the session, to 'strike while the iron is hot' as it were. I talked about how I'd been a little stressed out at a job application and why it was putting me off because of certain questions it was asking. Problem was, I actually like the sound of the job and I think it'd suit me quite well. It's for a part-time postie job, to hopefully get me back into the work environment, yet still allow me to study for my web design qualification. So I'd be out and about, with a certain degree of independence.
I'm pleased to say that I am almost through with the application. I'd completely turned my attitude around from not applying, to being eager to get it finished and sent.

The second task was also going to prove very difficult for me. When I worked at Natural Resources Wales via an agency, I resigned under a bit of a cloud, despite being given every opportunity to continue in the role as I was very good at it. Basically, I sent an e-mail around the entire team, saying how disgusted I was at the lack of care, professionalism and incompetence shown to customers; what I classed as just a bit of rant. Naturally, I knew it would get me into trouble and clicking send was the wrong choice to make. But at the time, I was really struggling with my emotions as my wife was away abroad for 2 weeks.
I decided to leave as I just was not in the right place to make informed decisions about what I wanted, despite the agency in question giving me some great support.
Anyway, I wanted to contact the agency and ask them if they would have me back on their books, here is what I wrote:

"Hello [name]

I hope you are keeping well.

Sorry to contact you directly instead of using the on-line enquiry form, but it’s too small to use for what I want to say (I will paste this in there and send it though, just in case you no longer work there or are away).

What I wanted to do was give you a little update if you were interested and also to ask something; I appreciate you may be busy so I’ll do my best to keep it short.

Things have improved for me quite a lot mentally since I left NRW and I have had some really good, quality professional help. My wife has also been a real help with addressing my issues and fears. Since resigning, I have really come to appreciate why I have struggled so much in certain situations and why I have not attempted to find work since, until now. I needed the time to help myself and to realise what I wanted out of life.
After numerous therapy sessions, I’ve realised all the mistakes I made in life have been down to poor choices, especially during difficult situations. However, I have become much more pragmatic and able to deal with negative thoughts and emotions, and I’m able to step back a little before reacting; something I should have done at NRW and all my jobs prior to that! If I’d have done this previously, I am confident that I would be in a much better position now, and be more successful. But I have made inroads recently and I’m very pleased with what I’ve achieved; sending this e-mail to you is a major step for me.

At the moment I am studying to become a Certified Internet Web Professional with the UK Web Development Association, and this is going very well as I’m hoping to get into Web Design and Development. I’m studying this at home so it can fit around work commitments, when they hopefully arrive.

Anybody who suffers with depression/mental illness will never be ‘better’, but instead we develop strategies. I believe that I have developed these strategies quite well in the past 10 months and feel that I am ready to return to a work environment, maybe part time at first, progressing on to full time later; small steps will win the day here, as the prospect of returning to work is quite nerve-wracking for me.

So, what I am asking is this: would you be willing to have me back on your books? I understand I let you down, but this was nothing but my illness that caused this and my lack of self-management. I believe that personally, I did a very good job at NRW, which is why the management thought so highly of me and wanted me to progress, as I did. It was my poor choices that destroyed that for me, nobody else. I just thought the best thing at the time would be for me to resign, despite being given the chance to stay and move on from it. But I wanted to sort myself out, and this couldn’t be done in a work environment.

I understand fully if you do not feel confident enough to allow this, however. What I will say though is, if you were willing to give me a chance, you will not be let down again. You stuck your neck out for me and I’ll always appreciate that, [name]. You listened and understood as much as you could, whilst being sensitive to my problems.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re a busy man, so I will let you get on. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please consider what I’ve asked.

Kind Regards

Elton Angle-Smith

Ps: I now have my own car and can travel."

After plucking up the huge amount of courage to send this, I breathed a sigh of relief. I'm still awaiting a reply. But what I have to prepare myself for, is rejection. I have never been able to deal with this. So in writing the e-mail, I am setting myself up for it, potentially. But that's the idea; I need to handle any future rejections in such a way that I can be disappointed, but not wildly upset or angry and instead think about valid reasons why I may have been rejected.
It was something I found very difficult to do, so I shall wait and see.
The other thing that has improved for me, is how to deal with my wife being away with work a lot. She's regularly away for up to two weeks, sometimes popping back half-way depending on where she is based.
At first I found this very hard, but over time, I have become used to it and I no longer get upset when she's away. I still miss her of course I do, but in a healthy way, and that's the important part. I used to panic and freak out if I hadn't heard from her and although I will rarely not hear from her, if it happens, I am still concerned, like any husband or wife would be.

So. That's where I'm at.

I need to learn:
  • To make the right choices
  • Deal with rejection in a healthy manner
  • To remain as positive as possible, even when things are bad
I know if I can stick to this, then I will achieve success. There's still a way to go, but since I've been married and have been seeing Adam, I have become so much better.

I think I'm onto a winner.

Thanks for stopping by.

Elton

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