If you read my last post, you’ll know I started a new job this week. It’s a massive change from what I did before – I’ve gone from working mad hours in the day with random gaps in between, most days of the week and mostly on my own terms, to working a 9-5 job at a desk having to answer to other people.
It’s a massive change, to say the very least, but I’m trying to take it all in my stride, learn as much as possible, and get to know as many people as possible in the next few weeks.
Perhaps it’s the travelling to and from training in Dundee this week (an hour each way on the train), or the sudden fullness of my days compared to the last 4 weeks of not working, but I feel like my brain has gone into overdrive.
I’ve not been sleeping well, and the empty hours of the night along with the tedious train journeys have been ample time for me to over think and overanalyse everything that can possibly be contemplated.
Relationships; finances; future plans; friendships… everything has been picked apart and I’ve found fault in aspects of my life I haven’t even given a second thought to in a long time.
Causing me most grief right now is my body image, and what it means to me to be in a working environment where I can’t hide underneath a uniform anymore. At PureGym, I wore leggings every single day. When it was a bit chillier outside I wore jogger bottoms on top of the leggings, and more often than not I had a fleece on that I purposefully ordered in a size too big so it wouldn’t be too tight-fitting. The uniform was comfortable, and I could move around however I wanted to (for example demonstrating burpees and box jumps) without feeling awkward or self consious.
When I first started looking for a job a couple of months ago, I knew I’d have to revamp my wardrobe. Gone were the days I’d be able to exist in gym clothes, and arriving in my life was the morning decision of what I could wear for the 5 working days of the week. I am not exaggerating when I say I had barely anything that was appropriate or formal enough to be worn in an office – I mostly wear t-shirts and mom jeans when I’m not in leggings and a sports bra – and I don’t really like shopping at the best of times, so I wasn’t looking forward to having to do it.
This doesn’t sound like a massive deal for most, but for me it was a new thing I’ve had to experience, and, as I had left my job, it was something I had to do on a budget.
Not easy when you’re trying to kit yourself out a brand-new closet.
I did it in the most painless and least stress-inducing way I knew how, and made the most of ASOS’s next day delivery. Before I knew it, I was putting up new chiffon shirts and new work trouser-leggings into my wardrobe.
Done and dusted, and no tears.
When last week started to get underway, however, it was a different story. As I had spent all of my time working at the gym in leggings and work uniform t-shirts, and the susequent 4 weeks of unemployment in either workout clothes or in my pyjamas, it seems I neglected to notice some changes that had happened in terms of my body shape.
After the marathon at the end of May this year – have I mentioned I did a marathon once?- I fell out of love with running for a while. I focused on weights and throwing heavy things around but ate like I did when I was running 50+ miles a week. Thus, I gained weight. Not all fat, obviously a little bit of muscle because I was still lifting, but in general, my overall size increased.
I know, I know. There are bigger and more important things to worry about.
However, to me, it was all I could think about all week. I stood in front of the door mirror of our wardrobe and scrutinised myself from every angle possible, taking mental notes on areas I felt I’d gotten ‘softer’ or ‘bigger’. And I cried. I cried for a ridiculous amount of time. I despaired at the fact I was ‘disgusting’, and I compared myself to other women in the office, who I felt looked incredible and sophisticated in their outfits. They carried around an air of confidence I couldn’t even begin to try attaining, and had amazing figures. They may well have their own things going on, but in that moment, all I could do was compare, and it was breaking me down.
With everything going on, I had already felt slightly anxious with all the change and things that were happening outwith my control. The period of unemployment and having the fear of no income and not knowing when I’d be able to make any money at all was a huge stress factor, and afterwards, starting a new job was of course in itself a huge leap.
I felt like going into it was the finaly step in me severing that metaphorical tape with my old job and the life that I’d created around a routine outside of which I rarely ventured.
Throughout my periods of depression, and no matter how good or bad a day I’ve had with my anxiety, my weight was something I felt was under my control. Suddenly seeing myself not fit into clothes the way I wanted reminded me of the worst times in high school when I was at my heaviest and struggled constantly to get my diet and exercise routine in check. Every roll I didn’t want on show seemed to be making an appearance, and I felt disgusted looking at myself.
Looking in the mirror every day last week, I felt like I had failed.
Of course, over the duration of two months I have not put on all the weight that I’ve lost over the years since my teens – that would be extreme and there would be something hella wrong. But there was something inside me that just felt like I had lost control over the one aspect of my life that I’ve felt any sort of power over in the last while.
After a huge day of training at my new job last Wednesday, I got home and changed into my pyjamas, got into bed and patched the gym. This is something u n h e a r d of from me on a weekday. My usual ‘rest day’ is a Sunday, if I can bear to take one, and even then I make sure I got on a walk or something to clear my head. When it got too late to make a last ditch attempt at dragging myself to the gym (our one closes at night, we no longer go to those 24 hour ones) I berated myself for hours, and as a result had an awful night’s sleep, waking up various times in the night, feeling sick with disappointment.
While this sounds absolutely ridiculous to some, I’ve come to learn that it’s how my anxiety manifests itself when I feel too stressed or overwhelmed – my body confidence takes a nosedive and it ends up affecting other areas of my life. I get snappy and short tempered, and shut myself away from other people. Mr OneBigStressball unfortunately has to bear the brunt of it as I live with him, and even though I know it’s totally unfair on him, in the moments when I lash out he’s there and I feel like I can’t help it. My mind just fogs up and I can’t think of anything other than what’s upsetting me.
The difference this time is that I have a 9-5 job, where I need to be on Monday morning if I want to still be employed by the end of the month. I’m not at uni anymore- I can’t just decide not to go to a lecture or a seminar- and I’m not self employed- I can’t decide that I need a day at home under the covers in the dark. It doesn’t work like that.
This weekend I’ve had to take a step back and really try and work out what steps I can take to make myself feel better. I feel it’s so important to be able to put a plan in action now that I know what triggers these bouts of really bad anxiety, to stop it from escalating into something more serious.
I’ve put a new training program together, planned all my food for this week, and I’m giving myself another chance this week to get used to my new work routine. Last week I was commuting stupid hours to go and do training whereas this week I’ll be going through all 5 days as a normal week would be in Edinburgh.
I will check back in with myself next weekend, but for now, I need to take it day by day, hour by hour, and not let my mind warp my throughts and turn them into something into way worse than what they need to be.
How do you guys cope with anxiety? Does yours manifest itself in different ways?
Enjoy the rest of your evening guys!