Anxiety · Body · Health · Stress

The Panic Safety Blanket; The “I’m Working Too Hard” Story.

At work I’ve picked up a special project which is good because it’s a break from my normal duties, and involves the sort of repetitive tasks that I actually find quite soothing.

Basically this job involves photographing many, many balloons with sayings on them. When I say many, many balloons I’m not joking – estimating 6,000. However before I can take the photo I need to remove a piece of string from the balloon and then flatten it out ready. Then while I am taking the photos it’s a matter of pick it up with the left hand, take photo, put it in the tub with the left hand, push it down – that kind of thing.

The game for me in this whole scenario was see how many I could do in a day. See how efficient I am. Blow people’s minds.

Today, my second day on doing this particular job, I learned the hard way that no matter how seemingly easy a task may seem – if I don’t pace myself I’m going to burn out.

Especially the case if my stomach is being weird and not really wanting to eat anything.

Let’s just say that by the time 3pm rolled around I was spent in every way. The muscles in my back were hurting. I was thirsty. I had a bit of a headache. I was feeling quite weak.

Eventually it got to the stage where I was starting to have a panic attack because of the way I was feeling. I literally had nothing left in my tanks and so that part of me said, “we have to go home now or we’re not going to be able to get home.”

I used to think that my panic attacks and anxiety was a weakness but the more I’m leaning about life, the universe and everything, the more I see my panic attacks are just a part of myself that’s trying to protect me; that if anything happens beyond this point I’m not going to be able to deal with it physically/emotionally so it’s best to get to a place I feel safe.

That’s all it is. Granted that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with at the time. Sitting in a room staring at my feet waiting for the next time adrenaline is released into my bloodstream is not a very fun or productive use of time.

So I look at my phone and realise I still have 30 minutes to kill – of course that makes everything worse. Also, my boyfriend (whom I met at work), messages me to ask if I’m still up in the room – obviously wanting to come and see me – and that sets off that horrible feeling of fleeing again.

So I wander down to my new supervisor. The plan is to ask if I can go home a bit earlier but we get to talking about how many balloons I’ve done so far and if we’ll need more time (yes, we will) and eventually I kill enough time to see 4pm.

However I still have the momentous task of driving home which doesn’t seem that big a deal for a normal person but at this point all I want to do is sit in the car and zone out completely. It’s not the kind of tired where you could have a nap in the backseat for 15 minutes and feel a bit refreshed, unfortunately. So as I’m driving down the 3-laned parkway I decide to turn off and take the less-busy, more-scenic route home which technically takes longer but gives me more peace of mind.

As I was messaging my mother on the couch at home she said to me, “don’t make yourself sick for these people – they won’t appreciate it” but I think the more important thing to take away from today is it’s pointless for me to work myself down to the bone because it will impede on MY quality of life.

What I gathered from the conversation I had with my supervisor at the end of the day was it doesn’t really matter how many balloons are done each day, what matters is that the project as a whole gets done. As he said, “we’d like to wrap it up before the end of June” and it took me a little while to realise that we are still in May!

It was all just a very interesting lesson.

Anyway, I will go away now and rebalance my water system just like my acupuncturist taught me so that my “safety system” reboots and I feel okay to face tomorrow.


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