The Clocks Go Back, My Life Stays Still

I don’t know what’s wrong with me at the moment, so I’m going to blame it on November. It’s strange, I just feel all out of kilter, and my brain refuses to acknowledge that 5pm is actually 5pm. ‘It’s too dark,’ it says, ‘its actually 6pm’. So at the moment I’m still an hour ahead of myself. Literally. I look at the clock and say ‘7pm? Actually it’s 8pm and I should have dinner already’. This time adjustment just is not working for me this year.

I think underneath the surface there’s more going on. I keep weeping at television programmes and have moments where I just feel really upset about things. But generally, aside from these moments, I feel ok. I’m so busy that it keeps me on an even keel, I think. It limits my capacity to think about what’s really bothering me. I didn’t think about it too deeply until a couple of days ago. I was watching a television programme (OK, I admit, it was Cowboy Builders) where they went back a year later to see how the ‘victims’ were getting on. it got me thinking about where I am now and where I was a year ago.

A year ago I was pretty miserable in my job, and fighting to see a way out of feeling that way. Although my contract had changed for the better, it was a marginal change and my spirits were still low. My confidence was ebbing away and I not a happy bunny. I said as much to Rich, and his reply actually surprised me. ‘Yeah, but you seem to get a lot angrier these days’. And I do. My temper is shorter and more furious than it used to be and I’m sure it’s down to feeling pressured and frustrated.

I feel this way a lot. For several reasons. The first reason I won’t go into detail, but all I will say is that I feel utterly helpless about my parent’s situation. My Dad is 55 and is struggling to find work, having been out of work now for 4 years. The graphic design industry is horribly ageist – I know this for a FACT – and the jobs are competitive at the best of times. My parents have been battling for years to get back on an even keel and standing by and not being able to help is pretty harrowing. I do what I can to lend support, but it upsets me a lot that I don’t have the financial power to step in and sort things out. I know that’s not my job, but I would do anything to provide for them the way they provided for me when I was growing up.

Secondly, and related to the above, my finances have been stressing me a lot. I do have a reasonable income, but I just don’t have anything in reserve and things keep happening that suck any money I have put aside away – the car, the animals, the house, the dentist… all normal but bloody expensive things. We have little in the way of unnecessary gadgets or luxuries like Sky TV. So I literally live month to month on what I have, and it’s always ALWAYS that I get through (most of the time) by the skin of my teeth. We have a very old car that has thus far been pretty reliable, but should the worst happen – and inevitably it will – I just don’t know how I’ll raise the funds to buy a new (old) car. I need it for work and there’s no prospect of car sharing. It stresses me and just makes me feel like I’m stuck and I can’t move on. Which brings me to number three.

I would like to start a family at some point, whenever Rich and I get around to getting married. But with things the way they are, how on earth are we to do that? I know children don’t have to be expensive if you’re a bit frugally minded, but really, there is extra expense and so the prospect seems unlikely at this time. It’s so sad that it has to feel a bit like a business decision. I want to move forward in my career, I want to build some security, but I want to have children – I can’t see a way of achieving all three in such a short timescale.

So I think the frustration, the pressure and the anger comes from this perpetual feeling of being stuck and needing to move forward, but a complete inability to do so. Yes, I am in a much better position than I was a year ago – I like my job, I work hours that stop me being a complete cripple and I have more energy and time to trying to be a bit more self sufficient. But the pressure and the feeling that I, and my family, are stuck in a rut that we really need to get out of, is always there. Always. I just don’t know what to do – work harder, I suppose?

Although to be fair, I tend to work almost every day at the moment on something. The last few nights I was working at work and then on my own stuff when I get home. I was knackered by Wednesday evening. I haven’t been sleeping very well either (bad neck, bad shoulder, crap pillows) which just adds to this whole feeling of ‘ARGH FFS!’. That twisted, edgy feeling that preceded years of feeling in the doldrums is creeping back, although I’m much more able to find ways to get on top of it. I still get moments where I think I’m utter crap and I have failed in many ways. But they come and go.

I don’t know. I just feel so tired from struggling to keep my head above water. I know I’m lucky in so many ways – I have many many good things in my life, and ultimately, every night I’m able to go to sleep in a nice, safe, warm bed after a nice, filling meal. That’s more than a lot of people have.

I guess I need to just keep my head down and deal with it. It’s life. Just got to keep on working hard and hope that one day, it’ll work itself out.

Comments

  1. Hi Lucy

    Nice to meet you 🙂 Having read your About the Author page – I have to tell you that I am also;

    a die hard Beatles fan, although Paul was always my favourite, and I had a soft spot for George, the quiet one;

    a vegetarian;

    can completely identify with wanting a barrow for my birthday, and a chicken tractor / wind turbine / raised veggie and or wicking bed for Christmas.

    But the reason that I am responding to your About the Author page on this posting is because I want to talk about the above post.

    We don’t have daylight saving here in South Africa, but I know what you’re describing. I, too, get to stages where the slightest little thing makes me want to burst into tears, or explode like a pressure cooker. When that happens I know it’s time to have a Vit B injection. Especially being a vegetarian. Hopefully it is available at your local clinic / pharmacy. A Vit B injection is not the same as taking vitamin B tablets orally – the injection is better absorbed and utilised by the body than tablets. If you can, please try and get one. 🙂

    As far as “being stuck in a rut” and feeling financially helpless – my dear, I think that is a common symptom world wide today. Only the very financially secure are not stressing about their finances – they’re the only ones not teetering on the brink of self destruction brought about by their financial worries. But, they are, generally, not happy – with themselves, their lives, their choices nor their careers. Just consider how many of them are divorced for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd… time – and how many of their children are steady, drug free and making something of themselves? The answer to those questions speak for themselves.

    All I can suggest that you do is take it one day at a time – as you say, you have a warm bed, a nice meal, a veggie patch and chickens, a loving partner who is with you even though you are “lot angrier” these days, and you have all the people who want to keep in contact with you via their replies to your blog postings – to whom you are important. You are important to you too, and taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. Try and have that vitamin injection, and take a walk even if it’s just a mile or two 2 – 3 times a week – it gets the blood circulating through the body and feeding all the necessary parts which it needs to do, in order for your body to function t it’s optimum.

    We can’t solve our nearests and dearests problems all the time, but if we start by caring for ourselves then we’re helping them already, because we will be more equipped to do so.

    Feel better, Lucy – you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    Dani

  2. I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you and your family are facing.
    My parents are in a similar position and I know how you feel. I know this doesn’t help, but know that you aren’t alone. Px

  3. Sorry to hear that things aren’t great for you at the moment, it’s hard to know what to say. I know in the past when I’ve thought I’m not earning enough or I’m working too much I just have to step back and remember how lucky I am. In recent years work trips to Mumbai have put things into context for me, yes there are people who have lots of money etc but there are millions who have nothing and I am grateful that I’m not one of them! And for responsible adults there’s no right time to have children, the financial questions always come up,I think you just have to do what feels right. As you say keep going and it will work out.

  4. Lucy, it WILL work out.

    I spent my 20s feeling pretty similar. I had health, energy and stunning good looks, of course (!!), but somehow they never seemed to compensate for crummy accommodation, lack of money, exploitation at work and loneliness.

    I have total identification with your car problem; until I was able to buy my first ‘decent’ car (ie less than 6 six years old) aged 33, I drove a succession of train-wreck jalopies that spent more time broken down than running. I knew all of south west London’s Green Flag recovery drivers by name. Many’s the time that my treasured holiday money had to go on gearbox/brake/sundry motor repairs. New clutch = no holiday.

    At risk of pointing out nauseating silver linings, I’d just make one observation: you seem, God willing, to have met the person you want to spend your life with. At your age, I was kissing the most bloody appalling succession of frogs – well, “evil media bitches” would be an accurate description. I was utterly miserable and despairing about ever meeting somebody I could really love. Here is wisdom: this is by far the most important thing in life.

    That is all.

  5. Things always seem worse in the winter, and the weeks following the hour change are even harder so don’t despair. Damo and Soilman are right, you are not alone in these feelings and you have already achieved a lot in your life – met someone you know you want to have children with is a great first step along the family route and you have a great life goal of becoming self sufficient to work towards.

    I try to live by a ‘don’t worry about how you will cross the bridge until you have actually found the bridge’ sort of mantra and it really does help to put the ‘what if’ worries aside and enjoy what you have now.

    Take some time to stretch and enjoy an autumnal walk followed by some winter soup. It really is the small things that make you happy.

  6. I came here to thank you for your kind comment on my blog about my FIL’s broken hip and all the uncertainty which that has thrown up for all of us and find you are not too happy yourself. I’m sorry you are feeling stuck. My lovely 28 year old daughter would agree with soilman that finding the person you want to spend your life with is the most important and the most difficult thing in life so you have got something very right!
    I would suggest taking up yoga if you will forgive the giving of advice. It is very good for helping you live in the moment which it sounds as if you need to do. Puppies and kittens are good too!
    best of luck.

  7. I have been having a similar ‘blah’ period, and I don’t think it helps at all to count one’s blessings. Since you have had this before and are recognizing the signs, I’d say it sounds like depression, which, in my experience, is not caused by external factors like joblessness, etc. However if it coincides with ‘real’ problems, it can seem to feel justified. Are you reacting to the shorter days? This is common – and there are ways to compensate. Often forcing yourself to do something different (almost anything – try not to rob a bank, though) is helpful – meet a new friend, go to some new activity – whatever. I think the COST of a family is not a reason to put it off, but I do think the possibility in this state of mind of feeling overwhelmed by the demands of an infant (incessant!) is something to consider carefully, whether the money is there or not. Just my opinion, though…

  8. Ok you are I really ARE separated at birth 😉

    You’re exhausted, not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. Your mind is exhausting you due to worry and guilt. Sometimes when you feel so in a rut you stop planning and dreaming.

    Have you heard of moneysavingexpert.com? They have all sorts of useful forums and you could post a list of your outgoings and ask people to come up with ideas to lower them. Lots of people do that. A lot of regulars on there are really knowledgeable about current deals on just about everything and they will probably come up with a way for you to free up some money so you can start planning and saving for a family.

    Like you I do extra work of my own outside my job and the weeks where I’m doing something every night I am utterly drained and miserable. Last week i knocked back a job that would have meant me doing it this weekend because I wanted to spend it in the garden. I really could have done with the money but I felt like I was going insane.

    When I’m stressed about money etc or working too many extra hours, I don’t sleep well and my neck and shoulders and back give me problems. I’ve discovered that its not all pillows etc that cause it because I feel ok at the moment and nothing has physically has changed on that score. I realised the lack of sleep made me achy and twingey plus the stress and guilt about money piled symptoms on top. When those guilt and money issues went away, everything cleared up. Nightly long deep bubble baths help (although I even felt guilty about that would you believe), multivitamins and some fast walking every now and then to stretch my body out a bit also help. But dumping the stress is the big one.

    By the way, as your dad is unemployed I think he may be able to get adult education courses for free or at a vastly reduced rate? What about him enrolling on loads of them and seeing where it takes him? It would certainly help pump up his self esteem as that will have taken a battering over the last few years, and update his skills in loads of different areas, maybe even a few new areas he’s never considered before.

  9. Thank you. As shit as you feel now, thank you, THANK YOU, on a purely selfish level for speaking about how feel, about how I feel I shouldn’t feel.

  10. Hi Lucy, I hope you are feeling a bit more cheerful and a bit less tired. Are you a vegetarian? If so, is it possible you could be anaemic? That would make you tired and generally low, so you could try something like Spatone or Floradix with iron.

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