Loopy, Lonely and Lost

Posts Tagged ‘work

I’ve been assigned a mentor at work. This is kind of difficult for me.

I had to fill in a questionnaire beforehand, and I felt like I did a pretty good job of it. Just the right balance between accepting that I have achieved things and understanding that I’m not perfect and there are lots of things I can work on. I felt proud of myself for being able to acknowledge these things, to accept the positives and the negatives, to go into this knowing what I can’t do.

He read it and said, “You seem really impressive but also like you’re very down on yourself”.

The fact that I can string a sentence together and that he’s spoken to the people I work with and they’ve been all praise and compliments (of course, as always) seem to make him think that I am somehow brilliant at everything but I need to work on my confidence.

There’s a danger here that we might dig too deep and get too close to the reality of me. Go too far into how I feel about myself and there’s some fairly ugly stuff going on. It’s important to me to maintain a level of professionalism. To be able to have a meeting where I’m able to talk about work and gain a fresh perspective and learn stuff from the person who’s been chosen to mentor me (who, for the record, is very friendly and interesting and successful, and not the problem here). But I’m afraid of getting upset, or appearing upset (I talk about these things and I often feel calm and blank but my lip’s wobbling and my eyes are blurring and I don’t even know why) and losing any credibility I have.

I can’t help but feel that what I really want is for someone to tell me the truth. The unpleasant, warts-and-all, no-holds-barred truth. I know that’s not what mentoring is. I’d just feel so much more comfortable if someone could tell me what I need to work on to be a better person, what skills I need to improve, what experience I need to get. Anything but confidence or self-esteem or believing in myself – because let’s face it, these things aren’t going to happen.

I’m okay in the moment. Give me a task to do and I’ll throw myself into it and do it to the best of my ability without pausing for doubt or worry or for my entire being to cave in. But ask me to tell you I can do it, ask me to talk about my strengths, ask me to volunteer myself as the best at something, and it all falls away. I just can’t do it.

If I try, it feels like ashes in my mouth, elastic bands around my heart, a brick in my stomach. It feels like lies and arrogance and outrageous naivety. It feels like tempting fate.

But how do I explain this to someone who’s trying to help me be more confident, without opening doors all over the place? Doors to the past, to memory and feeling and places I don’t want to go to. I don’t know how to work on believing in myself. I don’t know how to change the way I think. And I don’t know how to convincingly avoid opening the can of worms.

I know. Woe is me, right? This is such a bullshit problem to have.


Posted on: January 31, 2014

Sorry I haven’t written for a while. I’ve been…coping. Just about, by the skin of my teeth, getting from one day to the next.

These past few days I’ve been feeling ill. Nothing serious, just a bug, but I feel all stuffed up and it’s stopping me from sleeping because every time I lie down I cough up a lung, so I know I’m being ratty and over-emotional.

I’m struggling at work. My performance has dipped. I’m alright at the simple, invisible, day-to-day things, but when it comes to anything involving confidence or chutzpah I just can’t do it any more. My boss keeps looking at me with his serious face and I feel like he’s gearing up to have a serious conversation with me and I am completely not in the right frame of mind for that. I can’t talk about myself at the best of times but lately I can hardly look myself in the face in the mirror without wanting to run away.

Today I came home from a busy, stressful, unproductive day at work. Feeling exhausted and vulnerable, wearing the dead-eyed, open-mouthed, nose-dripping stare of the cold-inflicted. Feeling sick. Feeling sorry for myself. Wanting to hide away. Told my parents I didn’t feel up to eating anything and was just going to bed.

Everything kicked off. I mean, World War 3 (only in my house alone we’re probably on World War 3 Million). My mum calling me an ungrateful bitch and threatening to force feed me. Calling me evil for upsetting her (is this what mothers do? I thought if your child was ill you would at least enquire what was wrong before making it all about you).

I really couldn’t cope. Couldn’t make my brain work properly. Couldn’t stop the horrible snivelling crying. Cut my arm with scissors for the first time in years. Hit myself on the head with my phone, which was probably a really bad idea as I now have a huge lump in the middle of my forehead and I don’t know how I’ll explain it (my phone still works though, it’s indestructible, although I’m not sure how that will help as I have no-one to contact).

All I can think about is running away. Got to leave, got to get away somehow, got to stop everything. I don’t know what to do.


Posted on: December 14, 2013

For fuck’s sake. I can’t do this. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had this problem before, more than once. I suppose everything is just a repetition.

This fucking job. My boss is so keen that I apply, keeps asking how the application is going, and I tell him I’m doing it, it’s going well, it just needs tidying up.

Sometimes I type up paragraphs. I read them back and feel sick with the arrogance and lies leaking out of those words. Highlight, and delete. Hope no-one can tell by looking at me what bullshit I’ve been writing. Positive words sit uncomfortably on my shoulders. I feel the need to clarify and negate them. I feel like a liar, even hinting at any sort of competence.

I don’t even feel depressed, not really. I just can’t bear to praise myself, can’t see any good in me. I can’t tell you why I deserve the job because I feel that I’m fundamentally unemployable, lucky to have the job I have, a dead weight. I can’t even tell you why I want the job because I don’t know. It sounds interesting and people tell me I’d be good at it and I suppose there is some indestructible kernel of pride in me that doesn’t want to be seen to be giving up.

My qualifications, my experience, my knowledge – none of it seems relevant. It all just crumbles away. How can I convince them I can do this when I don’t believe I can do anything? I want to advance but I’m fucking terrified of sticking my neck out and saying I want this job, I can do this job, and I can tell you why.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to convince anyone to employ me. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t employ myself. I’m useless. But the alternative to applying for other jobs is to stay where I am, doing what I’m doing, and stagnate. What am I supposed to do?

People say I’m quiet. I don’t know who I am any more, this meek, pathetic thing. I am so afraid – of movement, of staying still, of being completely lost. I don’t know how to cope.


Posted on: November 4, 2013

Another job has become available at my workplace. The day it was announced, my boss’s boss came up to me and asked if I’d seen it, if I was considering it, that she thought it would be a good move for me. My boss is determined to help me, mentioning it regularly, trying to help me make plans for the application, saying he’ll help where he can and get others to help me too. I feel like maybe this is more a sign he’s good at his job, than anything to do with my chances.

It is a good opportunity. Probably better than the other one I applied for so disastrously. But how am I supposed to apply? How am I supposed to go to an interview? Most days, simply saying, “I am good at A, B and C” is an impossible aim. I feel that I could do this job, although I don’t have all the requirements, but I don’t know how to express my suitability, or how to convince anyone to give me a chance. I usually just let my work do the talking, but that isn’t good enough in a situation like this.

The people I work with closely see something in me that isn’t really there – or, if it is there, it’s sullied by shyness and self-hatred.

I don’t know how to say no. What excuse can there be for not applying for a job I’d like to do? A job my superiors think I can do. A job involving more responsibility and more freedom and more money. A job opportunity that’s arisen only a couple of weeks after the company gave me an award, which has resulted in everybody at work knowing who I am and what I’ve achieved.

Talking of the award – it stares at me accusingly from across the room. The feeling of not deserving it, of not being worthy, is like a weight on my shoulders. I know I sound ungrateful but I can’t help but think a terrible mistake has been made. It can’t have been meant for me.

I feel pretty close to hurting myself. Something to balance out the undeserved reward. Something that would prove to me that I know what a fraud and a failure and a useless person I am. And if I could do something drastic, injure myself or make myself ill, so I could avoid work tomorrow, then all the better. Because I’ll get in and my boss will look up and give his hopeful smile and ask if I’ve thought about it, if I’ve printed off the job description and drafted the application, and I don’t know how to get out of it, or if I want to.

I don’t know how to explain that to apply for a promotion feels like arrogance. I don’t know how to explain that I feel completely worthless, and that some weird process in my brain means that praise only enhances that feeling. I don’t know how to explain the rushing of the blood round my body, the frantic thud of my heart and the lights that flash in my eyes when I think of doing this.

I really want to run away right now.

I won an award at work. A big one. I get a pretty trophy and a not-insignificant cash prize. Everybody clapped and cheered and stamped their feet, hugged me and kissed my cheek and told me how well-deserved it was. “If it hadn’t been you, I’d have had to complain.” Even people I don’t really know, coming up to me and shaking my hand and praising me.

My brain is working overtime, telling me how this is all a mistake. They must all be waiting for me to walk away, then turning to each other, bewildered expressions, asking how I managed to trick people into doing this for me. Asking each other, “Who is she? What’s she done?”, and no-one can provide an answer. They probably just pulled my name out of a hat or something.

I can’t stop this hatred that whirs around inside my mind. Other people are more deserving. It’s blind luck, or pity, or something. Anything but merit.

I can’t take compliments. If you say something nice about me, I have to ignore it or dispute it or turn it into a joke. And this is a huge compliment. It needs qualifying, it needs explaining out of existence. I would be so much more comfortable if they just said, “Anyone could have won”, if they attributed it to random factors or just anything other than me.

If I hadn’t won, I’d have felt like a failure, then felt guilty at the arrogance that involves. But when I found out I’d won, there was no joy or triumph or thrill of pleasure, just blankness, before the self-hatred kicked in.

Now there will be photos of me at work, holding the award, shaking hands with important people who’ve never seen me do my job, captions saying I won and everyone will be able to talk about it and question it and bemoan the injustice that they or their favoured person missed out. Pictures of me, awkward, with champagne-blurred eyes, wearing a dress that would look better on someone half my size.

I smiled and said “thank you”. I wish I could leave it at that, but I keep picking at it like a scab. I can’t let it lie, I want to tell everyone it’s not deserved, give them my alternative shortlist of people who deserved it more than me. I want to give the fucking thing back. 

If someone at work says “well done” to me, for doing one small thing, my eyes look away and my jaw tenses and I get on with doing something else. It makes me uncomfortable. I want to say: if I’m doing a good job, just leave me alone. You only need to give me your evaluation of my performance if I’m doing something wrong. I don’t thrive on praise, I don’t seek kind words. I want to slip under the radar.

It’s an honour to win. But it feels false and unjustified and like a lie. 

I can’t accept the praise or recognition. I need to qualify it, negate it, talk it out of existence.  I know I am impossible to please. I know I am ungrateful. I know my mind is a disaster.

Why can’t I just let a nice thing be nice?

Everything is dull and grey and out-of-focus, the horrible light of the early hours, when everything seems realer and duller and more miserable than at any other time of the day.

I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I’m doing.

At work, I’ve been reacquainted with a previous boss, and he’s so fucking good at his job. He’s trying to help me. Gently pushing, encouraging, praising. Making me feel like my contribution is worthwhile. Setting me special tasks – complex, challenging, new – because he knows I’d get bored otherwise, and if I get bored then I just give up. He wants me to have an aim, and he wants to help me move towards it. I don’t know how to tell him what I want. Sometimes I want to yell at everyone to stop movement, stop progress, just wait, stay still for a moment so I can gather my thoughts, this perpetual lurching forward makes me feel sick. Sometimes I want to collapse in a heap and finally admit out loud: I lack drive because I lack confidence. I lack direction because I have yet to convince myself that my future exists. I only survive by living completely in the present.

At home, everything is the same. I don’t have the energy to give details. It’s all just the same. Exhausting just to think about.

I feel…separate. Can’t connect with anyone. I can chat but not talk. I can make people laugh and listen to their problems and give them advice, but if they want to hang out with someone, it won’t be me they choose. I don’t know how to make a meaningful connection with anyone, and I don’t even know if I want to. I’ve spent my whole life struggling with that one: do I notice the lack of closeness because I want it, or because everyone else expects me to have it? I think I could probably live quite happily alone, never connecting with anyone, if only people didn’t insist on reminding me as regularly possible how weird that is.

I can’t sleep. I can’t think. Everything is a dream. A dull, pointless dream.

I’m too afraid to move.

I was in two minds about whether or not to, but then, in a brief moment of care-free decisiveness, I thought fuck it. If I don’t apply, I’ll always wonder what might have happened.

I should have been able to predict it, really. Read the rest of this entry »

A vacancy has become available at work. A management position. More responsibility, more money, more interesting work. Everybody keeps telling me to apply for it.

I don’t know what to do.

Professionally, I’m probably not going to ever be in a better position. I do a lot of aspects of the job as a part of my current role anyway, and I’m surrounded by people, peers and bosses, who like me and want me to be a manager, so there’s a lot of good will, and I’m confident of a good reference.

But personally…I don’t know if I can do it. The application process. The interview. Sitting there, being asked about my strengths, having to explain my successes (all in the shadow of my fucked-up degree and my wasted opportunities and my empty, useless life). And then, if I don’t get it…I don’t know if I can handle the disappointment. It’s easier, I think, to be the person who everyone thinks should be better paid and have more influence, than to be the person who went for the promotion and failed.

I’m scared to want things. I’m afraid of being honest enough to say, “This is my job”. In my current role, I feel a bit like my brain is atrophying, like there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go and I’ve reached the pinnacle of what I can achieve. But if I apply for this, and don’t get it, I don’t know how I’ll recover. The possibility of doing something else keeps me going now, but what do I do when I’ve eliminated that possibility?

The job itself, I’m not really afraid of. I know that I could do it, even if I find it difficult to put into words why I’m the best person for it. I’m just so fucking scared of daring to want something, and making myself vulnerable. Because I’ll feel like such a dick when it all falls apart.

At this point, anything I say just seems like repetition. I’ve been here before. It gets so that I can’t believe I’ve ever not been here.

Read the rest of this entry »


My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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August 2020