Summer 2018 was a strange time in my life, I had just completed my GCSE exams and was left with an anti-climatic feeling of “So what do I do now?”. I was left feeling lost, I had no school work to do or put off, all my friends were going on holidays or getting jobs so they were working all over the summer and my family were working too.
It didn’t help that the sudden release of stress after GCSEs made me ill for the first two weeks of my summer holiday where I was left with nothing else to do but sit in my greenhouse of a room and paint whilst watching old episodes of Taskmaster. At this point I felt under the weather and lonely but I just blamed it on the illness and knew that when I was feeling better I would be able to leave the house and go and hang out with friends.
One of the things that I really wanted to do at the beginning of summer was get a job, that way I could work for 3 months for as many days as possible and then have a great back to school spend up. So, whilst laying in a mixture of my own sweat and snot (sorry if that’s a bit graphic), I applied for jobs everywhere, I had no work experience and no means of travelling outside of my town but that didn’t stop me from applying to every single restaurant, cafe, supermarket and clothes shop I could think of. I didn’t hear back from anyone but my friends had all had job interviews and some had even started working at this point so I was left feeling disheartened, unwanted and also quite insecure. What makes me so unemployable?
This continued for a month, painting, sweating and being let down, sometimes I would be able to meet with one of my friends when she got back from work but she didn’t want to be out late because she had been busy all day but I wanted to stay out as long as possible because I hadn’t left the house in weeks.
I think it is worth mentioning that this period of my life was the most that I had read in ages, I read 10 books in 2 and a half months which for some may not be much but I had not read for fun since I was 11 and at the age of 16 I was devouring books as quickly as I could because I felt less alone. The books were an escapism and since then I still read as much as I can when I’m stressed because there is a way for me to calm down to sleep.
As well as feeling alone, I was the most insecure I had ever been in terms of my body image, I was losing weight rapidly due to forcing myself to cut out meat and then reduce portion sizes slowly. I blamed it on feeling ill or because it was too hot but I remember my clothes not fitting me properly, it wasn’t a full blown eating disorder but I felt that I needed a form of control in my life as everything else felt so up in the air. At no point was I worried about being “fat”, I was worried about being unhealthy and in my mind I believed that “fat” was the only possible unhealthy thing to be and didn’t even consider thinking that weight is a sloping scale that can be equally unhealthy regardless of where you are on it.
Towards the middle of August things did start to look up and I was offered two job interviews each for two different supermarkets that I live nearby to and after both interviews I was offered a job for each place. I started to take more pride in myself knowing that I was employable and worthy of having a job. Knowing that someone had a conversation with me and wanted me to be part of a team with them filled me with so much joy and pride that I had never felt before. I accepted one offer and declined the other and then prepared myself for results day.
Results day happened and I was given grades that were a pleasant surprise and was able to fully organise and sort out my timetable with my school so that I knew what subjects I was doing. If you want to know more about my results I did a post here that you can see if you want to know more about them in more detail.
I started my job and then within a week I was back at school, going back to a routine with things to do gave me a purpose and I wanted to write this post to let you know how important it is to recognise your triggers. I now know that if I don’t leave the house or if I don’t set myself small tasks to do throughout the day my boredom turns into a feeling of emptiness. Knowing this about me has meant that I am now able to avoid feeling useless, I go on walks by myself and listen to music, I still try to read as much as possible and even though my eating habits aren’t completely back to normal they are so much better now than they were in June. This is why I urge everyone to understand what makes them feel lonely or down or anxious and then that way it is so much easier to nip it in the bud. I am not a professional and this is not a treatment for clinical depression but it is a good start if you suffer with the odd depressive episodes.
Some helplines if you would like to reach out or research
Samaritans– (UK) 116123