This morning I went for a long walk……..what’s unusual about that I hear to ask. Well nothing really…..except that it was at 1.30am this morning. Pitch black, apart from the few odd street lamps, and it was freezing cold and hardly a soul about.
I don’t normally make a habit of doing this, but on several occasions over these past few years at times of serious ill-health and panic or anxiety attacks….it’s the only way I find to calm myself down into a more manageable state. Some would say it’s a stupid thing to do….. a woman walking the streets on your own at that time of the morning…….you don’t know who might be around.
But when I get these attacks, I have to do this regardless of what others may say or think……it’s my strategy to help me cope. I awoke at around 1.00am in a panic, sweat pouring off me and yet feeling cold and on edge not knowing which way to turn. Grabbing some warm clothes and boots and my keys and mobile phone I hastily got dressed and rushed out into the cold night air, I didn’t even decide what direction to head in I just automatically walked.
After about an hour of walking I finally started to calm down a little, and I tried to figure out what had triggered this attack this time. I started to realise, its Christmas in less than a week, which means another New Year in 2 weeks time, and in many ways what will happen next year terrifies me, and although I have tried my hardest not to worry too much about losing my job next year….one can only put these things to the back of your mind for so long before it gets a hold of you. I started to try to rationalise with myself, all sorts of questions going through my mind. What if I can’t get another job at my age? If I do get another job, what if my new employers find out about my depression.? What if the hospital can not solve my bladder problem? These questions and many more racing through my mind.
Walking back towards home, I started thinking about the circumstances that changed my career path about 25 yrs ago. Leaving school at the age of 16, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. But within two weeks of leaving school I obtained a position to train as a clerk for 6 months in the headquarters of a very well-known gas company. One thing lead to another and although to begin with these were only training position….which back in the 1980’s were called Youth Training Schemes ( Y.T.S for short) it meant that I was continually employed. When I got my first proper job, I was over the moon. By now I was in my early 20’s and felt that I wasn’t really achieving anything with my life. But I had for about a year been considering joining the Metropolitan Police in London.
Being a little over weight at the time I decided to get myself fit and put in my application to join the Met. I went jogging and swimming regularly. I got a letter back inviting me to attend a 4 day selection process at Hendon Police College. However four weeks before the selection date I had a rather nasty fall in the changing rooms of the swimming baths, which unfortunately although I didn’t realise it for another 3 years the fall had caused some permanent damage to the coccyx at the base of my spine. I did manage to get through the selection process in a great deal of pain, but narrowly failed at the very last stage with the interviews with the senior officers.
The panel didn’t feel I was ready at my age to give up my home life and live and work in the big city. They suggested I went home and joined my local Special Constabulary for a year and then if I still wanted to join the Met they would reconsider me again from a referral list.
Disappointed at not getting in to the Met, I went home and duly got in contact with my local Specials and through their process I got in as a Special Constable. I served my local community for nearly three and a half years as what we were back then called a ‘hobby bobby’. This was based on the fact that S.C.s were already in civilian employment and this was something we did at evenings and weekends and days off to help and work alongside the regular police officers.
However the injury to the bottom of my spine was now causing me major problems, and as a result of this I had to give up the specials and give up any chance of getting into the Met. It was at that point my career path totally changed direction.
It makes me stop and think, what if I hadn’t had that fall? How would my life have turned out? Would I still have the confidence I had back then? If not, would I be suffering from depression these last few years? These are all questions I can’t answer.
My problem is that in the 30 yrs since I left school, I have only ever had two bouts of between 4 and 6 months of unemployment, so effectively I have worked all my life and it worries me considerably as to whether or not I can get a job straight away. And what sort of job would I do. With all the economic uncertainty at present it is a cause for concern, and it’s no wonder I had the panic attack earlier.
And whilst I am good at being realistic and offering help and advice to others….. Why is it I can’t believe in myself and take my own advice or have some confidence in myself?