I am supposed to have taken a week off work in order to get on with my next counselling essay. I have instead made some phone calls, sorted out some minor issues, done some Christmas shopping, read books (that have nothing to do with counselling), thought about my physical health and wellbeing (there’s a post that needs writing on this), done lots of thinking about all sorts of random shit and spent at least ten minutes looking at my essay and putting it aside. Even now I’m writing this rather than look at it.
I’m finding it hard to focus. My mind is in a panic and it’s getting worse. It’s not just the assignment per se although this one is particularly uninspiring and it’s a huge challenge to get motivated to write it. I am not alone in this and we are all screaming at the dryness of the topic, with only our discussion of our placement experiences to keep us sane. The weight of four such assignments to be completed before July gets heavier and heavier.
I am finding that as winter slowly descends I am cocooning myself at home more than I usually do. Rather than watch the night descend and people walking home quickly from school and work I am closing the curtains as it starts to get dark and ignoring it. I’m not going out in the evening as much, whether locally or into London. One of my peers suggested it was the impact of client work and the need to retreat which is a generous interpretation that I’m not sure if I can accept.
I have spend the last two months trying out a variety of blood pressure medication to find ones that don’t interfere with my sleep and that has affected more than my sleep. We have run out of easy options and I think on my next visit to my GP I will elect to stay where I am for the next six months until I finish my counselling course as I need the stability, even if my sleep and blood pressure aren’t fixed. It has also been weird cutting down on my medication and being more aware of the beating of my heart and how loud and fast it can be sometimes. That is disconcerting and stressful.
I no longer find it easy to go to sleep as my mind races and although I start every evening considering an earlier bedtime in order to compensate it very rarely happens. Then of course I go back to worrying about my lack of sleep. Lack of sleep itself contributes to weight and stress.
If the four main inputs to high blood pressure are weight, stress, salt and alcohol then I have made the easy changes: I have ditched all added salt, which creates cravings for Marmite and salty cheese, and reduced alcohol even more, managing to spend more than one evening in a pub on one pint and it not bothering me. I cannot be doing with weight loss and am ignoring that. I am focused on my Pilates which I am enjoying doing every day, from ten to forty minutes, depending on my schedule. I am aware of a difference in my body shape and strength, of no longer needing a supportive chair at college and of feeling generally healthier and more body aware. This is a huge achievement and change for me than I haven’t really fully acknowledged yet. Doing something about stress seems virtually impossible at the moment with my course taking up so much head space.
It is not just the course though. It is also the awareness of the future beyond the course, the difficulties of finding paid employment as a freshly-qualified counsellor, and the difficulties of going into private practice without any guarantee of income. My youngest will also be making decisions about his future as he finishes school at the same time. His older brother has just changed jobs in a positive way but I have been thinking about all our futures and how intertwined they all are.
On top of all those changes there is the financial pressure of not earning enough this year while I complete the course and have no capacity for anything else and the pressures that imposes on lifestyle. Everything else seems minor with the usual list of domestic pressures and the list of things I would like to do when I’m not finishing this course.
I am therefore reading more, and watching more telly, which are both great distractions but don’t really solve anything. Away from the distractions I have ginormous monologues in my head thinking about stuff but not really in a productive way. I have considered the need for more meditation but haven’t quite found the time to do it, sticking to my ten minutes even though I’m struggling to gently be in those ten minutes.
It feels as if I am fighting myself on multiple fronts and they are all really angry, aggressive and really shouty. Peace is what I want but I cannot find the space for it. And so the assignment remains unwritten.