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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

In reverse order, so you don’t get worn out by the home-related words, of which there will be many:

I’ve been rather sick for the last week. First was a head cold that I caught from Jed. Overall rather mild, didn’t need to take time off work, but still sniffles and fuzzy headed not as good as being well.

Then on Thursday I spent the day in bed (and the neighbouring bathroom) with a stomach bug. Thankfully it was a 24 hour bug, but my stomach has been very delicate since. Eating has been problematic, with my energy spiking and crashing ever since whenever I eat (or don’t for too long). Not very fun, but I’ve had this happen before and know what to watch out for.  Hopefully it will even out while we’re in Devon and in time for Christmas. Being fed regularly might help, rather than the ad hoc eating patterns Jed and I have on weekends.

The interview last Wednesday, so you can all stop crossing fingers, etc. The  job was quite similar to the one that I had in Sydney, that I enjoyed immensely. I walked away from the interview thinking it had gone reasonably well. Felt I’d stated my case as a desirable employee, my knowledge of waste infrastructure projects and experience in case managing them, and that I’d built a rapport with the Chief Operating Officer. As long as I was what they were looking for then I’d be fine.

I received an email on Thursday stating that I’d not been successful. In the midst of being sick this didn’t really register, but since then I’ve been feeling a quite lost and despondent. Not sure where I belong or what I’m doing or where to go from here. Income is not an issue (yet) as my current employers keep renewing my contract. But, it is increasingly apparent that the team I’m working for does not fit my workstyle. Almost detrimental to my confidence and sanity in many ways. I need something else. But if it’s not a job with London’s Waste and Recycling Board then I’m a bit lost where my skills and knowledge are needed, where I should be targeting. What to do as a small fish in a large pond.

I’ve been feeling this very strong urge to run back to Sydney (and take Jed with me) and beg DECC for a job again, for the security and stability I had in Sydney. If only this was feasible. Perhaps I need to learn to live with a modicum of uncertainty and instability?

They’ve invited me to call to discuss the decision, which I will do on Monday (if there’s time after the drive to Devon) or Tuesday. I’d really like to know the basis for the decision, if there’s something I’m overlooking during interviews, or whether it was simply that there were more qualified candidates that pipped me to the post.

Right then, HOUSE

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What a week! It’s generated it’s own Things That Are Weird post (forthcoming), on estate agents and renting in general. I’m a veteran renter, but this was well outside my experience, quite confusing and stressful.

But first (finally) the weather: Winter has hit. At least the start of it has. After a very mild, quite lovely Autumn it has turned to a cold and rainy winter.

I’m sure you’ve read about the downpour that hit parts of the UK. None of that was near us, it was much further north and west. I don’t think any of it affected Jed’s parents either, as they are rather high up, despite flood warnings in their county.

Nevertheless it has been wet. Reminding me of those horrible wet weeks you get in June in Sydney, where it doesn’t stop raining for days. Where you have to avoid puddles and running water in the streets. Where you will get saturated if you are out in the rain for more than 4 minutes, despite your umbrella. Add to this the cold temperatures, it was reasonably horrible. Thank goodness for central heating.

Luckily there was one clear day in the midst of all this rain, on the day we moved. It was cold, but all our stuff stayed dry, and we warmed up once the lifting and carrying started.

Which brings me to the move. Sheesh! Well, to be fair the move itself went smoothly, thanks in a large part to the help of Poki and DiscoDoris at short notice.Tthe majority of our stuff was into the house at 3.30 in the afternoon, and we had a bed set up in time to sleep.

The sheesh! part is our estate agents. At 5.30 pm on Monday, the day our lease in the Redhill was up and we had to move somewhere, they finally agreed to let us sign the lease so we could move. After a month of miscommunication, loss of paperwork, conflicting information about what would be required, and the most rigorous background check I have ever been through I was about ready to shoot someone when they decided that yes, by statement of savings would be sufficient to give us a 6 month lease in case one of us lost our income. GAH! After I’d been expressly told a week earlier that this was not possible as “I might spend it on a car tomorrow” – OR I might decide having somewhere to live is more important than a car!?

It was horrible, we were facing the possibility of continuning to live in Redhill in a less than ideal situation for another couple of months until I could secure permanent work OR staying in a friend’s spare room for the same period of time, with most of our stuff in boxes.

But now it is all wonderful, (if you ignore the half unpacked boxes in each room).  My kitchen is unpacked, out of the boxes it went into back in January. My plates, and my cutlery, and teatowels, and serving dishes and… yay! The kitchen itself is slim, and doesn’t have loads of storage, but it is lovely, usable and well-lit. You can see what you are washing up. It reminds me a bit of the house in Glenhaven, the one in Chelmsford St and my sister’s former apartment in Chiswick.

The bedroom is very large, almost too large, although I’m sure that will be less of an issue once we have everything in and arranged properly. There’s space for a bed for L, which we’ll be getting soonish. She’ll have the small alcove at the end of the room, which made her smile when I mentioned it. Possibly as it’s obviously a space unto itself, or that she’d been thought of already and included in the plans, or both, or something else. Whichever it’s a better situation for all of us for sleeping.

The bathroom is white, tiled, large and has a proper pressured hot shower with separate taps to control temperature. Not a dial. You don’t realise the things you take for granted until they are gone. My shoulders are telling me every morning how happy they are to be getting proper hot water pressure again. It’s a lot like the bathroom I had the last time I lived in Croydon (albeit in Sydney, not London), which was one of the things I liked about that house.

The living space is enough, not huge, but also not small, and is attached to the kitchen in a sort of open-plan way. It suits us well. There’s a large bay window with a door leading onto the private garden out the back.

All in all, it will do nicely for a while until we’re a lot more stable in other areas of our life and L needs a room to herself when she stays. Photos will follow once there’s no boxes to be part of the shot.

Let the next phase of this adventure commence! It should be a good one.

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Another two weeks have passed since I wrote a weekly update. It’s been a combination of busy work (finally!), waiting to get some photos uploaded, and then a down period in the middle of last week which means that the post I wanted to write would have been more down than it deserved to be. We’ve all had enough of down posts recently. At least I have. I’m starting to worry that you’re all going to think I’m a big puddle of sadness and depression and homesick, when there are moments of fun and happiness and comfort. So, on with the last two weeks:

Funghi on log in Banstead woods. Autumn = leaves and mushrooms!

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I am realising/remembering tht one of the most difficult aspects of living in a new country is the isolation that occurs in the first period, while you rebuild the networks that seemed so effortless and normal in your home country. I know this eventually gets better, and it’s part of the process.

I can distinctly remember learning the Thai word for lonely early on in my year of exchange, and a sympathetic ‘aunt’ [1] who spent one afternoon telling me, and everyone else on my family’s compound that I was ngaow- (lonely).

It’s becoming apparent, now that things are settling down here, exactly how isolated and lonely I have been, which is difficult for a social creature such as myself. (more…)

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Yes, apparently it also works the other way around. Or maybe that’s just me. What I realised this week is that I always, always, always need somewhere to call home. It stabilises me, keeps me centred, grounded, happy.

I was very homesick last week. Physically, wistfully homesick. Specifically for a certain house in Newtown, the one I used to live in. The only place I really called home in 10 years of moving through rentals all over the Inner West of Sydney. I remembered its light and airy quality, its smells, its colours, but most importantly the sense of purpose and control I had living in MY HOME (with my fantastically awesome flatmate).

Since then I’ve not lived in my home, always someone else’s. My sister and her fiance wonderfully gave me somewhere to live while I waited for my visa to come through. But, that was her home, and I was an itinerant rellie living out of a suitcase.

The place we’ve been living in Redhill has not been home. It is too crowded – 3 of us in a two bedroom flat, with a 4th every 2 weeks. This means 3 people sleeping in the same room every two weeks. There’s no space when we’re all at home, which actually leads to isolation as people carve out their own silences whilst sitting right next to each other. This makes breaking down barriers even more difficult. A lot of the things around the place are left-over from previous (male) flatmates, cast offs and hand-me-downs and the vibe is very bachelor pad/student flat. Which I vowed to never go back to once I started earning a decent amount. It was making me hit the edge of depression again. Very worrying.

It was supposed to be temporary. A stop on the way to a shinier future. Only the temporary dragged on, and on, and on, for various reasons.

One of the results of the week of rest and low drama was that I had mental time to shine a spotlight on this and realise WE NEEDED TO MOVE! Our place, our space, a lovely house.

Thankfully on Friday we found a place, further up the train line towards London, but not quite in London (like being in Strathfield – it’s a rapid train trip of 10-15 minutes into the centre). 2 bedrooms, so L now has her own space and won’t be sleeping on cushions at the foot of our bed. There’s some back steps for sitting on and drinking hot drinks (I’d seriously missed an inviting back step, the backstep here is too dark, cold and yin for me to spend time there). It’s a 1st floor converted flat in a big Victorian terrace, with a bay window at the front (our bedroom) and has ample storage space. Oh, and the rent is fantastically cheap, which was Jed’s major stress.  We’re moving in mid-November.

I’ve spent the last few days running around smiling, saying “Housey-house!”. Jed says that I’m laughing again, and it had been so long that he’d forgotten what that laugh sounds like. He looks a lot lighter, happier, like he did while we were in Sydney.

Hence the title: Heart is where the home is. My heart went missing while it didn’t have a home to be in. Shortly I will have a home again, and hopefully it should hang around for quite a while.

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The other major news of the week is that Jed has decided to go teetotal for the 2 months to Christmas. This was also the result of the week of rest and low drama. I realised that holding on some sort of grim desperation that it would all get better if I kept waiting patiently and not rocking the boat was not actually affecting any change.

He’d become reliant on alcohol to address life’s frustrations.  It was seriously affecting both of us. Anyone with a FB account will probably have noticed Jed’s side of the story. My nature is to remain stoically brave and patient and cheerful. Early last week I came close to running out of my ability to carry the weight.

He’d rather not live that way, I’d rather he didn’t live that way. We don’t need to live that way.

The change has been fantastic, even in one week. A bit rough for the couple of days afterwards, as was to be expected. I’m very thankful and very proud that he made that decision after realising there was an issue, after realising what was most important to him. As each day goes by my level of trust that he can do this and in the wonderful promise for our lives that existed when I first arrived increases and becomes more solid.

-Oh, and did I mention: HOUSEY-HOUSE! 😀

Edit: As an addendum. I realised last night how much of the stress of the past few months was a direct result of an underlying personality clash with my flatmate.

The horrible, hiding stress came back last night and I realised that the only thing that had changed was a 1 hour session in which he talked at, over or around everyone else in the room and made some very passive critical remarks about the living arrangments. Which made me realise that the stress/depression started soon after he moved in.

I’m relieved to work out (but also a bit annoyed) that we almost gave up the most important thing to both of us because we needed to manage our relationships with a 3rd, temporary person in our lives. And absolutely releived that it will only be another 2-3 weeks.

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So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.

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Recent History

Wherein the author provides a short long treatise on what she’s been doing recently and reflections related to the subject matter.

I fell off the face of the internet for a week, and social life in general for a few months. It was entirely necessary. So, if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, here’s the answer.

Last Wednesday night I completed my Masters Degree. Hooray! (pending advice that I actually passed the subject, of course). This was the major reason for the internet absence. The first part of the week was needed for study, the second part for recovery. I couldn’t even stomach the idea of engaging the text-based communication side of my brain until about Sunday night.

So, I played SimSocieties instead. I’ve read the reviews, and sort of agree with most of them. BUT it also fixes some of the issues I had with SimCity 4 AND was so completely visually based and mostly mindless that it was the perfect antidote to study.

I realised last Thursday precisely how much strain I’d put myself under and how much this degree of mine wasn’t as simple as I was deluding myself that it was. I was trying to be superwoman (again) and should have known better. On Thursday morning I ‘danced’ to work with a smile on my face for the first time in months. I possibly even did a tiny bounce into the air, with a small squee at the wonder and joy of life in general and the future that is currently unfolding. For those of you who have seen excitable, bouncy, squeeing me you may be slightly disturbed when I say that was the first one since about August.

Two weeks ago I got sick again, the ‘low-level virus’ that has been hanging around for months. I took two days off work, and hung around in KoL chat. It was nice. But, at the end of the two days I found myself bawling my eyes out, missing support networks and ‘just…want…someone…to…cook me…dinner’. Mostly I was worried that I was going to fail, and so therefore the basics of life were not being looked after, which led to a cycle of not studying effectively, which added to stress which created this lovely spiral effect. Not pretty. Luckily, I have an awesome, wonderful sister who let me study at her place and fed me good homecooked food. I don’t know what I would have done without her. The low-level virus has disappeared. Perhaps I actually had a case of ‘study anxiety’? Or at least a compromised immune system.

The exam itself was the most surreal I’ve ever done. I used to like exams, would generally do quite well in them as I’m good at thinking on my feet. This one, well, the pre-dominant thought that ran through my brain in the exam room was: “why am I here? Why am I sitting an exam in this room at age 30? Exams are things you do in your early 20s”. Which was odd, but sums the mentality up. I was just over it. Walked out with 15mins to spare, did not do any editing, I know there was at least one paragraph-sentence in there, if not more. But my hand hurt, I’d demonstrated I’d paid enough attention to pass the course, and that’s really all that matters.

On Thursday most of my work mates commented on how much better I looked overall, most specifically that I didn’t look tired. One night. It took one night to look better, and THE ONLY thing that had changed was the fact I didn’t have to study anymore. I didn’t feel utterly exhausted, which had become the norm.

I am walking straighter. I run for the joy of it. I can think strategically again, which has been useful as this week I’m the ONLY person in my team and line of management at work, so I’m sort of acting 4 positions at the moment. Sort of, only for emergencies. This week I am relishing it, last week I would have crumpled.

I can remember detail again and can dream about the future (that wonderful, exciting future). There was this big dense wall that was blocking anything post Nov 12. So, if you’ve told me something in the last few months, OR you’ve invited me to something and I’ve not been there, OR you were waiting for me to do something OR there was an obvious connection between two pieces of information that I should have made and then told people about, then it’s entirely possible that it was a detail I simply could not hold onto. Planning anything beyond the present was very, very difficult. Related to this is the fact that I’ve not seen, or corresponded with a lot of people I love. I miss you guys and am getting around to fixing it.

Talking work, this week I’ve had bunch loads of deadlines and intricacies and people seeking advice, and I coped, more importantly I coped well and was able to communicate and feel competent. Again, last week this would not have been possible.

My landlord has decided to sell the house I live in. Which I found out about an hour before my exam. At least it gave me something else to worry about. I’m dealing with that remarkably well, however it looks like the house selling timeline and the moving to the UK timeline might match up extremely well anyway.

On the weekend I went to a museum, wandered through the botanic gardens, took photos of both, spent time with friends and played board games. Utterly lovely.

My house is cleaner, I’m getting through my to-do list (have you seen http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ ? It’s fantabulous!).

And in two very, very short, wonderful weeks life takes on a whole new aspect and a deep gentle smile may become a permanent feature, and it seems likely that I may never have to deal with the world alone again. It’s good to know that I can, but the promise is so much better.

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