Yesterday morning I had it all clear in my mind.. I was giving up the photography course that I started. I was so positive I just wasn’t up to the task. I had tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get a photograph for an assignment and I was just finally over it. To top it off, I couldn’t do what I needed to do in Photoshop so was over it all.
I love this course. I’m learning so much, I have a class full of fantastic people but I just felt like I was falling behind. Not just that, I felt so stupid when everyone else seemed to be grasping what was being said, except for me. Teachers would tell us to go home and read the instruction manuals for our cameras. Well that is like telling a grade 2 kid to read up on the finer details of rocket science. I had tried to read up on it when I first got the camera but it was all just gobbledegook to me.
As I’ve mentioned in I’m not crazy, lazy or Martin Scorcese I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This affects me in many different ways and one of the major ways I am affected is by my lousy memory. I once had an amazing memory and now, I lose details as quick as I hear them. Just lately I’m also finding that when I read, unless it’s a subject I have some knowledge of, everything seems disjointed and I struggle to make sense of what is being said. So having to learn the mathematics involved with photography as well as trying to understand all the features of my camera has been very overwhelming.
In the I’m not crazy or lazy article I talked about saving face by running away when things start going out of control. Well I reached that point yesterday. I thought it was probably best if I just left now.. made some excuse why I couldn’t continue and just give up. Giving up is better than failure… right?? Wrong!!!! Giving up is much worse than failing but by yesterday I honestly didn’t care.
It’s been a rough few weeks with family issues, lack of sleep due to a highly anxious state and some financial pressures. I’ve never really felt like I belonged in my family and that was brought home pretty solidly again just lately, so I finally decided to just finally accept it. I didn’t handle the situation well either and if I had my time again, I would just shut up and ignore everything but I didn’t and everything that had been brewing for the past few years came to a head. I guess sometimes sores must come to a head and break apart before they can start to heal. Hopefully, this is a new chapter in the healing process for me. Acceptance is difficult but it is what it is.
When I’m in a highly anxious state as I have been lately, sleep doesn’t come easy to me. Knowing I have to be up at 5am to get to TAFE on time and laying wide awake watching the clock tick past midnight, then past one.. then past two is just so frustrating. I know I won’t function the next day and yet there is nothing I can do to turn my brain off. The most annoying thing is it only happens on the nights before I go to TAFE. Other nights I have absolutely no problems sleeping. Sleep deprivation, as I mentioned in previous blog posts, is one of the most debilitating factors in PTSD.
I’ve also been really aware of the fact that I’ve been neglecting this blog, which is something I don’t want to do as I love writing. This little blog here feels like a place where I can really celebrate being me, something that hasn’t come easily in my life. The fact that so many of you are helping me celebrate makes me feel humbled but oh so happy. So, in effect, while I am ignoring this, I am ignoring the part of me that I’m finally starting to like.
Money has also been exceptionally tight and a payment I made to someone was put in the wrong account due to me transposing two numbers. Now I have to wait for that to come back to me. Another thing my brain does when I’m stress is to transpose letters and numbers. I do it a lot but always check when doing bank transactions. I did check this time but obviously read it with the same mindset I wrote it and it was wrong. Then I bought a new lens on EBAY, only to find out that the person selling it is a scammer so I’m out of pocket there too until Paypal refunds the money and in desperate need for a new lens as mine has a few problems.
If any of the above had happened to me one at a time, I could probably have dealt with it better, but with everything happening in the space of two weeks, I just caved. So, reverting to form, I knew giving up was the right thing to do. I could see no other way of dealing with things. I honestly felt that I was holding the rest of my class back with constantly asking questions when they all seemed to know what they were doing.. Then on Tuesday when I had to hand an assignment in, a teacher looked at it and pointed out it’s lack of focus, I just felt defeated. She didn’t do this in an unkind way, far from it. In fact, her critique and subsequent explanation on how I could improve the shot, were helpful and much needed. But on Wednesday when trying to recreate the shot and still not succeeding, I threw my hands in the air with despair and said, no more.
So Thursday, I got up with the express purpose of going into class, to quit. I felt that I had become close to the rest of my class over the last six weeks and wanted to tell them how I was feeling. I felt teary and on edge. I had had less than 3 hours sleep due to my anxiety and was not in a great state of mind. Saying all that, I actually felt really calm about giving up. Then I got there!
It’s a mixed bag of students I work with. I’m the oldest in the class and in all reality, old enough to be the mother of most of them, if not grandmother of the youngest (if my children had started having kids early that is). The ages range from 17 up to me at 51. Now a lot is said about the youth of today but let me tell you, these kids are some of the most wonderful people I’ve met. Crazy and loud, yes, but caring, sensitive, protective and giving. As soon as they knew that I wasn’t coping, they went out of their way to make sure I wasn’t going to quit. Having a chat to one of the teachers also made me feel a bit better about where I was at.
I really do hate losing face, so instead of saying right up front that I have no idea what they are talking about, I just nod and pretend that I understand what’s being said, then try to play catch up later on in private. This is a lesson that keeps hitting me over the head in life. I need to say upfront that I’m not coping rather than pretending that all is well in my world. When you have always prided yourself on being strong and capable, this is such a hard thing to do.
Part of the reason I do feel that way is that it’s what has been expected of me. There hasn’t been a whole lot of slack cut for me in my life. This is not a pity party and I’m not feeling sorry for myself when I tell you this, it is just as it is. I put up with constant teasing as a child and was always expected to just ignore it. If something of mine was wrecked (and I had precious little), I was expected to just deal with it. Being the only girl with the next 5 closest siblings being all boys was not an easy task. When I split up with my ex, the police expected me to not ever fight back from the hell my ex was putting me through. If I fought back they called it a tit for tat situation. If I didn’t fight back, they said I was accepting his behaviour. Even after the death of my daughter, I had to appear in Family Law Court 4 days after her funeral. Not only did I have to appear but was expected to be coping with the whole thing. Then about 2 weeks after her death, a Family Law Court appointed counsellor wrote a report on me saying I was in denial about Aimee’s death because I said in conversation, that apricot chicken IS Aimee’s favorite meal, rather than WAS.
I’m not saying any of this looking for sympathy. I dealt with it all and am here today to tell the story, but I finally understand why I have so much trouble in saying those three words… I’M NOT COPING. I’ve always been expected to cope. It surprised me when I said these words to my fellow classmates, the speed with which they rallied around to try to help. I guess noone is a mind reader. They need to KNOW that something isn’t right before they can offer support.
So now, thanks to the wonderful support I have received, I have decided I can do this after all. Yes, I am going to need to really work hard, because it’s not easy to study when you have memory related problems, but I will do it. My initial instinct to run away when it gets too hard has been thwarted and it really feels good. I’m giving up on giving up. Staying and battling my demons is not easy, but running away hasn’t done me much good over the last few years either.
I’m not going to allow myself to be so easily put off anymore. I’m in my second half century and there is still so much I haven’t achieved. This half of my life is going to be wonderful and the only way to make it so is to stop repeating destructive patterns. Running away is easier… that’s true… but staying and seeing myself reaching the goals I’ve set for myself is 100 times more rewarding. I can’t thank enough, the people around me who refused to let me give in. Sometimes you just have to let go of the pride and ask. I like to think I have made some improvements in my photography. Here are two photos from my latest photoshoot at the Fairmont Resort in Leura.