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Crikey I’ve encountered a lot of anger this week, what’s going on?  I had a shop assistant literally yelling at me across the car park like a banshee.  Having stood in a queue whilst she chatted to her friend for 5 minutes I eventually got in front of the assistant who said nothing to me.  I asked if I could get a suit dry cleaned.  The lady told me that she needed to finish what she was doing as the last person had interrupted her asking for a key to be cut.  Bemused by this, that the last person could interrupt her from her task in hand but I couldn’t, I cut my losses and told her not to worry I’d go somewhere else.  I left the shop.  I hadn’t been rude or disrespectful.  I had just voted with my feet.  As I walked across the car park she was literally yelling after me.  Now that’s some anger there.  I certainly did nothing that merited that response.  It was only Monday morning.

By Monday lunchtime I was putting fuel in my husbands’ car at the petrol pump.  There was a huge transit van at the pump in front and so when he went to pay I just sat tight intending to follow him out as getting past him would be a feat.  I was a bit too close to him and I couldn’t reverse as the car behind was too close to me.  Patience is a virtue thought isn’t it? Perhaps I just have too much time on my hands, or too much patience!  Literally a minute after I had got back into my car the car behind me started tooting incessantly.  I looked in my rear view mirror to see an older woman driving and a male passenger gesticulating for me to move.  I raised my hand in a kind of “what” gesture and continued waiting.  I could see the transit van man paying.  It would be about another minute.  The bibbing continued and now I looked to see the man making rude gestures at me.  Wow!  As I drove off, probably all told two minutes later ,the man was giving me a one finger salute.  What a happy car that must be I later told my husband.  Living on the edge.

A few years ago I was really stressed with work.  I was a police officer, a Detective Sergeant, on the Major Crime team.  I had been working on a complicated and sensitive case for two years and it had taken its toll on me.  I know that now, with hindsight, but these things creep up on you don’t they.  Subtle changes on a daily basis add up.  I was ill.   It’s taken me probably 18 months to get better.  I guess I was exhausted and run down.  The constant battering I was taking effected my moods and my resilience.  I couldn’t take on any new stress very easily and I literally leapt off of the handle at the slightest prod.  I was in the zero to hero time zone.  Just being me one minute to screaming at someone the next.  It all seemed quite rational to me at the time but it most certainly was not.

Eventually the straw that broke the camels’ back was laid on me and I collapsed.  I had what can only be termed as a nervous breakdown and I was signed off sick from work by the Doctor.  I never went back to work, ultimately resigning a few months later, so that I could move forward and start getting better.

During the 3 months that I was off sick I would wake up crying.  I had panic attacks.  I had zero confidence.  Doom was all that I saw ahead of me.  Smiles were difficult.  I didn’t want to see anyone or speak to anyone.  My husband used to want to hurry home to me but would be worried about what he would find.  

That was such a difficult time in my life and so strange.  I didn’t see what was happening to me until it was too late.  I guess I didn’t think it could happen to me either.  I was a rough shod detective used to dealing with grisly murders.  I was a confident woman, intelligent, well educated and happy.  It all seemed to come out of nowhere.

In the path to recovery, that being getting back to feeling like me, I discovered lots of things that helped.  A particular song would cause me to feel like my brain was mending.  If I felt like I was in for a difficult day I would put the album on and know it was helping.  It was weird but it worked.  I tried the mindfulness app and that didn’t seem to help much, I tried yoga and that seemed to help a lot.  I resigned because I couldn’t see a way to survive if the thought of going back was always hanging over me.  Sadly for me at that time there was no other option.  I had been referred to the welfare department but they just seemed to make things worse.  They seemed to have no concept of stress and the triggers.  It actually is a real thing.  A break down.  It is a real thing.

It’s been two years since I went off sick now and thankfully I’ve moved massively forward from the gibbering wreck that I was.  I am still trying to work out what is going on but I feel excited about the future.  Sad about the past but looking in wonder at the next chapter.  I don’t know what it says yet.

What I do know is this though.  If there comes another time when I get that angry,  that I am yelling like a banshee in a Tesco car park or I am sitting behind a car at the petrol station making rude gestures at a stranger in a car in front of me, I am going to take my foot off of the gas and I am going to reflect on what is happening.  What is making me this angry?  I’m not going to make the mistake again of thinking this is normal behaviour and ignoring it.  I am going to take some time out, put on some music and a candle, take a bath or do some yoga.  Go out on a bike ride, see friends, read.  Do something that bring me gently back down to earth from that dizzying 30,000 feet and flying.