A Chaotic Brain is NOT a Learning Brain: Part 2

Eventually, though, minor mistakes turned into huge ones. That following week, I was on my own trying to put together a return of expensive suits. I didn’t understand how different this order was from our standard purchases, and I was in the office doing it all on my own for the first time.

I had never processed something like it before and didn’t understand the paperwork involved. I did what I thought I was supposed to do. Everything the designers didn’t want was there and accounted for. The only thing that was a mess was the paperwork, which I didn’t do, because I didn’t know I needed to, nor did I know how to.

So when my boss came in with limited time, she was less than pleased. For an hour and a half, I was there, just me and my boss, while she reiterated how bad the situation was. The paperwork was also not done correctly when it came in. Which meant the possibility that we didn’t receive everything, and we would be held responsible for the cost of them if that were true. The more I tried to explain, the more I was accidentally talking over her, the more excuses it seemed I was making, and the worse I looked.

It was humiliating. Yes, there is no way I would have known I needed to do those things because I had never done them before. Was it a learning experience? Yes obviously. However, I was disappointed in my own lack of initiative. Not because my boss humiliated me or was disappointed in me but because I humiliated and disappointed myself.

It ended up getting worked out! But, the feeling of failure and humiliation started looming in the back of my mind. I started seeing all the places I was dropping the ball all over the place. I began to create a narrative in my head that I routinely let my boss and coworkers down, and they felt the same way. I was full-on paranoid, struggling to separate reality from the false narrative I had running in my mind. My anxiety and mental health had reached a very dangerous swing in a different direction.

In reality, the only real issue was that I was creating problems that weren’t there. I continued making really humiliating mistakes. I was worried I was actually going to get fired. I let my anxiety talk me into second-guessing what I was doing.

I’m still working on climbing out of the mental health hole I’ve gotten myself into. Convincing myself, I am not my mistakes. But also taking accountability for them, so they don’t happen again. And please don’t remind me it’s a “learning experience.” Because I already know, and I lose it on you for how condescending it always ends up sounding.

As I explained what was happening to a friend of mine, who works in early childhood development. She informed me that the truth is a “chaotic brain” is, in fact, NOT a learning brain. We can NOT retain new information in panic mode. And psychologists have learned that when we feel in danger or stressed, it’s no longer “fight or flight.” Instead, it’s “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.” And when I am anxious, I freeze. And if you’ve read my previous posts, my brain literally stops in its tracks, and I have to fight harder for reasoning skills.

This is where I’ve been mentally idling at these last three months. The root of the problem isn’t that I’m new. It’s that I haven’t been in a mindset to focus, communicate, or really pay attention. At the end of the day, it’s up to me to find ways to do better and figure it out. And cliche quotes and sayings aren’t going to do the work for me.

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable because of it all. My heart feels almost exactly how it did when “Jack Daniels” broke up with me. Showing me that at that time, it was more than just heartbreak. It was the uncomfortableness that comes with growth. With leveling up. It’s happening again, and the truth is there is no way around struggles like that. Your only option is through.

The idea that you did it, you’re past it, it’s over. Starts to grind at me because it’s never really over. Yes, I learned some things, and I survived. It feels like people expect growth and challenges to be this one-time thing. You get over the treacherous dark mountain and forever get to stay in a lovely sunny valley forever. And it’s just not how it works, especially for people like me who have ongoing mental health struggles. It is only a matter of time before it comes back or something triggers it. Or a new challenge inevitably comes along. You are never really ‘cured.’ You get better at processing both the past and the present.

But in the end, I did get through that project. That TV show invited me back to next season because of my positive attitude and openness to learning while I was obviously struggling. That is a win, not enough to disregard the mentally hard time I went through, but it’s really the one thing I have going for me right now, my positive attitude. So, as a result, I find myself doing occasional additional work on another tv-show as a set PA. And every day I’m there, I am absolutely a deer caught in headlights.

I am torn between giving myself the grace I am learning and knowing that impressions mean a lot when you need to network in any field, and if I just can’t keep up… that isn’t a good sign. I find myself a little lost and having to rely on faith that I’m going in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, I might not enjoy what I’m doing because I’m physically and mentally struggling, but whether this is a long-term career path for me or not, I find myself wanting to stick with it long enough to get better at it.

Thank you for coming back and reading the second half of this post. If you related to or enjoyed what you read, please leave comments and share. Either here or on social media. Follow this blog on WordPress or Facebook.

A Chaotic Brain is NOT a Learning Brain: Part 1

Sometimes I think I am doomed to be a hot mess forever. The more I think I’ve started to get my sh*t together, the more of a hot-mess I still seem to be. Does anyone else feel outright stupid sometimes?

It’s been like six months since I posted, so let’s catch you up. In November, I started a new adventure as a set PA on an indie film where I was consistently failing miserably. Followed by the return of the King of Mixed signals himself “motorboat.” telling me his continual remarks about wanting to sleep with me were a “joke.” 

Like really? This means he was either objectifying me for his own amusement, gas-lighting me to avoid the consequences of his own actions, or the worst option just outright pretending to be interested in me. 

When the production completely shut down due to a covid exposure. The combination of failure, humiliation, and lack of income sent me on a dark and depressive spiral. 

It was horrible! In one month, I gained 30 pounds. Which is more than I did over the entire pandemic. My drinking got out of control, my sleep schedule was all over the place. “Jack Daniels,” being a more supportive friend than he ever was as a partner, had to talk me down from having a suicide plan. I had a plan, and I was going to follow through if it wasn’t for him.

I kept blaming it on not working. But honestly, I kept hearing a voice in my head saying, “it was a joke.” Something about how everything went down with “motorboat” made me believe to the depths of my core: that I was merely a joke. I know now that’s not what really happened, but regardless, that is how awful it made me feel. It’s not like I’ll ever go to him and be like, you caused me to feel this way. That’s ridiculous. But if he ever reads this, I hope he knows, the way you treat people has consequences. I may be responsible for how I react to what happens to me and how I heal from it, but you are responsible for how you treat people. And what you did and said was beyond cruel, and it left a permanent scar.

There is something about hitting that rock bottom that leaves you with nothing to lose. I had no job. And nothing to do with my time but spend time with my ex of all people and think about wishing I could disappear. I had to do something to move forward, to get out of the hole I had dug for myself So “Jack Daniels” helped me put a resume together, and between his contacts and mine, it worked! I landed a costume PA gig on a TV show!

I didn’t get much of an introduction to WHAT I would be doing, though. It was drastically different than the previous production assistant job I had. I do my best not to panic in situations of uncertainty. Because I’m learning that if you’re panicking, you’re not breathing, and if you’re not breathing, you’re not thinking. This is great in theory but especially hard in practice. When you are in a new environment and have no idea how to do what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s hard to think straight. 

Most of my new job was pretty straightforward. I mostly ran errands and returned the clothing purchases the designers bought as options but ended up not using. It was a lot of driving back and forth from town to town, on top of the hour-long commute to the studio and back every day. Usually, the most challenging part of my job was keeping a positive working relationship with retail managers as I returned hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise at a time. 

But I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job. I started off making minor mistakes that made me look weirdly incompetent. Locking up storage units when I left without turning off all the lights. Or just not filling out my time card correctly. Things I obviously didn’t know how to do but still left me feeling self-conscious about looking stupid.

Overall, it felt like I had managed to pull myself out of the very dark mental place I was before I was hired. However, looking back I don’t think I was completely out of the woods yet and it was effecting my work. The minor stupid mistakes we make when starting any new job started piling up. Being late, not understanding how to file receipts, and sending emails to my boss with the wrong attachment. Little goofs….. just kept happening. I feel like most of them were because I wasn’t in my right mind still, and the more mistakes I made… the more I would beat myself up and instead of learning I was panicking and it caused me to make more and more mistakes.

Eventually, though, minor mistakes turned into huge ones…. and in part two I will tell you about how I made a ridiculous fool of myself. How in my panic of being in a new field has whittled me down into someone who comes of as purely incompetent. And I will talk about how anxiety and stress can not only cause us to completely shut down and freeze but how we also cant retain new skill and information very well while in that state.

Thank You for reading my content! Please stay tuned for part 2. If you like what you’re reading or just relate: leave me a comment here or like, analyze, and follow me on Facebook “The Adventures Of Eleanor.”