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Rachel's story: Mental health, cleaning and wisdom for life.

Episode three

Rachel's story: Mental health, cleaning and wisdom for life.

*music*
Welcome to the Loved Called Gifted Podcast. This is your place to come for musings about spirituality, identity, and purpose.
I’m your host, Catherine Cowell.
*music*

Welcome to this edition of the Loved Called Gifted Podcast. This week I’m really thinking about how it is that you get to do the thing that you love, even if it’s the thing that maybe other people don’t think you should be doing. So I wanted to introduce you to somebody who I’ve met recently, who has really inspired me with her story about why she does what she does, and how she got to that place.

So, hello Rachel!

R: Hi *nervous giggle*
C: So, do you wanna… do you wanna tell us a bit about what it is that you do now?
R: So, now, and how we met, obviously, is, I’m a self-employed cleaner. So I only started it in September of last year, but I’ve been an obsessive cleaner within my own house, on and off, my, my whole life. That probably stems along the lines of the mental health issues that we’ll talk about as well. I’ve been a police officer, I’ve been a waitress, I’ve owned my own dance company in Northern Ireland, I’ve done all sorts. But now I’m a cleaner, and it’s the first time in my life that I can honestly say, “I can do this.” Like, as in, I’ll be happy doing this, I love doing it… for people. Don’t get me wrong, I have days where I’m like “ugh, I’ve gotta go to work”, but I think everybody has that. But in general, I love doing it, I’m doing it for myself, and I’m good at it, so *nervous giggle* it works quite well.
C: Yeah, you are really, really good at it.
R: Yeah, I seem to be. Um, I think it’s just because, like, I get a bit obsessed with things, so, that kinda helps, a little bit, *nervous giggle* as well, so… my brother was like “I never knew why you didn’t become a cleaner”, and I must admit, when he said it to me, my first thought was, “Oh God, I could never be a cleaner”, sort of thing, and it’s almost like a snobby… thing, I think I was a bit snobby… about, I wouldn’t be a cleaner, I couldn’t do that now, and obviously at the time I had these dreams of being, like… I wanted to go into psychology, and study psychology, coz I’ve always been fascinated with how the brain works, and obviously, probably, because of my own mental health issues as well, always trying to find out what’s wrong with me, and that kind of led me down that path. It was like, “no, I need to go into higher education, I need to be this type of person, y’know, wear these type of clothes”, coz that was the way I thought I needed to be. That was what was expected of me almost by… family of high achievers. They probably don’t expect that of me, but in my mind, that, y’know, I’ve got high achiever brothers, and, y’know, they earn a lot of money, they drive nice cars, they have nice houses, whereas at the minute, I’m a 40-year old with no property to my name, very few possessions to my name, apart from this business *nervous giggle* that I’ve started.
C: So, but that’s really interesting, that you’re… one of the things that’s stopped you getting to where you are now more quickly, is what you thought other people would think of it.
R: Yeah, probably, yeah. Probably. And, y’know, I think… I did want to go down the…the academic route as well, partly because I felt like I had something to prove, but again –
C: Mm.
R: – I felt like I had it to prove to myself. I’ve since-since learned that I was actually only doing it to fit into this box that I thought my family, society, everybody else expected of me. Yeah. And it’s only now that I’ve realised that I don’t have to do any of that or be any of that anymore. It’s taken me all this time and I’m still… I still have days where I revert back to the old way of thinking, but I’m catching myself on quicker and realising, “no, I don’t have to be that person anymore, I can start being… me, and true to myself”. Yeah, it’s working well for me. *nervous giggle*.
C: Yeah, that’s really good. So, there’s a few things kind of motivate us. One of them would be passion, so finding something that you really love to do. What is it that you love about cleaning?
R: For me it, it was initially, it’s an escapism. So if I’m having a bad day, I don’t do well with the bipolar as I’ve got older and I’ve had, a lot of things have triggered me. I mean I do believe I’ve had it a long, long time –
C: Yeah.
R: – but as I’ve got older and obviously certain things hit your life, like divorce, like, y’know, loss, like this, that and the other, through the years I, I also had this hormonal issue going on, so I had PMDD, which is…5% of women are supposed to have it, 5-8% of women, yeah.
C: So what is PMDD?
R: That’s Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
C: Right.
R: The easiest way to describe it is like an intolerance to your own fluctuations in your hormone level and so it can initially start, started for me as a teenager, whereby I would have the most horrific periods –
C: Yeah
R: – I mean horrific. As in, I wouldn’t be able to walk, the blood loss would be very heavy, I’d have to take time off school, I’d be sick. I wouldn’t be able to eat. The bloating, I would look pregnant. Y’know, I was tiny. Back then I was this tiny little skinny horse rider sort of a thing and then all of a sudden my stomach would be out, I’d look pregnant. For-for maybe 4 days before I would cry for no reason, like a lot of people, but it would be worse. It would be, if I spilt a cup of tea –
C: Mm.
R: – that would be five hours of crying and crying until I was physically sick. It was quite a bad experience as a teenager –
C: Yeah.
R: – and I had that quite regular for many years. And it went away when I had my children, that’s normal, because you don't have the fluctuations of hormones anymore –
C: Yeah.
R: – you just have a steady level going on. But it again also got gradually worse, the pre-menstrual issue then started getting worse and worse so instead of just 3 or 4 days, prior to my hysterectomy 4 years ago now, I’d got to a point where 21 days of the month I was ill.
C: Oh that was –
R: Yeah, this was all in the years after the police, because prior to that I’d been in the police –
C: Mm.
R: – because they were like, “well, you’ve been successful, you’ve had this –” coz I went from being, in 8 years I joined the police, obviously I was a senior constable, and response and everything, I was pretty big stuff over there, going to bomb calls, going to stabbings, going to, y’know, all sorts of stuff –
C: Mm.
R: – and then I did all my exams and everything, and I became a detective –
C: Yeah.
R: – and I, rather than going into CID noone wants to go into child abuse, but I had a real interest in it, actually, so I ended up going into child abuse, and then it was a year after that. And I don’t, everybody said to me, oh, it was probably the stress of the child abuse. I loved that job.
C: Yeah.
R: I was made for that job. And while I was well, and while my life was well and I had, I didn’t, y’know, I was going through a steady phase and everything, coz I was there a year, it was brilliant.
C: So this isn't the first job that you’ve loved?
R: No.
C: So what was it about the police that you – ?
R: I joined the police to, to help people. *nervous giggle* The problems that people have go a lot deeper than anything that we, we can do, so you don’t, you don’t actually help people. And the system’s broken.
C: Mm.
R: And we could get into the whole, obviously I’ve been educated a bit since, so you could get into the whole, um, “what is really a crime and what is not a crime and what crimes do we punish as a justice system”, it was all of that that I was thinking about, coz I, I noticed, even in the police, I didn’t understand it, but I noticed, most of the people we punished were poor people, so most of the crimes that we have that we hold as horrible terrible crimes are ‘poor people crimes’.
C: Yeah.
R: And the way we handle ‘poor people crimes’ is different and, I don’t know, none of it, it all stunk a bit to me, and I noticed, if you went, if you went to court, for example, like, we had people going to court in what we would have called “their best Sunday tracksuit” and it’s, it is kind of offensive, but, –
C: Mm.
R: – but that’s the way it was there. But those people’s tracksuits cost more than a suit anyway.
C: Yeah.
R: But they would go like that turning up, probably never worked a day in their life, they were constantly committing crime, etc, etc, and nothing was done to get to the root cause of why that kept happening, and they would get off time, and time, and time, and time again, and then somebody who’s, y'know, like somebody middle class, say, who genuinely had just made a mistake, and it was their first time ever doing anything wrong, would turn up in court in a suit, and the judge would see, they’ve got a job, they’ve got this, they’ve got that, and they’d get hit harder.
C: Mm.
R: And that to me wasn’t fair either.
C: Right.
R: There’s a lot of unfairness, and I think that, I think in the end, I actually, I think the straw that broke the camel’s back, and why I left the police, was watching an Inspector handle, and it wasn’t that he did anything terrible –
C: Yeah.
R: – it was just how he spoke to a vict– to parents of a sudden death baby, that was it. And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I went sick the next day and I never went back.
C: But underneath that was something about your real sense of, of values.
R: Yeah, probably.
C: So you’d gone into the police wanting to help people.
R: Yup.
C: And can you remember what it was about helping people that was…?
R: Well, ultimately, I always wanted to get into the, either the child abuse unit or the sexual crimes unit –
C: Right.
R: – and I think that’s because I’d, um, not been abused as a child as such but, I’d, I’d, had instances where I’d been taken advantage of, and badly sexually assaulted, all through my teens really –
C: Yeah.
R: – and probably because of my own issues, because I was a bit of a tearaway, I was, on the f-, on the face of it everybody thought I was a lovely perfect *through laughter* angelic little child. *laughs*. But, no, I was, I was quite badly behaved, I drank a lot of alcohol, I used to go out, I was, I was, probably quite, I don’t know, what’s the word?
C: Sounds like you’d made yourself quite vulnerable.
R: Yeah, yeah, and it’s probably because of my upbringing. And it’s nothing – I love my parents, and my parents are really good people –
C: Yeah.
R: – and I know they love me, but because of their upbringing – obviously I’ve studied a bit of psychology, so I understand it a bit better now, because of their upbringing, they brought their problems to my table and, y’know, etc, etc. So I understand all that now, but that’s why I was vulnerable. I had a very authoritarian Army-Major father, who didn’t let me breathe, I grew up in a house with three brothers, I was the girl who –, I was a tomboy because I had to act like my brothers, and that’s how we were brought up, and we got stuck in and all the rest of it, but at the same time weren’t –, we were nurtured in lots of ways, but we were brought up in a household very much, if you cried, you’d get told “I’ll give you something to cry about”. But obviously, that led to that, then obviously those things that happened to me, I wanted to basically catch people who did that sort of thing, and preyed on people, that’s what I wanted to do.
C: Yeah.
R: And I wanted to be able to help the victims, and see it –, y’know, so yeah.
C: Yeah.
R: And that’s why I got into it really. *nervous giggle*
C: Yeah. But it’s interesting, it’s interesting, that you talk about, like, how things were at home, and some of the, some of the legacies of that –
R: Yeah.
C: And I wonder… Obviously you’ve started to unpick some of those things.
R: Yeah. It’s, it’s taken me now 40 years, but the funny thing is, as I’m unpicking my stuff, I’m now realising where I’ve gone wrong with my two eldest children –
C: Right.
R: – really important because I, I feel a lot of guilt, I’m, I’m, I’ve always been like somebody who feels a lot of guilt about everything, y’know? Um.
C: Mm.
R: – I do feel a lot of guilt. I can forgive myself now, for it, as in, like, try and talk to myself, coz I’m trynna learn to talk to myself in the parenting voice –
C: Right.
R: – yeah, so, not talking to my inner child the way my parents used to talk to me, but trying to talk to my inner child the way I would respond to a child, sort of thing –
C: Yeah.
R: – or the way I would hope to respond to a child when I’m feeling good, y’know, feeling fine and everything, and you can, you can, have the appropriate responses. But by doing that, it’s starting to reverse things.
C: Yeah.
R: A little bit. But it’s taking a long time, I mean I’ve started on this process about 4, 4 or 5, maybe longer, years ago to trynna actually sort things out. If I’m honest, I thought I was gonna have the hysterectomy and be magically, um…
C: Mm.
R: 100% functioning. Fully functioning adult.
*both laugh*
R: But yeah, that didn’t happen. *laughs*
C: It does sound though like, having had the hysterectomy, and having had some relief from some of that stuff –
R: Yeah.
C: – that actually, that created some space for you –
R: Uh, Yeah.
C: – to be able to begin to do the work on yourself
*they talk over each other*
R: Yeah, definitely / C: to help to understand this.
R: Yeah, if I’d’ve stuck true to myself when I was younger and who I was, sort of as I was getting married and stuff, I’d be a lot further on in this process –
C: Mm.
R: But I’ve literally, I’d completely lost myself, completely lost my way with…everything. And actually, coronovirus and lockdown also gave me the space to figure it all out.
C: Yeah.
R: Because then I had nothing else to do but to take the dogs for walks and to get out with nature, and yeah, sitting back through all that and realising, “what do you need to be happy?” Well I realised straight away I don’t need a degree to be happy.
C: Yeah.
R: That was causing me a lot of stress, that impacted my mental health. That’s when I got diagnosed, when I started doing the degree.
C: Right.
R: And because of the stress, and because I’m a perfectionist –
C: Mmm.
R: – the stress of trying to be a perfectionist, so when I wrote my first essay and got – what did I get? 69% on the first, it wasn’t the first prop– on the first proper essay I got like 80-something % –
C: That’s pretty good.
R: – and that wasn’t good enough.
C: Right.
R: And then on the first other piece of written work I got 69% and I was furious with myself, like, absolutely furious. And I actually booked and went to see *giggles* the person who’d marked it to find out what I’d done wrong, and she was, like, puzzled. Looking at me like, “what’s…what’s wrong?”
C: You’ve just got a really good –
*they talk over each other*
C: a really good mark / R: she was like, “that’s a really good mark”,
R: and I was like, “no, it’s not –
C: *laughs*
R: – it’s 69%, that’s like terrible”. But that’s the way were also brought up as well.
C: Right. Yeah.
R: When we were expected to have very high standards, and if we didn’t do well on a test, “why haven’t you done well on a test?”
C: So that’s been one of the kind of, that’s been one of the sort of, um, standards, that you’ve internalised and then be– tried to live up to.
R: Yeah.
C: That kind of, “it has to be perfect and I have to be the best”.
R: Yeah, yeah, and it’s ver- and we were very competitive as children. We were, me and my two younger brothers, yeah it was, everything was so competitive. The world’s not built for people who are different, and who think different, and all the rest of it. And the thing is, I kept, like, going backwards and forwards and trynna figure out exactly what was wrong, and now I’m at a point where like, it doesn’t actually matter what is wrong, I know that I’m different, I know my brain works different, so I’ve started learning my triggers and things like that as well, which is another reason why I clean –
C: Right.
R: – because people trigger me massively. People trigger me so, so bad.
C: So, what– when you say people trigger you, d’you–, what, what does that look like?
R: So, if somebody –, so, for example, my friends can trigger me if I’m always going out of my way for people, coz if, so if I’ve got friends, or I’m really close to somebody, I’ll go out of my way for you, I’ll do anything for you, I’ll bend over backwards. If the same isn’t reciprocated, and I don’t mean like it has to be all the time, because I very rarely ask for anything.
C: Yeah.
R: But that’ll upset me, and that can trigger like a downward spiral then in thoughts, and depression can be, can be –. I got married at 18, I had my first baby just before my 19th birthday, I, um, had my second baby at 21, I joined the police at 25.
C: Hm.
R: As soon as I left that I started running a horse-riding yard.
C: *giggles*
R: Then I went to college at the same time, and as, while doing that I was working in bars, to also fund me, then I went to uni full time and was working full time and running a household on mi’ own because at this point, um, me and my partner couldn’t live together because of issues with my illness –
C: Yeah.
R: – and also my son’s ADHD. So I’ve never had a time. So covid, for me – I know a lot of people it’s been terrible, but for me it was the best thing to ever happen, because for once, I couldn’t do the uni work because I went into a high, a manic episode, so I couldn’t sit down to do the uni work so I ended up having to go sick from uni as well, and rather than stressing I just went, “d’y’know what?” I mean, I didn’t even get round to do school work, we just went out every day and did random things and I tried doing the school work, and it was just pressure. And stress. And he didn’t, he was getting stressed and he has his own little meltdowns because he’s picked up my perfection-, I don’t have that, I don’t, like, demand results off him –,
C: Yeah.
R: – but he’s picked up my perfectionism thing as well. So he melts down if he thinks –, like, if, he could get 99 questions out of 100 right, and one question would upset him, being wrong. Y’know? Um. So, and I suppose it’s always been alongside all of that, part of my drive to figure out what’s going on has been to try and fix this, these problems with like, Ryan’s only 10.
C: Yeah.
R: I have a chance to make sure he doesn’t end up *nervous giggle* with my problems, if I can try and hold everything together. But yeah, covid, covid gave me that chance to sit back and just go, “d’y’know what? Don’t need a big house.
C: Mm.
R: I’m quite happy to live in a little terrace, and not be bothered with a huge mortgage and stress and we, we literally ended up having to sit back and go, “what can I do that’s gonna give me enough money to be able to still go on holiday, have my little terrace, still, y’know, treat my kids and stuff like that, but not have stress any more?”
C: Yeah.
R: And that’s literally what we’ve come down to. And it, it was the cleaning. But, like, I thought I’d’ve got bored of it by now, if I’m being honest.
C: Yeah.
R: Coz I do have crazy hair-brained ideas –
C: *laughs*
R: and I’m always like, coming up with a new scheme and stuff like that. Again that’s the, the, probably the bipolar, when you go manic –
C: Yeah.
R: – you get very creative and all the rest of it. But no, I’m…happy. And I haven’t had a depressive episode this winter, which is good.
C: Hm.
R: And that must mean that the job’s helping, because I normally am manic all summer, and then I crash all winter, basically.
C: Yeah.
R: Y’know, so…but it hasn’t happened this year. I started feeling a bit tired recently, but we’re coming out of winter now, so…
C: Yeah!
R: So we’re alright, yeah.
C: So, so one of the thing’s that’s been really helpful has been just letting go of all of those expectations of what you ‘ought’ to be striving for, and that’s kind of, again, that’s given you space to think, “okay, what is it that I want?”
R: Yeah. There’s that, and I think… to say it like… I don’t feel like I’m an adult. This is weird, right? I don’t feel like –
C: Right.
R: I adult very well. This is crazy given that I have now raised two and a half children.
C: Yeah.
R: And that I’ve got a granddaughter. And I’ve been in the police, and I was a successful police officer and I held –
C: Yeah, yeah.
R: I actually think it was that that caused the big breakdown. Having to hold it together for 8 years –
C: Yeah.
R: And be so professional. And deal with the stuff that I had to deal with, as well. I mean, I was in Belfast. And it’s not always calm as what everybody thinks it is.
C: No.
R: It’s a different– it is a bit of a different world, especially when you’re in the police. But, I loved it. I was good at it.
C: Mm.
R: It was a job that I got up for every day, but I, I actually think, that stress of having to hold it together and live within these… coz you have to behave a certain way as a police officer, and be a certain way, etc, etc. I think that all helped to that massive implosion I had that led to me leaving. Y’know, and I think it’s taken me– so, what was it? I left in…2013, so that’s like…8 years ago, is that?
C: Yeah.
R: I’m only just starting to get well now. But, crazily I didn’t leave for med–, I just, I didn’t know there was anything wrong with me, so I just kind of jumped ship.
C: Yeah.
R: And crazily, I could have been on a medical pension by now.
*both laugh*
R: Which would have helped!
C: *laughs*
R: But hey-ho. That’s life.
C: Yeah.
R: Y’know? And I feel like everything happens for a reason, though. At the end of the day. Y’know, I was supposed to, y’know, a lot of people in the police say that it helped them, me being in there with them, and I know I did good with a lot of my victims and things like that. And even with the people that I had to, y’know, send to the judge, or what-have-you, I was always… respectful, kind, and all the rest of it, and so I know I was good at my job.
C: Yeah.
R: Do I wish I was still in? *sigh* Sometimes. I miss the money. The money was good.
C: Yeah.
R: But no, I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t go back. Actually, I don’t think I’d change it. I think I’d still be saying, “Actually, I want to do this cleaning business now.” It’s more for me. I don’t think… I think as I’m getting older and I’ve had all these breakdowns, like I was working in care more recently, that absolutely disgusted me.
C: Right.
R: Care – oh no, that was awful. I was good at that as well and I bloomin’ loved that too, I felt like it was made for me, like I could really help people there –
C: Yeah.
R: – because I could talk to the people I was dealing with, from some level of understanding –
C: Yeah.
R: – coz some of the things that they did, I do.
C: So what, what kind of care sector were you in?
R: I was in, I was in, um…well it was supposed to be low-secure hospital for.. it was supposed to be for learning difficulties and autism, for adults.
C: Right.
R: I loved it, Chris hated me doing it.
C: Oh, gosh.
R: Coz he thought… he could see what it was doing to me. *nervous laugh*
C: Right.
R: Because I care too much. And that sounds strange coz you’re in care, but actually, it’s no good to care too much if you’re in care. *laughs* I did that, and I loved it, and when that place got– luckily, it got closed down, and I was gonna jump straight back into that.
C: Yeah.
R: Because I can literally work 2 or 3 days a week, and make good money.
C: Yeah.
R: Y’know, decent enough money for me. But, um, I realised after like a week or two away from it that it was making me ill. Like, really ill. Very, very ill, I was probably heading for a mental breakdown again. I might have ended up in hospital this time, so…
C: Yeah.
R: Y’know, so in a way, that, that worked good, and then yeah, I was just thinking, “what do you do from here?” And cleaning – and I think it works because, when you’ve got a very active brain like I have, being able to, say, come here, and you stay out– y’know, we say hello and everything –
C: Yeah.
R: – and that’s fine. I like the interaction –
C: Yep.
R: –coz I miss the interaction with people, coz I am a people person, and we have this interaction and then, you go out of my way, or you go out, or what-have-you, and I just put my music on. So even if I’m having a terrible day, I might just say hello, or if I’m not feeling great, I might just say hello and then go straight up without having much of a conversation, but then I’ll put my music on, and after I’ve done 2 or 3 hours cleaning, I’m ok. It’s fine.
C: Yeah.
R: And I feel a lot better. So, it’s just, it’s cathartic.
C: Yeah. So i–, it really, so it really works with your management of your own mental health issues. There are things about it that really –
R: There are things about it –
C: – fits with that.
R: There are things I’ve got to get better at. Like I don’t– I don’t know if I did it with you to start with, but like, incessant having to ask new clients and to start with whether they’re happy –
C: Mm.
R: –or whether everything’s ok or like, having a little freak-out and having to fit– phone Phil, because obviously I started with the agency first, having to –
C: Yeah.
R: – phone Phil and having to be like, y’know, “I’m freaking out” sort of thing, and him being like “you’re being daft”, so I do, I do have issues, but this is something I’ve got to manage myself, and because of the awareness I’ve learnt from doing the psychology, and from learning more about myself, I am starting to catch myself with it, but –
C: There’s a lot of freedom, isn’t there, in knowing, “okay, this feels really awful” – like with your partner this morning – “this feels really awful, but I know I’m overreacting, so I can kind of ride the wave of this”
*they talk over each other*
R: Yeah. Yeah. And I – / C: and come out of it.
R: I know it’s going to pass.
C: Yeah.
R: Coz emotions, that’s what we’ve got to teach ourselves, basically, isn’t it? That all emotions pass, they’re –
C: Yeah.
R: I’m quite, um, – like, I’m not really into religion and stuff, I won’t lie, I, I won’t lie about that, I’m not really into religion –
C: No.
R: – but I started – I, I’m fascinated by it, –
C: Yeah.
R: – but I’m not into it. Like, I think, like, the Christ– the way Christianity is and your commandments and stuff, yeah, they’re nice ways to live and to not – but I live like that anyway, –
C: Yeah.
R: – d’y’know what I mean? But I don’t need religion to tell me to live *through nervous giggle* like that though, coz I live like that anyway.
*they talk over each other*
R: But I tell you what helped. / C: [indecipherable]
R: Coming into other people’s houses and realising, everybody’s the same.
*both laugh*
R: Because I always used to– Because when I was in the police –
C: Yeah.
R: – now for times of it I was a single Mum, I had my, my divorce and everything in that time, then I worked my 40 hours and you could– I didn’t do a lot of overtime, but I could do 50 hours a week –
C: Yeah.
R: Plus I had 3 children at home, plus I was raising them on my own, plus I did all the cooking, all the cleaning, my house was immaculate –
C: Mm.
R: – there was always a fresh cooked meal on the table, like, every day, and that was always done, but every single day, I was upstairs screaming into a pillow, crying, because I couldn’t make my ADHD son eat the mashed potato. D’y’know what I mean? So, well, was that success? I felt successful at the time.
C: Yeah.
R: Like, as in, when I was, like, this person, and peop– well, obviously over there, you can’t really say you’re a police officer, but–
C: Yeah.
R: – you– police officers become all your friends, and then people respect you because you’re a police officer, and… I dunno. That was, like, everything, that was my identity, that was everything type thing, and running everything as this perfect house. Then I moved over here and I got back in with my horses –
C: Yeah.
R: – coz that’s also a love of mine, and then it was like, the house was never clean, coz it was always full of hay, and if it was a choice between cleaning my house –
C: Mmhmm.
R: – or going down to groom my horse, I’d always go and groom my horse, but that was like escapism. That was me trying to get it out of the house –
C: Yeah.
R: – because I couldn’t cope.
C: Yeah.
R: But at the same time, on the surface, everyone thought I was really successful.
C: So there’s lots of opportunities to practice that self-compassion.
R: Yeah, yeah. Well there is, and I’m getting better, and I’ve started yoga recently –
C: Yeah.
R: – and yeah, like I say, obviously going into other people’s houses, like I’d literally got to a stage where I was barely cooking, we were eating 5 takeaways a week, y’know.
C: Yeah.
R: And I’m literally sitting thinking to myself, “You used to be a police officer, who did 50 hours a week, who went to the gym, who had a clean house, who – y’know.” and then I think, “yeah, but were you happy?” I don’t actually think I was. Now I’m like, kind of embracing the fact that I don’t think I’m ever gonna have it together.
C: I don’t think anybody does, do you?
R: I don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to.
C: Mm.
R: Maybe it’s more interesting not to have it *through nervous giggle* togeth-together. I don’t know.
C: Yeah.
R: I dunno. But like I say, coming in then to other people’s houses and being like, “everybody’s struggling in some way.” Like Chris’d be like – my partner’d be like – as I’m cleaning like, disgusted, like when we moved the fridge freezer out and I was disgusted at that bit of dust that is behind it and he’s like, “Rachel, it’s not even that bad. Coz I know you’ve pulled that out in the 3 years we’ve been here.” He said, “Trust me, I used to be a painter and decorator, nobody does that.”
C: Yeah.
R: And I’m like, “why has it always been so important that that’s done?”
C: Mm.
R: Like, why does it matter? That’s how I’m starting to get now. I used to freak out at the kids, y’know, like, I’d literally walk in the house and somebody’s shoes are at the door. That could have triggered me.
C: Hmm.
R: Y’know before we knew I had bipolar, and my kids got the brunt of that, because *snaps fingers twice* that immediate switch would have been *snaps fingers 3 times* “never, never, you never do this, you never tidy your room *snaps* you’re always leaving me a mess *snaps* and then I do everything and they get the full brunt of all my frustrations and everything. So whereas now, with Ryan and obviously I’m doing the cleaning, I’m not…I’m not having that. And actually, somebody else cleans my house two hours a week now, it’s great.
C: Brilliant.
R: It’s great! *laughs* Y’know?
*both laugh*
R: People are like, “you’re a cleaner, why don’t you clean your own house?” Because I don’t like cleaning my own house –
C: Yeah.
R: – because then they’ll mess it up, and it annoys me. But no, we, like I say, we pay somebody else to clean our house now. As well which then takes that pressure off at home, and all that argument.
C: [indecipherable]
R: And the cleaning, If I’m in a really rubbish mood in the morning, by the time it’s finished it’s very rare –
C: Hm.
R: – that I’m still in that bad mood.
C: It’s really interesting that you’re talking about the fact that actually, you’d had an image of other people being perfect, and in fact walking into other people’s private spaces, you’re not getting the Facebook image, are you?
R: *chuckles quietly*
C: Of “here we are perfect.”
R: And it’s been great. Then people are apologising to me –
C: *laughs*
R: – and being like, “well, y’know, excuse it”. And I’m like, seriously, don’t be embarrassed about it. I love it. I love a grubby house going in and seeing what I can do to it. That’s –
C: Yeah.
R: To me, that’s– the week-in-week-out stuff is nice, y’know, I’ll obviously build it up –
C:Yeah.
R: – and that’s why I think I prefer doing it with, with Shan, though, because you’re in and out quicker, and then it’s, it’s, it’s…
C: Yeah.
R: It’s more stimulating for me as such, keeps me more interested, but I really like the stuff like, when you get your new client, and, and…
C: And it’s a total nightmare.
R: And they don’t know what they’re gonna do with a–
C: Yeah.
R: Some of them aren’t like that, some people, y’know, they’ve had cleaners years or what-have-you –
C: Yeah.
R: – and their house is immaculate anyway, you walk in– in fact, Shan walked into 1 or 2 of ours and went “*gasp* they don’t need a cleaner!”
*both laugh*
R: And that’s like, “we have to keep it like this, Shan. It’s hard to keep it like this.”
C: *laughs*
R: Y’know, she didn’t understand that. But yeah, going in and just being able to do that, like I have one client, and he was my first private client, coz obviously –
C: Yeah.
R: – I met you through the agency –
C: Yeah.
R: – and I’ve moved on and I am now also doing my private clients, and he was my first one, and I got it off some website, I just think, an advert, and I was the first person that had said to him in the message, “I can call you to discuss your requirements”.
C: Right.
R: Whereas everybody else had literally said, “when have I got the job?” More or less.
C: Right.
R: So that’s why he phoned me. Yeah, his place was carnage. He works away six weeks –
C: Right.
R: – then he’s home 4 weeks, but while he’s at home he also works from home, whilst having these two hyperactive little kids, y’know, um, and it was carnage.
C: Right.
R: Like when we went in there it was absolute carnage, and he, he’s like, “I don’t, I can’t manage without you and Shan now”.
C: Hm.
R: Like he’s literally said– like, he knows, obviously about my scope for the business, and stuff like that, and he’s like, “Look–...”. He’s send me a text, actually, not long after I’d started with him, and he’s like, “look, you’ve, you’ve got plans, I have a feeling you’re going to make a good business of this but, will you just make sure it’s always either you or Shan that *through laughter* comes to my house, please?”
C: Aww.
R: So I thought that was quite nice.
C: So one of the things that you kind of come back to a few times in terms of, your values and stuff that you really care about, is this thing about wanting to help people–
*they talk over each other*
R: Yeah, I like helping people– / C: – and be helpful.
R: I think it’s like, part of my nature just to be helpful, I remember as a kid, probably to my brothers’ dismay, probably, maybe being the only girl –
C: Mmhm.
R: – but like, it was always, I was the teacher, teaching them something, or I was doing s– … the ‘Mum’, looking after them, –
C: Yeah.
R: – but that was always the way it was from a young age, and then at, I mean, I started work at 12, I had babysitting jobs, at 10 years old I was looking after my younger brothers.
C: Mmhm.
R: At 11 years old I was making full roast dinners, at 12 years old I was looking after a newborn baby and working in a Spar shop.
C: Yeah.
R: So yeah, so I’ve just always, like, I’ve always liked to be busy, and I’ve always liked looking after people, and then Mum did the horse riding, Mum had a horse riding stables.
C: Yeah.
R: And I used to help all the youngsters. And so, it’s just always been the way I’ve been I suppose. I dunno.
C: Yeah, but it was the thing that kind of led you into the police, and the thing that you liked about the caring, and I’m wondering–, it sounds like you’re talking about, um, your client who’s house, as you put it, was “carnage”, and it, I’m wondering if that sort of helping people out is one of the
*they talk over each other*
C: things that’s most satisfying… / R: It is, yeah, it is.
R: It’s like to know that I’m helping –
C: Mmhmm.
R: – so if I thought somebody wasn’t happy, that would really upset me –
C: Yeah.
R: – and that’ll be my biggest thing, coz, at some point, somebody’s not gonna be happy, you can’t– it’s impossible for me to think that I can –
C: Yeah.
R: – 100% please everybody all the time.
C: Yeah.
R: And I have to learn to let go of that, and I have noticed–, so I got a text earlier, somebody asking me if I would do the windows. Now that’s not a big deal, is it? But for me, that triggers “do they think I don’t do the windows?”
C: Hmm.
R: Yeah, and I’m like, “but I do the windows, already.” Sort of– so in my mind, that then triggers all this overthinking that comes with it, but I’ve caught myself on with it today, And I’m aware –
C: Yeah.
R: – that I’m doing it now, if that makes sense, so, hopefully won’t seem so crazy to other people, *through nervous laughter* maybe, eventually, it might not seem so crazy to other people.
R: I don’t know. I don’t know.
C: I think a lot of people overthink like that, and that pattern of, something triggering feelings that you’re sort of quite sensitive to, like from, often from childhood, and that thing of that, well, you know it’s a trigger, because somebody says “come and do my windows?” and then you’re into “the world is gonna hate me!”
R: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
C: *laughs*
R: Like, loads of people had this image of me as being perfect –
C: Mm.
R: – and always holding everything together, and like even when me and– my marriage broke up, everybody was amazed –,
C: Hm.
R: they were like, “Oh my God, we thought you were so, everything was perfect.” Because I’d created that. Whereas now I’m less likely to do that.
C: It sounds as well, as though you’ve got a level of peace, from having let go of –
R: It’s getting there. Yeah, it’s definitely getting there, definitely. I enjoy my job, I don’t mind going to work, so– like, I haven’t woken up and not wanted to go to work, d’y’know what I mean?
C: Yeah.
R: I haven’t done that since I started. I think that’s then given me the time to also be thinking about all of this stuff. Coz I have a lot of time to th-think now, but, whereas before, I was in this–, there’s overthinking about things, and then there’s a vicious cycle of overthinking, about things. And what I used to do was–. So, say that you’ve got like, a tiny problem.
C: Yeah.
R: And then it’s triggered something in me. When I was unwell, especially with the hormonal issues or when I’ve got my bipolar, coz literally *snaps fingers* I’m a different pers–, you’d be speaking to a different person, if I was on a manic, or I was, y’know, not very well or what-have-you. Um, but you start this cycle of overthinking, and it just gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. But none of it makes any sense –
C: Yeah.
R: – because, like I literally sat and writ’ it all down one day. Like, instead of overthinking, that’s one of the ways that I stop it.
C: Mm. Yeah.
R: And I just let my hand write and write and write. None of it made any sense, it all went from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next, nothing tied in and it’s just like this big ball of stuff that’s getting more and more out of control. That’s a different type of overthinking, and I’m not doing that any more.
C: No.
R: Y’know? Um, I’m coming to work, I’ll think about it, I can even do this thing now where I’ll go– , coz I was overthinking last week about the relationship –
C: Mm.
R: – and I was starting to spiral, and especially this time of year, I spiral anyway, and traditionally this time of year I end my relationship and go on a manic episode –
C: *laughs*
R: – um, so, but I’m aware of that –
C: Yeah.
R: – so rather than just, slightest problem, throw in the towel and do a runner, which is what I normally do, and he… *sheepishly* always waits around and *through nervous giggle* lets me come back when I’m ready –,
C: Yeah.
R: – sort of thing, this time we’ve stayed with it and we’ve, y’know, we’ve been talking, but I’ve only been able to do that because I’ve been doing…sensible thinking.
C: Yeah.
R: And like I say, I’ve also started this new thing of, ok, when I was doing all the overthinking, “right, we’ve done that now, –”
C: Yeah.
R: “– if you wanna overthink it, let’s overthink it for half an hour later.
C: Right.
R: And that’s what I’ve started trying to do. And that’s helping as well. But –
C: So you’ve, so are you saying, you, you sort of say, “well, I’m not gonna over–. I’m not gonna think about this…for the next half hour?
R: Yeah. But I can do it at 9 o’clock tonight or 9 o’clock tomorrow morning –
C: Right, ok.
R: – and then… I set aside that time to over–, to… to do it. And normally, like, once you’ve done that, you don’t actually need to do it anyway, but yeah. It’s, that’s how I stopped the over–, coz I was starting to get into a cycle last week, it’s all come from the stress of the move.
C: Yeah.
R: Everything stresses me out. I can get ill going on holiday.
C: Right.
R: Coz the stress of having to get ready for going on holiday will trigger an episode.
C: Hm.
R: Yeah? Um, and a manic episode can mean all different things, it can be, being completely hyper, thinking that you can become a doctor, and start a new uni course, and do this, y’know, to being very happy, to spending all my cash on a new bulldog, y’know, things like that I do.
C: Yeah.
R: Or, um, like I say, throw away my relationship, that sort of thing, um, but so far that ha’n’t…because of… I believe it’s because of the cleaning and being able to, to think about all this stuff, and y’know, obviously, it’s not just the cleaning, there’s been the years that have led up to…
C: Oh, completely.
R: – how we’ve got here. But I do think that it, it is helping an awful lot.
C: That is actually one of the things that people find really motivating, though, is having autonomy, so, being able to be in control of your own destiny. And, and listening to what you’ve said about previous things, actually one of the things that really bugged you both about the police and the care situation, was that other people’s not having the same values that you held –
*they talk over each other*
R: *whispers* yeah, that really affects me. / C: – and doing things that…yeah.
R: *normal voice* People not having the same values. But I mean –
C: It does for most people.
R: I’m coming to learn, I’m coming to learn that now that, that, everybody’s allowed to have their own values, that’s fine. But I mean, I’ve, I, I do have to step away from some people.
C: Yeah, yeah.
R: I don’t think I’d go back. I don’t think, I don’t think– if somebody said to me, “you could go and join the police now” –,
C: Hmm.
R: – I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t go back.
C: Hm.
R: For me it’s not worth it. Now, I can get up in the morning–, like yesterday we had to switch around a few jobs and stuff, so I was able to do that, then, still be home in time for finishing school.
C: Hm.
R: So, so I’m home in there with him for a few hours before anybody else gets home. If something does go terribly wrong, well, and I have to get home for him, I’m not having to ask somebody else. I just go and do it and send the customer a text and apologise, y’know?
C: Yeah.
R: I’m not kind of, beholden, to anybody, coz that’s something, other people’s pressure isn’t good for me either, and expectations. So, yeah.
C: Yeah.
R: But it’s working.
C: Brilliant. That’s really good.
R: Sorry, I ramble a lot.
*they talk over each other*
R: *through nervous giggle* And I get lost. / C: No, that’s good, that’s good.
C: Thank you. That’s good.
R: Okay.
C: That’s brilliant.
R: *exaggerated sigh of relief*

*music*
C: Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Loved, Called, Gifted podcast. If you’d like to get in touch, you can email lovedcalledgifted@gmail.com . You can find a transcript of this podcast at lovedcalledgifted.com, and that’s also the place to go if you’re interested in the Loved, Called, Gifted course, or if you’d like to find out about spiritual direction or coaching.

Thank you for listening.
*music*

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