Burnout & Impostor Syndrome

Burnout

It has been awhile, the main reason for this was I had a burnout, or as close as you can get. Thankfully I realised before it was complete and it took me a couple of weeks to get back on my feet not 3 months… if you want a bit more info on burnout this one of the articles I read before realising I needed to take time off sick to recover and couldn’t avoid it anymore. I ticked all the boxes and it was only getting more desperate, if I’d left it longer I might have had a total collapse.

Signs of Burnout

So its been a rocky few weeks. I had two weeks off work entirely, the first week of this was a lot of doing nothing while feeling guilty that I should be doing something. Sleeping, eating, showering with some back to basics of looking after myself without any major emphasis on Doing anything. I didn’t even pick up the housework since I was home (I have a very understanding husband who agreed with this fact). It took a solid week of this before I woke up with any energy or real emotion, a sense that I could do or achieve anything. I had rested my way back up to baseline normality (for me) and could finally start building myself back up. This may sound like a long time to some, or no time at all to others but I know from reading up that it could have been a Much longer process just getting to that stage.

I had since that afternoon I talked to work and told them I couldn’t cope anymore and needed the time away been planning on calling a mental health line they had an arrangement with. I knew they would help and it would be useful for me, but at that stage I couldn’t face talking about how I was feeling to some stranger on the other end of the phone line so I put it off and off. It was most of another week until I could make that call, I got advice about talking to work and choosing a phased return and to stand my ground at implementing the changes I needed to stop me ending up right back in the same state. I was supposed to call back once I’d made those arrangements with work and assess for face to face counselling… I didn’t.

I’m not sure why at that point other than my number one rule in life seems to be if its not in your comfort zone procrastinate until its too late or something worse has happened. I am trying to be an advocate for open honest conversations when it comes to mental health, but whilst this is my goal it is still out of my comfort zone. However, once I open that gate a little it ends up with a flood or what I sometimes call ‘verbal diarrhoea’ where everything just spills out in a hap hazard fashion and usually more than was intended, sometimes more than was smart, gets said.

Strange (or not) as it sounds sometimes it is almost like I feel scared of getting better, because then I run out of excuses to be rubbish. Which runs me into the second half of today’s blog.

Impostor Syndrome

Blurt: On Feeling like an Imposter

I think this is one of the things that gets in my way the most…I’m a fake, a fraud, I don’t deserve help because even my struggle is fake… sound familiar? I don’t feel good enough to be a friend, a co worker, a wife… I don’t even feel like I can do being mentally ill ‘right’ or I’m just not unwell enough to warrant the help even though I’m barely managing to get through each day sometimes.

In my head everything I do would be done much better by anyone else, anything I know is understood much better than someone else. When I get something right its dumb luck, when I get something wrong well that just proves how much of a fake I am. When I am struggling it is because I am not good enough, because I am just faking it so of course I can’t do it. Still sound familiar?

This is all impostor syndrome and I have had it since my late teens. It often goes hand in hand with being a high achiever, we make ourselves unrealistic goals almost with the sole purpose of destroying ourselves when we don’t make them. We wouldn’t hold anyone else to these same goals and I myself have found what I would call a complete disaster and failure perfectly acceptable ‘your only human’ behaviour from anyone else. We are often much better councillors when it isn’t ourselves in the picture. I often try and think of how I would advise a friend if they were in the same situation. The difference in standards can be startling and it isn’t because I feel so good about myself…

This as I have come to realise is my largest hurdle in life, my working life is the most affected but it bleeds into all aspects of life.

Getting Help

I have been trying different things to help myself. As most readers know this blog was inspired by my first attempt at self help by reading the Self Care Project in my post > Hello

I have also been trying deep tissue massages to relieve tension and of all things acupuncture after several conversations with a friend who seemed to think it could cure nearly every ailment I have… I’m sceptical but I am willing to give it a go. My way of thinking is that it sends messages gallon the nerves to promote certain self healing or corrective reactions in the body that it hasn’t been taking care of by itself… it can’t hurt.

I sent in a self assessment to Leeds IAPT in May for counselling. I just got a response back saying I qualify for CBT but the waiting list is 9-10 months… I knew the system was overloaded but Jesus! That kind of puts pay to my idea of waiting for help from IAPT so now I have to jump back out of my comfort zone and call the helpline that work gave to me for counselling.

I keep convincing myself I can bring myself round through this that or the other without anymore help and no matter how much I prove to myself that won’t work or I can’t be self sufficient it creeps back in as a thought. I think, and I am not saying this is right, that for me it feels more like admitting weakness and failure than anything else. But look back at that waiting time, there are 10 months worth of people in the same situation as myself.

Modern life makes us sick… the news makes us depressed… life just feels like its going down the shitter sometimes. So focused on money and career that we forget to live. Or we choose to live entirely for other people and let ourselves fall by the wayside. If we then choose to do something for ourselves we are selfish horrible people… Sometimes it feels like there is no way to win.

I have to learn how to live with and like myself, appreciate my achievements and give myself the breaks I’d give others.

Renewing my Self Care Commitment

It has been to put it lightly a pretty horrible month or so and I’ve put myself through a pretty unpleasant roller coaster. I do find it amazing how sick our minds can make our bodies feel. It is also fairly remarkable how easy it is to slip and drop off a good self care routine even when you are trying to keep it in mind. I want to thank my friends and people I know for continuing to put up with me while I have a bit of a meltdown, I know it can’t be easy.

Medication

So as you can probably tell by the featured image, I’ve been back to the doctor and had my medication change. Increasing my citalopram to 40mg was from my current viewpoint a big mistake, it didn’t help with the anxiety and made me feel physically worse.

So I’m going back down to 30mg were I was reasonably stable at one point and introducing a new friend called beta blockers. My doctor described these as a way to reduce the physical manifestation of anxiety, this should make me feel less ill and more able to work around the way I am feeling.

Relaxation

So as part of trying to improve my body I have booked in a deep tissue massage. I am hoping this will set my muscles on the road to recovery from the extreme tension my anxiety has been putting them under. I am also trying heat packs across the neck/shoulders and meditation whilst dropping off in bed to release the muscles. I have been trying a product called Rescue Remedy but I think all I’ve managed to achieve with this is getting dozy and sleepy, either way with the change in meds I am going to cease using these.

Counselling

I applied to Leeds IAPT a couple of weeks ago and I expect it to be twice as long again before I hear back. In the meantime my workplace have an agreement with a counselling company so I am going to give them a call and see what kind of help they can offer.

Exercise

I know this helps, but I’ve been so drained and inclined to give in to that feeling and sleep that I’ve let it slide away. We have a rowing machine, treadmill and set of free weights in the house and I have a gym membership at exercise for less and yet… yeah…

So right now I feel sleepy and my eyes feel tired and I want to have a nice nap… so what I am going to do once I have finished writing this is make a cup of tea, pour myself a pint of water and get set up watching an episode of supernatural while I have a walk of the treadmill. It may not be a hard session but I am going to get myself moving.

Sleep

I’ve ordered some lavender pillows from a friend that I am hoping will help with the sleeping. It seems to be working for my partner but we are only on day 3. Another thing I am doing is restricting caffeinated drinks after 6pm i.e. preferably non. I’m not a fan of decaf so I have some herbal infusions and naturally caffeine free Rooibos if I want a hot drink. Also experimenting with the use of Horlicks

I want to resume being in bed by 10pm giving myself a chance at 8 hours sleep maximum in the hopes that I get 7 or more rather than just over 6.

Eating Habits

My diet hasn’t gone so well along with the exercise, too many easy option takeaways and not enough vitamins etc. Been trying to keep up my increased water intake but that’s always going to be a struggle for me. We’ve bought in salad materials for lunches, I got half way there today by making sandwiches but due to a low mood last night didn’t make enough time for the salad side, but steps forward.

Social Life

I often have issues with gearing up my head for large social situations, loud pubs and drinking rather than a quiet sit and chat are more of a challenge. Part of my way of dealing with this is I try to get to events early so the noise etc can build up around me rather than walking into a wall of noise and people.

I often have an urge to draw back and not put people out having to talk to me, or just avoid situations where I can as I often do, put my foot in it or make a fool of myself. This doesn’t mean I value my friends any less or that I don’t want to spend time with them, just sometimes it is harder than other times.

I’ve been keeping up with the Kitty Cafe, it gives me something to look forward to every week even if I may want to yell abuse at First Bus some weeks for failing to get me there.

Hobbies

I’ve not been making it to my creative writing group for a little while now, hoping in the next week or two I can get back on track with that once my energy levels are back up. I’ve gotten in plenty of TV with binge watching Star Trek Next Gen and Supernatural but I’ve not had enough concentration for Anime which is annoying because we are part way through quite a few series I really want to pick back up but dubbing is just bad and subtitles sadly take more effort.

Self-Care

So, I never got past chapter 5 in the Self Care Diary that inspired this blog, something else I have to rectify. I also have all the things I’ve stated above, so there is a plan of action floating around I just need to piece it all together. Wish me Luck!

Anxious Minds

So its been a hell of a journey since my last post. I’ve started 5 or 6 posts and then they’ve trailed off without getting far enough to be worth posting. I guess it started feeling like I had nothing to say, and then when I did have something to say I either couldn’t word it right or didn’t feel like anyone would want to read it. Having similar struggles with this post but I guess I want to get the ball rolling again.

I increased my dosage of citalopram with doctors advice to 40mg  and tbh I think its only made me feel worse. After a visit to the doctors last week we discussed and he thinks this is because my anxiety is currently the overruling issue rather than the depression and I can’t exactly fault his logic. I’ve also been having troubles with considerable acid reflux so I’m having tests to see what is causing it, no fun at all. Annoyingly I’ve stopped taking the anti acids and stopped the anti histamines I was taking and it seems to have eased off a little bit, though its not gone so I guess the tests are still worth it.

Either way, the doctor has suggested (depending on the test results) that I go onto beta blockers to help with the anxiety side of things. But that appointment isn’t for a couple of weeks so on advice from a friend I have some Bach rescue remedy due tomorrow to see if it helps at all, Who knows maybe if it works well enough I can avoid the beta blockers, but I doubt it.

Since increasing the citalopram I seem to have had a constant tension in my scalp, neck and shoulders. I have also had a reasonably constant feeling of fuzziness in my head and issues with focus and clear thought. I am hoping that if I can dial back the anxiety I can dial back my citalopram dose again and get rid of this sensation… but I don’t actually know if the citalopram has caused it or if it is a side effect of the rampant anxiety.

I don’t have any massive insights or words of wisdom right now. I haven’t kept up with the self care or even finished reading the book I harped on about. I’ve not given up but at the same time I’m not exactly going anywhere but one step forward and one step back  means I’m not going backwards anymore… right?

Gender Stereotypes & Mental Health

Okay… so this could be a tricky one. I’d like whoever reads this to keep an open mind, I am not trying to say my way of thinking is correct or that anyone actually has to agree with it, I just want you to try and keep an open mind. Also it is going to be a little stream of consciousness like so bear with me.

I have a lot of friends who are LGBT+ and I’ve had issues with my own femininity in the past. I’m cis gendered, which means I am comfortable with the gender I was born with but I don’t fit a lot of the stereotypes that come with my gender. I recently cut my hair very short and since then have received criticism and compliments both about my hair including insinuations that I must be a butch lesbian amongst other comments. Yesterday a tyre blew out on my car and I posted on fbk about it and I got comments about ‘girl power’ and how unusual it is for a girl to change their tyre. I admit I struggled getting the nuts off cos damn they are tight and had to call my husband for advice as he’d shown me what to do but I hadn’t done it solo before… but why does gender even come into it?

I’ve always been into things that aren’t considered girly, and if as a cis-gendered person I can be made to feel uncomfortable and question myself how hard must it be for people who don’t fit into that pigeon hole of ‘normal’. What is normal anyway? I am a gamer, I am into computers, I don’t do makeup or shave my legs and I don’t feel the need to jump up and down and scream at every exciting thing in life. I don’t sleep around, lead guys on or play games… flirting can be fun but only if both sides know that is all it is and if not its dangerous waters. (Note I’m married and happy with my partner at this point anyways).

This lack of girly behaviour made me unusual at my school were 3 girls dropped out pregnant, it also made me a case for sexual harassment from other students on top of the normal bullying, thankfully it never went far enough to be traumatising, just irritating.  Also being forced to wear skirts was a hell for me, I always wore shorts underneath to save embarrassments but I so wish trousers had been in. Apparently during primary school the other kids thought I must be a lesbian because I wasn’t interested in guys, hell I just wasn’t interested in anything until one particular guy got my attention in the final year of senior school, it just wasn’t on my radar. I know plenty of people who are a-sexual still going into their 30’s, there is nothing wrong with it. There are people who enjoy casual relationships but don’t need a partner and prefer it that way.

Being outside the ‘normal’ can easily feel persecuted and the need to hide the extent of your ‘wierdness’ can be exhausting. There is also the social pressure to fit in, that leads you to think ‘maybe I should try and fit my gender a bit more’. When you already live a life of anxiety and depression then societal pressures about gender and who you like so don’t need to be added on top. I have enough issues and my friends have a lot more from stereotypes to outright sexism or homophobia.

Why does gender matter? Why does who you fall in love with matter? Aren’t we all just people? I feel like life is too short to live with all this hate, how does the way we live effect you? Why do you feel the need to judge? Some people can take comments and brush them off and for some people it can be soul crushing and lead to a steep mental health dive. I have an anorexic friend who suffers the same issue of random strangers judging them and making comments that are either outright hurtful or that they think would help. It doesn’t even have to be gender issues, just anything visually unusual.

I am proud of who I am, I don’t feel like I should need to hide who I am or who I like but I also know that sharing information with the wrong people is still dangerous in this world. I love people, I don’t care what shape, size, gender, sexuality or religion they are as long as no one tries to pressure their views onto me we are all good. All I care about is that people are healthy and happy and so very few of us are. Modern society prosecutes and pushes us until we break, and there is no shame in breaking its only human. Hell 6 year old children are being treated for depression these days, mine didn’t hit until I was 16 with GCSE’s and my first death in the family.

You never know what someone is going through, how close they are to breaking. You never know where their insecurities lay. Some people will show it openly but a lot of people hide and have coping mechanisms so people don’t see. This is something I always try and consider (and don’t always get right) when interacting with people. Don’t hold bad days against people, don’t give up just because they are struggling because that is when they need you the most.

A friend once posted a quote “being well adjusted to a broken world is no good thing” so for those non-adjusted people amongst us, keep strong.

Self-Kindness Pt2

As a quick refresher the rough theme of this is going to continue (in a rather belated fashion) from where I left off in my last post https://selfcarediary.blog/2018/05/05/self-care-self-kindness-pt1/

It’s late and I am tired but I’ve been putting off or just plain not thinking enough to do a post and I need to get back on track in more ways that one. I’ve had a blip in my self care plan, you could call it a temporary break. In the spirit of being kind to myself I am not going to feel guilty or beat myself up about that, I am only human and I am trying.

Things to Celebrate

So this week I have managed to exercise 2 days out of my 5 day goal, despite not meeting my goal this is still progress. After all at one point I didn’t exercise at all!

I have also managed to get more than 6.5 hours sleep a night for the last week, it’s not quite my goal of between 7 & 8 hours a night but still its steady away.

I’ve kept in good communication with my partner and we are discussing issues together rather than either of us dealing with things alone. I also managed to see that his mind had gone down a guilty path and pulled him back round from beating himself up before he sank too far. Particularly proud of that one as even though we’ve been together 8 years I still have trouble between certain expressions. For example I often struggle between him being quiet and worried about something or just tired.

I decided to live with my body rather than fight it, I bought jeans that fit rather than the size I wanted to be.

Things to Learn From

So… I’ve not met all my goals… my brain naturally wants to view this as a failure and use this failure as a reason not to bother trying at all because what is the point, I’m just a useless failure anyway. Wrong.

What would I tell someone else who talked to me about this? What do my friends say to me when I voice these kinds of opinions? What about the questions I displayed in pt1?

  • What went right when I met my goals?
  • Why didn’t it happen the other days?

I think in this case it all comes down to motivation… I lost and then re-found my motivation to look after myself. How I did it? A little step at a time, doing one little thing for myself and another little thing until I felt like I had enough spoons or motivation to do a bigger thing. Or just out of a need to not keep going backwards.

Mindset Changes

I’ve touched on issues with my weight before, this week as stated I made a move in how I feel about my body. I need to stop thinking of myself as this failure of a gelatinous blob that is about as sexy as said description.

I’ll never have a flat stomach, I’ll probably never be a comfortable size 10 again. It’s not the end of the world. What is important isn’t what number the scales say or how many inches are around my waist… much as I still have strong feelings about said things. Punishing myself for what nature has given me is the opposite of self care and very much unkind. I wouldn’t be as critical or judgemental of anyone else’s shape so why should I do it to myself?

So my resolution is this > I am going to eat well and exercise, get my sleep and look after myself. My weight or waist may well change with this but the real importance is that I am healthy and nourished so I am going to try and remind myself of that whenever I catch a look at myself and dislike what I see.

Goodnight 🙂

Self Care & Self Kindness Pt1

Konnichiwa!

The focus for today’s writing is to try and focus on the good things in our lives, the things we manage to do, not the things we neglect. I will get in the counter argument early, yes it is important to acknowledge were we fail and fall down BUT it is more important to work out ways to avoid doing it again or just accept that it happens and learn how to pick back up again.

It is the difference between sitting looking back and feeling rubbish about yourself and looking forward about how things can be better. Sometimes you have to weather the storm of a bad day, or a bad week and keep going on the basis of you know it will pass. The last week I’ve taken a pretty bad dip, but I kept going as best I could and yesterday I started to pick up again. I got the gym, I didn’t eat crap… I’ve started a turn around. I know, I’ll have to do it again. 

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is a different way to label these ‘failures’ so it doesn’t sound so dire in your head. Much like changing the way we use the words should, want and need to better represent real priorities and to change the way we pressure ourselves. Though finding a way to word it that doesn’t put ourselves down still is tricky. After some input from friends I’ve had a suggestion that sounds good to me, it depends on how your mind works as does a lot of what I say but the idea is to approach it like a maths problem from an external viewpoint as if you were advising a friend.

  • Jenny wants to exercise for 30 minutes a day. This week she achieved her goal twice.
    • What can Jenny do to improve?
      • What went right?/why did she do it those days
      • What went wrong?/ Why didn’t it happen
      • What can she do to make the stuff that went wrong look more like the stuff that went right
    • It takes out the personal nature of the problem meaning that you don’t emotionally respond and you have a positive action moving forward.

What do you think? Do you have your own ideas?

Part 2 will follow later today or tomorrow, I figured I’d get this out there then continue later.

Spoons

I started off with all this determination and energy… I wasn’t exactly full of energy but something drove me to better myself. I’ve rambled on about anger issues, how important communication is, that I want to eat better and lose weight… get back into writing my novel, up my exercise to com bat the stress…

You know how long it lasted? A week… a lonely sodding week. I’m exhausted and drained having undone any of the goodness my initial renewment of self-care made. I also seem to have become temporarily decision anxious and have much analysis paralysis.

Started a post up the last few days and just nothing has come out. The most frustrating thing is with this recent slump is nothing new is going wrong. My job is very stressful but my general life outside of it is pretty good really, and my stressful job pays for it. Yet here I am trapped in my own head making up enough demons and ailments for a dozen people let alone myself.

Self-care can create a stable basis but it takes spoons to do it… and then there is the next step of challenging our negative thoughts, or accepting things as they are… doing something about the way I feel.

Maybe I have been a bit naive in thinking I could take it in turns or just focus on one side of the coin.

Dunno… out of words for now so I’ll just leave it there…