I had plans of writing a completely different post today, but somehow this is where I have ended up and we're just going to go with it. The last mental health post that I wrote was on the deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain, and how the stigma surrounding mental health is such a big part of why people don't reach out for help before its too late, if you missed that you can find it here.
This is going to be much less of a structured post compared to that one, that one I really set out to talk about my topic and stress the importance of keeping an eye on the people that you love and asking them how they are doing every so often because people put on a front, and even though they look like they are doing okay, they really might not be. Today is kind of me letting everything out that is going on in my head because I feel that I haven't done that for a while and it is well overdue. So there may be some rambling and I probably will not edit it too much, you just keeping it real and unfiltered.
The first thing that I want to talk about is sleep, there is a dedicated post coming up on this topic shortly (when I do eventually find some solutions to my sleep problems. When I find myself in bad times, like the really bad ones when I just give up on life for however long they last, the first issue that I see is my sleep.. always. I will take forever to get to sleep but then once I am asleep I am pretty much dead to the world- but the issue is that I'm taking so long to get to sleep that the amount of hours I have available to sleep are therefor shortened. My issue at the moment is not in how long it takes me to sleep, it lies in the quality of sleep I have been getting. At the moment I have no issues in going to sleep at a reasonable time, say nine thirty- ten o'clock but the amount of times I wake during the night is ridiculous, for the past few nights I have barely had more than three hours sleep at a time. Some of those times that I wake up I can remember having a dream and that's why I am awake, but sometimes I'll just wake for no obvious reason at all. If it was the kind of awake that is say like drowsy, still have the ability to go back to sleep awake I would be fine, but its more of the wide awake, well rested awake that I get. Therefore leaving me staring at the ceiling for a good half an hour before I eventually go back to sleep. Currently I am trialling a variety of different ways that I can perhaps have a more restful night sleep, sleepy teas, reading before bed, getting up at a consistent time ect, ect. I'll save that all for the dedicated post. I just wanted to share it in this post because sleep and lack of sleep has so much of an effect on my mental health, and I assume on the mental health of other people as well. If I have had a particularly restless night, I am pretty much set up for a shitty day which is not good when I feel like I have so much to do.
Which leads me to my next topic- overloading with work and burnout. I know that a lot of people that I know look at me and think "oh she doesn't really do much." While it may not look like I am capable of buying myself out with the amount that I work, it turns out that the amount of pressure that I have been putting on myself lately has pushed me dangerously close to the edge.
The first thing that I think was pushing me towards burnout was how hard I was pushing myself during my morning workouts. The past few weeks, I have been having a really shitty self confidence period- hence why you stopped seeing my face on my Instagram feed. I had a few weeks there where I was looking at myself in the mirror and just pointing out all my flaws- my stress acne was well and truly making its presence known on my face and back, I was bloated because I was feeling too shitty to eat the right foods, my skin was red and patchy constantly and I was making it worse because I was anxious-itching it, I would go for days without brushing my hair- it was a just one pile of dry shampoo on my head. So my mentality became that if I pushed myself with exercise I would lose weight and gain muscle and everything would be okay again. I ended up forcing myself to take two or three consecutive rest days from working out in order to shift my mentality from this dangerous thinking that working out was a punishment and shift it back to working out for enjoyment. It's taking a bit of work but I am successfully starting to be okay with how I look and how I am feeling again, which you know thank goodness for that.
My first priority on a weekday is obviously what I am getting paid to do- the administration and parts side of the family business. Not only do I get paid to do that, there is the added pressure that me not doing my job properly has effects on the other people that I care about- so me messing something up or letting myself get distracted from the first things I need to do has a flow on effect. Which is why, up until today I had not really taken just a day off to get my head straight and sort my shit out. But today I just looked at myself and thought about how I was actually feeling and I just knew if I didn't give myself a little break I would go straight back to the bottom of a downhill slide.
I have also been putting a lot of pressure on myself with this blog and writing my book and the social media for this blog. I love writing and I write because I love it, but at some point this blog turned more into of a job, and it came with added pressure to keep up with the posts and keep to a theme on it's Instagram and I just started forcing myself to write for the sake of getting content up. You wouldn't know it but I took a few days off writing (you wouldn't know because I had pre-written content still going up while I was taking this break) and just let myself stop doing everything for a while. I didn't go back to writing until I was truly going to write about something that I wanted to write about, that I was genuinely invested in- and that came in the form of my Eurydice Dixon, violence against women piece. I put a good few days research into that and produced a piece of writing and opinion that I was proud of. I knew that I needed that break to clear my mind and come back to writing as a passion, not as a pressure.
I also wanted to talk a little bit about the effect that alcohol has on my mental health and on my anxiety. I used to drink what would probably be considered a normal amount for a twenty one year old- Thursday night beers at the pub because theres a skimpy on, Friday night drinks because no one has to work the next day, Saturday because what else is there to do on a Saturday in a small country town and then more often then not I could last for a Sunday sesh as well. However, that more often than not, left me feeling shitty and anxious for the rest of the week. So, I stopped drinking al together. For a few weeks I consumed no alcohol and I was feeling great- I had one panic attack in that time but that was completely justified I felt. So, slowly I've introduced a new concept, I now allow myself to drink when I feel that its warranted and that I can handle myself and know when to stop. Ie. If I'm feeling a bit out of sorts that week, maybe there has been a panic attack or a breakdown, I have taught myself that I can't outdrink my mental health. So, last week I had a pretty good week, I had been feeling better than Had been for the past few weeks so I had some drinks on Saturday night- but I knew when to stop. My anxiety gets worse and worse when I drink so I've learnt to recognise my point of no return.. and not allow myself to get there.
I have just realised how long this post is and decided it would now be time to wrap it up. As I said I just wanted this to be more of an unstructured overview of what I have been dealing with for the past few weeks- while you didn't see that I was struggling, I was and that serves as a reminder that not everything you see on social media is an accurate depiction of how life is actually going.