It is with mounting resignation that I accept that my little black dog is back upon me. No I don't mean my gorgeous chocolate dog, Hazel, but the type of depression I was experiencing back in 2007/2008 when I took a year off work and went travelling. This was also when I started the blog, and I wrote a little about it then.
The last few months have been a huge struggle for me, just finding the energy and motivation to go to work, though I am not at the point of experiencing panic attacks or bouts of nausea like I used to. I hoped that the Christmas break would help, but it hasn't, and with the extra responsibility of training a new registrar because the person I had handed over to is on holidays all of January, it hasn't been easy. Luckily, the new registrar is a breeze.
For the last few weeks getting out of bed has become increasingly difficult, and if not for my commitment to going cycling with Erin twice a week it's questionable whether I would be doing any exercise at all. Yes I have a ski trip coming up in less than 2 weeks, yes I am scared shitless I am not going to be physically up to it, but I am also resigned to not giving myself a hard time if I can only manage half days. My fitness isn't actually that bad now anyway, it just could be a lot better if I'd had the motivation to do more exercise. Obviously part of my depression....
When I burnt out back in 2008 I remember having a talk with a friend who asked me how I could identify when I was getting that way again, and I remember saying that I didn't know if it was possible to predict. But now I know that yes, it's totally possible to see the signs and do something about it.
The signs for me are: fatigue, difficulty getting up in the morning, panicky feelings about going to work, even to the point of full blown anxiety and nausea, moodiness and grumpiness, social withdrawal, loss of productivity and lack of motivation. Interrupted sleep.
I know I don't want to work any more, but for my own financial sake I have committed to continuing until June, and also for the purposes of handing over my knowledge to others. Mostly, this is corporate knowledge, as there are very few of us working in the organisation who have been there as long as me, meaning I have ended up with a lot of responsibility for day to day stuff as people leave. Unfortunately, the chaos of working at an AMS is that many people get given senior positions but they don't have the skills or aptitude to perform well in, so the rest of us prop them up. This is exhausting, and very frustrating, as you are continuously dealing with the same issues that no-one has learnt how to manage despite explaining in the minutest detail, writing it down and showing someone how its done. Thankfully, we have now employed a competent person into the practice manager position and I am in the process of documenting and handing over my knowledge to others. In fact I'm doing the organisation a huge favour, not just walking out that door like everyone else does and leaving it to others to pick up the pieces and reinvent the wheel.
This isn't really a lightbulb moment for me, I've been very aware of my deteriorating mental health for a wee while, and upping the exercise and cycling did help. I'm sure that my holiday away will also lift my mood appreciably, but I'm pretty sure that it will be all too temporary and I can see myself falling back into the abyss (no it's not that bad) within a month of being back. See, there's the negative thought patterns of my depression speaking....
It's not acceptable to hate one's job, or at least hate going to one's job. I understand that some people say they have no choice, but I think that's not totally true. With enough motivation and drive, anyone can re-skill and find something that they can enjoy doing, that turns a buck. Of course that takes more energy than staying in a job, or situation, you hate, which is why so many people are unhappy. I'm just not one of those people. If I'm unhappy, find the cause and do something about it.
This time around I'm not going to let myself fall into that really horrible place I went to in 2008. That was a terrible terrible place, and it took me months to recover from my own self loathing and learn to accept myself as a flawed human being like the rest of us (the problem with being a perfectionist). I realise that if I just grin and bear it for the next five months, knowing that that's all I've got left to get through, I may actually come out of this in June quite damaged, because that's what happened last time when I hung on too long in order to "not let anyone down". But I let myself down, big time! So this time around I'm going to take advantage of my sick leave and use it. Because I am not going to let my health suffer at the convenience of my employer.
One good thing about this time around is that I am eating really well and have not resorted to drinking alcohol, something I did in excess back then. In fact I'm pretty sure my almost complete abstinence from alcohol over the last couple of months has been a subconscious effort on my part to avoid where that takes me. I have a kind little psyche don't I? Nice to think I don't resort to self destructive behaviours when I'm down, but protective ones. I wish some of my patients could do the same kindness to themselves....
So at the moment I'm trying to be kind to myself, taking time off work when I can, doing some meditation and pottering in the garden, and trying to do more exercise. Temperatures in the 40s don't exactly make the latter very easy though!! OMG Japan is going to be lovely and cold after this week of high temperatures.
Let's see what March brings....
I was reading your last post and thinking how we are of similar age and outlooks, but fortunately I have not been stalked by the black dog. I don't know if this helps, but know there are people you have never met who read your blog and admire you from afar. Stay true to your heart. All the best, MandyReplyDelete
Thanks Mandy, I love how blogs allow you to get to know other people you've never met, and find souls that you seem to synch with. I feel that should I ever turn up at Rocky Springs we'd hit it off like old friends. I think I'm a lot more prepared this time around, and won't be letting myself fall apart quite as spectacularly as last time. Thanks again, NaomiDelete
Hang in there Naomi, Japan is not far away, (only 2 weeks). I hope it gives you the lift in spirits to take you over that June deadline and on into the future that is waiting for you.ReplyDelete