Burnout

TW: contains very mild reference to self-harm.

For me, the last few days have been hectic to say the least.  My Mum was off work for a couple of days at the end of last week.  This makes it difficult for me, because I desperately want to spend time with her but this Godforsaken illness dictates otherwise.  I’ve made mention in previous posts that there are certain aspects of my illness that my Mum cannot handle, and that our relationship can be, at times, somewhat strained.  Determined to make my Mum happy, and give her the hope and happiness that she must get from seeing me make the effort to get out and about, I gritted my teeth and channelled all of my energy into making the most of the opportunity before me, the chance to spend some quality time with my Mum, just her and I.

I’m not going to deny that it was nice.  Just the two of us in the house while everyone else was at work, or university, having our elevenses together, me helping out with chores that one always defers for as long as possible…washing windows, cleaning the oven, clearing out a cupboard.  We had my cousin and the boys over for coffee one afternoon.  The next afternoon we went out for coffee.  We visited my grandparents.

Then on Monday I started the art therapy class I told you all about in my previous post, Art Therapy.  I surprised myself and enjoyed it.  I met one of the OTs beforehand, whom I know from my attendance at previous groups, and she took me to the classroom and introduced me to the tutor.  He seemed friendly and genuinely interested in ‘my story’.  He looked at some work I’d brought along.  Moreover, there was another girl also attending for the first time who, oddly, turns out to have Aspergers.  Since I am currently undergoing testing for this same condition (Diagnosis, Spectra and Stigma) it seemed almost as though fate had put us at the same table in the same classroom at the same time.  She was friendly, chatted openly about her life with Aspergers and reassured me, should I happen to receive a definitive diagnosis.

Finally, Monday evening saw my Sister contact me about her day off the following day (yesterday).  She would come and join me for lunch, and we would go out for coffee.  In short, I felt the same way about this as I did about spending time with my Mum.  I love my Sister dearly, but she is everything I’m not.  As such, I sometimes find it difficult to be around her.  To be in her company for several hours would invite ample opportunity to talk about me, my illness, my blog, my art…none of which she fully understands.  But, again, I gritted my teeth and promised myself that I wouldn’t let a rare chance pass me by.

And so yesterday morning saw me attempt to alleviate some stress, exhaustion and a little fear in my usual way.  As a result, I had to make an urgent appointment with the Practice Nurse, who has given up sending me to A&E and instead does what she can to patch me up in the surgery.  To clarify, I managed to fit this in around the planned time with my Sister.

I want to stress that none of what I’ve managed over the past few days is necessarily a bad thing.  I enjoyed spending time with people I love, I found the art class to be a positive experience and intend going back next week.  There was no one thing that ‘pushed me over the edge’ so to speak.  But it has been relentless, full-on.  I haven’t had time to process anything that’s happened, I’ve just been ‘doing’.  In short I’ve burnt myself out, and it took my ever-vigilant cousin to point this out to me.  I am unwell, I have a condition that does not lend itself to such a busy schedule.  I need lots of time to myself, to recharge my batteries.  Granted, activity is good, but there is a very fine line between too little and too much…a lesson we all need to (re)learn from time to time.

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2 thoughts on “Burnout

  1. You’ve definitely had a lot on this past week and it’s no wonder that it all got on top of you!
    I think it’s great that you tried to do some positive things to connect with your family, but I notice that much of it was done out of pressure to do what others wanted, not based on what worked for you. It can be hard to set boundaries with people who don’t understand them or how necessary they are but, as your cousin pointed out, you have the right to take smaller steps and go easy on yourself to stop it from being too much too soon.
    I’m so glad that the art class was such a positive experience and hope this becomes something enjoyable you can look forward to and a time where you can relax a little and focus on your own needs. It never hurts to make a friend on the first day either! 😉
    Take care of yourself! ❤
    Aimee xx

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    1. Hi Aimee,

      Thanks (as ever) for reading/commenting, I always appreciate your input.

      It’s difficult, when things feel so right at the time, to be sensible and think ahead to how one might feel the next day. But I definitely need to recognise the smaller signs more quickly. The art class was a positive experience, and I’m hoping that time will make it more and more easy to get myself there. And, yes, it was a piece of luck that I wasn’t the only newbie and that we had some things in common! She’s a good bit younger than me but, as I was explaining to my cousin earlier, in the MH community everyone has had enough ‘life experience’ (to put it nicely!) that age gaps are irrelevant.

      Warm wishes,

      Louise xx

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