Hello burnout.

It’s been a good 7 months since I’ve written anything. A journal entry. A letter. A long, confessional text message.

It’s been a hellish year of being constantly tired, stressed, depressed (I didn’t know my depression could reach the depths that it did. I was scared. Plus side, have THE BEST and MOST CARING doctor ever. EVER.) I’ve spend most of the year with the proverbial water lapping at my nostrils, just short of drowning me.

This year, I wanted to reclaim me. Moving to Sydney had slowly eaten away ‘the me’ that I used to be. The girl that used to go for 6 kilometre runs, the girl that exercised every day, the girl that enjoyed cooking, that enjoyed going out and talking to people, the girl that enjoyed learning and reading, the girl that was getting better with being her. That girl turned into someone that is quite frankly, shit scared of going out in public for fear of being excluded or laughed at, lethargic and uninterested in life, completely doubtful of my ability (despite having nothing but positive working environments in Sydney) completely judgemental of the girl she’s become, to the point of sheer, unabashed hatred.

It got to the point this morning where I looked in the mirror at myself and cried. I cried at my own appearance. No. Enough is enough. I might have grey hair and spider veins, but I’m also hilarious, a bloody good cook and pretty good at picking out the best bottle of Shiraz from 20 paces. So I have to have a long hard think about what the FUCK has gone wrong and how the hell do I get back on track.

So – what started this?

Shit hit the fan about 5 months ago when the fiancé found me a bundled mess of snot, tears, knotted hair and self loathing on the lounge room floor. The catalyst for this? I got puffed running to the train. And when I say puffed, I mean, wheezing, throat on fire, nauseous, mottled purple face, the full shebang. I was so ashamed that I had come to that. I used to be a super fit, freakazoid fitness instructor – I had no problem backing up for 2, sometimes 3 sessions a day. And now, to not be able to run to catch an early train home? I know it doesn’t sound like much but I honestly thought my life was over. I thought the fiancé would leave me because I’m not the original girl he fell for, I had none of my original self left.

Living in Sydney means, to a lot of people, commuting. At this stage I was commuting about 1.5 hours each way. This was 3 hours on top of the day I was already at work busting my ass to try and make something of myself. I was out the door at 6:30am and not home until nearly 8pm at night.

I could see what had been happening – Increasingly over time, the better I had gone at work, the worse I was at home. It was at the point where I couldn’t cook for myself or have the energy to bathe. All I could do to survive was live of food that was microwavable, or arrived in steaming hot cardboard boxes via Menulog. Load more depressive states. More stress. And thus, the cycle continues. Add to this, feeling internal pressure – “must finish Uni”, “must save for wedding”, “must be perfect”, “must lose weight to look how I used to look”… All these things that in my mind, I need to achieve in order to be the perfect person.

Ensue, crash number 2.

I couldn’t walk into my Uni class room. I mean – sat at a table 5 metres from the door hysterically crying because I was petrified of walking through the door. Shaking. Dry retching. Inconsolable.

And then I read a post from an Instagram blogger by the name of Bec, who talked about sadness, and I just lost it. She said, “sometimes, I get really, irrepressibly sad. You are not weird or strange. You are not a burden. You are not broken. You are not alone.” I was always sad. I repressed my sadness as to not be a burden, because even though I have a great partner, I did feel alone. I felt lost. There was none of the original me left. I didn’t know what made me happy. I didn’t know what I found fun. The only emotions I knew were stress, sadness, anger and frustration.

So I did the only thing I could do. I put me first. I took some stress out of the equation. I put University on the back burner. To revisit at a time that has yet to be decided upon. Weight lifted and for a moment, I could breathe without needing a paper bag.

Current date: I have just received a massive promotion. For me, career changing. More pressure. More stress. More organising. More internal pressure “you can never drop the ball, you must be perfect at all times…”

Anyway, suffice to say, I’ve been thinking about my thought processes and my state of mind for the last few months, and I came to one large conclusion;

Every single melt down leads back to competition and comparison. In one way or another.

Health gurus will tell you that the only person you should compete with is the person staring back at you in the mirror. I say, if the person in the mirror makes you turn into The Bellagio Water Show, there’s an issue, and maybe the competition should cease. Do I really need to compete with the girl I remember I was…As I recall, that girl with the popping obliques and rounded delts that had the hot tamale pictures taken in the white bikini was FUCKING STARVING.

At Uni we compete for the best marks, and compare ourselves to others that get the incredible marks when we don’t. At work we compete for the best figures and results. We compete for promotions and fight to stay on top. We look at everyone’s highlight reel on social media, thinking that our lives have to look like this in order to be full, enriched, meaningful. Do we really need to fight the chick with the hollow eyes of self contempt staring back at you? I think that chick has had enough.

I have spent SO LONG competing in one way or another, I forgot how to simply, BE.

So from here, what do I do?

Well, apart from spend the next 2 weeks off work on annual leave asleep, in the sun, in the gym perfecting my power cleans or in Adelaide drinking McLaren Vale Shiraz, the best there is to be drunk… I don’t know. But it will involve me actually doing something I’m petrified to do – walk into an unnamed sporting wear store, buy snazzy new gear, set myself some lifting goals, write out some recipes I’d like to cook for myself, keep myself drinking water, and see where that takes me. And when I do inevitably have another meltdown, try to woo back a little bit, “it’s a bad day, not a bad life”.

 

Instant Gratification and Mental Health Struggles

It’s no lie, and I’m quite open and frank about my roller coaster ride with anxiety and depression. Presently, it’s a bit of a low, purely due to circumstances out of my control and my inability to cope with these problems in a healthy way.

I tried reading the shit load of self help books I own… (side bar; If you’re not from Australia, a “shit load” is an extremely acceptable unit of measure, quite similar to “ass load” and “fuck load” – it simply means ‘a lot’) plus blogs from notable life coaches, psychologists and other health professionals. The same themes recurred… Clean diet, exercise, water, sleep, love and friendships. Basically, the stuff that everyone knows, but easier said than done.

I mean, who knew the answer lay in going for a walk every morning before work when you’re so exhausted you can barely drag yourself to the shower? Who knew the answer was eating salads and drinking water when you barely have time to go to the supermarket or have the money to buy fresh produce let alone have enough energy to summon to cook a nutritionally balanced meal that doesn’t taste like dirt and old hobo’s shoes? EVERYONE KNOWS THIS. BUT – People in a funk, people down, people so low that they can’t get out of bed need instant gratification, not something that will take months to notice the affects of.

I guess that’s why coffee, alcohol, drugs and sex are such huge vices to people in times of struggle – the affect is instantaneous and amazing.

I was thinking about this the other day and thought that the only way to calm myself down at this point in time, when I was balls to wall busy and REALLY in need of some drastic change was to get me some of that instant gratification, the good stuff. But a healthy version of it.

Luckily for me, my mum asked something of me at the same time, which turned out to be what I needed.

Mum and dad are finishing up some renovations on their house and are putting in a photograph wall in the new living area. Mum called me last week and asked me for some small art works, both water colours and black and white ink sketches that they could frame and hang with other photographs.

Picking up the inks and felt tip pens, the calming sensation I felt was instantaneous. Immediately, my jaw unclenched, my shoulders relaxed and my brain got a little bit quiet for a while without needing anything.

Who would of thought?

Now, whilst I am MOST DEFINITELY NOT a mental health care professional of any kind, I am at this stage reminded of what a psychologist once said to me when I was going through a really rough patch. I had just been put onto anti-depressants, I was busting my ass at University, my self worth and self esteem were at the bottom of an abyss somewhere, and I felt that there wasn’t an end to my struggle. The psychologist gave me the usual spiel – drink water, exercise, set time aside in the day, just for you. But then, she asked me, what made me happy… the closest I could come up with was, drawing and taking photos. Her reply to me was, if something makes you instantly happy, you should do more of that.

So – whilst I still struggle with my mental health, and whilst I wait it out until I can have some time to myself and really sort through whats going on upstairs with the help of some health care professionals, I’m going to hold on for grim life by doing something that makes me instantly happy.

A Big New Year Surprise…

I’m engaged!

My lovely fellow popped the question a couple of days ago and I am so excited I don’t know how to react!

We had a few tough times last year, but we stuck together and we’ve come through it… grimacing and relieved. But, ultimately, smiling. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it, even though it’s killing you inside and the situation sucks a bag o’ dicks.

It just goes to show that if you truly want something, and you stay focussed, loyal and strong, even though you think every last skerrick of patience and strength is gone, work really hard on being open, honest, and loving with yourself and your significant other, even when you want to punch something, you will arrive where you’re supposed to be. Wherever that may be.

So for now, we’re going to enjoy being engaged and I’m going to pillage Pinterest in the search of the perfect wedding gown.

IMG_5484

2016 Reading List

reading_list

These are in no particular order… But I’ve picked them all for a reason… either, I’ve started to read them and haven’t finished, they’ve been gifts, or they’ve been a book I’ve been meaning to read for years. 20 books is a nice, rounded number… Looking forward to ticking the titles off!

  • A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius – Dave Eggers
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  • On The Road – Jack Kerouac
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  • The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • Wild – Cheryl Strayed
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  • The Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz
  • The Operators – Michael Hastings
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

 

2016… Plans.

New Years Resolutions. Hate them. To me, it’s a perfect way to set completely unrealistic expectations and make you feel like the biggest failure when you inevitably, don’t achieve everything.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But I DO set goals for myself for the year. Random things that I want to achieve for the year ahead.

Last year, I wanted to;

  • Laugh more (totally achievable with my boyfriend)
  • Explore Sydney
  • Be Brave (took on a massive new job that I didn’t think I could do)
  • Separate work and home (I didn’t pull this off all the time, BUT, I was better than the year before… progress.)
  • Save $50 a week (EPIC FAIL – I live in SYDNEY)
  • Eat green veggies every day (OK – 5 out of 7.)

I had a year of ups and downs… and didn’t achieve everything I set out to, particularly my fitness goals… but in the grand scheme of the year, upon reflection, I did pretty OK… So I’m happy.

I really want to set some different intentions for this year; set really specific goals, master them, and tick them off my list.

  • Learn to make decent rice paper rolls. (Every time I go out to get them, the salad is soggy and shitty, there’s nowhere near enough prawn filling and dipping sauce.)
  • Pick 20 books from the Amazon.com 100 books to read in a lifetime list and read them. (http://www.amazon.com/b?node=8192263011)
  • Start training regularly. (And start with 3 days for 40 minutes. This isn’t hard for me… I just have to pull my head out of my ass and be uncomfortable for a month.)
  • Cut down my caffeine intake. The only time I drink water is when it’s boiling hot with a shot or two of coffee in it. My adrenal glands are crying tears laced with coffee. Time to stop.
  • The same goes for my wine intake. I don’t drink to get drunk, I drink because I LOVE the taste of wine… BUT, I need to love the taste of wine a little less frequently.
  • Take more photos and display them around the house.
  • Write more. I want to commit to one blog a fortnight, so 26 for next year!
  • Get away for weekends a little more with the boyfriend.

What are you all planning to do this year? I’d love to hear…

Stay tuned, I’m about to compile my book list for 2016…

Sadness

I was at work yesterday when I learned of the terror that has ensued in Paris.image

My heart has been heavy with sadness for a country that prides itself for it’s ability think extistentially, for humans that have been hurt or have been lost and for families and country people that have had their world shook to the very core.

This is not a time to bash those around us. It’s a time to embrace each other and act with with pure, divine love.

I have read a fair bit this morning. People hating celebrities for not pledging support for France quick enough, (yes, this actually happened. Somene wrote something utterly ridiculous on Lady Gaga’s instagram account berrating her for not reacting quick enough with her sympathy. Big picture people.) thoughts and prayers from every human on Earth sent to Parisian natives on this traumatic and devastating day. I’m girding my loins for what is going to come next – people laying on the blame…

image

I have never understood how we can call ourselves humans, or even Christians (a title that I DO NOT identify with – due to the hate that ensues in the name of Christianity. I would much rather be referred to as a Humanist.) However, now is not the time to label bash. Now is the time to, despite differences of opinion, support humans, love and pray that no more innocents suffer from the abhorrent acts of a few select individuals.

I am so sad for the world today. I am sad for France and it’s people.

“Tout l’amour dans mon coeur est avec vous, Paris”

The one phrase you should never say…

“You need to calm down”.

If there’s one phrase that really amps me up, it’s being told to calm down. The same goes for “let it go”, “relax”“get out of your head” or any other derivative of these phrases.

These always anger me. GREATLY. Usually, because when I get to this stage I’m so manic and angry because I feel like I’m not being heard. Not in the petulant, adolescent, stamping my feet way, but the “I need to be heard and I cannot fully express my emotions at present due to my state of upset and panic, my inability to ˆto see the forest through the treesˆ”.

Listening and hearing are two extremely different things. In my lowly opinion, hearing requires empathy for ALL parties, and not requiring understanding so much as REASSURANCE  that  your thoughts are legitimate. Not only that, but the comfort in knowing that there is nothing wrong with you for momentarily dropping your bundle.

But;

When you inevitably DO drop your bundle for whatever reason, be it, the stress of a new job (Like myself, who gained ANOTHER promotion – my second in six weeks – a personal record of mine) relationship struggles, financial woes, whatever… remember who your friends are, and how much they love you. Don’t alienate them, they’re only trying to help. Remember yourself and the person you want to be in life. It’s OK to be angry and stressed and upset and scared but it’s not OK to take everything real or imaginary out on those who are your scaffolds, holding you up when your foundations are weak.

Speaking from experience and quoting ancient literature, we hurt the ones we love, the most – don’t let struggles and mis-communication get int he way of your closest relationships. True wisdom, knowledge and growth comes from constant reflection and the desire to improve.

So, when someone tells you to calm down, instead of yelling or ripping someone’s head off, calmly say “That phrase is angers me and feels counter-productive” and try and talk through your feelings – you will educate those around you about the best way to help you, and in turn, equip you with skills to express your emotions and help those in similar situations.