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”.

 

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