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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A little story about motivation…

A had an epiphany whilst at the gym… The lesson came to me when I found myself struggling on bench press.

Do you ever get the feeling that whatever you do and no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work?

You’re not alone.

I am a creature of learned behaviours when it comes to negative self talk and self-sabotaging behaviours. I have battled with depression, anxiety, and plummeting self-esteem for 15 years. I am in constant company of the “You can’t do it” voice in my head.

It’s this voice that likes to catch me at the most inopportune times – like when I’m trying to lift extreme amount of weight and almost dropping a loaded Olympic bar on my chest.

I gripped the loaded bar with what would have been a personal best, and as soon as I pushed it up I heard, “Uh oh” from somewhere in my brain. Not a good start. This immediately got me thinking, “Oh shit, I can’t lift this. It’s half my body weight. I’m going to drop it on me and break my teeth. I hope no one is filming this, I’ll end up as part of a gym fail video…” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

However, by gritting my teeth and busting my little ring out, all while my workout buddy, best mate, personal arse-kicker and boyfriend, harping on me to keep breathing, dig my heels in and push the damn thing, I managed to lift that olympic bar off my chest, 12 times in a row no less, rack it, sit up and wipe the tears away.

And it got me thinking – Why is it so easy for me to push myself to the maximum physically and so much harder to do in my personal life? Why can I face up to a cold hunk of metal and show it who’s boss with minimal sooking, but I can’t stand up for myself in my own life?

Answer: The stakes are higher. You drop a weight plate on your toe, you get a bruise. (Or, periodically, lose a toenail) You drop the proverbial weight plate in your personal life? You could potentially lose a friend, one of your teeth, your job or the love of your life. When the stakes are higher, the fear to jump is greater, with crippling effect.

How to combat this fear of losing everything, the fear of failure and the fear of leaping?

I think we all need a personal arse-kicker, someone who (and I’m quoting Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame here) exposes the parts of ourselves we despise the most, so we have no other choice but to combat them. These may not necessarily be your best friend – it could be a work colleague, family friend, brother, cousin, counsellor, or house mate, but they will be an important person in your life nonetheless.

That’s what my training buddy/best mate/boyfriend is to me – a person that points out the parts of myself I want to better and cultivate. A person that will tell me how it is when they have to, knowing that it’s for my benefit, but also does it in a kind way, only wanting me to succeed, because if I succeed, WE’RE better.

All you have to do is dig your heels in, take a big breath, and be willing to shed a few tears and struggle a bit. It might be uncomfortable at the time, but the end results are worth it.

What I think about when I can’t sleep

I’m sure some of you can relate.IMG_4465

This, for me, is most of the time. I’ve tried everything. Lavender everything, hot showers before bed, wine before bed, Sleepy time tea, Horlicks, training before bed, yoga and meditation, cold showers before bed, herbal sleeping tablets, no wine before bed, watching TV, all electrical devices out of my room, Diazepam (a really mild, prescribed sleeping aid), no training before bed time. NOTHING WORKS.

Well, maybe the Diazepam did briefly.

I have just come to the conclusion that I am among the ranks of Australia’s great over-thinkers and under-sleepers. I have been this way since my early 20s and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

My mother is the same. She’s of the opinion that she just has a few bad nights and eventually she’s so tired that she just has a massive sleep and she’s all better again. I don’t like her thinking. My job involves conversing with people and talking them into buying stuff they don’t need – I need to be ON. ALL. THE. TIME. And my mother has staying power that’s utterly enviable.

It’s a result of many sleepless nights that I turned to coffee. For comfort. Warmth. Understanding. Humaning. Doing the ‘standy-uppy’ thing.

Is my insomnia the reason I drink so much coffee? Or is my coffee drinking the reason I have insomnia-like tendencies? Who knows.

But… Back to the story at hand.

So, what goes through my head on a nightly basis?

Here is an example from the last month of no sleepy time thoughts…

“I wonder is the Fast and the Furious franchise was planned out that way all along, or after the balls up of Tokyo Drift, writers and directors chose to up the ante to redeem themselves”
“Where in the house can I put my dying Fiddle Leaf Fig and possibly save it?”
“If I fall asleep in the next five minutes I can get exactly three and a half hours sleep before I have to get ready for work”
“No, you don’t need to pee, you’re just bored…”
“OK, you can’t bitch out on going to the gym tomorrow… your bag is packed, food is prepped and gym gear is out. Get. The. Fuck. Up. (Yeah, nine times out of 10, I stayed in bed)
“I wonder if I could make a career out of floristry…”
“Should I buy the snakeskin-print jumpsuit from work?” (I didn’t. When a blonde Amazonia Goddess you work with tries it on, rocks it like Beyonce rocks sequins, and buys it, yield.)
“I’m hungry”.
“I really shouldn’t drink coffee after midday”.
“Shit. Did I empty the washing machine?”
“Wait up. Haven’t seen Kaley Cuoco post pics of her husband on Instagram in a while… why?” (Yeah… sadly not together anymore. And for the record, my boyfriend knew that before I did.)
“Is it time to get up yet?”
And on and on it goes. I can’t remember half the things I think about because I’m too tired to remember or write them down, but you catch my drift.

Anyone feel me?

Let me introduce myself…

My name is Carly. I’m 30 something. I just a regular Australian girl. When I say that, I don’t mean it in the cliched, naff, lame way; I’m down to earth, yes, but what I was more alluding to is the notion that I am somewhat of a nobody. I’m not famous, I’m not a socialite, I don’t even have a big social circle. I’m such a regular Jane Bloggs that if you fell over me in the street, you’d forget me after an hour.IMG_1359

I’m OK with this situation. I’m not offended. At all. I just figure I’m one of many that are like this.

This all being said, despite my ‘nobody’ status, I’ve seen, done and been involved in some truly hilarious, strange, and interesting situations that are worth sharing. This will be my platform.

But firstly, let me tell you about myself.

I’m a daughter to an amazing mum and dad. They back me up, look after me when I need it, and have a hell of a lot of fun in the process. The Mothership is a quiet, fierce and incredibly caring and compassionate mumma lion that takes no shit and has one of the funniest senses of humour. I think she does anyway. She’ll tell you she’s “fucking hilarious”. She’s been the first one to drive hours to be by my side when shit has truly hit the fan, and was the one that swept in and took action when I was really ill and needed a lot of help that I wouldn’t get for myself. She’s a fucking legend.

The Papa Bear is a Mister Fix-It who gives an incredible pep talk. He’s the first to teach my new things, like how to use a circular saw and cordless drill, or how to change my car tyres, or why my car is making that funny whiney noise again. (FYI – it’s probably the fan belt.) Like the mothership, he’s protective and isn’t afraid to show it.

I’m a sister to a boisterous and hilarious boy that seems placid, but secretly, looks after his older sibling. We look identical, just three years apart in age. We have both gotten along and fought like cats and dogs. We have exactly the same sense of humour and always tend to annoy the mother unit with our noise, and tendency to quote lame movies non-stop at the dinner table.

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I’m a girlfriend to an amazing man. He loves me in spite of my innumerable and, at times, irritating flaws. He’s seen me at absolute rock bottom; the only person to see me so low and still tell me in no uncertain terms that he still thinks the sun shines out of my ass. He’s caring, thoughtful, encouraging and respectful of my needs. We met at work – we’re both fitness trainers. We have share interests. We have separate interests. We laugh together. And he’s cute to boot. He is my jackpot lottery, Christmas and pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, all rolled into one.

I myself, am many things. Journalism student. Fitness Instructor. Retail Manager. Avid book collector. Believer in the healing power of crystals. Coffee addict. Observer of life. Creator of stuff. Flower sniffer. Purveyor of red wine and gin. Anxiety and depression sufferer. Ivory tinkler. Like finding the funny and metaphoric life lesson. Quietly spoken unless I’m excessively passionate. Constantly searching for something that lights my fire.

So if you want to listen to my mundane ramblings… stay tuned.