5 weeks after quitting my job.
Now 5 weeks have passed since I decided to quit my job.(See that post here) I see pictures of my old workmates on Facebook and my heart lurches with fondness for them. It feels in some surreal way such a lifetime ago. However 5 weeks is nothing but a heartbeat on the human invention of time.
After 5 weeks I have rested and recharged. My head and heart slowed to a manageable pace and all is well in my world. My days are full of creative pursuits; writing, sewing, gardening, cooking and the like.
Last week in my post on the gifts of anxiety and depression I mentioned that I had just come from my psychologist and we worked on a formalised plan to recognise and respond to any relapses in my mental health.
Going back “there” quite frankly scares the fucking shit out of me.
I hope I am getting smarter as I get older but I can never be quite sure!
We recounted my original signs and symptoms and identified my most important warning signs. This list for each of us this is quite different but for me it includes the following
- Sleep disturbances. Not just the odd night, but insomnia to the point it affecting my functioning the next day.
- Sense of resentment: At first this feeling is difficult to identify and even embarrassing to admit. I describe it as a feeling a low level of anger which I have identified as being caused by giving too much of myself, my time and energy to others before myself.
- Mentally exhausted: Oh that annoying brain fog that comes with depression. This is a rotten symptom. You see depression is not necessary about feeling sad. Depression for me all too often manifests in way such as this where I am unable to concentrate, I forget things, can’t remember my nouns (always the nouns)
- Physical exhaustion: Increasing levels of tiredness despite low levels of activity. Wanting to have daytime sleep, not naps, but sleeps.
- Others notice change: You know how it is; some things are glaringly obvious from the outside looking in. Others notice change, recognise patterns and may have an insight into our behaviour we can’t or don’t want to see.
Rod and I have a plan. A key word and tactic he has permission to enact and I have agreed to listen if he does so. How much do you think this has challenged the control freak in me?!
Plan to enact if I feel I am becoming unwell.
1. Review the work life balance.
If I notice an early warning sign I am to firstly review my work life balance.
I am one who can and does easily take on extra responsibilities and commitments. I don’t like to let my team down. Extra tasks and projects can be piled in an insidious way, slowly adding to the “to do” list. 8 hour days become 9 hour days and lunch eaten at my desk……….
2. Review other commitments.
The lead up to my break down last year was not just work related. The fact that it was full time with a one hour commute at the start and end of each day contributed more than I was at first willing to admit but there were several other factors involved as well.
I had 2 serious family issues requiring a large amount of physical and emotional energy. I have not shared those issues online because they involve other family members and that is their business. Not for one for one second take back my support in these cases. My family has and always will come first.
All families have shit go on, drama, illness, births, deaths, relocation and more. That is called life. Our family experiences over the past 12 month were not unique, not the first and I am sure there will be more interesting chapters ahead.
What I did find however was that my own self care tends to wane when family commitments get busy. I have been reminded that when caring for others I need to not only maintain my own self care but to step it up.
As I wrote a just a few weeks ago
Quitting my job was phase one. Now what the heck to do with myself? As I have said I would prefer my days to run as follows. Create, drink coffee and sleep. Mixed with some delicious grand parenting I would be one happy camper. (Read that post here)
Much of my personal reflection over the last few months has been about my midwifery career. In early 2102 I stopped my clinical work as a midwife and for the past 5 years I have working in hospital administration. Here I gained so much valuable insight into the healthcare system and enjoyed the work and the change immensely. However, the time has come to return to my soul work.
Being a midwife to me was so much more than what I did. It was also who I was. Rightly or wrongly I identified myself as a midwife and always have.
I have reflected on this issue of self identification and wonder how much it contributed to the decline of my mental health. When I left the clinical side of midwifery I lost a significant proportion if my identity. If I was a midwife but I wasn’t working as a midwife, then what was I?
Perhaps the birth of Lilyanna and Mason has contributed to the stirring of my midwifery soul. (Ya think!) The aroma of fresh vernix having stimulated a deeply buried yearning to be with women. Then again, perhaps I have been away just long enough to forget the frustration of the feminist battle that normal birth can be.
Whatever the deal spiritual calling or the soul need may be, the practical voice in my head has had enough rest to be able to consider and accept a position as a midwife. I start next Monday!!
Why go public on all this?
Some of you may be wondering why I have chosen to write and then go a step further and publish publicly my personal journey of living with a mental health issue.
That is a very good question. I could have easily continued my journey privately. Writing is very therapeutic for me. Sometimes I don’t even know what I am thinking until I write it down. However if it was just therapeutic I could keep all these words password protected in a private journal. Why share this publicly?
Ah ha..stay tuned. That post is coming very soon.