My current lifestyle is not sustainable

I am exhausted. Mentally and physically. My brain hurts and my body hurts. I have kept going and going and going and I know I can’t keep it up anymore. I had a sobbing session with my counsellor today. I started crying in the waiting room and then it didn’t stop. My eating is all over the place, my stress levels are sky high. PhD stuff is freaking me out. Work is just full of people needing things from me. I am over promising and under delivering and I hate myself for it. This weekend coming is the first of 4 trips in the next 6 weeks for weddings and hen parties and christenings. (I’m so blessed to have lots of lovely friends but sometimes I wish they could spread their life events out!). I need some time to myself as I know going on like this is not sustainable. 

And yet I could make time for myself if I tried. I’m sure people would understand. I could schedule things better. I could take on less at work. I could exercise less. I could prioritise spending time food shopping and cooking. But I haven’t been, and I need to take some responsibility for the impact that is having.

I really struggle with slowing down and stopping. My experiences of when I’m not ‘go go go’ are of depression and inaction. As with so many things, I’m all or nothing. I can keep going until I need to collapse and hide. I have recognised this before and have really tried to address it, but the guilt and anxiety that come with ‘down-time’ is hard to cope with. It never feels that restful to be honest, and when I do enjoy it I feel ashamed for enjoying it. I associate action with thinness and control and effectiveness, and stillness with weakness, laziness and fatness. 

I need to accept that I’m not superwoman, that I can’t do everything and be well, and that’s okay, it is not a reflection on my strength of character, it’s just who I am. 

I’m annoyed at myself for falling down the same hole that has tripped me up before, but there’s always room for learning. I can’t make major changes right now as my calendar is how it is, but I can be aware to not make any more plans for a while until I have figured out this whole moderation thing. 

Does this need to be always on the go affect anyone else? Any tips gratefully received as always! 

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14 thoughts on “My current lifestyle is not sustainable

  1. You know what you need – why not just do it?😊 You are in control, it’s your life. No one can do it for you. You have explained clearly what you need and why. Why not take a chance and do what you know is good for you? What are you afraid of? What have you got to lose? If you were your best friend, what would you say to yourself? 🤗😘🤗

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    1. This has made me think…
      I’m afraid that if I slow down I will eat more or spend more time obsessing about food. I’m afraid I will just cry. I’m afraid that people will think I’m not working hard enough or that I’m lazy. I’m afraid that if I don’t make such effort with friends they will forget about me as they have moved onto a different stage of their lives than me. I’m afraid that it might be the last time I see people so I have to go to things (what if something happened and I was just too lazy to travel?) I’m afraid that I’m not actually that good at work and PhD that if I slow down that will be exposed. I’m afraid that if I don’t make every second count then I’m wasting my life which is unfair for people who haven’t had such opportunities. Argh- turns out I’m afraid of quite a lot!
      But you’re right that I need to challenge what would happen if I did it. I don’t think I’ll try this out on the big stuff like travelling to see people but I haven’t nothing to lose with some of the other stuff like worrying what people think of me. You’re right- the time for action is now.

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  2. I am the exact same way! I keep myself insanely busy all the time, and then have major freakout episodes every 6 months. I don’t have any good tips though. I am trying to find things to quit and ways to ease my workload, but when I have nothing to do I get bored and depressed. I totally use my workload as a coping mechanism to not have
    to deal with other issues (food, etc.).

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  3. I have been this same way, give myself busy work so I don’t have to dwell on depression or anxiety or anorexia. I’ve found the best thing, for me, I can’t speak for you, has been to say “Okay, efff this.” and deliberately take quiet time where there are no expectations of me needing to do anything. Then letting the thoughts, good or bad, come and dealing with them. Once that is out of the way, I no longer feel the compulsive need to be busy all the time. Instead of running away from the thoughts, I “suit up” and face them head on.

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      1. After I went to bed last night I was worried that you might take that as me saying “man up” or woman up, and that’s totally not what I meant. For me it is kind of like ripping off a bandaid and cleansing a wound that is infected. It is extremely uncomfortable, but after you do it once, it begins to get easier to do as you see the wound progressively get smaller and closer to normal flesh. I definitely think it has gotten easier. I no longer fear addressing things because they no longer lead to the black hole of suicidalness and intense depression. After one or two times of addressing the wounds head on, that stopped, thank goodness. Now it’s just more like maintenance and it isn’t as big of a thing. If I start noticing that something is up, I never put the radio on in the car so I can work through things in my mind while driving. That has been all it has taken for a while now. 🙂

        For the first couple times you address things head on, make sure to have a support system that you can go to their house (or they to yours) and/or call if you start to feel unsteady. I really hope it gets better for you! I know addressing it this way has changed a lot for me.

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      2. This is inspirational, thank you. It’s so reassuring to hear someone that has tried it and come out the other end. My counsellor is amazing (like a total knowledgable evidence based superhero) but it’s different hearing ‘ride it out’ from her than it is from someone who understands that it could lead to the ‘black hole of suicidalness and intense depression’ (obvs she may well understand this from her life but we don’t talk about that!). Thank you.

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      3. I am so glad! 🙂 Yeah my biggest fear trying to face it head on was the suicidal aspect. It’s very scary to willingly push yourself in a direction that might bring that up, but being proactive and setting up support in advance has always been my strategy. We are the first line of defense in protecting ourselves! 🙂 If you need anything, you let me know! My email is Rebecca@newcrunchymom.com and I check it frequently.

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  4. Honey, I feel the same way. You described it so well. No one else seems to understand this. I have this awful need to constantly be doing something productive. Otherwise, I fall victim to unrelenting guilt. It’s an obsession with self-denial. Guilt about relaxing. Guilt about spending money. Guilt about eating. Guilt about not eating. Guilt about feeling guilty. I know. You’re not alone. I think it’s the eating disorder and anxiety trying to sabotage us. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, type of thing. There’s no making them happy.
    I am proud of you for being so open and honest about this. The important thing is you are able to recognize the problem, so I know some part of you wants to get better, even though you’re scared. I am too. We’re in this together. Reach out anytime. Stay strong. xo

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    1. Guilt shame guilt shame guilt shame, man what a pattern of sucky emotions EDs bring! Why should we feel guilty for doing nothing if nothing is our intention? Far better than doing nothing out of emotional paralysis!

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  5. I have to have downtime. Did I do it for anorexia management? No. Did I do it for anxiety management? No. Did I do it for any reason related to my deserving it? No. I did it to manage my pain. I have to have 4-6 hours of downtime in order to be a reasonable person being around people later in the day; in order to live with myself. My downtime doesn’t consist of rest, meditation, reading, etc. It consists of sitting on the couch, coloring or crocheting, while binge watching mindless TV. My brain is too active to do anything else. Most of the time I use headphones. What I’m really doing is removing as much outside stimulus as possible. It is an escape from the outside world in order to function in that world.

    Obviously most people can’t do 4-6 hours but even an hour here and there does a difference. Some people know I do this but most people don’t. It’s simply scheduled activity as far as they are concern. “I’m not available, can we get together in the morning, mid morning, for lunch, in the evening,” and so on. As far as they know I have appointments, or am cleaning house (not considered downtime by the way) or whatever they choose to think. Also, if it is ‘scheduled’ my brain sort of interprets it as a part of my efficiency mode. There was the usual guilt, shame, self talk of, “You’re a lazy _____ (fill in the blank),” “you ‘shouldn’t’ do this,” blah blah, but eventually it was so obvious that I could handle life better that it became a valued part of my day. Instead of feeling guilty for taking the time, I now feel threatened, so to speak, if people interfere (like having appointments) during that time.

    Everyone is different and you will have to find your own path but hopefully something I said might click and be helpful.

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  6. I’m a trauma survivor but the coping mechanisms for anxiety are similar to what I am hearing you describe they are for an eating disorder. I don’t actually relax immediately and don’t try to make myself do it, it takes about three days for me to be able to wind down after an intense work project. Learning that about myself was really good.

    I order my space, I take care of the fidgety things that I have been wanting to do, and I get really intentional about taking care of myself. It’s a practice. I think about slowing down as a way to take care of myself, I start to do things that are slower (walk, yoga, tv, rest) and I don’t blame myself. Brains are amazing things, and they can heal but you have to engage with that process. Be intentional about not blaming yourself. Be intentional about being gentle with yourself. Be intentional about pausing to be grateful for good things. Set aside one hour to rest. Set a time to stop working or doing fidgety things because you aren’t working and when that time arrives, stop working and do things you enjoy (cooking, etc.)

    Approach it as a practice. Approach changing your view of yourself as a practice. It’s not that you aren’t Superwoman, it’s that you are taking care of yourself so that you can be the best version – a healthy version – of you. Which is pretty super!

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