self-care

All posts tagged self-care

Original Question:

I recently began a full-time job for the first time in a couple of years and almost immediately suffered from panic attacks, increased stress, and worsened depression. Before this full-time position, I worked on a contract by contract basis, so the regular paycheck was a big reason to jump on the work, but it feels like all my money now goes to shrink appointments and medications to try and level me out enough to deal with a job which I now can’t bear. My time away from work seems to be made up solely of dreading going back to work. I know many people don’t like their jobs, but this is seriously affecting my health and personal life. So, what should I do? Quit the regular paycheck as my friends suggest and return to contract work, or, as my shrink and members of my family advise, just figure out a way to keep on showing up for work.

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Slice of Advice:

You’ve connected the expectations of this new job to your mental health symptoms and have reached out to others before throwing in the towel, so my guess is you’re used to pushing yourself beyond your gut feelings in case you’re acting impulsively. This shows a self-awareness you should be proud of. My question would be what are the reasons your psychiatrist recommended you continue with the position? I’m certain they gave them and did so with the positive intentions.

My guess is they know you enough to know that this is an opportunity to work on skills such as grounding to build a resilience to change and coping you may lack. A concern of this is the depression which can easily shift into apathy. If you become numb and indifferent to the position, this is as bad as the depression itself because you’ve cut off the emotions needed, the ones your psychiatrist intended for you to work through. Any bouts of dissociation doesn’t solve mental health issues, it IS a mental health issue, so be sure to mention it to your psychiatrist ASAP in the case it does. The moment the apathy cuts out is a highly emotional one and they can speak to you about handling those feelings as they rush back.

You’re right, most people hate their jobs, so another question would be: Is it the pressures of a full-time job or the routine of showing up to the same place very day doing the same thing—which can be dreadful to someone used to a haphazard routine with some give—or is it the job itself causing the panic and depression?

If it’s the pressures, then you’re right to first try and work through this with your psychiatrist and identify where they stem from. If it’s the job itself, there’s got to be other full-time jobs out there you can explore while you’re getting through your current misadventure so you’re not missing out on a paycheck I’m assuming you need.

One thing I’m going to add is self-care. I know everyone makes it sound like it’s all scented candles and a hot bath, but it’s simpler than this and is tailored to you. Also, journaling or some type of record keeping of your days may be a good idea, so you can look back and see the progress or lack of instead of guessing if things are getting better or not. Recording your mood, something you enjoyed from your day, a scale of 1-10 on how much you hated it, or how much liked it to try and remain positive. It’s also something your psychiatrist might be keen on you doing so you’re taking some control of your healing.

Finding out the loopholes to our thriving through each day is a trait we all seek out when we know we’re in a position we cannot escape. You have control here. Weigh out your psychiatrist’s advice and do everything you can to make it work. If it’s not, go to them with a new plan—Yes, create your own—and see what they think of it BEFORE you execute it so they can judge if your plan was designed to avoid some issues you should be facing or if it’s truly a crap job you need to move on from.

You’ve got this.

If anyone has any further advice to give, remember your manners and add something in the comments.

Quiet down peoples, I have a confession to make.  I have far too many journals.

That’s right, you heard me. Taking a count of my collection, I’ll never need to buy another, but I can’t help myself. Friends even enable my habit by gifting them. (Not that they’re aware of my compulsion or I’d never get another. Shhhhh!)

Can you blame me? Look at them all! Some wrapped in leather, others with nifty designs, some small enough to tuck in my purse, all with blank pages screaming out to be inked, open to take in my crazy thoughts without judgement.

These are just the ones on my desk. Like I said, a problem.

These are just the ones on my desk

Perfect! *cue high pitched girly squeal*

When I was a kid we received journals in our grab bags at a friends birthday party. Mine was small with red fabric and some exotic design,  and I filled it with grade school crashes and drama. Since then, I’ve filled boxes with used journals (including that first red one) spanning my high school and adult years in what I now realize was my first true writing experiment.

In my day job we encourage clients to journal, even hand them out, and I’m surprised how often they state “I don’t know how to journal”. Because it was regular practice in my formative years, it never occurred to me people look at journalling as something they could possibly do wrong.

In case you’re among those who have always wanted to journal but never had the opportunity or someone to show the way, I’ve made some simple notes on how to make your journal work for you.

1. How to Start – This is a personal choice and should be whatever makes you comfortable. Dive right into what you need to say in the moment,  recount your day, or use an intro. “Dear Diary”, “Hey it’s me again”, name your journal to make it feel you’re speaking to a friend, whatever gets the words flowing.

2. Paper Or Online – I’ve always journalled on paper, for me the physical act of writing with a pen is more cathartic. However, if you’re looking for an online journal here is the first one that came up in a Google search  – penzu.com. Since I’ve never used it, I don’t know how user friendly it is or how safe your personal information is, but I encourage you to explore and let me know if it works for you.

3. Be 100% Honest – In life we don’t say everything that comes to mind, even the most outspoken of us. We hold back opinions and aspects of ourselves in fear of others reactions or because we’ve been taught manners. A journal is the place to write about how you thought the mini-skirt your sister-in-law wore to your uncle’s funeral was inappropriate or how you weren’t sad for your uncle’s death because he wasn’t a good man anyway. Whatever you write should be uninhibited by the presumed reactions of others. Since no one else will read it, you have no reason to fret consequence.

4. Frequency Equals Freedom – Find time to journal as often as possible. On the bus, on your lunch break, before bed, in the bath, once the kids are in bed, anytime you feel you need to. Even if you find some quiet time only once a week, by the end of the year you’ll have 52 entries of inner thoughts you’re no longer carrying around. Unburden yourself and get it out your skull in order to focus forward onto the next thing life has to throw at you. The more often, the better.

5. No Room For Teacher’s Pet – Grammar and punctuation should never be a factor. If it is, you’re thinking too hard. Give yourself permission to drop your grammar Nazi tendencies and just write. No teacher, editor, or fastidious friend is around with a red pen ready to pounce. Keep the words flowing and your mind on the goal of putting words to paper.

6. Keep It Private – Kids rules apply. If you live with others, don’t leave it around. Yes, as an adult no should invade your privacy, and you shouldn’t need to keep it under lock and key, but if you have issues with others reading your inner most thoughts, then keep it somewhere safe. People tend to think more about erasing their browser history. Never be ashamed of the thoughts you have, but protect them regardless.

7. Personal Growth – Read back. This is better done when you’ve finished a journal or when you’ve come out onto the other side of a bad situation and have some distance from it. Reading back and reflecting on how your thoughts were in the beginning as opposed to the end can be a helpful, reflective exercise. Did your perspective remain the same or did it change? Did you laugh at some shenanigans which seemed important at the time? Did it jog your memory about something that happened you would have otherwise forgot about and were happy you recorded it? I read back and realized myself and the Hubster have been celebrating our anniversary on the wrong day for over 10 years. Too late to change now, so we didn’t, but even that little tidbit would have lost if I hadn’t gushed about our first date.

Remember, the whole point of journalling is self-care. Think of it as a best friend and cost effective therapist at your finger tips. Utilize it to vent, de-stress, debrief from a hard day, and to record any thing you deem important. Not every entry has to be negative, documenting a great day with your family is just as important. As long as what you write is true to your feelings, you’ve accomplished everything that’s important about journalling.

Do you journal? On paper or Online? I’m interested to know how others do it and what journalling does for them. Make a comment or send me a personal email, I’d love to hear from you.