Raise your hand if you’ve been here: it’s 3AM, you’re wide awake, and you can’t seem to settle on any single topic to think about. Your mind has ricocheted from work to Easter dinner, to that poem you wrote over a year ago which had a cool line, to building a cabinet for extra paint cans. At this point, I’ve basically solved world hunger, yet I can’t solve the pesky issue of getting to sleep. We’ve written articles related to sleep before (here and here), but why not another one from the point of view of the wise night owl?
Maybe you can relate to this: as a parent, there exists a thin line between what happens to any child and what happens to my child. A tragic event occurs involving my friend’s child, a child in my community, or even a child in the news and I feel it could have been my child. I feel the pain as if it were my child. Teen suicide is one of a parent’s greatest fears. And as an adult who experienced suicidal ideation, it’s unfathomable to me.
When I was in my first year of recovery after hospitalization for severe depression, I used writing as a way to process my pain. I wrote in journal after journal and I began to think of the future and what it had in mind for me. And when I heard about the following story, I thought—maybe my writing could help others?
When we have depression, basic life tasks can be difficult, so trying to work on top of that can be a real challenge. Depression can interfere with our ability to work – for some of us that might mean we can’t work at all, for others it might mean that we need certain adjustments in the workplace.
(Please note the information that follows applies to the rights at work for those based in the UK. Other countries will have different systems and regulations).
“…But who takes care of you?
Part 2: “Now I take care of me, too.”
In part one of this article, I detailed my experience with professional burnout. In this second part, I describe the importance of self-care and the physiological mechanisms that underlie what was happening, with the goal of teaching anyone who is experiencing something similar to take it seriously. Stress creates very real, and dangerous, physical changes.
The physical symptoms that I described in part one of this article were a warning sign that my body was not functioning in a healthy way, and the stress of my job was creating a severe hormonal imbalance. Consequently, I could not handle even the smallest uptick in my stress levels. I was already “functioning” beyond my capabilities, so when a small stressor, e.g. going out with my friends, came along, I was physically and mentally unable to do it. The thought of getting dressed up, interacting with others for an extended period of time, and going to bed later than I had planned, was unbearable. Unfortunately, for someone suffering from anxiety and depression, social interaction is not only helpful, it is a necessity for recovery.
Charles wasn’t the first person to speak up when entering a room, but often times he was the last to leave ensuring everyone had a listening ear. One of the things, I love about being a NAMI presenter, is that you get to hear the other presenters’ stories. When Charles and I presented together, I learned he had struggled with suicidal thoughts since his teens. It wasn’t until he was married with two children that his mental illness first brought him to his knees. For even a warrior like Charles, it took homelessness to get him to admit he needed help.(more…)