Every time I hear about a celebrity going to a hospital or cancelling tour dates due to exhaustion, I think to myself, how nice would it be to have the ability to pause life when it all becomes too much?
The thought usually comes as my kids are destroying the house, or I’m washing dishes for the third time in a single day or my hampers are overflowing with dirty laundry.
But behind the fantasy is a sad reality. Many people – myself included – can’t afford to put their lives on hold to take care of their mental health.
This morning in my car on my way to work, all I could think about was how utterly tired I am. But it’s not in a way that can be fixed with a good night’s sleep.
It’s been three months since I started treatment for anxiety and depression. And although things are remarkably better, every day is still a battle. Medication makes these conditions more manageable, but medication is not a cure.
I still have to fight through anxious and overwhelming thoughts. And I still have to push back when I feel depression tapping me on the shoulder. And constantly fighting is exhausting.
The past week my anxiety has been high. I’ve been feeling “off” and burnt out. And I’ve felt myself on the verge of tears for no apparent reason. This morning as I drove to work all I could think about was how much I wanted to turn around and go home to rest. And how much I’d like to stay there for a week or so.
But bills must be paid and groceries must be bought. And while my husband carries the bulk of our financial load, my contribution – albeit small – still matters.
So I get up, get dressed and power through despite the way I’m feeling. But there are some things that help me juggle work and my mental health issues.
Taking a time out
One thing that helps me get through the workday is taking time to recharge. During my lunch break I typically go and sit in my car. The time alone allows me to quiet my mind, get my thoughts in order, and the fresh air and sunlight give me energy to get through the second half of the day.
Managing my workload
I am the self-proclaimed queen of procrastination. But waiting to do things until the last minute just leaves me more overwhelmed. So I try to stay on top of my tasks. I’m also learning that I don’t have to say yes to everything. This isn’t always possible, but it’s okay to not take on too many extra tasks if it’s going to leave you stressed out, flustered and less productive.
Treating my days off like days off
I could improve in this area – big time. I’m trying to learn to use my days off of work for rest rather than catching up on things like housework and errands. There are days when I’m more exhausted from not being at work than I am from being there. It’s important to use these days to get the self-care my body and mind so desperately need.
How do you juggle responsibilities and your mental health? I’d love some suggestions.