Drawn and Quartered

I have committed high treason…against myself…AGAIN! I once again have begun to spread myself to thin. Breaking promises I told myself like, “I’ll go to bed by 10:00pm” or “I’ll stay on top of things”, and the classic “I’m fine, of course I’m not taking on too much”. But I’m not fine.

School, work, friends, family, volunteering, applications, planning for my future, meetings! (in no particular order). Sometimes it just gets to be to much. Constantly being pulled one way, whilst another part is being pulled in the opposite direction, all by my own hand. My decisions, and mine alone cause me stress, panic, and anxiety. And I can’t stop. Apart of me wants to, but another part of me knows (or at least thinks it knows) what’s best for me. I can’t tell anymore whether I’m worthy of a break, or if my judgement is on point, I just don’t know.

So many things and so little time. Or maybe its just my time management skills. Because honestly I can’t tell anymore. So much work and effort has been put into making me who I am, because no task is to big or to small when others ask; it’s not a problem. But I think I have a problem, or maybe I don’t and its just the lack of sleep. I just want…to be happy I guess. And I know this anxiety, this ball of fire in my chest burning me from the inside out will die down, maybe even go away entirely (eventually). But right now, all I want to do is lay down and not think.

I’m always thinking. Brain racing, head thumping constant reminders that there’s still so much to do. My future is riding on what I do, on my choices and it scares the hell out of me. Like a deck of cards, one small move, one misplaced card and all my hard work is gone. As if it was never there. Poof! And then what? Disappointment. The ever crushing, self loathing, let everyone down type of disappointment. The type of disappointment that makes your body feel like a thousand pounds, and yet like it’s floating. Untethered with nothing to keep you from floating away, from losing yourself, from ever caring again. So many expectations, and so many things to tend to. And sometimes, its all too much.

Being pulled apart sucks, its sucks a lot more when you are actively doing it to yourself. And I wish I had some positive ending statement about hope floats and precious words of encouragement, but I can’t even believe the ones I tell myself right now. But I’ll still be here. Day after day. Grinning and baring it till I get home, back to my bed, my safe place where I retreat inside my head.  I really wish I had something more positive to say, but I can’t. I can’t lie to myself or anyone else and say it will be okay. Especially when there is nothing wrong with NOT being okay. No one has to be it all, no one has to achieve it all. I don’t just want to be good, I want to be great, to surpass everyone. But who I should really be focusing on is myself. I want to be better, I want to be stronger…but right now I can’t. And I have to learn to be okay with that.

Well wishes,

L.R.

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Finding True Friends

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There’s no right way to define what a ‘true friend’ is, everyone has different definitions. To me a true friend is someone you can trust and who will support you through anything. Friends are supposed to be there through thick and thin. Friends are like snowflakes, each one is unique and can’t be replaced. Every friendship is different.

The year 2015 was the year of losing friends for me and finding out who my true friends are. I’ve always had really strong attachments to my friends, and when they leave it hurts. As 2015 started I seemed to be having ups and downs with friends of mine. This eventually lead to a fall out with those friends, with this brought a lot of emotions and feeling depressed again. So I started seeing my counsellor at school again. A friend of mine in my classes was really supportive during this time, but that friend soon left too and got tired of helping me and seeing no change. I struggled with that loss too, I seemed to be losing a lot of friends, which took a toll on me and my mental health.

Slowly, school came to an end, and graduation was fast approaching. With graduation coming and my friends leaving, I tried to stay close to a friend who I knew was staying in town. I tried my hardest to hold onto this friend, and constantly asking them to spend time with them. Which in turned pushed them further away. With this person always being busy it was hard to find time to get together, I would see them out with other friends or working. I took them being busy more personal than I should have.

Things went downhill fast, it slowly turned into fighting and things being said that we couldn’t take back. This friend got their significant other involved and things got worse fast. Despite this friend asking for space, I tried relentlessly to hold onto this friendship. When holding on didn’t work, eventually my pain turned to anger towards them. I tried everything to get attention from them whether good or bad. Which was seen again as harassment, so when police got involved I had no choice but to let go.

Even though I lost a friend of 8 years in the midst of everything because she didn’t like who I was becoming or the situation with my other friend that was going on. I wasn’t going down the messy road of another fallout again. So I let her go to, I pretended to be okay when everything was falling apart.

Letting go was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. It allowed me to move on, be happy, find new friends and make time for old friends. Most importantly, it allowed me to find my true friends. So that’s what I did.

 

 

 

Burning Out: Is it to early to think about this?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Burning Out” as   1) to drive out or destroy the property of by fire; 2) to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse.

Of course I am talking about the 2nd definition. As we are finishing up assignments and heading into our exam periods, it can become hard to be motivated. And for some, the potential of a good grade or passing a class, isn’t enough any more. The fire that was once lit under them – like the saying goes – is burning out. However, there are always signs. Below are Forbe’s “Top 10 Signs You’re Burning Out – And What To Do About It”. But like anything, please take this with a grain of salt and even add some of the signs you think were missed or even how you deal with it:

SYMPTOMS OF BURN OUT

  1. Exhaustion

A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

  1. Lack of Motivation

When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for to do work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.

  1. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions

You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything; feel more generally pessimistic. Negative emotions are becoming unusual for you.

  1. Cognitive Problems

Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate.

  1. Slipping Job Performance

Compare your work performance now to your performance in previous years, because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time.

  1. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work (or School)

This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers (peers) and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.

  1. Being Preoccupied With Work … When You’re Not at Work

Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. [Similar may go for when you are out with friends and you are thinking about school work]. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

  1. Generally Decreased Satisfaction

This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life.

  1. Health Problems

Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO PREVENT BURN OUT

Take Relaxation Seriously

Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Personal Life

Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).

Unplug

While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is key in resting your body and mind for the following day.

Get Organized

Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.

Stay Attuned

It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions both physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. As well as, mental signs like some of the top 10 signs.

Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them

Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones.

 

So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.

Well wishes, L.R.

Gerry, L. 10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It. (2013). Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/#2d31e7185e01

A Fear of Falling

Whether it being a fear of falling apart, falling short of expectations, or simply falling behind, it is always there. Lurking underneath the surface.  Though there are emotional components and bouts of self doubt and confusion, what I am talking about is university.

We all want to do well in the eyes of our family/friends, teachers, and our selves even. But it’s never enough is it? To just do well. Deep down we know what we want, to be the best or at least be amongst the best. So when you do well (maybe even better) you feel like you’re flying, you hear those around you talk about poor grades (though you know it was probably because they didn’t study and that they are very smart people, who only need to work hard to do well) and you play off your mark. Half prideful, half nonchalant. You don’t want your own spot light, but you want to stand out. You want to be recognized for your hard work, the sleepless nights, the endless amounts of coffee, your lack of social interaction. And all for a mark. An amazing mark, but a mark, a grade, a shiny gold spot on your record saying: “look what I can do, I am a valuable member of the university and society, hire me and give me money so I can have a life of my own and be one of you”. Someone who follows a path, sticks to it and… I don’t really know yet what comes after, I’m still on the path myself.

Anyway, this keeps happening. Gold star, after gold star, great mark after amazing mark, rewards, certificates, newspaper articles, money. Constant validation, praise, and placards to be put up. And then you start to feel it. A dullness, a grey that settles in. You still want the rewards, but the work feels like its piling up. The questions start. “How am I going to pull this off?”, “How can I keep doing this to myself?”, “Do I really deserve to take a break?”, “What will my parents say if I fail?”, and more importantly, “What happens if I fail?”. And that’s when the spiraling starts. Down and down I go, where I stop nobody knows. Because if I don’t do well in my undergrad, how am I going to get into a good school to do my Masters? What about my PhD? Will I even be able to make it to then? Will I burn out, drop out and end become some unexpected burden/freeloader my parents never saw coming. Leaving people asking: “What happened? ____ had so much potential”

These fears can be consuming trust me on that. A mixture of highs and lows. Hyper activity at 3:00am mixed with an inactivity at 4:00pm during the day. But what can you do, but power through it all. The discomfort, the anxiety, the agitation, the irritableness, the relief, the love, the joy, and the utter confusion of it all. This is just my experience with failure, or more or less a fear of it. And it’s silly, but sometimes what gets me through it all is just a little voice in my head singing, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”. Its not for everyone, but it is for me.

So take breaks (try scheduling them), it’s okay to fall behind on your readings (trust me I have), because you will make it, to wherever your path may lead you. Wherever you may want to go. Take care of yourselves, trust yourselves. It is okay, and just keep swimming.

Well wishes, LR