It's over a year now since I suffered a major burnout leading to long term sick, and since I've returned to work I've been taking care of myself by not travelling and really carefully managing my sensory environment & keeping away from hubbub (lots of conversations etc.). My self care has worked really well, and I've feel that I've discovered "normal, healthy" levels of stress for the first time in my working life (healthy levels of stress for *me*, at least).
Now that I'm looking like I've recovered from burnout and I'm starting performing at 95% again, I can feel myself coming under pressure to start attending meetings in person again and travelling again. Before my burnout I was flying into Europe alone maybe every month and just feeling important rather than stressed. Now I'm very wary about returning to what everyone else will see as normal.
I don't know what I'm asking others here for - maybe just sympathy & to tell me that yes, I need to look after myself and not put myself under pressure.
By the way, one of the things I'm *really* mindful of is giving an inch and being expected to do a mile.............
With me, as soon as I felt even a little bit ok, I would rush back to getting things back to where I was before the burnout. But that was pre diagnosis. So I’m learning from that and I’m getting good at it and I’ve learned the art of baby steps, knowing my limits and being able to pick up on them before I get overloaded. But it’s been a process which has taken me a good year to get to grips with.
BlueRay, could you please explain in more detail how you find your limits? I'm really struggling with the whole "keep calm and carry on" attitude at the moment, and I can't seem to turn it off.
I'm typing this while I should have been at work, I phoned in sick this morning even though I'm not really all that ill, I'd normally have just taken a paracetamol and got on with it. But it's more emotional than physical, and the place I work isn't very sympathetic about that sort of thing. I explained to the manageress that I was struggling and wanted to reduce my hours a couple of months ago, and although I was able to do that, she has been distant towards me ever since and looks at me differently, sort of puzzled and on guard, I think.
I'm actually worried that I might be close to some sort of personal crisis, because I've been through bouts of depression my whole life, but never anything quite like this. The closest I can describe it is like being smashed to pieces on the floor and kicked to all corners of the room, with no plan for how to put myself back together. The things I normally do to calm myself aren't working very well. I feel bad about asking for help right now, and even feel bad about feeling bad about it. My inner voice is still telling me not to be such a wimp. How can I make it shut up?!?
I wonder if I could just put something in there quickly, OrinocoFlo, because I identify so much with what you've said here.
As you may know, I left my last job after being signed off long-term with stress following a period of bullying. While I was off, I managed to get a new job at a local FE College, which I started at the end of January. Although I was working with a familiar client group, I had to learn a new pace of work, and cope with a lot of training in a short space of time. After two days, I went sick again. Like you, it was more emotional than physical. I hadn't fully recovered from my previous experience, but I think I would have been able to cope with the new job were it not for all the changes hitting me at once. I felt awful about it. Within a couple more days, I was giving myself a really hard time for being such a wimp. The point is, though, I'd underestimated the impact of all of it: the new routines on top of still trying to recover. I began to wonder what the hell was wrong with me - and if I'd ever get out of this hole. It got to the point last week when I didn't want to get up and face the day any longer. I couldn't figure out why I hadn't realised what my limits were. But I hadn't. I thought was ready. But I wasn't.
That all changed again on Friday, when I was interviewed for another job - in a place where I used to work, which I liked and which is more familiar (I can fit straight back in) - and was offered it. The difference this has made to me is enormous. It's like suddenly, all of my switches have come on again. And I feel hugely better and more able to cope.
So it's made me feel like a huge fraud this morning, trying to explain to my work coach at the Job Centre how I could be in such a pit over the last few weeks - and am now suddenly better. She's saying to me that I need to get a new sick certificate if I want to continue my UC claim until I start my new (old) job in March. But I can't go to my GP and ask for another certificate... because I feel okay again now! I can't fake feeling ill.
I guess all I can say is... sometimes, those limits and tolerances - depending on circumstances - can be changeable. Sometimes, it simply isn't easy to predict the impact things will have on us. So please try not to give yourself a hard time over it (though I do understand why you are, because I'm the same). Go and see your GP again. There's nothing worse for anyone than being in a place of work where they aren't particularly sympathetic - but I think the impact on people like us can be much worse. Your GP can maybe back up your request for reasonable adjustments (reduced hours). And if that is going to make you feel better about your job and improve your performance at it, then that is surely a bonus for your employer, too.
'Keep calm and carry on' is a bit like 'look on the bright side'. It's quite demeaning and damaging to people with mental health conditions, and ASC.
Take care of yourself. Try not to worry about what other people might be thinking of you (though, again, I do that). Your welfare is all that really matters.
PS Check out my comment directly underneath this to see how I was just over a week ago!
Thank you for your reply and compassion and help. I'll make an appointment to see my GP as soon as I can, I've been putting it off because of feeling that I ought to be able to manage and be strong. But I just can't right now, I don't have much left to offer.But I'm not sure how to tell people who rely on me that I need them to back off for a while.
A line from a Gary Numan song keeps running through my head, "My mind turned on me with a vengeance I'd never known- my own." I have a lot of anger that I'm only just recognising, I don't know where it's from and don't know how to let it out safely, or whether I should do so, or what it's directed at. I feel like a mess.
OrinocoFlo said: I've been putting it off because of feeling that I ought to be able to manage and be strong.
Yes... and probably based on your previous experience. You've done it before, so why not now?
Try to think of it as something like a car. It's run for thousands of miles without a single problem or breakdown. But then something very small happens. Maybe the timing goes out a tiny bit. The car still runs, though. But nothing gets done about that fault, so it knocks on to something else, and that knocks on to something else... and then one day your car, which has never given you any problems, suddenly breaks down. And you don't know why. But it won't go any more. In needs attention.
I find my body can be just like that. A small thing can knock on to something else, and it all just builds up - and catches me unawares.