I had an interesting session with my therapist last week. We talked about all of the things that I blogged about and then some. Once we worked through a bunch of that, he asked specifically what was going on in my day-to-day life that precipitated my “breakdown.” He believes that my biggest problem was not taking care of myself. He said that he thinks my “gas tank” reached empty and that there was simply nothing left to keep going.
Looking back over my calendar from the last three months, I think he is right. From January through mid-March, I had a pretty balanced schedule. I rarely worked more than four hours a day, and I was going to the gym and doing yoga/meditation daily. That balance abruptly ended when I started training for my new part-time job in mid-March. I was not given a “heads up” that I needed to set aside 15 to 20 hours a week during training (in addition to the four-hour training sessions each Sunday afternoon), so I had not cleared my calendar of other obligations. That put me working pretty much a full-time schedule with no advanced planning.
After training ended, the close to full-time schedule continued as I prepared to teach my first class for the new job. Then, I did 3.5 weeks of tutoring at a close to a full-time schedule. That was mid-March through the beginning of June on a close to full-time schedule without letting go of other obligations (blogging, leading a Bible study, etc.)
I kept telling myself that I only had to get through X number of weeks, and then I could rest. Tutoring ended, but then I was slammed with “last week of school” and other scheduling issues. My kid had a doctor’s appointment and ball practice on Monday. I led Bible Study on Wednesday. I had to go to my kid’s school for an awards presentation at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, and then school was out for the summer after that, which meant I was taking care of my kid and not resting on Thursday and Friday. My kid had an ear infection, so I had to take him to the doctor on Friday.
Hub pulled me out of bed in the middle of the night having a full-fledged panic attack. He has been depressed and anxious ever since, constantly talking about how miserable he is and how he thinks the stress is going to kill him.
I thought I could finally rest the next week (first week of summer while my son went to summer camp). Instead, I babysat a friend’s very difficult kid on Monday, went to a retirement party on Tuesday that I found out about at the last minute, and had Bible study on Wednesday. I planned a “rest” day on Thursday, but my kid’s ear was still bothering him too much to go to camp on Thursday – goodbye “rest” day.”
Also during this week, things blew up at part-time job #1 with students not having reliable access to the online classroom. These are all entry-level students with three weeks of college under their belt, so I was fielding panicked phone calls and emails for four days until the connectivity issues were resolved.
Add to that having several friends in crisis during the same week. One found out that her child was being cyberbullied. Another was freaking out about a college project. A third was “losing it” over issues with her kids. I told the third that we needed a “mental health” day on Friday so we should go to the movies. While I enjoyed the movie and chit chat, the outing came at the expense of rest.
By Friday, I could barely move my body and feared that I had contracted mono. I canceled my Saturday morning plans, fearing that I was sick. I hosted Book Club on Saturday night and had to spend a lot of time on Friday and Saturday preparing (cooking and cleaning) as well as ran my son to the doctor’s office again for the same ear infection.
Sunday was Father’s Day, so I had to be “on” to make it about hub, who ended the day by saying that it had not been a “good” Father’s Day despite all that I had done. I thought that, if I could just make it to Monday, I could rest. My plan was to drop my kid off at camp, work out at the gym, do yoga/meditation, and then do whatever I felt like doing for the day. Then, the camp would not take my kid’s medications at the bus drop-off point: I had to drive all the way out to Timbuktu to hand-deliver the medications, so my “me” time was replaced with an 80-minute round trip drive to this camp in the middle of nowhere.
That’s when I snapped. I kept holding it together until a later date when I could rest. My “rest” day kept being taken away, and I was completely spent with nurturing everyone else. Then, when all I needed was five minutes of nurturing from someone else and couldn’t get it, the bottom fell out.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt