In a perfect world we act, sometimes wrong, and when we do we learn not to do that action again. We move on with life not really thinking about it again, chalking it up to one of life’s learning moments.
There are times though when, for me, that doesn’t always work. There is that intellectual part of my brain that tells me, “You shouldn’t do that, you know what is going to happen and it’s time to step back and think first.” Then there is a other side of the brain, the one that thinks it knows better and can control everything, that tells me, ”Don’t worry, we got this.”
Seems complicated, doesn’t it, actually it’s quite simple and it is in that simplicity that I lose myself and my logical thinking. With my mental health challenges I know that I need to take care of myself in every way possible, the right amount of sleep, eat right, exercise, take my medication, but most of all I need to listen to my body and what my mind is telling me. This lesson is one that was brought to the forefront recently and set me back a bit.
Working a part time job four or five days a week is OK, the hours are good and I have plenty of down time and freedom to focus on what I need to do. However, a couple weeks ago they became shorthanded at work and asked me to come in on my two days off. Of course I jumped at the chance, two extra days of pay, how could I turn that down. My mind right away went to how much I could make with the additional days, what we would be able to do with the extra money – that was the focus, the extra money. I wasn’t thinking about the affect it was going to have on me both mentally and eventually physically as well. My normal five days suddenly turned into 12 days, it wasn’t until day 8 that it hit me and I realized what I mistake I made! I had gone against my better judgement.
Eight days in I was physically exhausted, I still believed I could do it, finish the next four with no problem, I had blocked the tiredness out of my head – dissociated you could say and kept moving. When I finished my assigned days, I had two days off and collapsed. I enjoyed the days off and knew that after that I would be on again for five more days.
That’s when it hit me, I woke up that morning for work and a weight was on my chest. The world was coming at me from every direction, conversations I’d had recently had suddenly became scenarios in my head where I was wrong and would be chastised for, and no good to anyone. I was in the midst of a major anxiety attack. For the first time in many months I took my anxiety medicine and went to work, wanting nothing more than to just be alone and let this pass, and jump start my brain again.
As you can imagine this is not the first time I have done this, felt I could take on the world and have no repercussions, and sadly it probably won’t be the last. Each time, however, I can only hope that I get a little stronger, a little smarter and maybe a little wiser and know that I need to listen to not only my body, but my mind. In my case, my mind is what is most important, if that happens to short circuit, the whole wall will tumble down and it will often take days to try and build it back up to try again.
Oddly enough, yes, there is a positive side to this. I am learning, slowly and with encouragement that I need to take better care of myself. Look at the bigger picture, i.e. myself, not what a few extra days of work will do for the bank account, think of what it will do to me. It’s not selfish, its self care and knowing what it will take to stay well and available for friends, family and life in general.