Working Part-Time and Anxiety: Do You Just Go Shopping on Your Day Off?

working part-time and.png

I work part-time and I have gotten many questions and comments about it.

Are you going to go full-time soon?

So you like working part-time?

I wish I would could work part-time!

Why do I choose to work part-time?  There is no denying it.  A major reason is my anxiety.  You don’t know what an amazing difference that one day off is for me.  I work in an environment where I am constantly interacting with people.  I love it and it actually is a huge distraction when it comes to my anxiety.  However, it is also very hard to keep up that facade all the time.  I am not always cheerful and social at work, but I can’t be silent and reclusive either.  That one day alone is my day of self-care.  It allows to me to silence the constant “noise” and just kind of regroup.

Would I work part-time if I didn’t have an anxiety?  I don’t know.  I do sometimes think that North Americans work too much and I don’t think working full-time for a purely monetary reason is my goal in life.  For sure, I understand it is a necessity and not a choice for some people.  I do enjoy working part-time, am fine with spending less, and having my sanity.  I know that for sure.

I often get questioned about why I work part-time.  Like, what do I do on my day off?  Do I just go shopping?  I mean, sometimes, I do, but I used to find it really annoying when people would ask me why I worked part-time.  Mostly, because I didn’t want to explain that I had anxiety. Plus, sometimes I felt guilty and kind of lazy to say that I was taking time to take care of myself.

As time as gone by, I get that when someone does something out of the norm, it will be questioned.  It seems like all around me, people strive to work full-time.  It is sign of accomplishment.  As I have spoken more about anxiety, it has become an easier question to answer.  However, sometimes, I wonder, I like working part-time, do I really have to justify that?  Yet, as I am re-reading this, I do question, do I sound kind of “braggy” saying that I can choose to work part-time?  What do you think?

Thanks For Being my Mom

Carpe (7).png

Today is Mother’s Day and it has made me reflect a lot about the mental health journey I have been through with my mom.  Often, I find that I tend to focus too much on how to deal with my mental illness around friends and coworkers.  However, my family is probably the group of people who have to deal with it most on a day-to-day basis.  I find that I take for granted that they will automatically accept and deal with my illness no matter what.  Yet, it is perhaps these relationships that need to be nurtured more readily.

Since it is Mother’s Day, I just wanted to talk about how my mom and I have dealt with my mental illness.  There definitely wasn’t a period where I knew I had it and then I had to face the issue of having to come out to my mom.  When I found out I had anxiety and depression, we were already in the midst of it.  It was more like the deep end really.  Neither I, nor my mom, really knew much about mental illness.  When I was first told from a doctor, I had no idea that this type of illness even existed.  I mean, I knew what being a little anxious meant, but I didn’t know how bad it could get.

I think my mom’s reaction was just to attack it head-on and help me from which ever angle she could.  She yelled at me and spoiled me, hoping that something would break me out of it.  Even though to her, it seemed like nothing worked because I stopped talking for a longtime.  Her presence, support, and love was what kept me holding on.  She drove me to every doctor appointment even though she disliked hospitals and made sure I took my medication.  I can’t imagine what she had to bear to see her own daughter so ill.  I could never imagine.

Thanks for being my mom.  Happy Mother’s Day.

Did You Just Sleep For a Year Then?

Carpe (6).png

“Did you just sleep for a year then?”

That was the comment I got when I told someone that I had depression.

“Ah no,” I said.

My initial reaction to this comment was shock.  Then, I felt a bit defensive.  How ignorant was this person to think that all depression manifested in that way.  Not everyone who has depression shows the same symptoms in length or complexity.  If you were to go through the symptoms checklist on any medical website, I doubt everyone will be able to check off all the boxes.  I certainly didn’t and I definitely don’t think you have to.

However, after reflecting about it for a few days and talking about it to my family, I realized that if you choose to talk about your depression, you have to expect different responses.  You cannot assume that everyone is sympathetic and understanding.  I mean, they are not trained mental health professionals.  Each “coming out,” if you call it that, is an experience and a chance for growth.

I am not upset anymore because I realized that maybe it was just that person’s general understanding of depression.  Maybe he didn’t have many previous references and experiences with mental illness.  You can’t assume everyone is well-versed in this area.  I mean, there is still the stigma.  Plus, I didn’t think he really meant to be hurtful in any way.

So what I did I do?  I didn’t get mad.  I just calmly explained my mental illness to him and how it looked for me.  Knowledge is power.  Often, that is all that is needed to change a person’s response to something.  Plus, not everyone is going to be sympathetic and give you a hug (plus, I don’t really hugs from strangers).  That is ok.  I realized I am here to empower people to understand depression, and not to look for sympathy and a “poor you” response.  Anyway, it was an experience.  I figure you can only grow from experiences, whether they seemed good or bad initially.

What have your experiences been with telling others about your mental illness?

Mundane Tasks and Being Left With Your Own Thoughts

Carpe (5).png

Beverley from Slay Girl Society’s wonderful blogpost entitled Why I am Sometimes Too Anxious to Shower really connected with me.  Oftentimes, as someone with anxiety, you feel quite alone because there might not be many people around that can truly understand how you feel.  That is why blogging has been helpful and therapeutic to many of us.  It makes us feel less alone when we read that others have similar experiences.

I remember reading this post, and literally running out to tell my husband “Omigosh, I am not the only one.”  I have also heard author John Green, who has OCD, talk about this topic as well on his wonderful podcast.  He discusses the struggles of doing mundane activities where he is left with his own thoughts for an extended period of time.  For me, showering is definitely one of them.  Other mundane tasks like brushing my teeth, housework, and changing my clothes, also have that effect on me.

I feel it is because these tasks are so familiar and repetitive that I don’t even have to focus on accomplishing them.  Therefore, my mind is left to wander, which is often not a good thing for someone with anxiety.

In my case, I will prolong taking a shower as long as I can.  Literally, I will say to myself that I should go take a shower and I am still on my laptop watching endless Youtube videos an hour later.  It just doesn’t sound very appealing to me to be left with my own thoughts in a confined space.  There are no distractions in the shower.  I can’t just go on my cellphone or do anything else except for showering.  It has nothing to do with not wanting to be clean because I don’t feel like I have bad hygiene or anything.  It is just the anxiety of being left with my own thoughts.

My sister has gifted me a portable speaker for the bathroom, which has been a great help. However, sometimes, I feel like I use it incessantly.  Then, I start to worry that it has become a crutch.  That I need to slowly condition myself off it sometimes.  Balance is the key I figure, but boy is it a struggle sometimes.

I would love to hear your experiences about dealing with mundane tasks and being left with your anxious thoughts.

Tides Are Turning Slowly But Surely

1

The last few days has seen on outpouring of attention around mental health after Prince Harry did a podcast and interview about this topic.  When I heard that he had decided to speak publicly about his mental health struggles, I felt like crying.  I started thinking about why I had such a visceral feeling to this piece of news.  I guess, I felt so hopeful because slowly, but surely, the tides are turning, even royalty were talking about their mental health!  It made me feel so hopeful and excited that I was living in a time when the stigma around mental illness can be possibly lifted.  It is exciting times!

Whether you support the Royal family or not, it was a breakthrough for them to talk so candidly about mental health.  They have also created a charity called Heads Together which aims to tackle the stigma, provide support, and raise awareness about mental health issues.  In this podcast for Mad World, Prince Harry shared that by bottling all his feelings about his mother’s death, it lead to rage and anxiety for two years in his late twenties.  He also talked about how important it was for him to speak to someone professionally about his mental health.  A message that is truly important to those that are suffering right now.

I hope Prince Harry’s candidness will prompt those who are suffering from mental illness to seek treatment.  I can tell you for sure, I wouldn’t be able to write this in a much better place if it wasn’t for the doctors that have treated me.  Hopefully, being open and honest about your mental illness, will one day, not be considered a courageous act, but a normal act of self-care.

How Can You Be Stressed?

1

We’re often told these truths.

The older you get, the wiser you become.  What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

Once in a while though, I just can’t decide if they are ultimate truths, or like, everything in life, will always have exceptions.  It seems like every time you have things figured out, there is always something that will make you reconsider, make you work harder to find the answer even though there probably isn’t one.

My last post about judging less and observing makes me seem like I can accept anything and anyone.  Of course, that is not completely true.  For me, there has been one big exception.  I can’t help judging those that I consider lazy.  I find it hard to not judge those that simply don’t work hard or not living to their potential in my opinion.  If they have a “normal” brain (whatever that really means), why would they be stressed?  Why can’t they do anything they want?  I certainly can’t see why, considering I could barely do anything when my anxiety is at its worst.

Of course, the logical side of my brain totally understands that everyone is the result of complex interactions that have made them the person they are today.  Who am I to judge?  But there are days, when I am surprised that people are stressed and I can’t totally sympathize.  Where I have to remind myself that just because someone doesn’t have mental illness, it doesn’t mean that their life is picture-perfect.  Everyone has their set of stressors, and I have no right to judge the enormity of its stress on them.

Anyone else face this issue?  How do you try to understand someone’s else level of stress?

Judging Less, and Observing More

1.png

Just thinking that as I’ve gotten older, I tend to care less about what others think about me to a certain extent.  Sometimes though, I also find that as I have become more certain of myself and my beliefs, I tend to be more judgemental of others.  Gradually, I have learnt though, it really should be the other way around.  I think being able to step into someone else’s shoes is really important.  It often allows you to soften your judgement on them.

Don’t judge first, observe first, and see what happens.

I find that often when you dig a little bit deeper, there is something there you can connect to on a human level.  Of course, you can’t be good friends with everybody and we all have to set our boundaries with those that will not make our lives better.

Being able to respect and judge less makes life easier for yourself and others.  I have found that this has been a little tidbit that has made my life easier this year at work.

My Anxiety has Become my Daily Homework

1.png

I finally understand why I don’t blog more often because I do want to let others understand more about anxiety and depression. I have found that my blog has become the “edited” version of my ideas “out of my thoughts.” In some way it has become a version of my anxious self. Like, I can’t push the “publish” button, until it is perfect. I still want to write a blog, but more freely and more often, which is how I truly think about my mental illness.

For me, my anxiety is like my daily homework. How do I get through this day? Sometimes, it takes more work, and sometimes barely any. So less work, in fact, that sometimes, I can pretend I don’t have it. In fact, sometimes the hardest times I endure are those when I realize, it never left me. The sudden realization that I am still anxious, still a little depressed. It is then when it feels a million times worse. However, strangely enough, when it is at its worse, it gets familiar also, almost like, I mean, really almost, like a long lost friend that you are used to having around, but you really don’t want to keep.

Does anyone ever feel this way?

So I have decided to write this blog, more organically, like how I deal with my anxiety on a daily basis. Wish me luck.

Okay, I did check the grammar a little bit or else it really wouldn’t be me at all.

“Perfect, Flaws and All” ~ Wentworth Miller

perfect-flaws-and-all-wentworth-miller

As I discussed in my last blogpost, this video of Wentworth Miller’s Q & A session really had an impact on me.  Through his words, you felt the depth of his suffering, but also the wisdom he has garnered from it.  Many of his words allowed me to connect, reflect, and re-assess my own mental health journey.  In the last blogpost, I talked about “being your own best friend,” and in this blogpost, I wanted to talk about his ideas of perfection.

In Wentworth’s session, he discussed his insecurities about doing a public speaking event. How he felt anxious about being perfect, his desire to please, and the pressure to speak beautifully. To silence these anxieties, he said that he constantly reminds himself that all of that doesn’t matter and that coming there that day in his state, was “perfect, flaws and all.” Perfection is a double-ended sword.  It can push us to excellence, but looking for it can bring us down to our knees.  Moreover, he talked about this need for balance in life and how it was like making small adjustments, like walking on a tightrope so you don’t fall off.

I felt like when I was listening to him that I was listening to a master’s lecture on living life with anxiety and depression.  I, on the other hand, felt like an undergraduate student.  I was amazed at how he was able to gather all his thoughts into these concise nuggets of wisdom. Furthermore, I kept on thinking “that was exactly what I’ve been thinking, but had no idea how to express.”

In my inner dialogue, that “tightrope” has been called the “grey area.”  Over the years, I have discovered that it is always the best place to be and my own form of balance.  Of course, I will always be a work in progress, but it has allowed me to realize that not everything has to be perfect. There is a lot of joy and sanity to be found in living the “B+” life.  Will I still strive for perfection?  Of course, but definitely not in everything I do.  Furthermore, I have found that even if things don’t go perfectly, I often enjoy them just the same and others will have no idea that it wasn’t perfection.  Plus, sometimes, you might even end up getting something more out of what you might deem as your so-called mistakes.  Everything has it’s price, and I feel that seeking perfection in everything in your life is not worth it if it means compensating your mental and physical health.

Being Your Own Best Friend

start-the-work-of-being-your-best-friend

You might know the actor Wentworth Miller as the main lead of Prison Break.  I have, admittedly, never seen Prison Break, but have only recently gotten acquainted with him after watching one his interviews posted by B. G. from her blog Getting Through Anxiety.  I have loved reading her blog and also the information she shares.  After watching and re-watching this interview, it has allowed me to reflect and re-assess how I deal with my anxiety in positive way.

There was so much that I connected to and learnt from listening to Wentworth that I couldn’t even possibly cover in one blogpost.  I think the one “aha” moment (sorry that is the only phrase that came to my mind) was when he discussed how he dealt with his depression.  He said he had to “start the work of being [his] best friend.” He then talked how he felt he had been a supportive friend to others in crisis (e.g., listening, being supportive), and the importance of using that same way to talk to yourself similarly in a “loving and supportive” way.

This nugget of a thought really got me thinking of about self-love and forgiving yourself.  Something I struggle with immensely.  I feel that this year as a whole I have improved a lot in accepting my mental illness.  Instead of just being upset at myself for not being able to do a lot of “normal” things or blaming the illness from hindering me from leading a regular life, I have also begun to accept it and also see that it has given me some “gifts” that I have never anticipated.  This has included a closer relationship to my family, friends, and even colleagues, a greater understanding of gratitude, and the ability to use my experience to help others.

As someone with mental illness, it is often easy to berate yourself with words you would never imagine speaking aloud to friends in crisis.  It is super easy to spiral into self-loathing dialogue instead of “being our best friend” and using words of encouragement.  I had never really thought about that way until watching his interview.  Words are a powerful form of ammunition.  It has been a work in progress, but I feel like this year I am starting to learn that sometimes I can say “good work”, “you made it through”, “try it again”, “you gave it your all” etc.  Ultimately, the best shoulder to lean on is your own.