Where I’ve been
It’s been a long time since I wrote anything. I’ve been in a sort of retreat, I suppose, imposed by the limitations of my body that said, “Stop, please. Really stop and listen.” And also my mind, which has been all over the place – wanting to be a storyteller, but also worried about how that will play out, in the long run.
Judge and Jury
This has been, (and perhaps still is), a difficult time for me. Mostly because I am pretty tough on myself. I feel that I should keep on doing all the things I set out to do, despite having a partial burnout, taking stress leave from work, getting de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, (basically a tendon inflammation in my right wrist – My dominant hand).
Throughout it all, I continued to work, to teach my classes, keep in touch with students, do all my correction work (may I add proudly – on time!) and even help out my team at school here and there.
But my wrist, which was extremely painful for about 2 months, made me stop writing. And I felt horrible about missing my commitment to the 365 challenge that I signed up for in January – namely – I committed to writing a 1000 words a week every week, this year. And preferably writing a few times a week – the more the better.
Right or Write?
Those of you who know me, know that I’m working on a book, (or several, at least in the future), and that writing is something that both defines me and brings me joy. Usually. So, the writing challenge was meant to help me exercise my writing muscle and get me into the flow and groove of not just saying that I am a writer, but truly being one. Which means that the physical constrains I had were frustrating to say the least! I felt like a failure, I had somehow failed myself by getting this de Quervain’s syndrome in my wrist. I needed to take control of the situation, however, my therapist kindly pointed out that there is a difference between influence and control.
Influence vs Control
Influence: What I can do to help the situation: Such as REST this wrist. Wear a brace, so I remember not to overuse it. Stretch gently, to remain flexible. Stop writing! Remain calm and relaxed, in whatever ways I have learned to do this.
Control: Knowing that this will get better if I do what I have to do to make it better. Wanting a specific time frame for it to be better (one or two week, at most). Telling my doctors that I know my mind can control my body. Feeling very frustrated and depressed when things don’t go the way I ‘planned.’
From Work Burnout to Life Burnout
Around November, I started having panic attacks – rapid heartbeat, inability to fall asleep, difficulty breathing, inability to concentrate on my work, extreme irritation at anything and everything that is going wrong with my work and a dread of deadlines.
In the December break, I tried to relax, but couldn’t. In January, I went back to the doctor and understood that I needed to step back from some of my work.
But me, being the genius, all resilient, super capable woman that I am and being someone who has survived and even thrived after what some consider the worst loss of all, how could I suffer from burnout? So, I doubted myself, even as I took these steps:
- called in sick at work (well, okay, still worked 50%)
- found myself an excellent therapist
- took some natural stress relieving supplements
- let go of the roles at work that had extremely stressed me
But, what did I do in addition, that I thought was helping me?
- Signed up for the 365 writing challenge
- Signed up for at least two online course on EdX and others…
- Wrote at least 1000 words a week (until de Quervain’s)
- Just as my wrist started hurting, took a pottery course (great but not good for my wrists)
- Planned a Passover dinner with 20 participants at my house.
Where I am now
I find myself thinking a lot about Brené Brown, and her breakdown/enlightenment that she went through some years ago, when discovering that the way she’d been leading her life was not destined to bring her joy and fulfilment.
I feel I push myself too hard, even when I’m ‘resting’. I am demanding, judgemental and not really accepting of my own vulnerability. It’s a long process for me to recognize who I am now, what I can do, what I want to do, and what feels right.
Especially the ‘feeling right’ part is hard. I hardly trust my emotions to lead me. But I certainly don’t trust my mind or superego that pushes me to overachieve and has values that might not be my own core values (at least not any more).
At the moment, I want to be in the here and now. And this means, listening to the neck pain that I’m starting to get which is saying – okay – enough writing, now just rest. Turning my ‘to-do’ list into a ‘can do’ list. Delegating what I can. Asking for help. More help. Getting energy for my extrovert/helper side by being in touch with my close friends and family.
It’s raining outside. I notice the dark grey sky and the wind that’s picking up. It’s the height of summer and I can rejoice in the flowers getting watered naturally. I am feeling comfortable enough and aware of my senses, my feet on the carpet, my heels half off the edge.
I’m back, sort of, well, at least – I’m here now.