I Cannot Even Believe It... Taming My Nemesis?
I can't believe how quickly I came out of that mess.
That mess was composed of trying new medications and being super stressed out of my mind to the point of complete hopelessness and burnout. I finally found one that worked for my anxiety, a good start.
This episode of burnout was triggered by medication trials with severe side effects, not my line(s) of work innately.
If I had slept every day during this period and just focused on how bad my mental health was (I only did this self-pity thing for a few days), I would not have gotten better this fast. It is about BUILDING more resilience and doing what makes us STRONGER.
If we feel weak, how do we get STRONGER? By doing what brings us JOY and NOW.
I am not saying that everything that brings us joy has to cost money (gyms, fitness, saunas), but certain things do require an investment and I've always put a large portion of my revenue towards well-being. I suppose I forgot the importance of journaling until this chaotic storm happened though.
I do believe that physical activity helps me mentally process things, as I go through the anxieties of my mind while I work out and I work them through. But I do also believe that there are times when I do have to write things down, and think through them, and there are times when talking to friends or a therapist helps. Self-care is knowing what we need in every moment and being able to self-monitor to be aware of which "type" of self-care is needed at that moment. I'm still getting there because we all have tendencies right?
Exercise is my drug of choice, but sometimes, other forms of self-care help me alongside it.
It sucks that it got that far, but I could not have predicted my reaction to those medications.
I took proactive steps to get better and know that I CAN heal, I built more resilience, reconnected with friends.... and I got REAL introspective at how I allowed myself to get in such a state of burnout in the first place. I’m embarrassed to say this out loud. But I’m also not embarrassed enough to allow my pride to stop me from sharing things that might help other people. If you VIEW yourself as sick, you might get sicker.
If you admit that you might have an illness or that you’re burnt out, and you view yourself as getting better, you might get better. You might not get better, but you are aiming at a goal that is realistic and achievable provided that you do the work.
I’m not saying to be in denial, but I’m also saying that we have to look at our strengths because otherwise, we will fall into a deeper pool of hell.
I handled what I needed to handle, and I will continue to handle whatever I need to do for the inner work, but at the same time, it was very important for me to aim at recovery and not wallow in self-pity for too long.
Some lessons I learned:
• Carving out non-work time is not dispassionate, it is not a sign of weakness... Yes, even if we love what we do, the more we love it, the more we should focus on being optimally healthy... I somehow forget this, so I appreciate the "go to sleep" texts from close friends at 11 PM.
• When we “process” emotions/thoughts/daily life, etc. during me-time we are doing so with intention of *releasing* all of the worries, not with the intention of re-creating/attracting more. Root of most dis-ease is trapped emotion. Feel it to heal it.
• Some past lessons to keep in mind... Genuine support and genuine collaboration will never ever ever ever leave you feeling like you need to fend for yourself - choose your business partners wisely. I am thankful for supplier networks and other contractors who make things function well, a sharp contrast from time wastages of the past.
• Some will provoke a reaction to make you look unstable, so never respond to trolls. “Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.” –Unknown (Note: negative criticism to bring someone down is not the same as genuine feedback, the tone / forum says it all). If people are going to take personality traits that they hate about you and use that to justify their hostility, they were like that long before you came along. I'm simply using this as a contrasting experience to say that sometimes we have to go through the bad so we can recognize the good ones, and hopefully the bad ones give us clues to avoid in the future and use as red flags to pay attention to.
• Just because someone would be a good DJ or someone would be a good rapper, doesn't mean they have to do that, people have to do what makes them happy (whose life is it), while giving back - if possible - as much as possible in a way that makes sense for their health/limits.
• If I can't exercise or blog due to being fatigued, there are other coping skills I can learn.
• In the absence of knowing that someone has a mental health concern, it is easy to take things personally when people are having bad days/not as upbeat, etc. While I can sympathize with that - I also believe in all people being able to step back and assess the situation objectively and not take every little thing personally, I will for sure do more to raise awareness about common misunderstandings around my moodiness. When I talk about my anxiety and ADHD being misunderstood, I'm referring to my entire life and not anything in particular. The misunderstanding about these traits has been with me my whole life as with many other people with similar traits (lack of widespread education on it).
• If you take an extra call or an extra client, that's great, but what happens when that opportunity call messes with your sleep time? What happens when you have to cancel plans with your friends constantly? I slashed a few business streams... may keep going down to "ultra focus." What matters more than impact is the SUSTAINABILITY of said impact.
• Even if I delegate a stream of business or commitment to someone else, it will occupy my mind as I need to “feed” all my “babies”: perfectionists should set hard stops and not take on more, to begin with. It’s the mental load.
• Flexibility is not the same as adapting to repeated poor planning, flexibly is about shifting gears : not forgoing your precious time off. If putting your wellness first insult anyone who thinks they're more important than your health, they are not your people. "Free time" is not availability.
• Loving what you do can't prevent burnout, how do you replenish your soul/joy? This is how the burnout recovery time should be spent!
• Time-blocks with themes so a certain type of work (thematically) is done in one chunk without a barrage of distractions is amazing, in most situations this zone of focus is easy, provided your time is cherished. That’s how my business with 3 streams is run X 2 nights a week max.
• It is natural for me to want to get better at everything, it is natural for me to want to achieve more, but I didn't realize until now how serious I have to start taking these burnout phases and how much I have to make sure I prevent them. I didn't realize how bad it was until now. It's not the first time, unfortunately. And I didn't leave enough space in my schedule to build resilience in the first place, it's normal to have things happen in our lives, but for me to not even have the space to process things as they happened because I was so overloaded, that's not right. That slowed me down.
• Random emotional processing thrown in... Allowing things to permeate our aura well past their expiration date: we might think this is punishing the wrongdoer, it's actually punishing ourselves by letting it stop us... It is fine to address things, but it is not fine to poison ourselves over again with the memory... Allowing these people to hold us back over and over again, well past the event, is actually killing our joy and potential. If that's what they wanted, it's best to not allow that to happen. Letting things go does it mean letting go of the lesson and the limits. if it wasn't intentional, that's not to let it permeate your aura, if it was not intentional best not to let it permeate your aura. There's actually dignity in not dignifying stupidity with a reaction. And if it wasn't stupidity, is it still worth addressing? Not everything is and not everyone is. I'm slowly learning that. If we are choosing to redirect our paths for something, that's cool, but if we are letting circumstances blow us around like lost leaves, that's not OK. Silence isn’t weak, it sometimes means: those who tear into people when said people are at their weakest / incapacitated (while they themselves had full presence of mind / went after personal traits yet vilified the reaction) aren’t worth the brain power, they never were.
• More on saving emotional energy: Don’t allow those who mock and call it “criticism” to get to you. Constructive feedback is kind and uplifting. Only accept criticism from people who have moral character, people you’d go to for advice, and people who don’t feel a need to show their weight/throw their weight around (classless/petty).
• Fall in love with enabling your mind/soul to be your first line of defence so that any support level externally can fluctuate without you feeling distraught. This means "training" our minds so that we can "activate" otherwise less active neurotransmitters based on whatever disorder aka superpower (if honed in) that we may have.
• Even if it’s not fair, if we confront/love/embrace the hand that we are dealt, whether that is our mind, our body, another type of challenge we have, it is very possible to reach mastery much faster. Upending our life everytime there’s a challenge is not the solution.
• Emotional boundaries that help avoid emotional exhaustion: It is an impossible standard to expect everyone to have the same values as you, as long as there is mutual respect for basic lines, then there is no issue. It's not OK to expect everyone to live the way that you live and vice versa.
• The fact that I’m even saying this out loud right now is weird... While there is an extent to which action-based preparation is key for navigating challenges with ease... Action above a base threshold stops us from recharging enough to manage challenges as they arise.
• Is it not more important to turn wounds into wisdom as fast as possible especially if the odds are against you? If the odds are not in your favour, why risk weakening yourself by you not using your innate wisdom to be in your favour? Be on your side, at the very least.
• When you build a business that fits YOU and anything else you have going on alongside it, the Universe will support that structure, energy is to be leveraged without whining about time constraints.
• How does anything good come from desperation or anxiousness? So clear some time daily for thinking/processing/planning/breathing.
• First part of personal freedom is personal agency / autonomy to choose your own life's priorities, the one with the problem is the one who thinks others belong to them / exist for them, run from that - it's very MLM style: ew. If someone takes personally / fails to comprehend timing / integrity towards existing (and heavily deadline-driven) commitments: that is the definition of someone to not do business with, if they don’t respect your time in the now, they never will, run!
• Even if the provocation appears intentional, non-reactivity is being the bigger person out of self-preservation of your energy/time, not because they deserve it, but because we no longer dignify intentional or un-intentional stupidity with a reaction.
• Aside from resilience, I think what got me up from rock bottom level burnout is my life’s vision. Without a purpose, I don’t think I would have cared that much about healing. Having systems and resources also helped.
• Adapting to life, yes, but when you have health conditions, sleep is not an adaptable flexible option - that’s fixed, that’s basic, and I don’t care how boring my sleep schedule makes me see . As is exercise. Non-negotiable. Like or leave it.
• The existence of anxiety and ADHD is a non-issue as these can be blessings when harnessed/embraced but when nutrition, sleep, and exercise slip up... that’s when fatigue can hit. No amount of medication counters a need for these things as a base.
• The ADHD brain and exercise: a match made in heaven. Are we addicted to exercise or is it a passion? Let people view it as they please. Let's do what makes us happy, shall we? What may seem laborious to someone else may be leisurely to you, do what brings you the most joy, life is too short to be trapped by the boxes of others. The day of the week doesn’t determine my dedication to my health especially in burnout recovery mode.
• If you have certain things you need to do daily/weekly in order to function aka health benchmarks (admittedly, this takes up time) and someone in your life takes that personally because they want more from you than you can give... the door is where they should be heading. I don't care to explain ADHD/anxiety in 2022.
• It’s 2022... there is nothing more confusing to me and alarming that the expectation of everyone being the same and having the exact same personality, it just doesn’t make any sense, no one is right or wrong, people are unique. Let’s all gravitate towards people who see that uniqueness as a gift and ideally, minimize the space that the demeaning/insulting judgers have (lack of humility and open-mindedness is destructive). It’s no one’s job in 2022 to “educate” anyone about mental health. Those who have it in their heart to judge automatically aren’t people we need to spend more of our time on. Destructive insults are not the same as constructive questions.
• When burnt out, solutions may be abundant but we can’t even think... I rather grow everything slower if it preserves my sanity-dependent me-time. The workouts make my brain work better which isn’t something I can afford to not have energy for again.
• Boundaries only destroy fake and controlling relationships. I love the concept of no alarms and no plans (as in nothing overly obligatory, no emails etc) on Saturdays and Sundays, I’m trimming down my business once again so that I respect my own “right to disconnect” (creating a workload that actually permits that) and it’s beautiful.
• ADHD tip: it took me a while to figure out... given our brains don’t have a clear “stop” and “brake” signal and go 200MPH... Introduce an “environmental” change that is pre-set like walking, standing, going for a gym sesh, calling a friend, whatever... just stimulate an alternate brain pathway. I found that just because I can still function working for hours without breaks due to hyper-focus doesn’t make it right for me or healthy for me, just because I don’t feel it right away doesn’t mean it won’t hit me like a ton of bricks.
• People who have dealt with major adversity early in life may be looked at as “traumatized” by the wrong people, but the right ones will see our grit as a tremendous advantage as we can make hard situations look easy. We can gut it out and we gave immense grit.
• Our anxiety / ADHD doesn't mean we experience less of life, it just means we manage life differently even if our way of living is less common (as if spending an inordinate amount of time on our favourite hobbies, which is physical activity, was weird or something). We are not experiencing less of life because we have a certain condition, we are experiencing life in a way that fits us.
• Present commitments and obligations over what "might" pay off later - we have no control over that and that's a heavy manipulation tactic by many who may try to recruit us to their cause. When you know your plan and vision - you will automatically know what is in alignment and not every "opportunity" is an actual opportunity. People who respect your well-being are not going to see your refusal as an issue at all, if that burns a bridge, do you really need people in your life you don't respect your time in the present? Probably not.
• Focusing our energy/ambition in the right direction supersedes speed. Doing “everything” truly crushes potency. Choosing 1-2 major priorities at a time is refreshing and it maintains health on all facets. It's mental bandwidth that matters most.
• Doing everything is lethal, more lethal than a possibly missed opportunity because missing opportunities (viable or not) doesn’t burn people out. Mental health over impact, self-worth over validation.
• An hour a day to block out the rest of the world and focus on yourself is not a lot of time. It is feasible when all aspects of your schedule are under control.
• The most brilliant thing about doing multiple things is me being forced to make things efficient from the get-go/be extremely decisive when it comes to which opportunities I take on for the business or not. It is automating from the start - as I never could afford the time wastage. It doesn't matter the "potential" of an "opportunity" if it detracts from integrity / excellence in honouring current commitments. It is imperative to treat current commitments with respect whether or not they're short or long term.
• Going non-service based is the only way I can run two lanes (work and business) at the same time, period. Happy I went with this model. Confirmed both logically and intuitively after some pondering. To me, a business should not depend on physical presence, it should be at a size where my client service is optimal, and it should be done around my other commitments, exceptional quality has nothing to do with headcount. Time freedom is important in the context of the business.
• Never correct anyone's misunderstanding of you, it's a waste of your divinity and your soul's true beauty. Save the energy for those who "get" you. It’s creative to use a personality trait someone dislikes in you to justify any level of their haterade, I find that beneath high-school level pettiness and most adults don’t need lessons on neuro-diversity. Mentally shielding from such nonsense saves a lot of energy.
• You asking for what you need only seems resistant if they don't get you.
• If someone is hostile due to a personality trait they dislike in you (their sad logic for justifying it), that’s a reflection of their own lack of character (a fundamental character flaw that has nothing to do with differences which are normal unless they live under a rock).
• Neurotransmitters aren’t activated by talk therapy or meditating... that is not physiologically possible. Movement triggers neuroplasticity = why many ppl with a combo of anxiety/adhd need fitness like they need oxygen. Fitness + all other coping skills, but fitness being # 1. Are gym rats self-obsessed narcissists or are the “gains” they’re after mental peace, mental health, and an optimal brain? It is absolutely a lifestyle. One that maintains my sanity.
• On saving emotional energy: Don't waste time on people who are innately incompatible with your moral values. You can't have mutual alignment in business with anyone so insecure to see a question as pushback, uncooperativeness, or resistance. People have opinions, people have voices. It's 2022.
• On healing from past injustices: At some point, we need to make our purpose more important than with somebody did to us, said to us, or put us through. Focus on the purpose, vision, the sales, the goals. There's no need to let them distract you further than they already have now is there? Vision. I'm not saying not to address things and stuff like that, but I am saying that you cannot allow them to permeate your aura any further and distract you from the blessings in abundance that awaits you. I mean, we need to be focussing on the good even while handling things is important, and focussing on the good even if it situation didn't turn out the way that you wanted. Certain bitter creatures have stolen so much of our lives and time already, we don't need to allow that to overstay its welcome in our minds, our mind is powerful, our mind crafts our lives how we please based on the thoughts we put in it, why let such people rent more real estate? We can't let certain people take our confidence.
• Transcending pain? Strong anchors (rituals) on top of a strong purpose (vision for our life) enables us to transcend even the most potentially lethal life circumstances. It's like allowing the fire within us, intestinal fortitude, to get us through as there was a time during that period that I genuinely didn't think I would survive. It's like the ability to focus on a future vision even if our brain is burning down internally.
• Note to self: Your sleep & mental health non-negotiables come before impact. Guess what impact you can make without these? None. There are way too many consequences on your life/income/financial stability to even go near risking burnout.
• What I do like is how kind partnerships and brand deals have been, without me needing to ask twice or beg to be understood. Gratitude for business partnerships who don't view simple questions as resistance, who inform those affected of decisions made (basic collaboration that is genuine), and brand deals who make time to assess the feasibility of deadlines before imposing them without thinking.
• On saving energy: The only opinions to take seriously are from people that you actually value/who have a place in your future... and those who are unbiased/objective (genuine souls).
• This is my new view... Mini-vacations like a spa day on the weekend + gym: that's no notifications even from my own business, I take that time off seriously to replenish weekly since that burnout. It's not about "how long" an interruption takes, when I am off, don't call me/don't e-mail me. Period.
• On the power team that is exercise and medication: Holistic stuff helps, but what immediately goes to the neurotransmitters in a direct route? Exercise and medication. Who knew I would be hilighting the importance of medication when there’s a need? Nothing else touches the neuropathways this directly, not even talk therapy. Nutrition does matter, but it is not as straight of a line to the brain then is exercise and medication. Nutrition does have a gut brain axis pathway, but it's not instant and berries and apples didn't help during my nervous breakdown (now stabilized), medication and exercise did.
• We can love what we do, we can love our business, we can love our work, we can love everything right? But if it’s work or money related, we may take it seriously sometimes... So we need time for play. We cannot pour from an empty cup! We cannot run a business if we do not fill our own cup first. Putting on our oxygen mask FIRST is part of our job description. Fun is not "getting in the way" of our goals, it supports our goals. A joyful outlook PAVES the way. Feeling GOOD expedites creative problem solving.
I am out here trying to change my beliefs and I have massive goals, so I cannot afford to allow my mind to weigh me down.
For mental health, I also think it's important to be in business partnerships that are a fair 2-way street (the basic tenet of true collaboration), where people do their part, and include you in decisions that affect you... I get all of that and even more uplifting energy than I could ever imagine from my referral networks and suppliers so at least that helped me through this challenging period. I find that no matter who pays who, there is no room for belittlement in strong partnerships and these past few years have been nothing but amazing people on that front, the opposite of the trash I was exposed to the in the past.
I'll leave you with this thought-provoking quote on this already long post...
“I refuse to accept other people’s ideas of happiness for me. As if there’s a ‘one size fits all’ standard for happiness.” – Kanye West
Thank you for taking the time to share this journey with me by reading about my nonsense. If I can inspire anyone to not use any diagnosis as a life-ender... rather... as a possibility of what your strengths are (which should be harnessed, not villified or viewed as resistance whcih is only the case where insecurity/inpetitude/lack of awareness exists), I did my job on this planet.