I almost hit a breaking point last week. I’d been putting off getting gas because I was too tired to do it after work, in too much of a hurry to do it before work, and too exhausted to think of leaving my apartment for anything over the weekend. So I left my apartment with basically no gas in my tank and panicked during the second half of my commute about potentially running out of gas before I got to the gas station because I hit two patches of stop-and-start traffic due to massive tractors being on the highway. Then, it turned out the gas station I went to had ripped out every single pump and not just part of the parking lot like it had looked from the street. While searching for nearby gas stations (a lot of stuff in that area has closed in the past 2 years, so I wanted to be sure I went to someplace that was still open with what might have been the last of my gas), a stupid, massive pickup truck almost backed over me despite me honking at the driver and opening my window to yell. Either he didn’t see me or didn’t care, but I only didn’t get run over by this truly massive lifted pickup (large enough and high enough to have just driven right onto and over my car) because the people who had been blocking me in moved enough that I could get away. After that, I got gas, went in to work, took one sip of my morning coffee, and realized that if I tried to work through the day as I had planned, I was going to have a breakdown.
I could tell because my stomach was churning, I was sweating, I had a bit of tunnel vision, and my muscles were all shaky. I’m not stranger to building panic attacks or the comedown from a high-stress scenario and the way it can make everything else that’s wrong feel so much worse. Even writing about it a few days later is hitting me with aftershocks from that stressful morning (though it probably doesn’t help that I spent all night dreaming about relatively low-stakes but still very stressful stuff happening at work), and that’s after two days of self-care aimed specifically at lowering my stress levels.
Since I decided to take some time off work before I broke down, I’ve been doing my best to treat myself well. I’ve done some of the chores that have been building up and not getting done while I’ve been busy, like unpacking some soap refills I ordered in August and dealing with a bunch of mail stuff (finally) that had been piling up on a chair. I did a bunch of tidying up, threw out a bunch of large recycling items, went on multiple long walks in the cold, fall weather, took pictures of some nice trees I saw, and played some video games. I even took two days off of writing my blog, though I did keep up with my editing and my haiku journal. After all, I have standards, editing these blog posts is easy, and my haiku journal is my main method of tracking my mood these days.
I’ve also done some work on longer-term things, trying to take a few minutes here or there out of my day to make sure I’m thinking through stuff that I haven’t had the energy to address that has nevertheless been weighing on me even if I’ve avoided thinking directly about it. I still have progress to go on everything since I’m working slowly, doing my best to sleep a lot, and taking a slow, puttering approach to pretty much everything I’m doing. There’s no real rush to get any of it done, even if I’m still planning to visit a friend this weekend and won’t have much more time past the day I’m writing this to do anything, so I’m just letting myself work as I feel like it, rest as I feel like it, eat as I feel like it, and do my level best to pretend that clocks don’t exist. Which has caused me a bit of trouble since I’ve been staying up a bit later than I should be, but I think visiting my friend will fix that since she goes to bed so much earlier than I do. It will help me get my sleep schedule back on track if I have to be quiet and not move around much after a certain time so I don’t wake up her birds and they don’t wake her up.
Above all, I’ve been trying to rest. I’ve cancelled upcoming events, cut down on the stuff I’m trying to prepare for, and taken an honest look at everything I’ve got going on. I’m not sure I can keep it all up without pushing myself towards another breaking point. The nice thing is that I’ve got a bit of time to work it out since I’m planning to take the entire week of US Thanksgiving off and then the end-of-year holidays all happen in a row which will mean either a few incredibly light weeks at work or more time off. I should be able to keep things up for now and slowly, thoughtfully, work through what I want to do. I’ve already come up with a few solutions and I’ve created a bunch of checklists for working through some of the slower, longer-term projects and problems. I can’t out-organize all of my stress, unfortunately, but I can use a lot of organization to handle the anxiety that causes most of my stress. Hopefully this will have been enough so I’m not just back to this point in a few more weeks.
One thought on “Breaking Points And Self-Care”
I think it is good that you are taking some time to rest. That is really important and I hope things get better for you soon. Thanks for sharing!
Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂