Isn't it funny when you catch up with people whom you haven't seen for ages and the common response to how life is or how you've been is 'Busy'.
What does that actually mean? It can mean you've literally been flat out, you barely have time to breathe or it can mean that your prioritise your time so poorly, you seem flat out but are merely juggling a few tasks badly or it can mean that you'd rather sit at home in your pjs on a Saturday night binge watching TV shows (Outlander...OMFG frothing) with your husband.
In all honesty, I've been all three.
And there are more than three types of busy! But these are the three I see myself falling into.
For me, for the past 12 months almost... I have been working. I have worked so hard that I spent more time at my work places some weeks, than I did at my own house, with my own children.
This was not healthy. But being new to the workforce I felt I was in no position to say no to offers of more shifts to 'help out' or to staying late, especially because I was excited to be there and I was actually HELPING people! I was using my frigging degree and it felt AMAZING.
BUT I found out that this is a really fast track way to burnt out. Some very respected allied health partners whom I work along side were very direct with telling me that it was OK to say no, not all the time but definitely sometimes, as they'd noticed a change in my usual bubbly persona and saw the tired emptiness in my eyes.
This is a hard lesson for me because I'm a yes person.
One of my subconscious life goals is to help others be happy or feel better or loved or appreciated and to help out.
I will help you out till I've accidentally helped you out more than I've helped myself and sometimes accidentally screw myself over. THAT IS THE KIND OF HELPFUL PERSON TO YOU THAT I AM WILLING TO BE ... but it doesn't benefit me as much.
And sure... I know you might be thinking... 'bitch... quit your whinging. you got paid for working right? so STFU!'
Well it's not that straight forward.
I have learnt these things in my 15+ years of working life (i got my first job at 14 & 7 months in case you want to do the math).
You get paid most times, sure.
Sometimes you don't, due to politics in the work place. Yay.
Sometimes you get paid in such a large sum that you lose over half of it to tax for your HECS debt from uni (FML when this little fucker popped up on my payslip and sucked me dry).
And sometimes your workplace expects you to come in before you're getting paid to do things.
Or they expect you to stay late and do things for free. A lot of jobs have expected the 'free work' bit.
When I got my first job, I couldn't believe that they expected me to do things after I had clocked off or before I had even clocked on.
WTF was that about?!?! And why has it become an expected thing nationwide for employers to expect their staff to go above and beyond what they're paid for in their own time?
It just doesn't really make sense.
It made me feel like I was heavily disrespected as an employee.
And if you put down the extra time, you were scrutinised for it and it was never paid.
I worked in hospitality. You could not physically close the doors until the time you actually finished your shift because there was always some fucking twat who wanted a coffee or bread or something at 5.57pm, and then there was final till count and disposal of left over food etc and locking up.
Something for nothing seems to be a theme in the workforce of Australia and because everyone is doing it, then it has become the knew thing and it just happens and staff begrudgingly accept this as the norm. IS it derived from the phrase that 'the customer is always right'? Because if I refuse to serve someone at 5.57pm because I've packed up then they can technically complain about me to my boss and I get in trouble but if I claimed the extra time I also got in trouble and told I wasn't efficient enough and it was put back on me (is that employment gas lighting..?!?!).
So it really is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
So back to nursing. It has been a hard time for me to get my work-life balance right.
I struggled with it. I struggled with not feeling like I'd let people down, especially when you feel the change in their attitude towards you for not being your usual overly helpful self.
But at what cost was that overly helpful self? It nearly cost me everything I've worked this hard for in the first place. I very nearly, just recently packed it all in. I teetered so heavily on a full blown breakdown. There was only a few threads that kept me sewn together, and a large number of them are the amazing nurses I've become friends with at my places of employment. I haven't actually really spoken about this with anyone but the pressure got too much. I was like a pressure cooker with no blow off valve. The steam was building and had no where to get out.
I didn't know what to do.
So I withdrew externally.
And those very special nurses and friends, they came looking for me in my black internal abyss.
They actually looked for me.
I was ready for the ground to swallow me up whole and drop away into it.
But there they were. Some of them don't even know they helped. This is how internal this struggle became.
Because I was afraid.
I was afraid of being seen as weak. Incompetent. And just a shit person in general.
I felt over worked and underappreciated in every single area of my life.
I felt like there was nowhere I could turn, and I know some people reading this will think 'hey, i'm here for you' but when you're in withdrawal mode, you just don't see them unless they actually physically inject themselves into your life and put themselves into your face.
There were a few friends who did this for me, outside of work colleagues.
And I am eternally grateful.
And my husband... the man who shares my bed... is so fixated on his work and has been away for prolonged periods of time that our conversations don't consist of more that a handful of sentences around business accounting and billing. And I get it, it's his livelihood. This is his main concern. There was never a good time to tell him exactly how I was feeling. I love that man but communicating with him isn't always easy.
Now this post has been drafted up for near on two months. I just haven't had the balls to post it.
And then i watched '13 Reasons Why'... and it made me angry and sad and confused and all the emotions in between. But it made me realise that withdrawal from society can seem subtle to everyone else but there can be an internal crisis going on for the person in the middle.
And I would never take my life. I am not at that spot. I never was, but all of a sudden I went from thinking Hannah (the main character) was a attention seeking pain in the arse to actually seeing it for what it was, admittedly I hadn't seen the whole series when I had those thoughts.
I just thought it WAS the early actions of people that had pushed her over the edge... and thought it was a grave over reaction... notice the past tense there. I had been through much worse in primary and high school and lived to tell the tale. It also made me question my actions and thought processes as a nurse. What sort of person was I if I couldn't relate to someone who was about to commit suicide? AND furthermore what sort of nurse did it make me to have my own near breakdown? Who was I to judge what should or shouldn't be someone's last straw?
Turns out, I was judging myself pretty harshly as it was.
That is such a common theme in my posts. I know it and yet still struggle to turn it around but this show actually helped me make those connections and help me unpack it.
And unpack my own mental health.
The main gist of this post is this:
Don't over work yourself to please others and end up selling your sanity down the river.
Apply that concept to every area of your life. I had to or I was at risk of loosing everything.
I even apply this rule to my interactions with my children, my work and all my relationships because you MUST have something left at the end of the day, otherwise you cannot function.