Some time ago I was diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, and (more recently) cyclothymia. This means that a lot of my life has been spent trying to do everything all at once, occasionally succeeding, but mostly overloading myself so as not to pay any attention to my increasingly unstable emotions.
On top of a standard 40-hour workweek at Fulltime Paid Office Job (FPOJ), my social calendar with friends had a minimum of three items per week, my freelance work clocked in at about an hour a day, I was helping a non-profit/social organization with three to five events per week, and somewhere in there I needed to make art, read a bunch of books, crochet everything, re-brand my business, do domestic things, go to therapy, work out, and every so often I’d get to schedule in sleep. This has gone on for …about two years. We’ll exclude some very negative incidents that occurred between late 2011 and mid 2015, but they also contributed to my current state of life.
Things fluctuated between feeling fabulous and overwhelming, until my workload at FPOJ became a constant source of looming fear in the form of paperwork. I’m not going to list specifics of exactly how much work I had to do, but let’s just say that it involved a solid 6 to 7 hours five days a week of straight working. When I say that, I mean that a minimum of 6 hours out of my 8 hour shift were spent doing actual work. Near Memorial Day I would have people arriving as I got there, waiting for me specifically, and the last customer would leave either at the end of my shift or within an hour of my shift ending.
I process a LOT of paperwork per individual/company, and I consider myself both organized and efficient, but there is only so much that one person can do in an hour.
The work stacked up. I began utilizing my ten minute breaks for the first time in years, still feeling guilty about leaving my work during even that time period. I can’t remember the last time I felt like anyone appreciated the work, only that if it wasn’t done, there would be reprimanding or belittling. There is always reprimanding and belittling, but at least if the work gets done, then there is …less? I’m not sure. It’s not the healthiest atmosphere. You just work, and you get your check, and you should be thankful to even have a job.
I started at my current job in March of 2007, in Department 1. In January of 2010 I was moved to Department 2, amidst much chaos as a replacement for a coworker with medical issues. In July of 2010, that coworker passed away. In December 2010, our GM passed away.
We’ve always had an office staff of less than 10 people. It’s very, very close. Things got…strained.
I am still in Department 2, and have been told I’ll be promoted to management. No concrete date, amount, or specific title have been given yet, though I’ve asked twice outright. (The manager is retiring, they say, at the end of next year.) We got a new corporate office and now the manager has an assistant from Department 1, and I still have no idea what’s going on with the promotion that I was told I was going to get.
This obviously makes me feel very secure and confident.
In February of 2015 we hired an employee to train under my coworker who would be retiring the following year. Retiring Coworker (RC1) worked directly with me since January of 2010, was my only coworker (excluding the manager), and we had a good system going for what it was. RC1 was extremely helpful and we were a solid team. Our job descriptions were different but our individual duties formed a circle – she needed my completed work to finish her job, and vice versa.
In January of 2016, Retiring Coworker retired, Replacement (trained-for-a-year) Coworker (RC2) moved into her spot, and Replacement Coworker’s sister (RCS) was hired for the specific reasons of “in case one of us has to go on vacation/be out”. RCS had a primary function of being an assistant to RC2, however I was told by my manager that yes, RCS was also able to help me with basic things (phones, copies, filing, etc). Note: there were now 2 full time people doing the work of 1 person, and I was getting no help with my workload from anyone. This included having to answer all the calls, all the time and help all the walk-ins, all the time. In the span of one shift where I had an off-site meeting, I came back to 24 voicemails.
The very short version is that the two remaining coworkers (excluding the manager) were very adamant that my job is not their job (it’s not, but… we are a TINY office, and they sit right next to me in an open-office / walk-in-friendly environment), and thinking about this makes my entire body immediately tense up.
Side note: Memorial Day to Labor Day is our busy season, with 4th of July weekend being our yearly peak point.
The thought of having to do all that work myself, after the massive overload during Memorial Day Week, made me have nightmares and crying fits. I was about two breaths away from a breakdown. I absolutely could not detach myself from work.
And so, after therapy and hard work and medication and asking for help and TELLING people I needed help and then EMAILING requests for help and the only thing changing was my pile of work getting larger, my stress leave for 6/28/16 – 8/9/16 was approved.
At first I considered sleeping for a week straight. Then I considered going on a very long solo road trip. Then I started thinking about how much I miss dance, but after some price checks and general reviews, Ginseng Yoga has once again earned my business on a daily basis. The studio is a delightful place of healing, and it’s helping me regain health and strength. It’s calming, it’s quiet, it’s what I needed. I’m going to incorporate a Barre class into my schedule (my main plan, thwarted by gas prices, was to go to Xtend Barre) – and maybe once all of my fitness routines have turned into daily routines, I can go back to dancing again. Presently? Yoga feels right.
It’s been just about a week, and I feel like I can breathe a little now.
My nightmares aren’t every night, and don’t always involve work.
I take one to two yoga classes every day, and have been working hard at readjusting my diet. No daily fast food, no unplanned trips to Del Taco. More produce, more homemade food. Less sugar, less caffeine. Not much less, but less.
This time off is also helping me to adjust to my new medication; the side effects are a little troublesome.
I’m going to make efforts at posting regularly, in attempts to track my symptoms and side effects, but more in an attempt to remind myself that there really is life outside of paperwork. There really are good things out there, things that I enjoy that are healthy for me to do.
I just need to start somewhere.