[Photo: free image iStock_000015634604Large.]
Do you ever feel like a hamster running in a wheel and suddenly someone jams a stick in the spokes and you come to an abrupt halt and land face-down totally knocked out? It’s kind of where I am at the moment. They say life is a journey, not a destination but I feel my life so far has been a marathon with many hurdles to jump over and I’m trying to sprint it. Time is passing me by and I am frustrated, not where I want to be and just feel exhausted. While I have had some great moments, the general overall experience so far has been an uphill battle full of drama, stress and anxiety.
Learning to recognise and accept burnout is hard for workaholics and people who are poor and feel they cannot stop.
I have to apologise for the lack of posts over the last year. Some days I wake up crying, some days I have this overwhelming sadness and it doesn’t shake off easily. More like it’s a wave that goes over you and holds you down for a while making everything seemingly impossible or overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Some days the simplest of tasks overwhelm me leaving me in a fit of panic and tears eg. I know my phone number by heart but when someone asked me for it the other day I couldn’t remember it … for 3 days my mind was blank like my memory had been wiped. My job at the bank is all about memory so this scared the shit out of me. I was panicked and hyperventilating. Some days I am the therapist listening to my family and friends’ problems and offering objective advice so repress all my own shit I’m struggling with, and some days I am so swamped with work that I forget to eat and I am running against time. I usually come home from work and can’t string a sentence together. It is mentally taxing, fast paced and non-stop. For the last three months I have been on what feels like overdrive, barely functioning on 5 hours interrupted sleep a night, coupled with a poor diet and immense stress and chaos at work; is it really any wonder that I have been signed off work with stress and anxiety for 2 weeks? Like me, if you’ve been running the hamster wheel, spinning too fast in the tea-cups or galloping at a hundred miles an hour on the merry-go-round (carousel) we’ve been running on empty for a long time and we need to listen to our bodies and rest. We’re reached burnout.
Everyone tells me I need to find a better job, but it took me 10 years to land this job and while it isn’t the best it has allowed me to jump-start my life and turn it in another direction and right now I need some kind of stability. I need to get on my feet and sort out my finances and I need health insurance. I know it is just a stepping stone and I will jump ship again to the next project. That’s how I’ve rolled the last two decades since I started my first job at 13 years old. My doctor asked me what my dream job would be, what do I actually want to do? Well, I’d like to write and help people but there’s no money in that unless you can get published regularly and then freelance work will stress me out as I like the security of having a regular wage coming in. Second to that, I don’t have a clue. That question alone just overwhelms me. Is there a job where you can get paid really well for having no qualifications and where you don’t need to think. Where you have clear head space and just do your shift, clock off and then can actually enjoy life?
In the last year I have gone through mammoth changes and I haven’t given myself time to process or digest it. I separated from my husband and with that brought abuse from so-called friends based on religious grounds and rejection from his relatives, I moved twice (the last being across 2 states to a new area of Germany), my bunny died, I got a new bunny (Bonnie) and had to bond her with Snoopy which meant fights, injuries and expensive trips to the vets in the early hours. There were a couple of US guys I started chatting to who wanted to get romantically involved but then I found out they were engaged and they’d lied which hurt. I went from doing 3 part time jobs to doing one full time job and freelance work on the side. I had 4 days to move states and had no handover or guidance in my new branch, unknowingly and suddenly thrown in the deep end I had to train new staff and the branch I am now working in is chaotic most of the time with poor management. I’ve not yet been in the bank 2 years and still am on a temporary contract yet I am training newbies on entry level pay? When they mess up I have to sit there and figure out their till differences and correct them. I had to financially put myself into debt to move and restart my life in the West and I had a series of teething problems in my new flat when I first got here. There are always dramas and issues at home amongst family members which drains me. I worked through Christmas and New Years which was insanely busy, in January my husband approached me with his wish to start divorce proceedings and then a major incident at work happened that threatened our jobs. My job is now safe. But my nerves couldn’t cope and I just couldn’t stop crying and shaking and all this shit just got heavier and I broke under the pressure.
Unless you pay 100 EUR an hour and go privately, the waiting list for a therapist is at least 3 months and you can’t afford to be choosy. I’ll have to take the first person who becomes available and hope that we kinda gel. Being female, an Aquarius and British … well, good luck to the shrink who gets me because I am pretty weird at the best of times and many Germans and Russians don’t get me. A lot of Brits don’t get me either. Hell, I don’t get me sometimes. I can see me being admitted to a mental institution for student therapists to study and do experiments on. While waiting for an appointment though, I am reading (as per typical Charlie does) everything on psychology and marriage and how to cope with guilt, loss, anxiety, loneliness and depression. I like to try to heal and help myself as much as possible and figure out why I feel the way I do. I know feelings are unreliable subjective things which makes me cautious and I like to know the science behind them so I can hurry up and get back on track with my life. I also love psychology and if I had my time again would definitely study it to become a therapist myself.
I moved to Wiesbaden 6 months ago with the excitement and hope of new things and a promising turn around for my future. Everyone who had moved West told me life is amazing and so much better than in the East. I haven’t really experienced what they have though and
The people here are definitely more lazy and not team oriented like in the East.
I know it’s early days but when they moved they all had money, master degrees, great high paid jobs and were men and their wives all supported them bringing in second incomes, running the house and raising the kids. While it is scary for anyone to make a huge change in their life, men are more matter-of-fact and women are more feelings-based. Women like security. And my friends were not alone when they moved. They were happily married and have family in Germany. They have a support group. There are many differences that make our situations and stories unique but in short, I feel isolated and alone and I’m battling all these different emotions and thinking all the time about the last few months. What once seemed hilarious, Bridget Jones’ fear of being found dead on the floor eaten by Alsatians is actually becoming a real fear that I now don’t find quite so funny. It’s a little too close to home albeit I don’t have Alsatians so I shall most likely die alone like the guy in the film, “into the wild.” That film scared the shit out of me and messed me up for weeks afterwards–OK I need to stop watching this kind of stuff! But do you understand what I mean? With a stressful job, in a new city where I don’t know anyone and just scraping by living hand-to-mouth, I am quite frankly scared of the future.
I go to work with a mask, I’ve worn this mask for the past two decades hiding my real feelings and what is going on. I have different filters for everyone. Some people know more things than others. No one knows the real me. And just remembering who knows what and who shouldn’t know certain things is totally exhausting.
I keep work and private life separate as a rule and I don’t let many people see the real me for fear of rejection and judgement and when people know things about you they can use it against you. I have trust issues from being hurt and used over and over. But one thing is certain, I did the right thing. Things might be bumpy still, the grass might not be as green as I thought it was but I’m in a better place than I was before and this tidal wave of feelings is all part of the breaking up and moving on process that comes with relationships and mammoth change. I just forgot what it felt like to be going through it and starting all over at 32 years old.
I’m a pretty positive person and always hopeful. I’m also a fighter.
While I am going through a rough patch right now, I know I will bounce back. I just have to acknowledge my feelings, accept and process them and come to terms with the change and then lay them to rest. I need to heal. And I need to give myself time for that. I don’t know where my future is going. Other than my burning desire to travel and write I honestly haven’t thought any further forward than that because for the last 10 years it’s been about survival; fighting existential fear and moving West. Now I am here in the West, albeit alone, I now need to re-evaluate and figure out what I want or where I am going.
While everyone around me is settling into married life, having kids and holidays and getting on the property ladder, I’m trying to block that out and tell myself I am doing OK and I shouldn’t compare myself. They haven’t experienced what I have, nor have their lived my life or walked a day in my shoes. We’re at different stages of our journeys and who is to say that I don’t end up on a faster track and over take the lot of them one day? Everything is a lesson. Everything I experience teaches me new things and I try to learn and understand myself more. I just have to remember not to be so hard on myself. I am my biggest critic and a lot of pressure comes from thinking about the time I wasted in my 20’s not being honest with myself. I need to keep moving one foot in front of the other, I need to stay active and keep going but if some days are slower than others then that’s alright.
I need to remind myself that if on some days all I can do is get up, eat and go outside for fresh air then that’s still successful. I’ve had a few days like that since I’ve been off work. I haven’t even had the energy to talk to people or write. My mind has been full of nothing and everything all at once. A blurred mess with dark cold rain clouds. I’m taking one day at a time and trying to just get one thing ticked off my daily to-do check list and inch by inch I’ll crawl out of this phase and like the Spring, hopefully things will start to feel better, warmer, more promising, the clouds will lift and a path to new adventures and beginnings or just stability will again be visible.
But I also need to remember to live my life and enjoy it.
Life isn’t all about working and paying off debts.
Where possible, we need to actually take time off and not feel guilty about that. We need to enjoy the little things like standing with a cup of tea watching the snow fall whilst the local radio station plays pop songs in the background or taking 40 minutes to walk along the river and watch the boats ride the waves. We need those moments for our own sanity, to switch off, unplug and recharge.
I have so many things I want to share with you on my blog. I want to talk about all the things I’ve experienced so that if some of you are in the same boat or have experienced similar things you can know you’re not alone. As I continue on my journey I want to take you with me. Some days may be slower than others but I hope you’ll stay with me. Until my next post, have an amazing day and may 2018 be a beautiful rewarding and fun year for you!
Wishing you all much love from Wiesbaden,