Coping with a 45+ hour working week…

Yesterday I decided to take some medication as part of how I am coping with a huge increase in stress and workload.

I think that I am coping pretty well and taking steps to manage this which include being pretty honest that it isn’t always a walk in the park.

Working in education in September is always busy and with an added audit means that everyone is under so much pressure, but with bipolar I have to ensure that I take good care of myself through this very busy time.

My steps to managing during this time are:

Ensure I have one break away from my desk each day – I have managed this most days this week but on the one day I didn’t, I felt my paranoia and anxiety increase. Yesterday a very good friend came and met me for lunch and next week I am already planning in breaks so they are harder to get out of.  It isn’t always easy and in the past some colleagues have been known to say ‘we are too busy to take a break’, but my health must come first, I am already working overtime and one break can help me and makes a big difference.

Make an appointment with GP or other care professional – I have all my care provided through my GP who I see monthly or every two months or more often when I am unwell. Even though I was very well when I last saw her a month ago I knew I had a busy time coming up so I made an appointment for a month so therefore I am seeing her this week. This not only reassures me but also those that care for me that a professional is keeping an eye on me.

Take PRN medication – In the past I very rarely took any medication to help with anxiety or other symptoms until I had experienced pretty bad symptoms. Whilst I feel pretty well I have also had some quite bad anxiety, especially this week and have already taken medication that the Dr has prescribed for such times. I now know that there is nothing wrong with this, I am not weaker for doing so but actually sensible and strong for acknowledging the little bit of extra help I do need.

Talking with managers/colleagues (where appropriate) – This isn’t always easy or possible and I have experienced appalling stigma in the past however I am hugely fortunate to have excellent managers at the moment who not only keep an eye out for staff but will ensure I am looking out for myself. As they said to me this week, they want me at work as they value me, if that means having the full lunch break that I am entitled too that is more than fine! I also manage staff myself so being honest with them and supporting them through this frantic time helps me as well and means that as a team we are more productive in the long run.

Find time for rest & fun – in addition to a huge workload last weekend I took my Brownies away for a 3 night holiday which was brilliant but also meant that my weekend had very little room for rest. This weekend I am enforcing quite a bit of rest on myself starting with a lie in today, plenty of tea breaks and nothing at all stressful to do either! Whilst there is a temptation to work I won’t as I need to have a complete break as next week and probably the rest of the month will be as busy. 

So working isn’t always easy and I have to be so careful, but I am coping very well and although taking a day at a time isn’t always possible I am managing to stay well and do a good job.  Maybe I am also challenging the stigma surrounding mental illness without even realising it! 

I coped OK – in fact I think I did more than OK!

So today was the day I went back to work after Christmas – not just after a 2 week Christmas break but also after a depressive episode and one which meant I hadn’t worked full time since early November.
Work has been massively stressful due to many different issues and I can actually say that very slowly some of the difficult situations are getting resolved and today I enjoyed some aspects of my day. I can’t remember the last time I could say that I enjoyed part of a day at work. These stressful circumstances only helped to exacerbate the depression I had sunk into.
It had been hard over the last couple of days – it certainly wasn’t completely plain sailing – I experienced awful anxiety the night before and my sleep was affected by this. I also had nightmares and the snippets of depression that were still occurring came slightly more regularly and were more intense.
I struggled to get up this morning but I did it and decided that the only way I was going to get through the day was by taking an hour at a time and by continually telling myself that I was ok at my job.
I suppose that today wasn’t very taxing – not many staff were around as they were involved in training, email traffic wasn’t sky high …. however it was a good introduction and most importantly gave me back some confidence and a boost and proved that I was getting back on top.
I suppose that over Christmas I had started to get well again but I knew that today would be the deciding factor to see how far I had come and I think I did ok!
I realise that it won’t be plain sailing and that it will be a bumpy return to where I was say in the summer – but I have turned the corner and I am so grateful to all who have helped and supported me.