For many people, taking time to sit back and relax is an essential part of managing their mental health. I however, do not give myself a chance to do that. I have referred to myself as a workaholic and have often said things like “sleep is for the weak” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Struggling with anxiety and depression pushes me to constantly keep myself busy. My anxiety makes it difficult for me to take a break because all I ever do is worry about the things I should be doing. At times I can also have thoughts of worthlessness when I try to relax. I feel lazy and wonder what I even contribute to society. I feel like I should be accomplishing so much more.
To explain, I am a full time Pharmacy student in my professional phase and I work two jobs that add up to around 40 hours a week, not to mention my extracurriculars and the side jobs I do as well to make extra money. Part of the reason I put so much on my plate is money struggles. My family has never been well off, my mother never even owned a home until recently. We would typically go from place to place and crash at family members’ houses or stay at places and not pay rent. My family has since been better off, but not well enough to really help me, and I chose an expensive program, so I did it to myself. I just wanted to make a different life for myself.
Money has always been a struggle and I thought if I got a good career, then I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. The other reason is that if I do not give myself a reason to get out of bed in the morning, then I won’t. Keeping myself constantly busy allows me to escape the horrible thoughts I have sometimes. It often feels like I am running away from my depression and if I don’t stop running, it can’t catch up to me. However, that’s not how mental illness works. There isn’t enough distraction in the world to make you feel okay if you aren’t taking proper care of yourself.
The lack of sleep and lack of free time to do things I enjoy have finally caught up to me. Any time I get the chance to be home I am studying. I have friends who live a few streets down from me and go to the same college as me, that I have not seen in weeks. I hardly ever get to go visit my family, and even though they are a pain in the butt, I still miss them. I often go several months without seeing my family, and it is starting to make me feel guilty.
My career is my number one priority, but I need to make time for other priorities as well. Additionally, I have not been able to take care of my physical or mental health, because I have no time to go see a doctor. I have a lot of appointments that need to be made, but I always had work, or class, or an exam to study for. This is getting to the point where I am hardly allowing myself to be a person. My most basic needs are not being met, and if I keep going like this, I will probably have a breakdown.
Which is why I have decided to quit one of my jobs. I gave my boss a notice and I felt so much relief when I did. It was like a weight got lifted off my shoulders. I was so excited thinking about the stuff I could do now that I could have some days off. I thought I would regret my decision, but it was much needed. I already made some doctors appointments, and a few plans with friends. I am still a bit worried about a lack in income after quitting my second job, but it was ridiculous of me to work two jobs as a full time student. Honestly, being a full time student is stressful enough. I would much rather cut back on spending than continue to work myself to death.
I still have a lot on my plate, but now I have a little more free time to manage it. To anyone out there coping with distractions as I do, it is only a short time fix.
How busy is your schedule? Do you like to keep yourself busy? How do you think your business affects your mental health – do you use your business as a coping mechanism? How do you remind yourself to take a step back?