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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Being so tired

This week I’ve been really worn out, like really worn out, and maybe for the third or fourth time in a few weeks. But this time I’m struggling to have the energy to do things.


As someone with lived experience of depression I can see an overlap with some of the behaviours during tiredness, but the emotion is totally different; which is a good thing. This isn’t depression, it’s tiredness. Being absolute shattered.


My weekdays are full from 6.30am to 8.30pm, and Tuesday from 5am. The weekends are increasingly full with either work or attempting to see friends, attend events or having home time with Henry. There's hardly any time for a break. And when there is I fill it with an activity or task. Which can be helpful for my mental health and keeping the depression in check. However…


I have noticed that when Laura has breaks (apart from gardening which seems more physical than you’d think it would be) she generally relaxes; watches tv, has a nap that sort of thing. My breaks are more, I’ll go to the gym, I’ll go to an event and take photos, I’ll organise something. Again that can be great, but it’s also tiring; because I’m not actually resting.


Which got me thinking, where does this need to fill time come from. Why do I need to do that? Why can’t I just rest or pause?


I remember during one season of therapy, I had homework to watch a film and do nothing, just watch it. It was so hard. To not be doing anything, to just switch off. Eventually I managed this by watching a film on my laptop from the bath. Being in the bath meant I actually couldn’t do anything else. By restricting what I could do, I kind of forced myself into pausing. This of course lead to a love of chilling out in a long bath (which I haven’t kept up over the last year or so).


But still, why can’t I just pause? Part of that is recent. My depression meant I really struggled with quiet. My mind would race and spiral, often getting to a dark and dangerous place quicker than I realised. To help prevent this I surrounded myself with sound. Often having the radio or a podcast on. The sound kept my mind at bay. Even today that’s something I often use to keep myself well. But that’s relatively recent (last 7-8 years). I think ‘being busy’ goes back further.


While I’m sure there’s multiple reasons, events, moments; but two general examples that popped into my head when thinking about this were as a child (why do so many things come back to that?), I remember not wanting to go my dads after school on a couple of occasions. I wanted to stay at school for clubs or see friends. And also (on separate occasions) as a teenager/ young adult not wanting to go to another pub with my mum and her husband. On those occasions I had to explain why I didn’t want to go and really justify myself.


While my age was different and my mentality was different I think in those moments I learnt a ‘value’. Which was based on two things:

  1. Just saying “no, I don’t want to” wasn’t good enough. So I needed there to be something else I was doing.

  2. I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by saying no to them. So I needed my response  to be more “sorry I can’t because I’m already committed to this other thing”.


Those two reasons together then meant I learnt to make myself busy. In part to be able to say no to things, I hadn’t even been invited to yet.


Pausing, mindfulness, self care; they are all fairly recent things for most of us right? They definitely are for me. They are not things I knew about 10+ years ago. The message I remember was always “you should be working”, “doesn’t matter if you enjoy it” or even “you’re not meant to enjoy it”. Work hard and keeping busy was very much the late 80’s to 2000’s mindset, and what I feel I was raised on. The idea of looking after your own wellbeing then would probably have been laughed at. Then today, as a male in his mid-late 30’s. When thinking about my own wellbeing that is something I still have to tackle at times in my own mind, and re-establish in my own mind my worthiness of rest and wellness.


Maybe (there definitely are) there are multiple moments that have fed into my struggle with pausing and self care. I’m pretty sure in my whole working life I’ve taken less than 7 days off work sick. That carry on attitude, even if you’re struggling, can be a hard one to kick. Home working doesn’t really help either, because that just encourages me to carry on working even when I should stop. That doesn’t seem healthy when you say it aloud.


More recently Laura and Henry have also needed looking after, so that again feeds into my carry on mentality. I’m sure if I look back, I’ll have previous blog posts about trying to get better at this. I haven’t worked it out yet, but I am still trying. Maybe I do need to get a bit better at the trying part of making time and giving myself permission to stop, pause and breathe. Right now, it's also, just when will I fit that in?


I am very much open to recommendations and insights. Until then, I'm going to try and keep the occasional walks going; thats the closested thing I think I'm doing currently to resting.




 

Signposting to support Self Care for depression - mind.org.uk

Ways to support yourself - yongminds.org.uk Support with low mood - nhs.uk


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