PATHOLOGICAL PUSHING

I have done a lot of pondering lately. Being an introvert, I favour reflection just as much as action. I have been an introvert (so far this year) who has actioned far too many things than my comfort zone would usually allow. There just hasn’t been enough time to reflect. I’ve just been doing, and never stopping, instead of being. And after so long of this life strategy I realise that this wandering away from my natural personality orientation is not emotionally healthy. Pushing ourselves is good, in small doses, but if that pushing becomes pathological, and merely the best attempt we can muster at an escape from our inner demons, it is nothing short of a harmful addiction.

I am all in favour of striving, and it sure beats languishing in our limited comfort zones forever, festering in our own [bored as a corpse] juices. Striving is what allows the confines of our personality to stretch. New thinking patterns and helpful positive habits can develop. Outdated shit coping strategies can be pruned away, making way for newer better ones, but there is a danger to this strategy, and the danger is psychological BURNOUT.

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Burnout is not a phenomena exclusive to CEOs and city bankers. In fact, I’d say burnout is a very normal reaction that many types of people can have, if you repeatedly exhaust your capabilities as well as paying scant attention to your personal boundaries; crossing and re-crossing those invisible inner lines that should just not be crossed.

I see people in danger of burnout, and people have seen that possibility in me. But the problem is, when people point out that you are placing yourself under lots of pressure and might want to consider possibly slowing down, our natural reaction is ‘SHUT UP. WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! I KNOW ME BETTER THAN ANYONE DOES, SO WIND YOUR NECK IN!!’

The thing with burnout, is that it is not up to us to point out if we think someone is perhaps heading in that direction, because that will provoke defensiveness. Burnout is therefore only realised when we are actually in it, and suffering from it- in other words, we can only see the risk of burnout, when we are already well into burning out! Anything before that point, and we can just say, ‘it’s ok, nothing to worry about, we’re just a bit tired, this is nothing that a good night’s sleep won’t fix.’

But we only realise we are maybe burned out, when we are pretty fucking far into that process of being burned out. We only realise we are burned out, if all the sleep in the world won’t cure our tiredness. We only realise we are burned out, when things that would usually be enjoyable for us, cease to be enjoyable. We only realise we are burned out, when we notice we are consistently using avoidance as a coping strategy to get us through our day. We only realise we are burned out, when anxiety about our day tomorrow, keeps us awake at night, tonight and most nights. We only realise we are burned out, when we realise we are socially retreating and getting easily pissed off and provoked by others. We only realise we are burned out, when it is impossible to be patient, with anyone, or with any task, for any reason, at any time.

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I know I am burned out, and also very depressed with it. People don’t understand that when we are depressed, that term stands for DEEP REST. We become depressed, when our minds, bodies and souls require DEEP REST. Depression is a mechanism by which we retreat from everything except our own pain, and we just lose any ability to be active. Depression is caused by burnout, but depression is also nature’s cure for burnout. Because to be depressed gives us that DEEP REST that we NEED.

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Depression is shit. It hurts. But it is evolutionary in basis, and a universal reaction to burnout and pathological pushing.

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I know people who push to pathological levels, fuelled on by invisible and usually unacknowledged addiction. I very much include myself in that category, therefore there is no judgement intended, only a worry that those people will be ok, as well as a worry I will be ok.

I am a pathological pusher. That is why I went to a job interview last week and attended an important meeting, pushing my current suicidality aside as though it wasn’t even there in the first place. My pathological pushing has led to me having more blogs and pieces of writing published this year than I can count on two hands. My pathological pushing meant that this year I have raised an unknown and very credible/heathy amount of money for mental health charities. I have been to Westminster, written two cracking speeches, organised a 3 day charity event involving lots of people, made contributions to reports and important policies, been interviewed on telly, and by someone very important (nationally). I also ran a 5k then a 10k, have progressed with my healing from PTSD/BPD, and then had lots of fab ideas for my future too.

But I am depressed today, and stuck in a state of requiring DEE—P—REST.

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The burnout can only be remedied now by the restorativeness of a depressive episode, but you know what, this is nice pleasant restoration. This is clinical bloody depression! This is life spent, feeling shit, most of the time- and nothing at all budging the epic shitiness. This is my punishment, and the pay off, for all my pathological pushing this year.

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So the depression means that I just cannot keep pace with my prior schedule of pushing, and instead, I become reacquainted with the joy misery of doing virtually nothing, and still feeling EXHAUSTED.

I cannot tell you how tired I actually am. Because that would be a very tedious blog post, but trust me, I’m tired!

Nothing will seemingly cure my tiredness, but I know this is only a reaction to my pathological pushing.

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Where does that tendency to pathologically push originate from?

These are my reasons……(identified during periods of very clever previous psychological introspection.)

I was born to three significant type A role models (my dad and my two big brothers). they were CONSTANTLY busy OR ill because of their previous busyness, so they were what made me think that this kind of self-pushing and striving was important and desirable.

I was born to a dad with a perfectionistic/narcissistic personality, who was affectionate conditionally, rather than unconditionally. His message to me and all his kids was…. ‘you only matter if you are impressing people, and if you don’t impress, you may as well accept you are an utterly USELESS human being who should possibly probably be shot for your ineffectiveness’.

I was born to a dad who…….yada yada.

I got all this from my abusive dad (and my repressed mum who just did what he wanted to keep the peace).

So if I know this unhelpful behaviour is all down to him and his influence, (as well as the influence of other key family members), why on earth can’t I just restore myself to factory settings, and delete my previous unhelpful conditioning?

Why can’t I just realise that pathological pushing leads to burnout?? ….and burnout leads to depression….and depression is SHIT.

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Why is that tremendously insightful insight, generated by perceptive self-analysis [due to tons of therapy] not enough?!

Feel free to tell me in the comments section, as I have no idea myself!

summerSHINES©

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#4 of 20. BREAKTHROUGH!

Good morning! I have lots of good stuff to publish today…and I am actually in a half decent mood, (which considering my recent mental health crisis is pretty epic!)

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I did some sharpie doodling this morning whilst chatting on and off to lovely humans (via the online social beauty that is Facebook messenger).

I sent a very important email to a very important mental health charity, telling them I will be doing the very important speech to the very important audience, after all. I REFUSE to let my mental health dictate my life (though I will have a good rest first, between now and then so I’m all recouped and ready to fly).

So where am I at- on day 4 of my attempt to get myself out of my current mental health breakdown?….I am here……(below). I have broken through, wherever it is that people in the midst of mental health crisis break through to, to mark that the worst bit is over and the better bits are to come……

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To say I’m ‘relieved’ doesn’t do it justice….but hopefully this doodle does it justice….

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There are lots of positive things to be positive about today…so I decided to make a list….

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Another FAB thing I am realising, is that I’m doing OK without my old friends, the team of NHS crisis, and the community based MH team (CMHT)…also without the therapist. I need to stand on my own feet for a bit and feel pride that I can regain my footing after some mental health slippery-ness. I’m proud of me for managing to do this….maybe sarpies, artsy paper and determination was all I needed….and maybe (for not at least) this is a sufficient substitute for NHS talking therapy and telephone-based support from people I’ve never met.

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I am dead excited about the charity speech, and dead excited about my BOOT THE BLUES hike.

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The good news is IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO DONATE! YOU LOVELY PEOPLE OUT THERE IN THE WORLD!!!….ANY CURRENCY, ANY PERSON- YOU CAN ALL DONATE ON MY JUSTGIVING PAGE…
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/imani-summer

ALL DOSH GOES TO TYNESIDE AND NORTHUMBERLAND MIND (FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH IN THE NORTH-EAST OF ENGLAND).

IF YOU DONATE, I WILL OFFICIALLY LOVE YOU :) xxx (but, on reflection, maybe not quite as much as my husband and children) :D

I nearly backed out, as last week doing this hike seemed impossible, but my spirits are soaring and my strength is returning. And I will SMASH THE SHIT OUT OF THIS HIKE and be so proud when it all comes together and all the money is totted up, and I will feel totes proud for my AMAZING :P organisational and volunteering skills!

Woop!

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On day 4-it’s all GOOD. :)

See you tomorrow for more sharpie mental health crisis recovery shenanigans blows kiss

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summerSHINES©

 

THANK YOU!

This is my chance to big up my readers, yes YOU -the people who read Summer Starts to Shine.

I am dead proud to have just nudged over the 800 follower mark. blinks I find this hard to believe actually. Next month I will be celebrating my first blog birthday of shine, and I can hardly believe it! The time has gone so scarily quick and I have made so many forward strides in my personal development during my time as a mental health blogger.

I thought I’d compile a list tonight of the things I’ve learned via blogging. My ability to do this however in any intelligence or wisdom-infused way is slightly compromised as my husband is watching a comedy show in the same room and is guffawing with laughter at unpredictable intervals [which due to my PTSD SCARES THE FUCK out of me]. So think of this as a list written by a very fatigued blogger with PTSD in a state of mild generic panic, because those are the prevailing conditions in which I am blogging this list tonight nods

I have learned that……………

What I feel and choose to write about is both very unlike what other people feel, and also very much like what other people feel. What I share is common to many, but also intriguingly different and compelling to some, [usually those who have not had my upbringing and trauma and diagnosed mental health ishoos].

My emotionality is attractive to people. I am many things, and certainly never dull. I always feel something, rarely nothing, and the more I share about the little things, I realise to others [as well as myself] that they are actually the BIG things. Being able to put your blogging microscope onto the small macro details and blow them up in stature is educative, entertaining and absorbing, for me and you. When I write I shut the rest of the world out, even husbands watching annoying comedy that most def isn’t funny.

I can write about pleasure and pain, and people like reading about both. That’s because life is about both. A blog that is exclusively pain-focused is tough to read and follow, and a blog that is exclusively pleasure-oriented can be a little shallow and lack-lustre and fail to capture and hold your attention. If you want to write an engaging blog about mental health, pleasure AND pain matter. There is a place for both, because as I said, life is about both. If you only share the good you are most likely presenting a social media airbrushed front concealing the true paradox that life is often both shiny and shit at exactly the same time. If you share only the bad and can never laugh at the absurdity of life and the lighter moments, you are missing out on one of life’s great releases- what makes life breathable.

The ability to laugh at the shit-ness and find the amusing angle on it is a definite asset. As I told a friend recently I laughed all the way though my mental health breakdown, even at the worst bits when I fell into crisis, because there was always something lighter, even if it was the tiniest thing.Those moments of relief are there for the taking. Sharing them with others intensifies the therapeutic effects- benefitting you as well as the reader of your blog-most-brilliant.

You have the ability to make me feel lots of things, in response to your feedback. Blogging is NOT the same as journaling. A journal does not reward you with reader stats (as you are the only reader), there are no ‘likes’ and no comments to read and feedback to be had. Journaling doesn’t help me like blogging does, because I like the interactive element of blogging. The feedback shapes and sculpts my shine. It fuels me to develop new blog ideas, to understand different viewpoints that I may not have thought of myself, and it gives me ideas as to what people like bestest so I can deliver it. I blog for me, but I also blog as someone who fancies themselves as a writer too. Pleasing my virtual audience is present in my mind, as well as getting out what I need to get out for my own sanity. If I can write about something difficult, in a way that makes sense also to others, or that helps others or entertains, then brilliant! I will aim to do that to the best of my ability. Receiving compliments on my writing can brighten my day, and feedback given that I’ve stimulated a new breakthrough or novel insight in someone is just FAB-such a privilege and a buzz!

I follow very few blogs myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m a selfish or crap blogger. It just means I’m a no bullshitting one. In my early blogging career I did the whole WordPress thing. I did blog award acceptance posts, I did link-backs. I re-blogged lots of people’s posts and commented all the time. I also followed every blogger that followed me, irrespective of whether their blog honestly interested me. It was a full-time job. I soon realised that didn’t sit with me, and I am happier interacting with less bloggers and only following the blogs that really resonate and strike a chord with me. The more blogs I read the more my brain gets clogged up with other people’s lives and thoughts and experiences and feelings, which confuses me and destroys my own personal clarity of thought. Being an empath, I pick up on subtle energies and emotions of others, so if I find a blog repeatedly draining and triggering or failing to interest me I don’t continue to follow. I am quite ruthless, (you could say mean?) but I believe I owe it to myself to protect my energy and limit my attentional demands. If I did the whole following, liking and commenting on every post written by every blogger who followed me, I know I’d get LOADS more followers and likes and comments, but they’d be empty ones, as they’d only be attempts to trade blog popularity by exchanging positive strokes. That wouldn’t give me any gratification. So I don’t play that bullshit blogger game. Instead, I just write. I believe if more bloggers did that and just wrote, we’d easily find our virtual tribe. The number of connections between bloggers and likes and blog awards etc would reduce, but the quality of those virtual connections would go up. Quality not quantity.

Anyway I think that’s enough blog philosophising for one night. I’m tired, and my bed is so warm and comfy, so that’s right where I’m headed.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams, and most important of all

THANK YOU!

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summerSHINES©

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THE GOLDEN GLOW

I write this post with my feet still hovering several inches off the ground. [That isn’t because I’m sitting typing this post while perched on an unusually tall chair] ;)

…….It’s actually because I’m still really happy and buzzy and nicely floaty after a couple of stimulating full-on but FABULOUS days.

I don’t have the mental capacity to write lots today, so instead I will allow the photographs to do the talking, and maybe a few sharpie doodles too.

Tuesday was blog release day. Mind very kindly shared the blog I’d written which accompanied the parliamentary visit (associated with the Jo Cox Loneliness Campaign-more on that to follow in future posts), and then yesterday was the day this beach lovin’ village dwelling Northern girl got her chance to travel down to London town to attend a totes important and valuable event in parliament!

Two very proud and very busy days have unfolded, and today I’m basking in a beautifully golden and happily satisfied glow.

There is lots more I want to write as my inspiration levels have reached overflowing levels swoon but I know I need to rest and recuperate and take it easy today. Self-care is everything.

I have plenty of time to write out what the last few days have been like and all the things I’ve personally gained from these positive experiences, but all that can wait for another day…..Today I shall mainly be basking in my golden post-awesome-experience glow.

I’ll leave you with some photos to tell my story of yesterday that way, (the easy way), in pictures. The other dude on the pics is my new friend of lushness- Jaabir (The other Mind media volunteer I spent the day with) :)

I hope you enjoy.

**For anyone who hadn’t yet read my blog on loneliness and depression, please visit http://www.mind.org.uk, or look on their Twitter/Facebook feeds. Thanks. Imani Summer X

summerSHINES ©

 

 

EXCITED/SCARED 

Trauma ‘has me’ in its grip today. Ironic as yesterday when I published my ‘post-traumatic sparkle syndrome (PTSS) post, I said I’d need to keep it in plain sight for my low days.

Today is a bit low, not catastrophically low. I’m just out of balance and below par.

Soon I travel down to Westminster for a parliamentary reception with other representatives from Mind. For the benefit of my international followers, Mind are a national mental health charity who are based in London, and I’ll be there with them wearing my media volunteer hat. It’ll be a chance to converse with people that matter about things that matter.

Feeling excited and scared is my emotional cocktail of the day. Feeling two very different emotional things at once, one good and one bad is something I am incredibly talented at 😁😂

My philosophy for living is that most things that are worthwhile in life are both exciting AND terrifying, and a problem only emerges when you do things that are ONLY terrifying, without also being exciting in any compensatory way. Obviously things that are exciting but NOT terrifying are also fairly good, but not as good as exciting terrifying things, which are only terrifying because of their importance and personal significance.

If you understood that sentence, well done :P

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Going to London is personally significant for me (because for me, it’s a big thing to do.)

Meeting people from Mind who I’ve only previously spoken to over the phone or by email is EXCITING (because I love Mind Charity and all it’s aims, and everyone I’ve ever spoken to at national Mind has always been truly and universally lovely. They are an awesome bunch of humans :) )

Speaking to politicians is significant because: a. I’ve never ever done it, and b. the fact I’ll be chatting about the mental health of the nation with them is humongously HUGE.

Speaking to the press and being photographed by them is significant because I have only ever spoken to one journalist at a time, and I’m still very early on in my media volunteering experiences (a few months in), PLUS I will feel more celebrity (ish) than I have ever done previously in my 36 years on the planet. (Except for the time I was filmed for the telly which admittedly was quite celeb-ish 🙈🙈).

The subject for discussion on the day matters lots (though I can’t speak about what it is about just yet as it’s totes confidential 🙈🙉🙊).

I don’t do media volunteering for Mind to feel like a celeb though. I take it seriously and I do it for the right reasons. Talking publically about mental health and how my life is affected by my trauma-created illnesses is an important thing to do.

It’s also quite bold and quite SCARY. Stigma does still exist, despite things being far better than they used to. ‘Coming out’ publically in the media and being a face that is recognisable is slightly risky. Even though I want to be a media volunteer for the right reasons, not everyone who reads or watches will perceive mental illness and the people who live with mental health conditions in the compassionate and empathic way that I do.

Anyway back to the point of the post, I’m a tiny bit scared of tomorrow because my PTSD and BPD will be challenged to the MAX.

But I’m also excited :) and the excitement is what I shall focus on.

My blog has gone out today on Mind social media-in association with the event, and that has been exciting too 🙌🙌

To read the blog on the topic of Loneliness go onto http://www.mind.org.uk. and it’s the top story. Alternatively find it on Mind’s Facebook or Twitter.

I’m off for an early night and some much needed relaxation so I’m refreshed and ready to hit Westminster when the time comes 💛💛💛

SummerSHINES