Burn Out

I am a journalist, or maybe a writer, or maybe even the Managing Director of the manufacturing company you would have liked to work in. It doesn’t matter what my visiting card says. All I am right now is an overwhelming mass of exhaustion. I might have a story to send in tonight, maybe an article to finish, tax forms to complete, budget plans to prepare, Skype calls or  overseas deals…but every toss and turn of my mind tires me. 

How did I get here?

Remind me why I got here?

I might be a sprinter, running on the field…and suddenly I can’t see the end-line any more. I am not even sure there is an end line? You know what I mean?

I can finish this article, the budget plan, the calls, the deals and the tax forms…I can drag my hands, my head, my expensive education through these slow moving steps….but what difference will it make? What is the goal, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel (if you will) of all this. Remind me, please remind me, the point of all this. How will it get me away from the quick-silver sunsets, the rush of darkness, this overpowering tiredness. 

If I sit in this chair, unmoving, for the next whole week (or month or year) with unattained deadlines, unfinished tasks and unanswered calls, the world will still move on in its exact same devastating way. Nothing I do changes the course of this life!

Tell me, tell me I am wrong.

Before I link to other articles, I want to assert here that Burn-Out is NOT the same as Stress; and while Stress is physically damaging, burn-out is psychologically damaging (though of course, our psychological well-being impacts our physical well-being and vice versa). You can read more about occupational burn-out here. BBC did an interesting feature with Anna Schaffner, the author of “Exhaustion: A History”, which you can read here. And for a quick guide on how stress is different from burn-out, go here.

Anorexia Nervosa

anorexia-300-dpi-big

Darling I do want to pay attention, I want to hear all about your son’s first day in school. I know how important this is for you. But I know they are watching; and I force one spoon after another of this broth, not wanting to give them the pleasure of a gossip. And with each spoon, I wonder if I can maybe sneak out and take a couple of laps around the building? I wonder if I taste nuts in this, that would need more than a couple laps to kill. 

I wish I could share this with you, but I know you won’t understand. You think this is a problem, but I tell you this is my asceticism. There is a strange purity about an empty stomach; I feel cleaner, holier. Maybe this is just my way of being spiritual? 

I want to hear you talk, I do; I want to hear about your days…but I can’t help wondering what sweetener they put in our tea. I can’t accept the cookies, I don’t eat solids on Wednesdays; but I can’t tell them that, so I smile and move away. 

Gosh, I wonder if I am being horribly rude. I feel weak, can we sit a bit? 

There is a whole lot of resources, anecdotes, information and stories available about Anorexia and other eating disorders. I don’t think you need my help to find them. But I found these to be quite comprehensive- this and this. I do want to stress though-  Anorexia has one of the highest death rates out of all mental illnesses, so the tendency to laugh out eating disorders is really scary and potentially life threatening.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

ocd-300dpi-big

Hello sir, how kind of you to visit us today. 

Will you please take off your shoes? …oh I hate to be a nuisance, but could you put your shoes in between those two yellow lines?

Would you like some tea tea? or coffee coffee? Or maybe just some water water first?

{oh, don’t mind me sir. I have this thing…I have to repeat beverage names twice, and food names thrice with a sigh. don’t pay attention to it. It is quite annoying for me as well.}

Water water you say? I also have some wine wine or some juice juice?

My husband’s out to the garage. He’ll be here shortly. 

Oh how grand of you to bring this cake cake cake (sigh!) for us. It is our anniversary, you are right. Our ninth one. 

We do have candles yes. But I am afraid, we don’t have any knife. Can we cut the cake cake cake (sigh!) with  a spoon maybe?

No, not even a kitchen knife. We buy cut food from the market, and never feel the need for a knife. You see sir, I hope you will not misunderstand me, but we have a five year old darling daughter that we love very dearly. Having a knife in the house…you see, I might stab her. 

Oh, you mustn’t look at me like that. Why don’t I pour you some red wine wine? That will calm both our nerves. 

Would you like some cheese cheese cheese (sigh!) and some crackers crackers crackers (sigh!)? How wonderful! Yes, we do have a great collection of wine (wine). 

Won’t you wash your hands before you eat? The bathroom is to your left.

Sir, if you don’t mind, can you please take three crackers [crackers crackers, sigh!] at a time? It’s awfully silly, but it’s important the crackers stay in multiples of three on the plate. 

To know more about OCD, there is a pretty informative site dedicated to OCD that you can view here; or you can visit the NIMH link on OCD here. To read a short personal account on OCD, go here.

 

 

Panic Disorder

Panic 300 big

I sense it’s oncoming.

I know the signs: how my skin throbs, and the world shrinks inside me.

I want to flee,

but my feet fill with crawling lead

and gets stuck to this ground

that moves.

The coils coil inside me wringing my gut.

How the world shakes around me, it makes me dizzy;

and that wild beast leaping at my throat

is likely to kill me.

 

To know more about panic disorder and understand how a panic attack is different from an anxiety attack, you can go here . 

 

 

 

Conversion Disorder

There is nothing I would rather do, than to see the face of my sweet child one more time. I feel his spudgy little hands find my face, and hear him call out my name, and still try as I might, all I see is the dark darkness that has stuck to me since that night I feel down the stairs. And yet you say my blindness is not blindness at all…

If you’re interested to read more about Conversion Disorder, THIS link will take you to a concise informative description of it. If you feel like reading a bit more, THIS link will give you more detailed information.

 

Depersonalization- Derealization Disorder

depersonalization-derealization

After the thread snapped, I lost my ground, my rooted centre…the main meat of this all took to hiding, and we can’t seem to get back to it again. 

We, because…who knows how many am I. I watch myself watching me type these lines. I don’t know how to get us all back into one again.

I wonder who makes me write these words, or say these sentences, if they originate in me or in something outside me. Nothing you say hits me hard enough. I hear you without hearing you, I watch you but I am never sure of what I see. 

Your face changes every time I look away; and everytime I move, this room changes colours and shapes. This is all a dream I will wake out of. A 10 year long dream. 

This used to be nice when it started. Because you see…nothing you say hits me hard enough. And nothing you do hurts me hard enough. I am immune to your blows. 

I often touch my mouth to make sure the voice I hear comes from my own skull. I touch everything, again and again, just to be sure. Is this really a fridge? Is it blue, or is it green? Is it solid, is it porous, will I wake up if I hold it hard enough? Can you snap me out of this? Snap snap. 

The day the thread snapped, she fled out of me to watch me from the outside. I think I am losing my mind, but really what I have lost, is the meat, the central story of this all. How time changes shapes and lengths every hour, and every hour I struggle to hold on to the main sense of it all. Am I really here? Is it really you that stands in front of me?

I look and relook at mirrors, to make sure I stand, my face on my shoulder on my body on these feet that don’t touch the ground.

To know more about depersonalization-derealization disorder, you can go here. This, is a short account of such a case. And for a brief overview of Dissociative Disorders (the family within which DPD belongs), you can go here. (While there are lots of psychiatric journal papers/ articles, there seems to be a huge lack of open-access written material about DPD that can be read and understood by the those who are not from the Psychiatric/ Psychotherapy field.)

 

 

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

mental health, violence, aggression, conduct disorder,

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)

The music gets louder and louder and louder.

I can’t hear you anymore.

Every cell in my body throbs with the percussion in my head.

I am about to burst!

If I can screech this off me and make it stop

stop STOP. I am blinded with that familiar red blaze. 

….

I open my eyes to a room of broken things, broken people 

and silence. {What have I done?}

-x-x-x-

If you want to know more about IED, you can go here and here. This article is pretty interesting too, especially if you’re a parent to someone who shows symptoms of IED.

[Please note, I am not justifying any violence brought about by IED, nor would I (or any mental health practitioner) give the impression that any kind of rage is naturally an indication of IED. All I am trying to do here is to increase the understanding and empathy for it, which then would hopefully help us deal with it in a more informed and sensitive way. IED can be really scary for both those who are going through it, and those who live with and/or love those who have it.]

 

 

 

Persecutory Delusion

IMG_20160702_130022_300dpi

I can feel your breath on my back.

I taste the poison in my tea, I find your shadow in every crowd.

I hear those cameras clicking clicking,

as I undress in the dark.

My heart races whenever a car slows down beside me.

I change my route everyday.

I keep a knife under my pillow.

How many times I check and re-check every bolt in every door.

Yet every night as I lie awake, I wonder if tomorrow will be the day….

the day you get me.

 

For a one-stop place to get all kinds of preliminary information about persecutory delusion (symptoms, causes, conditions associated with it, treatment, etc.), go here.

Postpartum Depression

I had painted the walls myself, of the room in which he was to live. Jurassic themed. 

I had even allowed a corner for the Manchester United logo that my husband wanted, already thinking of ways in which he will suck the child into the soccer frenzy.

I can’t enter that room now. I have been back from the hospital for over three months  and those reptiles I had drawn and painted with so much patience (and love?)…they are out to get me! Their long faces, and those big mouths…they will expose me. They look at me with that look! that look…of knowing…they know, they sense the darkness inside me. 

And that…that child. Oh! Is he really mine? Did he really grow inside me all these months. They say he looks just like me. I can’t see the similarity…I can’t…oh I can’t say it…but… Aren’t you supposed to feel something? “It will change your life” they said about motherhood. What did my mother feel when she first held me in her arms. Did she feel love…why can’t I feel the love I am supposed to feel. 

I can’t look at him, I can’t…I can’t watch those arms stretch at me. They keep bringing him to me, but I can’t feed it…him. My breasts, my body, my heart has nothing. There is no mother in this body!

Every morsel I eat feeds this wretchedness inside me. I am scared to sleep…I am scared of what I will become when I wake up. Can I undo these 9 months? Can I undo this? He cannot deserve a mother like this? 

And each day those reptiles grow…bigger and bigger. They are all around me. I bathe and bathe and bathe wishing praying that I can shed this…this hideousness inside me. I can’t stand my own self, all my insides, my intestines, my brains, all mix and convolute into knots and knots of pain. 

As usual Mayo Clinic has all the basic information about the disease that you can read here. There is also this interesting account by Stephanie Grant about her mother who had suffered from Postpartum Depression; find it here.

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

WP_20160622_08_58_19_Pro

I see you judging me, judging my frowns,

me with my big car and nice clothes,

or maybe I have a small car, but I have a family that loves me and friends who adore me.

You think I am being ungrateful…unappreciative.

But what I wouldn’t give for your easy smile, and those shoulders that relax in every room.

I would give all my wealth in exchange for a heart that does not jump every time it hears my name.

And to not have my hands shake and my legs tremble before every beginning and every end. 

One time in 9th grade I shat my pants. 

You laugh. They did too. They thought it was an accident. It was not. 

I could not gather the courage to go up and interrupt the teacher. I sat there thinking of all the ways my simple act of asking permission to leave the classroom can go wrong.

They all do it so easily, breezing in and out of rooms. I could not.

I did not go back to that school. I demanded my school be changed. I lost one year. 

All because one afternoon I could not gather the strength to go up and say 6 small words. 

I see you judging again, telling me all those who do not get to go to school. Those who don’t  have the choice. And here I was….spoilt brat you say. 

I fainted on the day of my wedding; I could not get out of bed for my first job interview. 

I am exhausted constantly.

What I wouldn’t give for that easy smile, those relaxed shoulders, and those eyes…that judge me. 

If you want to know more about GAD, wiki is actually the best out there in terms of giving you everything you need to know in one place. If you want to get some first-hand perspective and read some personal heart-felt and inspiring accounts, go here and here.