I haven’t written lately, or to be more correct I haven’t written here lately. I write in my journal pretty much every day, nothing too profound. I try to get in what Natalie Goldberg calls “writing practice” every day. I send text/what’s app/whatever messages to a group of people who share some aspects of life with me. I send a daily email with what I think is a useful or interesting quotation to a small group of people, if you would like to be added to the list just let me know. So it looks like I have been writing, so why not here?
I have been grappling with what it means for a reasonably successful, reasonably well educated, completely white, completely male person to admit stress is too much for them and they need help, and even in my case, time off from work. Let me just tell you, it is hard. It is hard to admit this and then it is hard to live with what it actually means to take time off. There is the guilt about making my co-workers do more work, do my work. There is the difficulty of actually resting when I need rest. There is the painful need to say “no” to doing things that I ordinarily would because they are causes of stress. I have not checked Facebook in August, I have not opened Twitter to see what is going on. I have not gone to CBC.ca to check the news. I have tried to simply be more often, rather than do so much I don’t notice (can’t notice) how tired and worn out I still am.
As the previous paragraph lays out, there are a lot of negatives to taking stress leave, to taking time off . . . but the alternative to not taking the time off is so much worse. I am doing my best to weather the storm of the negative aspects while looking for the sun in the midst of it all. I have turned my “wake-up-and-get-out-of-bed” alarm off, I still can’t sleep later most of the time but I’m trying. I am doing things around the house that give me energy and enjoyment. I am trying various meditation/mindfulness practices. I am seeing my therapist whenever her schedule allows. I have taken the month of August off from church service responsibilities.
I am improving. I am not even close to what I think is normal but I am improving which is all I can ask of myself. It is the improvement I am focusing on, not how much more I need to improve, not how far I have to go or how much longer the journey might be. This is some of the hardest work I have ever done but it is making a difference, it is making me better.
Disclaimer: not sure if this is actually a disclaimer or not but if you would prefer to only get notification when a sermon is posted, let me know and I’ll see if I can figure out some way to make that happen. Your alternative is to make a rule in your email app to delete anything from me that has “Stress Leave” in the title which should accomplish the same thing.