Busy Was My New Drug

I once read an article that stated some people are addicted to being busy. Prior to reading this article I had never considered busyness as a form of addiction, yet this concept is something that has stayed with me for years and has really been hit home as of late. Have you ever considered “being busy” as an addiction? I don’t think that it is a topic that most people look at with concern. But I think perhaps we should…

I’m fairly confident I have lived with this particular form of addiction on and off throughout my life, and for the past few months we could say it’s been in full swing. I have kept myself preoccupied with tasks and activities Monday – Sunday for the last few months, and with each new addition to my calendar I felt a sense of empowerment.

Alas, that feeling came to an abrupt halt last week when I realized I am not okay; when I acknowledged that my mental health was/is not okay and there were one too many straws on my camel’s back so to speak – and it broke.

Being busy – it is what I have always strived for. When I think of being successful, my mind looks to that of someone who is busy (bizarre I know!) For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed having a schedule and the more that was scheduled the better I felt about myself. Let’s say that the older sister in the sitcom Even Steven’s was a role model with all her colour coordinated notes, calendars and day planners.

But why? Why am I so addicted to being busy, especially as of late? This was a question I had to seriously think about and it finally hit me after a couple conversations with different family members – being busy is a way that I prove to myself I’m “okay”, that I have my life together. The more I do, the more “stable” I am, BUT being busy everyday till late into the night – that’s not okay my friends.

Responsiblity is good, diverse activities are great, but there has to be a balance and I threw that out the window the past few months.

My mental health has not been okay and no matter how many things I kept adding to my to do list or calendar nothing was going to change that fact it was only going to worsen it.

At this point I have taken a step back, I’m regrouping, refreshing and re-establishing a routine BUT ensuring it is a healthy one. It’s been a week of doing nothing essentially aside from going to work. I’ve just been relaxing, thinking about how I am going to proceed with my mental health in mind, while enjoying leisure activities. If you don’t think you can over-do it by doing things that you enjoy, I am hear to tell you, you are wrong.

I work Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm, each day I would come home from work which takes me approx 20- 30 mins (I pick my husband up on my way home) I take my dear little dog for a walk for a good 35 – 60 mins, eat dinner with my husband and then if it was a Monday or Wednesday I would head to aquafit classes, Thursday guitar lessons, Friday date night and Saturday spanish lessons and Sunday I attend church and up until 2 weeks ago I would be teaching a class every Sunday. Mind you, in-between lessons and classes throughout my week I would be practicing my guitar, studying spanish, calling family who live far away from me, playing with my dog, reading books and obviously socializing with my husband when he wasnt studying or at work. It may not seem like a lot, but from dusk till dawn I was busy and I was even going to the gym during my lunch hours because I couldn’t find enough time in the evenings.

I’m not bragging to let you see how busy I managed to make my life BUT rather I’m trying to illustrate how we can be doing good things, fun things, but be suffocating our mental health. I was robbing myself of a peace of mind, constantly in go-go-go mode, not taking the time to think about how I was actually feeling. I was so busy trying to do so many things that nothing was being done properly. Quality not quantity.

I am an addict to being busy. It’s a mental game I often play and lose because again, I’m fixated on the ideal that being busy equals having a successful put-together-life.

As of late I realized I wasn’t enjoying anything anymore, everything I was doing was merely a check off my list. The passion that I was seeking was being buried and I was lacking luster.

I have been more stressed out and trying to fill a void with the lack of medical support I have in the city I currently live. I was trying to convince myself that I’m perfectly fine because I was doing all these things and clearly if I wasn’t fine I wouldn’t be able to manage as well as I was. Right? I was trying to convince myself I didn’t need the medical help that I haven’t been able to find, because I could do it all on my own.

Frankly I couldn’t and I can’t. I am all about being self aware and I can admit that I was ignoring all of my red flags that things were going downhill.

So what have I done aside from pull the chord on my extracurriculars? I changed my pharmacy. Random statement, but powerful. Since moving to my new city I have used a pharmacy a couple blocks away from where I live – they have literally made an error everytime I’ve gone in to pick up or pay for my medication, whether my medication was the wrong quantity or wrong price or whatever other thing you could imagine. Stressful is an understatement BUT because of the location I stayed with them for almost a year! No more my friends! The other week when I called myself out I googled the highest rated pharmacy in my city – is it as close to me as the garbage one I’ve been going to? Nope, but when I went in they talked to me like I mattered, when I gave them a prescription to be filled – no errors and they knew who I was when I came to collect it. Did I instantly feel a sense of relief that I didn’t have to stress over errors and lack of concern towards me and my medication? You better believe it!

Next I booked an appointment with my psychiatrist, she didnt want to see me for 7 months, well guess what??Thats too bad for her – I need to feel like someone is aware of me and have a check in, so I bit the bullet and booked an appointment. She didn’t even give me the right medication from my last appointment so that needs to be fixed and I can’t just put my head in the ground and pretend like it will fix itself…like I was planning on doing. Yikes!

Lastly, I attempted to find a councilor AGAIN. I have talked with 4 different councilors and/or psychologists, no connections, for the most part I found them to be quite wacky and weird. I don’t think anyone will compare to my old doctors but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised (mental health is not a priority in this particular city) but I am trying to make a comeback for my mental health and take the burden of being my own pharmacist, psychiatrist and psychologist off my shoulders. I met with someone last Saturday and she seems to be…….. nice. She didn’t talk over me, or imply she knew what I was thinking or tell me what I was thinking. She listened and was aghast at the treatment I’ve been offered here or lack there of.

I can’t do it on my own, I have a loving family from afar and a husband who supports me and without them and him I would be no where near as capable as I am to manage my health BUT they are not my doctor(s) and I don’t want to burden and exhaust them (especially my husband) with things that medical support are there to do.

I have been walking a happy path this year BUT I also think I’ve been more stressed than I needed to be and that was my own doing. Positive attitudes are great being actively engaged in our lives is awesome but there needs to be balance and honesty with what we can handle and what we can’t.

I couldn’t handle certain things and tried to compensate by killing myself over being what I considered ideal. I neglected my mental health and dismissed my feelings trying to be what I thought was the epitome of success in order to be considered stable in a city where I feel more vulnerable than I have in a very, very, very long time.

That is the truth my friends, long post but I hope it made you think about how you occupy your time and what busy means to you. Don’t drown yourself – make changes even if they are small, sometimes that’s the best we can do.

– Steph

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