Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 507712

Shown: posts 1 to 13 of 13. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate

Posted by TamaraJ on June 4, 2005, at 17:38:03

Ok, I have had to take many months off work recently, first because of iron deficiency that sapped pretty much all of my energy, then, after finally responding to a series of iron injections to bring my blood back up, I was given a shot of Depo Provera which made me severely physically ill (throwing up for about 2 months or more every day and severe flu-like symptoms for about the same amount of time) as well as severely depressed (I had been mildly depressed when I was trying to recover from the iron deficiency) then, when I was just barely back on my feet after the reaction to Depo, I sustained a really bad fracture and required surgery. Anyway, with each setback, I would become even more depressed and anxious, and, as a result, I have really isolated myself for months now (I see family, talk to neighbors and talk to friends regularly on the phone, but have avoided going out to socialize because I just didn't have the energy).

Now I feel like I am starting over now, and it's freaking me out. It's like I am having to learn to walk again. I have typically been a social and active person, but now I feel like I don't know how to be social anymore, if that makes sense. I am afraid, I guess, about getting on with things, perhaps because I feel so ashamed that I have "wasted" away or lost so much time, even though I know I didn't have complete control over it.

I just wanted to know how others have gotten back on track and started living again or have, being social and even coping with work after struggling with depression for a number of months.

Sorry this is so long.

Tamara

 

Dr. Bob, this is on the wrong board, could you

Posted by TamaraJ on June 4, 2005, at 17:38:03

In reply to Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate, posted by TamaraJ on June 3, 2005, at 18:24:23

please move it to Psychology.

Sorry, Social butterflies, hopefully Dr. Bob will be able to move my post soon.

 

Re: Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate TamaraJ

Posted by MidnightBlue on June 4, 2005, at 17:38:03

In reply to Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate, posted by TamaraJ on June 3, 2005, at 18:24:23

It sounds like you have been through the wringer! That Depo-Provera can make anyone depressed, and it is especially bad if you have a tendency towards depression.

I'm not sure what you call socializing, but I think talking to family, friends, and neighbors counts! Don't push yourself too hard, just do something on the spur of the moment with a good friend. Maybe dinner out or a movie?

You haven't wasted time, you were getting well!

Hugs,
MidnightBlue

 

Re: Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate

Posted by Tamar on June 4, 2005, at 19:34:36

In reply to Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate, posted by TamaraJ on June 3, 2005, at 18:24:23

> Ok, I have had to take many months off work recently, first because of iron deficiency that sapped pretty much all of my energy, then, after finally responding to a series of iron injections to bring my blood back up, I was given a shot of Depo Provera which made me severely physically ill (throwing up for about 2 months or more every day and severe flu-like symptoms for about the same amount of time) as well as severely depressed (I had been mildly depressed when I was trying to recover from the iron deficiency) then, when I was just barely back on my feet after the reaction to Depo, I sustained a really bad fracture and required surgery. Anyway, with each setback, I would become even more depressed and anxious, and, as a result, I have really isolated myself for months now (I see family, talk to neighbors and talk to friends regularly on the phone, but have avoided going out to socialize because I just didn't have the energy).

Gosh. You've really been through the mill. No wonder you don't feel like socializing, or much else.

> Now I feel like I am starting over now, and it's freaking me out. It's like I am having to learn to walk again. I have typically been a social and active person, but now I feel like I don't know how to be social anymore, if that makes sense. I am afraid, I guess, about getting on with things, perhaps because I feel so ashamed that I have "wasted" away or lost so much time, even though I know I didn't have complete control over it.

I'm familiar with that feeling. I often dread social occasions. But usually once I get there I have a good time. Then, the next morning, I start worrying about whether I was behaving appropriately (although I'm always well-behaved these days!).

I also feel guilty about the time I lost. I know it wasn't my fault but I feelt guilty anyway. It's hard. But, as you know, it can't be helped.

> I just wanted to know how others have gotten back on track and started living again or have, being social and even coping with work after struggling with depression for a number of months.

I think it's a matter of taking it one hour at a time. It takes a while to get back to 'normal'. Don't expect to feel better all at once. And go easy on yourself.

> Sorry this is so long.

Not too long at all! I've written much longer posts about things much more trivial.

I hope things get easier for you soon.

Tamar

 

Re: Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate TamaraJ

Posted by pinkeye on June 5, 2005, at 12:29:24

In reply to Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate, posted by TamaraJ on June 3, 2005, at 18:24:23

Not long at all.
I have been through the same many times.. when I feel I missed out on time. And I have to catch up and don't know how to stage.

The key is to do it very slowly. Allow yourself to go back to your cocoon and just put your head out there for a tiny bit to see what is out there, and if you don't like, you can go back to your cocoon. That is what helped me the most. To start very little by little. And once you are comfortable enough and don't need your cocoon again you can come out fully.

 

Thank you all for the advice

Posted by TamaraJ on June 5, 2005, at 17:26:58

In reply to Re: Looking for advice/guidance, if you can relate TamaraJ, posted by pinkeye on June 5, 2005, at 12:29:24

I know I am going to have to take it slow, and that is one thing that will be a challenge because I have always been a relatively high energy type of person. I think I am most worried about falling back into old habits of skipping meals and working long hours and not getting enough sleep. I know my body won't be able to take that right away, so I hope I can stick to some kind of resolve to ease my way back into the lifestyle I am used to. Or, perhaps, it is time to take the time to smell the roses, and to not be so driven. Anyway, I know there is a bit of fear holding me back, and I will just have to deal with that.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.

Tamara

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ

Posted by fallsfall on June 7, 2005, at 10:10:04

In reply to Thank you all for the advice, posted by TamaraJ on June 5, 2005, at 17:26:58

I've been severely depressed for 10 year, and on disability for 8 of those 10 years. Being depressed became a way of life for me. My therapist and I have been working very hard to get me to a point where I am willing to give up the depression. It has served an important function for me - it has given me an excuse to avoid things that I am afraid of. So, our work in therapy is to understand what it is that I'm afraid of (getting better and losing therapy, potential failure, having people expect things of me that I may or may not be able to do, needing to do things I don't want to do). As we talk about these things in therapy I am able to see what about these fears is realistic and what isn't. And we can come up with plans to deal with the realistic fears.

So I would advise you to try to figure out what the benefits and drawbacks are of your current situation. This will help you to understand what makes things seem difficult, and then you can work on the actual difficulties instead of being overwhelmed by a problematic situation.

I have also tried to make some changes - for instance, I am a recovering workaholic - and this seems to be a good time to try to keep things from getting out of control in that area.

Allow yourself to take babysteps. Push a little, but not a lot. Pushing too fast just makes it worse for me. And when you really want to do something, but you aren't sure if you can - try it. Motivation makes an enormous difference. I find that if I follow what I *want* to do that those situations often come out really well, and that gives me more confidence to do other things.

Good luck!

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice fallsfall

Posted by TamaraJ on June 7, 2005, at 16:07:18

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ, posted by fallsfall on June 7, 2005, at 10:10:04

First, I want to say thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I have to say that I almost burst into tears when I read your post because you have put into words what I have been too afraid or just plain unwilling to admit. I want to be my old active self again, but I am afraid that I will not be as much fun, as capable, as creative, as quick . . . as I am accustomed to being. I know it is fear that is holding me back, and it is really annoying for me because I have always done things in spite of any fears I may have had. After the third setback in January, I seem to have given up, and can't help but think "what's the point", which is very unlike me.

You wrote "it has given me an excuse to avoid things that I am afraid of. So, our work in therapy is to understand what it is that I'm afraid of (getting better and losing therapy, potential failure, having people expect things of me that I may or may not be able to do, needing to do things I don't want to do)."

-- What you said really hit home for me. I know that I am afraid of potential failure and not being able to live up to the expectations others have of me, and that I have of myself for that matter. Like you, I have been a workaholic for many, many years. It is the only way I know how to work, really. Although I am not the type that enjoys the limelight or needs praise or recognition, I have been recognized in my organization as a high-performer. I won't be a high-performer anymore, at least not right away. And, how do I live with myself when I might get only a "satisfactory" performance assessment instead of "outstanding" like I have been used to? How can I go in each day knowing that I am probably performing at a sub-standard level? That is the hard pill to swallow for me. I don't want to let others down, and I fear that I will be nothing but a big, stinking disappointment to everyone. Anyway, that is my hang-up to deal with. I am not in therapy right now, but I may have to give it a shot to see if I can turn this stinking thinking around.

> So I would advise you to try to figure out what the benefits and drawbacks are of your current situation. This will help you to understand what makes things seem difficult, and then you can work on the actual difficulties instead of being overwhelmed by a problematic situation.

-- In my mind, I think I know what makes things difficult - fear of failure and appearing to be a useless, incompetent loser. Now I just have to figure out how to deal with that. I know I want to get back on track and start really living again instead of just existing to some degree. So, now I just need to take action and get on with things, like I was doing before the last two setbacks. Ugh, it is hard.
>
> I have also tried to make some changes - for instance, I am a recovering workaholic - and this seems to be a good time to try to keep things from getting out of control in that area.
>
-- The workaholic issue is one of my biggest issues. My bosses and colleagues have had certain expectations of me for many years, one being "don't worry, Tamara will take care of it". I want a life, a real one. I don't want to be working 12 hour days at the office with another 2 or so at home getting caught up on reading and other paperwork. So, I need to learn to say no and set boundaries. "Big" change for me. "No" and "boundaries" are not words that have had a predominant place in my vocabulary for as far back as I can remember.

> Allow yourself to take babysteps. Push a little, but not a lot. Pushing too fast just makes it worse for me. And when you really want to do something, but you aren't sure if you can - try it. Motivation makes an enormous difference. I find that if I follow what I *want* to do that those situations often come out really well, and that gives me more confidence to do other things.

-- Yes, I have been told by others who have been in a similar situation - baby steps, take things slow. I have been an all or nothing type for so long that it is taking a while for that advice to sink in. I want to do stuff, and make plans to go to yoga class, get together with friends, go to a friend's farm for a weekend, but something always causes me to back out. Guilt perhaps? If I can do yoga, hang out with friends, go away, then I am well enough to go back to work. I need to ditch the guilt complex, stop worrying and do enjoyable things to get my strength and zest for life back.
>
> Good luck!

-- Thank you so much. Sorry I *talked* your ear off (or your eyes, I suppose :-)). I feel a little awkward sharing all of this, but it feels good getting it out. So, I appreciate the time you took to respond and the thoughtful advice you provided.

Take care, fallsfall.

Tamara

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ

Posted by Dinah on June 7, 2005, at 19:38:48

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice fallsfall, posted by TamaraJ on June 7, 2005, at 16:07:18

I'm living that right now. The former superstar who is now adequate at best. I didn't think I could bear it.

But it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I am still upright and alive.

Not that I'm advocating mediocrity, exactly. But being average isn't the worst thing in the world. Even being not quite average isn't the worst thing in the world. Hmmm... So maybe I am advocating embracing mediocrity.

I think I'm beginning to realize there is more to me than my performance.

So maybe not being the prodigy I used to be is helping me in some ways?

With me my problem is clearly burnout. I'm wondering if taking a college class or two might actually improve my work performance by giving my brain a good invigorating workout. Maybe I'll keep my current progress going by refusing to make an "A".

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ

Posted by fallsfall on June 7, 2005, at 20:46:46

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice fallsfall, posted by TamaraJ on June 7, 2005, at 16:07:18

Getting a life and finding some enthusiasm for it **IS** my work right now. Going to Chicago was part of my therapy. Recovering from depression is as valid as recovering from surgery.

This actually might be a very good time to address the workaholic issue. When you do go back to work, will you go back full time, or will you start out part time? Actually, either way, I think that your coworkers wouldn't be too surprised if you said that you need to limit your work hours for your health. Tell them that you are a recovering workaholic - people find that phrase amusing, but it does tell them that you are making a conscious, positive effort to reduce your hours. And treat yourself like a recovering workaholic. Set the number of hours that you will work (like to actually 40 if you go back full time), and then stick to it. When people see that you are working less because you believe it is in the best interest of your health (rather than because you don't care or because you are lazy), they will be supportive. You will need to be sure that your boss understands what you are trying to do. And when there is too much work, you may need to ask for his help in prioritizing what you are doing, or in finding someone to help you. Particularly if you are reducing your hours "for your health", other people will pick up the slack.

I worked for 2 years in the middle of my disability, and I was pretty strict about my hours. I worked in the software industry where overtime is pretty much expected. But I found that people were really very supportive of my limited hours. I was kind of surprised.

The hardest part is to feel, yourself, like it is the right thing to do. Remind yourself that you are getting paid for 40 hours - not 60. So if you do a solid 40 hours work you shouldn't feel guilty. I needed to shift my thinking a bit so that I would see getting ahead at work as only one of my goals. I needed to see having time to relax as a goal (and that felt really strange!!). I needed to see recreation as a goal. That balancing my life was important.

For me, it was a major shift in attitude. But I knew that if I went back to the way I used to work that I would be back on disability in no time. Therapy did help with that a lot. And when I am tempted to work too much, I have someone to talk to about it - someone who will recommend that I do the healthy thing.

When do you expect to go back?

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice fallsfall

Posted by TamaraJ on June 8, 2005, at 13:25:58

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ, posted by fallsfall on June 7, 2005, at 20:46:46

Hi,

Getting a life and finding some enthusiasm for it **IS** my work right now. Going to Chicago was part of my therapy. Recovering from depression is as valid as recovering from surgery.

-- That is what I need to keep in mind. Getting out and being active is kind of like physiotherapy for a person recovering from depression.

This actually might be a very good time to address the workaholic issue. When you do go back to work, will you go back full time, or will you start out part time? Actually, either way, I think that your coworkers wouldn't be too surprised if you said that you need to limit your work hours for your health. Tell them that you are a recovering workaholic - people find that phrase amusing, but it does tell them that you are making a conscious, positive effort to reduce your hours. And treat yourself like a recovering workaholic. Set the number of hours that you will work (like to actually 40 if you go back full time), and then stick to it. When people see that you are working less because you believe it is in the best interest of your health (rather than because you don't care or because you are lazy), they will be supportive. You will need to be sure that your boss understands what you are trying to do. And when there is too much work, you may need to ask for his help in prioritizing what you are doing, or in finding someone to help you. Particularly if you are reducing your hours "for your health", other people will pick up the slack.

-- The good thing is that I have had discussions with my boss and, although not happy about it at first, he has agreed that I can give up my management responsibilities. I have enjoyed being in management, but it can be draining at times. So, that is a positive step, and will make it much easier to stick with a 40 hr work week. And, to start with, I will likely "ease" my way back in by working either part-time or from home. Although I am quite good at prioritizing, I do need to learn to ask for help when I have more work than the average person could possibly handle. It's funny because since I have been sick, the work that I had been doing has been divided up among about 3 people and some has been shifted to the two other teams, and they still can't keep up or meet the deadlines. So, I know not only my boss, but my colleagues, recognize that I was carrying quite a heavy load. But, it was a load I *chose* to carry. I could have spoken up if I had felt that it was too much. The thing is, until I got worn down by the iron deficiency, the workload was never too much. Now, I need to do what you say and reduce my hours for my health.

I worked for 2 years in the middle of my disability, and I was pretty strict about my hours. I worked in the software industry where overtime is pretty much expected. But I found that people were really very supportive of my limited hours. I was kind of surprised.

-- I know my colleagues will be supportive. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people, who have already told me that they will be "watching out" for me and making sure that I don't fall back into my old habits, including not eating because I get so caught up in what I am doing. Apparently, I will have a couple of lunch buddies LOL who will force me to sit down, take a break for about 1/2 hour and eat. No more working while I either nibble or pick at sandwhich or salad or scarf down something unhealthy.

The hardest part is to feel, yourself, like it is the right thing to do. Remind yourself that you are getting paid for 40 hours - not 60. So if you do a solid 40 hours work you shouldn't feel guilty. I needed to shift my thinking a bit so that I would see getting ahead at work as only one of my goals. I needed to see having time to relax as a goal (and that felt really strange!!). I needed to see recreation as a goal. That balancing my life was important.

-- Yes, reminding myself that 40 hours a week is nothing to feel guilty about will be important. What I am hoping to do before I go back, is to have in place some outside activities/commitments (not just dinners or movies with friends, etc.) like yoga or a fitness class that will "force" me out of the office at a decent hour. It is true that balancing work life and personal life is important. It is equally true that it can be a real challenge for the workaholic or recovering workaholic. That will be an important shift in thinking to make. What is that expression about habits - 7 days to develop a new habit; 14 days to hone it and 28 days to master it. Something like that. I always forget what happens at 14 days - I want to go from developing to mastering LOL.

For me, it was a major shift in attitude. But I knew that if I went back to the way I used to work that I would be back on disability in no time. Therapy did help with that a lot. And when I am tempted to work too much, I have someone to talk to about it - someone who will recommend that I do the healthy thing.

-- I think I will look into therapy. I have been working on my own with the David Burns' "Feeling Good Handbook", but I think actually talking to someone may be even more useful.

When do you expect to go back?

-- I had hoped to go back at the end of June, but I am not so sure now. I have really been in denial for the past number of months with respect to the depth of my depression. Anyway, my boss had suggested that I start working on special projects from home, as a way to start integrating myself back into things. Then, I would work a couple of days from home and some in the office, or 1/2 days in the office and 1/2 days at home. There is also the possibility that I will go on language training for a couple of months in order to get my advanced levels. My boss is being very accommodating and supportive.

Thanks again, fallsfall, for all of your advice. It is greatly appreciated.

Take good care,

Tamara

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice Dinah

Posted by TamaraJ on June 8, 2005, at 13:31:20

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ, posted by Dinah on June 7, 2005, at 19:38:48

Thanks, Dinah, for sharing your experience with me. I really appreciate it.

It's funny, really, because I have never seen myself as anything but average. So, I agree with you that being average isn't the worst thing in the world. It is a comfortable place to be, with room for growth. I have enjoyed being the go-to person, moreso because I like to be busy, challenged and constantly learning. And, I have been somewhat flattered being seen as a high-performer, but it has always made me quite uncomfortable (mostly because I can't help thinking that I will no doubt disappoint people or let them down, or that they will eventually see that I am not as good as they thought I was).

That's good that you are learning that there is more to you than your performance. I am happy for you, and I think I could learn from your example. I am trying, I really am. Perhaps not being the prodigy you used to be is helping you discover other gifts and talents you have within you, of which I am sure there are many, that are as important, maybe even more important, than just your work performance. Taking a college class or two sounds like a wonderful idea, even if the classes are not geared towards improving your work performance. Perhaps by taking one or two courses, you will discover other hidden talents which will help you grow not just professionally but also personally. I took a photography course once, and, although it was not related to my work, I think it helped me become even more observant. So, I think it is nice to "rediscover" ourselves every once in a while by taking a course or two, especially if the courses are somewhat outside of our comfort zone or areas of expertise.

Take care, Dinah. I wish you nothing but the best of what life has to offer.

Tamara

 

Re: Thank you all for the advice TamaraJ

Posted by fallsfall on June 8, 2005, at 22:43:52

In reply to Re: Thank you all for the advice fallsfall, posted by TamaraJ on June 8, 2005, at 13:25:58

Please let me know how it goes.

I think you have a good handle on the issues.


This is the end of the thread.


Show another thread

URL of post in thread:


Psycho-Babble Psychology | Extras | FAQ


[dr. bob] Dr. Bob is Robert Hsiung, MD, bob@dr-bob.org

Script revised: February 4, 2008
URL: http://www.dr-bob.org/cgi-bin/pb/mget.pl
Copyright 2006-17 Robert Hsiung.
Owned and operated by Dr. Bob LLC and not the University of Chicago.