That Little Crisis is Crumbling My Defenses

Humility is a virtue. And isn’t it nice that life gives us so many opportunities to learn humility, and then to learn it again, and then again?

Yesterday I posted that I was stressed out by a heavy workload and concerns about my nine-year-old niece. I wrote that I was proud of myself, though, because I had better coping strategies than I used to have. I’m so Zen! I meditate and use ancient Indian breathing techniques to manage my stress!

Well, don’t be too impressed with me.

Last night I stayed up until 5am, working to meet a deadline until I couldn’t focus anymore. I wasn’t finished, but I’d made a lot of progress. I talked to my husband when his alarm went off at 5:20, as usual. (On top of being smart and even-tempered, he sleeps soundly for about six hours each night and gets up early, in a good mood, to head off to work. Not like me at all.) I crawled in bed and fell asleep sometime after the clock struck six.

I got up at 10:00 when my dogs couldn’t wait any longer for breakfast. And I’ve just been a mess today. I’m very worried about the work I haven’t finished yet, but I can’t settle down for more than 20 minutes at a time to focus on it. I’m tired so I have had too much caffeine, but it isn’t helping.

It seems like my niece has a form of juvenile arthritis. I spent some of my time earlier this afternoon reading up on it online. She has a challenging road ahead, it sounds like, and I’m sad and worried for her.

I’ve been excluding grains and sugar from my diet since later September, trying so hard to be healthier. Since December I’ve been trying to cut dairy too. I haven’t managed that as well, but I’ve reduced my cheese intake at least. So today? Cheese and toast in the morning. Two large muffins this afternoon. What is wrong with me? I know this isn’t going to help. Did I go for a walk to improve my focus? Did I meditate today? No, I ate the damn muffins.

It’s not that two muffins will push me into Diabetesland once and for all, or that I can’t return to eating chicken and veggies next week. What’s bothering me is how fragile my healthy routines are. A little bit of worry, some heavy demands for a couple of weeks, and it’s as though all that learning, all that re-orientation and habit development never happened. A bit of work stress, and it feels as though I haven’t spent 16 months away from my former high-stress job; it feels like I’m right in the middle of it again. Over those months, I’ve tried to build up healthy habits as a way to defend myself from chronic depression and hopelessness, but all it took was a little wind to topple those defenses.

So yesterday I was a little proud of myself. Today I’m a little disappointed–okay, more than a little. And I still have work to finish.


  1. Haven’t you heard that yes, stress drives us back to our bad habits? That’s why smokers and drinkers often go back to their addictions when under pressure… just take a deep breath, try and have a bath and an early night away from technology, and begin being kind and healthy to yourself again tomorrow ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re being very hard on yourself. Yes, you’ve slipped back into less healthy habits under stress – but I’m sure you’ll also find that all the hard work you’ve done over the last few years means that you bounce back more quickly and settle into your healthier routines again once the stress eases up a bit. Sometimes it feels as if we’ve slid right back to where we were before, but really we’re on an outward spiral and passing a point which seems familiar but actually does represent progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, the reality has been that I cannot over-extend myself, for instance by working all night or many many other things that others seem to be able to manage. I’ve been working around this all my life I think. However for you, it seems to be new, and you wish you could go back to functioning as you did in the past? That must be difficult, to have had something and now have lost it.

    I was wondering too if this is not a question of boundaries – would it have been possible to push back on the impossible client demands, and complete the work in a more reasonable timeframe? It almost sounds as if you truly and deeply feel that you must do every single thing asked of you perfectly, no matter how unreasonable. To the point where you will severely injure yourself in order to be able to meet these demands.

    BTW, so you ate muffins and drank coffee? There are worse crimes! Hard to believe but true. 🙂 . So what. You are still awesomely forging ahead. Life is hard and no one is perfect.


    • It’s true, in the past I could push and push and just keep going even when I was exhausted. In the end, this helped land me in my most recent, long depressive episode. I think I can’t do it anymore. And you are right, it’s hard to admit that. I see others continuing to do that (it’s so prevalent in our society), and even though I know it’s not easy for them, they keep going. So it’s easy to think, “what’s wrong with me?!?” Though honestly I do believe there is something wrong in our society that expects an insane level of productivity all the time.
      I do think I can sometimes talk to clients about different timelines, but I don’t feel it’s right to do it at the last minute. And some things are just not flexible–for example, data analyses that need to be completed before a large group comes together to discuss results.
      I did reach out to a long-term friend and colleague of mine, someone I trust, and I asked her if I can subcontract out some of the work to her. We will meet on Tuesday to talk about what/how much. Depending on what she has time to take, this might mean an improvement for me by the third week of February, something like that. I don’t know that it will get better before that, however.
      I know, muffins, big deal, right? But I’ve been trying so hard since September to modify my eating, to avoid another episode of gallstones, to bring down my A1C levels so I won’t have diabetes. I’m disappointed to see I can’t stick to good routines.
      I’m also crazy tired and feeling depressed so I know I’m looking at things too bleakly right now.


  4. What if you choose not to judge any of this at all? Simply acknowledge the fact that you still have work to finish, it is stressful, you are concerned about your niece, and you ate two muffins and some cheese. No judgment. Now you can get back into what you know will be more helpful. Use your yamas and niyamas. We are all breathing, beautiful beings doing the best we can in any given moment. ❤ ❤


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