Friday, June 14, 2013

And then there was rest.

So.... because I really do like to think of this space as a bit of a personal diary– highlighting lessons rather than the gruesome details. Writing what I learned, helps me process what went down and also helps to reinforce whatever it is that I truly learned. I also feel like people don't like to talk about a lot of the problems or issues that they go through. Whether there's a particular stigma around it... or it's a slightly embarrassing issue... or it's just downright taboo. Well here's the thing, I think we need to talk about the hard stuff. On one hand, I think it levels the playing field. Absolutely everyone has gone through personal problems that impact their daily lives... some more than others, but we've all been there. We can relate.

On the other hand, I think that the more you talk about the untalkable, the more answers you'll find. The more clarity we'll discover... together.

I spent all weekend with a lot on my mind. I was pretty exhausted from running on next-to-nothing for quite a few weeks. I've hardly had time to just breathe. It's always fun and amazing things (like cool events and hanging out with friends and going on cute dates), but they do add up. I have a tendency to not know when to stop, especially when it comes to work. Unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was pushing 13 hours a day at Levo and at least two more hours on blogging. And I always do my major blog (email, Tumblr, etc.) catch up on the weekend. It was never-ending.

I obviously love what I do both at work and on the blog, which is both why I do it and why I spend so much time. It's like I can't help myself! I just go go go! Spinning on that wheel at an alarming pace that only seems to increase with time. Sustainable? NO.

I'm the first person to admit that when I start feeling stressed (more than just the everyday stress), I tend to take things to an unhealthy extreme. Control issues? Yep, classic Type A girl move. While my need for control manifests itself in different ways at different times, I've really been making an effort to not fall into old traps. These traps are like indulging in a giant dessert. Sweet and amazing at first. And then sickening. Followed by a serious crash. The effort that I was putting into staying healthy and not finding myself down a destructive path was only adding to the exhaustion. It was like running ten miles a day to just stay on top. This downright exhaustion with the huge decisions that had crept up got the best of me.

photo via Simon James Designs

And by the best of me... I mean the whole me. On Monday night, I broke down.

The scary thing is that I had had a bathroom floor moment (like, on the bathroom floor. Hysterical.) earlier that day. Somehow I pulled myself together and decided to keep trudging along. Because clearly laying down on the ground and crying in the middle of the day is totally normal (eep...). I moved through the rest of the day with hives and a migraine and a backache where I couldn't even sit in a chair normally. Again, why didn't I pump the brakes then? I don't know.

The meltdown that night wasn't pretty. It was emotional. And raw. And confusing. And just horrible. Thankfully I was with people who kind of got what I was going through and concerned, but also understanding. (They definitely dealt with hysterical tears and hyperventilation and incoherent sentences.)

I know way too many girls who haven't made it through the first year in the city (and some other cities, but mostly New York). It's a weird place. Everyone is into this unicorn definition of a "career." Okay, maybe some people are more chill and more relaxed, but I'm going to explain that by saying they're clearly not first children or they drink different water. Everyone works insane hours (of my friends, 11/day is kind of the "standard"). We leave work and get dinner at nine or maybe ten together. The weekends are spent day-drinking (for the brave) and in crowded bars at night. Late nights for work, late nights for play.

Work hard. Play hard. YOLO. We're only young once. We can sleep when we're dead. Can't stop, won't stop.

I think we actually know (truly know) that we have to stop... but there's a part of us that's either afraid of stopping or not quite sure how. The train that we're all on will surely crush us if we jump off. The wheel we're all running with throw us to the wall if we miss a step. How can we keep up if we stop? How can we reach these lofty goals we have set for ourselves if we take a break? How can we be the youngest, the first, the best, if we pause?

I think the better question is how can we survive if we don't stop? How can we thrive if we don't take a break? How can we succeed if we don't pause?

If I had to breakdown (and let's face it, it was totally self-inflicted), I'm so glad that it happened after-hours at work with people I trust and people who care about me. I think it was eye-opening for everyone. (We all need reminders that we're not superhuman no matter how much we'd like to convince ourselves that we are.)

I took two complete solid days off.

No iPhones. No laptops. No emails. No phone calls. No work. No Tweeting, blogging, or Instagramming.



Instead it was lots of resting, lots of relaxing, lots of movies, lots of reading.

On Monday night, I took a shower to calm down. The got into bed and woke up at noon the next day. NOON. I read for an hour and then fell back asleep. Then I watched Netflix for two hours and then I fell back asleep. I had a friend staying in my apartment while she was in the city. We talked for a bit and then I went back to sleep. I was awake for five hours.

Wednesday, I didn't sleep quite that much, but I got a lot of reading done and I even snuck out of my apartment and went to (finally) see The Great Gatsby. I finally got bored and got dinner with friends.

I've never needed a break so much in my life.

The world didn't stop. I learned a lot about myself. I finally could think straight and make better decisions (and get through an afternoon without crying). My friends and family were supportive.

I woke up Thursday with the clearest mind I've had in a while. It was a calm, no stress morning. Peaceful.

Now the real trick is going to be to give myself the breaks before I need them. To recover consistently so I never get to this point again.

I'm committing to:
Working out.
Hitting my sleep goals.
Asking for help and being better at saying no.
Reading every morning and every night. (That's my true "reset button"!)
Meditating for ten minutes a day.

What can you commit to in order to take time for yourself and to stay healthy?

xoxo

26 comments :

  1. Can I just say I think you're really brave for writing this post? These are the kinds of things I don't like to talk about. I've recently graduated from college, starting graduate school this fall and I can tell you I have had moments eerily similar to this in the past few weeks. I think your solutions are fantastic, and I'm glad you've taken time for yourself. I pray that things continue to look up, and may God bless you :)

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  2. This may be my favorite post since I've followed your blog. It's not because it is exactly applicable to my life (some is, some isn't) but because it made me think of you as more than just text on a website. You became much more personal in these paragraphs. Thank you.

    And I hope you will be successful with your commitments! Good luck!

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  3. Sleep and I'm afraid exercise are the keys to this. I am very old indeed (OK 51 - but older than your mother) and have been a partner in a big law firm for a long time, during which I also managed to have kids who are doing well.

    And the two things you must do in order to not only survive but thrive are sleep enough ( 7 hours is a minimum not a maximum) and exercise every day - walking is the best if you can do something else too, then good.

    I still work 10 hour days most of the time. But I don't feel like I want to retire and I am in robust good health.

    I had a proper breakdown ( 6 weeks off work with work induced stress) in my 30's after I thought I was over the hump (kids at school already a partner) and that is when the walk every morning , go to bed at 10.30 rule was born. It works. I promise.

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  4. Such a brave post to write! Although these situations are so rough to go through, I'm really glad you had the confidence to write about it! Last summer/fall were huge for me in terms of anxiety, and it took a really long time to implement the breaks so I can completely relate to this post.

    I'm not sure if you remember, but we talked for a bit after you and Amanda spoke at Miami last fall. (I brought up how I admired you for talking about anxiety so openly, and we talked about how there's such a stigma involved with it that any time we talk about it only helps to break that barrier down.) So while this post must have been so, so hard to write, it'll extend the conversation on anxiety that much more for the better and I have no doubt other girls reading will relate. Who knows, it might inspire someone else to take a break, and that seems like it'll make a difficult post all worth it in the end.

    Glad you're feeling better, though! You're definitely one of my favorite blogs, and you deserve peace of mind. Have a great weekend!

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  5. For us Type-A-we-can-do-it-all girls, it's hard to admit when you can't and you need to take a beat. It's refreshing to read a post like this and realize that we all deserve a moment to be hysterical, re-group, and re-engage in a more healthy, sustainable way. Thank you for your sharing this! I'm glad that you took time for yourself. Happy Friday

    Chelsea
    Haute Child in the City

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  6. Wow I'm so glad you wrote this! I follow your blog daily and posts like this are exactly why. I have been dealing with working 70 hours a week at 2 jobs while preparing for a big move and starting summer classes in just a couple weeks and it has been extremely stressful! I'm glad you could share your story so we all know that we aren't alone with stress and anxiety issues. Praying for you and your anxiety problems!

    XOXO
    Cait

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  7. I don't do well with transitions. Leaving high school for college and college for the real world...I was a mess. I've been out for a year and I still have bad nights where I cry for 5000 reasons. You're right that people need to talk about it more. Nobody talks about how hard growing up is and social media makes it worse. Everybody appears to have it all together so nobody WANTS to talk about it because they think they are the only one feeling this way.

    I'm glad you recognized that you needed some time off. If you ever need to escape Manhattan, take Metro North to Cold Spring and walk around there, it's gorgeous.

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  8. This was such a brave and honest post. I'm really glad that you did it, and (even though I don't know you) I'm really proud of you for it. You're one of my favorite bloggers, and one of the only ones I've consistently read for years. Thank you so much for this post. Being pretty Type-A go-getter myself I totally get it, but it's really important to take breaks so that you can keep going and not burnout by 26. I hope you can figure out when your breaks become completely necessary, and figure out how to take them without losing out in your job.

    All the best,
    Jeanni

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  9. I feel you! New York is such a difficult place. It's so amazing and so confusing at the same time. I once met with a friend of mine (male, 40s, advertising) who told me about the time he just stood on a street corner sobbing because he felt so exhausted by New York, and he said "New York is great to you when it's great, and will destroy you when you're down."

    That being said, I'm turning 27 this weekend, and going from being 22-27 in the city is a confusing thing. I feel like I've accomplished a lot, but at the same time feel like there is so much to do. You're not alone in how you feel, and it's great that you have amazing friends to rely on.

    Glad you took a few days to reset yourself! Feel better!

    http://the-dandy-life.com

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  10. I just want to say that I really needed to read this post right now. This past week, I have had the total and complete mental and emotional breakdowns. As in, having anxiety attacks whenever I got a message on my phone (INCLUDING when it was my boyfriend texting me from overseas where he is deployed right now). There have been a lot of really legitimate factors leading up to this, just like there were for you. I tried writing a post like this one yesterday, actually, but it basically just turned into a generic "when you have arthritis sometimes life is rough" post.

    Moral of this story, I'm glad to read this post NOW in my life, because I needed to see that sometimes even the people who look like they have it all together are actually pushing themselves too much. It reminds me that everyone needs breaks, and it's okay if I'm not working the same number of hours as you or doing as much.

    Best of luck with taking breaks when you need them! As a fellow type-A girl, I get that. When you've figured out a strategy for making it work, let us know!

    Kate
    katethealmostgreat.blogspot.com

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  11. Carly, thank you for being so raw and so open with us. I know it's really hard, especially for Type A's (I'm one as well) to show that side of ourselves. I'm coming up on a year in my new city, and I won't lie. In the past month I've had a breakdown or two... or six. It's hard becoming an adult and learning how to handle just about everything. For me, I barely have any really close friends here (most people I've met/been around are older, and my company is an old company) so it makes it even harder.

    Hang in there lady.


    <3
    carelessly graceful

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  12. Well first of all let me just say you are a real trooper :) Doing so much all the time is really stressful. I am constantly running from one thing to the next with all of the directing work I do. I totally understand what you are going through. I feel like I always have to control everything, which just makes my stress even greater than it is. The way I usually cope with stress is either reading, playing volleyball with my boyfriend and friends, or just sitting at home watching a movie while drinking hot tea. One thing my mom always tells me is no matter how hard it was if you gave it your best effort you succeeded. This saying kicked in for me this year because my life has just been crazy lately! But just remembering that saying made me say to myself, you don't have to be perfect at everything just give it your best try. I promise things will get better :)

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  13. i have been trying so hard to slow down so i've been reading. i've already gone through 2 books this week.

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  14. I've been there. Good for you for doing something about it!

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  15. That is so brave of you, to realize that you needed a break and take that break--even if you had to break down to do it. I admire you for taking that break and taking the next steps to relax and prevent a breakdown from happening again. Resting is so important and some people take it for granted.

    Bravo to you, Carly, for sharing your story with us; this is the kind of post that will help everyone who reads it.

    xoxo Briana

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  16. Carly, I am so glad that you have shared your experience with us all. I have been living in a similar situation and today was a tipping point of sorts. Reading your post (I've read it a few times today!) has given me the courage and guts to sort out my health issues and the pain I've been experiencing. Tomorrow I am off to see a specialist, and tonight, well after I've hit publish on this comment, I am switching off from the PC and going straight to bed to rest, read and de-stress.

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery- let's do this, together!

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  17. You are a brave, strong chicky. There is nothing wrong with hitting the reset button as often as you need... for me it's once a week! xo

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  18. Thanks for sharing! My sister is a young professional and definitely feels the pressure at work. I think the saddest thing is that our cultural mentality is that more is always better and everything's a competition. It's really hard to disconnect from that.

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  20. This post was so inspiring and I am SO happy you are taking time for yourself. Keep us updated. Good luck!

    Rebecca
    foryoupourtoujours.blogspot.com

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  21. Carly, I am worried about you! ZZZZZ's are too important to skip and too often you post about only sleeping two or three hours a night. I love reading your blog, but I could live with you posting two or three times per week if it lightens your work load and lets you live a healthier life. As for the anxiety issues, you need fewer triggers so turning off the phone at nine p.m. is reasonable. As for the type A personality, I 've learned to pick one place for those issues to be an asset--at work--and I minimized the "to do" listing for the rest of my life. At the end of the day, you need to work enough to support your lifestyle and then live your life. I am old enough to be your mother and I've had years of work and life to gain experience and find what works, and even then I backslide a bit. But I try to treat myself with the same love and care that I give the others in my life, and it works. Treat yourself gently because people care about your wellbeing.

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  22. Carly,
    I am proud of you. I lived in the city during my 20's and ran myself into the ground. It is so important to know that you need a break every now and then.

    I am now 55 and living in the Philly burbs with my Mom and I feel like I cannot get off of the treadmill. I know that I need a break.

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  23. I'm kind of having trouble understanding this post. "Offensive" isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe it.....but let me put it this way. To me it makes absolutely no sense to love to work like a maniac. Basically what you're saying is you love running yourself down. So yes, it's good that you want to take a break. I was just a little annoyed that you talk about getting three hours of sleep and then being so shocked when you "break down." That much self-inflicted stress would be enough to give anyone anxiety and you seem to love your work. So I feel bad saying this is offensive....but yes, it could be considered offensive to those of us Type-B's who struggle with these kind of breakdowns even though they do absolutely nothing. What's offensive is that there are some people who can't handle getting out of bed in the morning and have these kinds of breakdowns, and then you are talking about how you choose to work yourself to death because you "love it" and tha's what results in your breakdowns. In addition to anxiety, I have depression and ADD and I'd give anything to actually function in a job like you do. Think of that next time you think you're having a "breakdown"...remember that and stop abusing your abilities.

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  24. Oh sugar, I've so been there! Both in the insane lifestyle during my mid-20's and the breakdowns long past ignoring all the signs to s l o w things down. Honestly one of my biggest life savers was having my dog. Both in the unconditional love aspect but also in that she has to be walked three times a day. And while two can be short just to do business, at least one needs to a good walk. But at her pace- not my normal rushed pace. It forces me (still today) to breathe and slow down and look at my neighborhood and sort of shake the cobwebs out of my head.

    KK

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  25. So happy to see you've taken time to slow down. Sometimes we get caught up doing so many fun things, trying to keep commitments we've made to help others, and there just aren't enough hours in the day. Good for you for making a conscious effort to cut yourself some slack before it's too late. :)

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  26. "I think the better question is how can we survive if we don't stop? How can we thrive if we don't take a break? How can we succeed if we don't pause?"

    Carly, I think those are the wisest words I've read in a long time. I can relate to so much of the lifestyle you're talking about and it is so hard to maintain. The thing about certain careers is they necessitate that the work and social overlap which, while fun, makes it even more exhausting because you feel like you can't say no to "fun things" because you just need rest. I'm so glad you got to take a break and have committed to certain things you know will make you feel better. I think that second step is so important because if you don't try and maintain your state of mind there is nothing to stop a full breakdown from happening again.

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