As I desperately reached out in compassion for others this past 10 days, I’ve neglected myself. I fueled my efforts with hypomanic energy, all the while sick with gastroenteritis and caring for an even sicker son. Poor baby gets gastro really bad (badly). So here I address compassion burnout, nurturing others while neglecting oneself.
My journal entry last night:
New Year’s Eve. Been awhile since I’ve journaled hard copy with pen in hand. Not sure how long this will last. So, what is it that I need write down here? I have no idea. I have no idea what brings me here – pen to paper. I write in the dark with [my husband] beside me asleep and [my son] down the hall. I use a small hand-held reading light. Not sure if I am doing anything of value now. But at least these are MY words. I am not simply sharing someone else’s words, someone else’s message. Perhaps that is something that I must do, for when I read [someone else’s writing] I was struck by how amateurishly it was written. I know that I can write better. [Forgive me for my arrogance, but I was journaling, after all.] I like my writing voice – when I unleash it. So, that I must. My voice is not corporate – the materials I quote, though, are. So I feel this push to share, to comment, to inform. It takes up all of my time. I’m doing it again – work – what I do when I work – I subsume my own needs, quiet my own voice, ignore my own needs – for the needs of the whole. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could instead develop MY voice. Focus on my writing. Perhaps it is time to read, follow & comment less. Perhaps it is time to blog more. To speak. To write. To focus.
I have spent much of my spare time journaling in a composition book, rather than blogging (sorry guys). It’s allowed me to write freely and not worry about sentence structure, flow or even worrying about what it says or who it could offend. It’s been incredibly helpful to me in trying to work out my feelings about my personal life and who I am and what makes ME happy. It’s almost meditative at times, me scratching across the page, full-throttle, just trying to throw all the thoughts down on the page before they fly away.
One benefit in particular that I’ve found about journaling is how it can keep you accountable for your emotions. What I mean is that once you put pen to paper it’s out. It can be crossed out, (hell, it can even be ripped out of the journal and lit on fire) but the point is that it’s out into the universe, and not on your shoulders as much. You can take a deep breath and look back on your scribbles and try to understand how you’re feeling, and try to figure out what to do with those emotions.
This morning, I read Natasha Tracy‘s post Pressure and the Limited Time, Resources of One with Bipolar, which resonated a similar message.
Pressure and Bipolar
I think that people have no idea what kind of pressure is exerted when people contact you every day for something. Strangers that expect me to fix their lives and an uncountable number of people who are suicidal. Well, just for the record, I don’t fix people’s lives. I don’t have that power. And I am not a suicide hotline.
… perhaps it might be better for you to talk to a friend or a professional psychotherapist…
My comment to Natasha was:
Natasha, thank you. I feel much the same way, but I err, by far, on the side of doing WAY TOO MUCH for others. Following too many blogs. Reading too many posts. Commenting far too much. I must develop better boundaries. I must learn to say NO. No need to read this, or to respond.