I’ve been working a lot lately, more than at any point since I quit my job back in September 2016 and became a consultant. Good side of that: I’m earning more money again. Bad side of that: I’m feeling overloaded.

Feeling overloaded contributed in massively to my meltdown / most recent major depressive episode, which I would say started in mid 2014, perhaps earlier, and which I’ve been crawling out of in recent months. So it was 3+ difficult years. I don’t need to repeat that experience! And while I feel I’ve grown a lot and developed a lot of coping skills, especially over the past year or more, I know that keeping my stress level under control is part of what will keep me appreciating life. This month I haven’t been doing that very well.

On top of having too much work to do, I have a beloved niece in the hospital, suffering a lot, and after a very short hiatus, my insomnia is back with a vengeance. Wouldn’t you know it, yesterday I forgot to take my meds, so I also spent last night and a good part of today in Effexor withdrawal.

Put it all together, and I’m having a little crisis.

It kind of sucks. But on the other hand, I just have to say it doesn’t entirely suck because 1) I am learning that I need to work less, and while I can’t solve that right away this week, I do have the option of subcontracting out some work in the next month or so, and 2) I can see I am handling it so much better than I would have even eight or ten months ago.

Case in point: around lunch time today, I got off a call with a client which resulted in some more things to finish over the next week. I also looked at the clock and realized I had two appointments this afternoon before I could even start to tackle my roughly 12 hours worth of work that is due by 9am tomorrow morning. It felt immensely overwhelming.

And right away, my frazzled self thought: I can burn myself! That will calm down this panic! It works; I’ve done it before! It will settle things down so I can focus. That was my old conditioning speaking to me.

Even under the pressure I was feeling, however, a newer voice spoke up in response. Okay, well, you can certainly burn yourself, if that’s what you need to do. But what about first taking a few moments to meditate, to ground yourself mindfully? You can even use one of the pranayama techniques you learned in yoga teacher training. Why not try it out, just see how it feels? Burning is always there as a back-up option.

So that’s what I did, six minutes of a guided meditation, and four minutes of nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing. Then I got up, cleaned off my desk, and got back to work.

It’s going to be a long night–I’ll be working until I can’t keep my eyes open and then up again as soon as possible in order to meet my deadline. After that, I have work for other clients due next Tuesday. We are still waiting for test results to find out more about my niece’s condition. The stress isn’t gone. But I feel proud, in a funny, awkward sort of way. I feel proud that I have some other coping mechanisms that I remembered to use and which seem to be working, for now at least.

Now, back to work.