I work at a small shelter in the Midwest, working with clients who struggle with substance abuse, domestic violence, etc. It's an amazing job, but at the same time, it's incredibly stressful. Until this week, I thought I might be about to hit the point of burnout. Then my partner pointed out to me, very gently, that that isn't the only thing going on. I sat down and looked at this summer's happenings, and I feel like an idiot: he's right, there's a lot of stuff I'm not handling well at all.
I need help getting my sleep schedule back to normal, and to get rid of, or at least slow down, the serious case of hamster brain I've got. Books, YouTube videos, anything is welcome.
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(Anonymous, with details changed, to prevent anyone reading this who shouldn't.) Apologies for the length and rambling. I swear I'm usually much more coherent and focused than this, but I'm using most of my energy to hold it together at work.
Everything went wrong about a month ago, over a period of about three weeks. First, our director was not only fired, but arrested for what amounts to theft; there's still the possibility that we're going to be shut down permanently, due to lack of funds if we lose our grants due to his actions. Then, through a security loophole, someone got access to my bank information and took nearly 1/4 of what was in my account. It was resolved after a lot of worry & a lot of lost sleep.
And finally, my mother (from whom my siblings & I have been estranged for nearly a decade-- both she & my father, who died about five years ago, were abusive) passed away, leaving us with a house that's still in my father's name, a pile of debt... and a half-sibling we'd never heard of, who she essentially abandoned to grow up in poverty (as in, no running water, no electricity) with her parents; and in the 40 years between their birth and her death, she never bothered to contact them.
The consequence is pretty major sleep disruption. I wake up constantly, thinking of this problem at work, or something my father said thirty years ago, or that person I have to call. The hamster brain-- when that thought, whatever it is, gets going in my head and just keeps going-- kicks in, and then I can't get back to sleep, so I'm running on 4-5 broken hours of sleep a day. This is obviously affecting my ability to work.
For instance, I find myself getting resentful over client complaints; sarcasm and sometimes outright hostility are pretty common here, but it's bothering me in a way that hasn't happened for years. Stats and paperwork are getting harder to do. I actually cried walking home from work the other day, out of nowhere, for no reason.
What are some self-help methods I can use to get my brain back under control?
Things I'm taking into account already:
Support: My partner is incredibly supportive, but what's going on here is strictly in my own head. (He offered to take on the housework so I'd have more free time, but I actually find cleaning kind of relaxing, because it's so simple; and I don't know what I'd've done without him here.) My co-workers know what happened, and my supervisor insisted on my taking a couple of sick days to try and rest, but this isn't their problem, it's mine. (It didn't work, but the effort really did help.) My siblings obviously have their own struggles, and our newly found half-sibling is understandably kind of shell-shocked; I don't have words enough to say how incredibly badly I feel for her.
Counseling: Working on finding someone who can meet with me during my waking hours, as I work night shift. As messed up as my sleep schedule is, I really don't want to make things worse by having to give up 1-2 hours in the middle of the day to get to a counselor.
Drugs: Tylenol PM isn't working consistently anymore. Neither is melatonin.
Exercise & avoiding caffeine: I'm getting about 30 minutes a day of exercise, caffeine 2x a week at most.
Electronics: nothing electronic is allowed in the bedroom unless it's used for an alarm or as a noise generator.
Thanks to anyone who's read through all of this. It's really appreciated.