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After 9 weeks of sick with fatigue and burnout, I have now been back at work for 7 weeks. I have had a phased return and this week I did my full days, while still keeping Wednesday off. In the last week I have seen symptoms of burnout start to return…the sore throats, the brain freeze…also jealousy of others having holidays and being critical of other people’s work. To try and halt my leaning over the edge, I spent Saturday in bed, resting, listening to podcasts and allowing myself to snooze. I got up to go to a friends for dinner, then returned back to sleep. Yet although the progression has slowed, i still feel I am leaning over looking into the abyss. I don’t want to get ill again and to have time of work. For now I just have to get through 1 more day, before I have my first week of annual leave since returning. I hope it will be a chance to rest and recharge…but the question lingers…can I work in this job and stay well…or will I eventually need to give in…and leave.

PHQ-9

Score today 11 – Moderate depression

Maybe I’m improving…but I’m not yet convinced. After 2 busy weekends I spent yesterday in bed to try to prevent a relapse. At the end of last week I was getting more frequent ‘brain freeze’ and a sore throat.

Just about managing at work…but everything out of work is a bit of a mess – the flat is a pig sty, I’m not eating/cooking very well, laundry…what’s that?

I am soooo frustrated with church at the moment…of course it could just be depression and hormones speaking…but here is how I imagine church…please comment if you think it could be a reality.

Church is a community, a family and on that score my church scores highly, people support each other, my home-group even has an ongoing prayer message on Facebook.However does everyone get supported by someone? There is the lady with bipolar who has dinners covered for 3 nights in the week from 3 different families who have adopted her…but then on the other hand there is the 2 oldest members of our congregation, both in their 90’s can’t get to church and get much less frequent visits by anyone. Church should be about pastoral care…but should that come from the vicar/leaders, a team of pastoral carers or just run in an organic way, hoping that people were supported by their friends in the community. My vicar has in the past been really supportive to me…yet recently I text him to say I was feeling really low and suicidal…and he never followed up a day or two later so see if I was feeling any better…in fact 6 weeks later he still hasn’t.

I imagine that church should be a school, a place where we learn and grow, a place when we are challenged, a place where we can ask questions and wrestle with difficult issues. I imagine learning takes place in services, and also in small groups. That we are changed from year to year through it, rather than being bored and hearing irrelevant noise. A school that has something to feed everyone…the baby Christian to the experienced Christian, the auditory, visual and kinesthetic learner. Yet in my church to be fed…I listen to podcasts from other churches and go to conferences.

I imagine church as a place where we are hungry to worship Him and to spend time in his presence, I want to hear Him, and bless Him. Perhaps I need to learn to engage in this way regardless of the style of music…

I  imagine a church where people are known and encouraged to develop their gifts. Where people are released into new roles, not just the same people doing the same things. Where seasons are appreciated and where you might once have taught the children, now perhaps God is calling you to become a lay reader.Where new musicians are added to the music team. Where people are enabled to help in children’s work before being expected to be able to lead the whole thing. Where we build capacity and are less speedy to discount people. To enable people to do what they can…so you can’t do gardening on a Saturday morning…but you could after coffee morning…great, welcome on board.

I imagine a church where people who serve (who volunteer) are appreciated and thanked. That they are given the appropriate training, rather than dumped in it. That any changes are communicated clearly before the event, rather than once you are already doing it wrong because you didn’t mind read correctly!! Its soup lunch this week…so heat the soup and serve…before serving the teas and coffees, its cafe church this week, come early to set up, the drinks will be served at the start and middle, not at the end.

I imagine a church where ideas are taken on board, weighed up and nurtured into being. I went to a church where the leaders weren’t interested in suggestions unless you were willing to run them – that is fine. What is not fine is when suggestions fall on deaf ears, never encouraged, never permitted to start. People with ideas and passion for those ideas can be harnessed to make a difference. Ignoring them leads to stagnation and frustration. Again there are seasons…we might have always run Guides….but perhaps now we need to invest in a youth bible study instead. Perhaps the home group has got tired, but there is room for dance workshops or art based bible studies.

I imagine churches learning to work in partnership with other churches. We staff our night shelter by working in partnership with other local churches…but what about youth work, community projects…could we not work together at times, rather than against each other, making a better project, with the people who really have a heart for it, not just guilt tripped into helping.

What do you imagine the church to look like? Is there a church like the one I would like to imagine? Please comment.

Burnout and Avoiding it.

learning2float:

I had hoped to write more about burnout, but haven’t managed to yet…but this is worth a read.

Originally posted on Fighting Monsters:

I attended an event recently for newly qualified and student social workers. There were a number of speakers of which I was privileged to be one. Although it wasn’t a part of my ‘talk’, some of those speaking began by talking about how long they’d been in ‘social work’ and how they had managed to ‘stay fresh’ and counter burnout. It’s something I have appreciated more since I moved out of my social work job and moved into less intense, less stressful role. I don’t think I ‘burnt out’ but I do think I left at the right time. Things had been getting increasingly stressful at work due to the cuts and the increased workloads and a couple of incidents in the lead up to my applying for other roles made me realise it was probably a good time to take a step back.

While I can’t make the claims…

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PHQ update

PHQ today = 16 Moderately severe depression

Originally posted on Confessions of a Ridiculous Vicar:

vicardibleyIn response to a high profile figure being outed as having depression, sooner or later someone will say, “But he’s rich, famous and successful, what has HE got to be depressed about?

My shameful confession is – I have nothing to be depressed about either.

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PHQ – 9

Score 15 – Moderately severe depression

PHQ – 9

I just found an online version of the PHQ – 9 test. I thought I’d do it to see how I was doing…

Scarily I got a score of 19 which apparently indicates Moderately Severe Depression.

Funnily this is proof that you can be depressed without feeling down…I don’t feel down or ‘depressed’ just a whole lot of other depression and anxiety symptoms.

NB I have always avoided knowing how the PHQ – 9 test is worked out so I can’t manipulate it. ;)

This week is the third week that I’ve had off work. The sick note reads fatigue and burnout. The last day I went to work, I felt like I couldn’t physically manage another day of work. I was so looking forward to 4 days holiday, but sadly I haven’t yet returned to work.

I haven’t done any research into fatigue and burnout that will come, for now I want to write about my lived experience. I am so overwhelmingly tired. How did I get here? Well I think there are 2 factors if I’m honest, work and social life…

I work for a charity. I work with NHS staff and Social services. I have volunteers who I can allocate to help people out after they have left hospital, whether just a friendly visit, to fetch shopping or many other neighbourly things. My job is varied; there are elements of admin, volunteer recruitment and management, promotional and networking activity, visiting people myself, monitoring, social media… I love my job. I am great at my job. I love working with people, both professionals and clients. BUT when there is no volunteer to visit, I am the pressure release; I have to pick up the referral. When there are bank holidays I have to squeeze all my work into fewer days, holidays become a curse and not a blessing. When there is meetings, training or the head office is short-staffed, I have to leave my work and squeeze it into the remainder of the week. I care. I love to care for people. I love to hear their stories. I like to draw alongside, to help and support at a time when some TLC can help get them back on track. With some people I wonder who is helping who and feel like I’m getting more out of seeing people than I’m giving. Other people suck you dry, they need you to help and do for them; they play a role of helplessness. Saving my holiday for the winter when I depression usually gets bad, I haven’t had a holiday (except bank holidays) since January. I thought I was being sensible, planning ahead. My GP was pretty unimpressed.

The other element to this journey is more embarrassing to admit. I live alone, sometimes I feel alone and isolated. So what do I do, every evening I arrange to meet up with people, sometimes I arrange more than one activity per evening. I feel I have to earn people’s friendship. I am convinced no one would willingly want to spend time with me. I feel I have to arrange things, that if I don’t meet up with someone I’m letting them down. Of course our friendship is all my responsibility, not theirs.

So with all the running around both at work and at home, the lack of holidays or me time, I find myself with fatigue and burnout and the road ahead feels scary and uncertain.

learning2float:

Fascinating post!! Recognise some of the points made despite never being sectioned. When will mental health be treated equally to physical health.

Originally posted on Sectioned:

Unexpected

Since starting to have mental health problems and then being sectioned, I’ve learned about things I never imagined existed or would need to know about.

  • I’ve learned that being taken to hospital by police counts as an arrest that could show up on checks done for prospective employers.
  • I’ve learned about the Work Capability Assessment, Atos and Employment Support Allowance and that, even if your doctor’s certificate is for mental health, you’ll still be asked to touch your toes.
  • I’ve learned that mental health problems are often treated with purely physical means, and that merely keeping someone alive is seen as success enough.
  • I’ve learned that getting treatment for mental health problems can be a test of endurance: nearly three years post-discharge, I’m still waiting for talking therapy.
  • I’ve learned that, even though mental health services are already badly under-funded, they are being cut more than physical health services.
  • I’ve learned…

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