Normally, the first couple of weeks back at work are busy.
However, this year, the first week back has been absolutely manic at work. Next week is looking worse.
Normally, the first couple of weeks back we are normally playing catch-up with from stuff before Christmas, plus preparing projects for the New Year. This year I haven’t really had the time to say Happy New Year or chat to people.
Why is it different this year?
I am not really sure. Some of it is due to an increase in workload. Some of it is due to staff isolating because of Covid and having to step in at the last minute. Some of it just is.
As two staff members are having to isolate because of Covid-19. I ended up having to go down to Weymouth Station for a site meeting to discuss a tender. Whilst the site meeting was worth while, it was a whole day away from the work I was supposed to be doing. The journey to site, whilst driving through some amazing countryside doesn’t help. A 7 hr drive there and back is just knackering. In addition, it meant writing up notes for the team dealing with the tender, which takes time.
Next week, for similar reasons, I am having to go down to Dover to look at a new project. Yet another whole day away from the work I was supposed to be doing. Another 7 hr drive. Plus, it will mean writing up notes for the team dealing with the tender, which takes time.
Paperwork and stuff
I have had a lot of paperwork and drawings for various projects to review and sign off for work which is due to start in the next couple of weeks, and some of it is work with a high priority. Nearly all of it just seems to have landed on my desk this week. I had some paperwork for a couple of projects come in just before Christmas. I thought I could review and sign them off straight after the Christmas break. Not a chance, as other stuff has taken priority. It will mean it will be another week, but more likely two weeks before I can sign it off and they can start on site.
On top of all of this there has been various “Teams” meeting to discuss projects, that all takes up time. Time sometimes you just don’t have and/or it results in me having taken actions which at the moment I don’t have time for.
There are other things going on at work which I need to deal with. I would rather deal with them sooner rather than later because I need to get the ball rolling on them, as they will help the business which in turn will help me. But they are going to have to wait, I just can’t juggle things, nor can I find the time or somebody else to do it.
Playing Catch up and Juggling
Playing catch up and juggling, aren’t two school playground games. It’s what you try to do to keep on top of things. Last week, I was putting in a lot of extra hours in the evening just to try play catch up. Sometimes that can work and is worth the effort. Other times it just makes the situation worse because you become too tired to be effective. Plus, you don’t get a chance to relax, unwind and destress.
Due to the volume of work, the additional work and having to play catch up, I haven’t been able to put in place my normal de-stressors into place. For three nights on the trot I wasn’t able to take Fudge out for his evening walks, which I enjoy and helps me both mentally and physically. I had to miss my personal training session, which helps me both mentally and physically.
Family – My Father
My Father has cutaneous lymphoma and it is all about managing his quality of life. At the moment he is pretty good and we have the monthly trips down to the hospital for a review with the Consultant.
Over the Christmas break my father developed an infection. The Care Home where he lives called to tell me and they had been advised to call out the paramedics to check him out. The paramedics called me to discuss the situation and a way forward. Afterwards it felt like I had spent over half talking to the care home, talking to the paramedics, to my brother, to keep him informed and to discuss what we do. Then there is the worry and wondering what was going to happen.
A couple of days later there is another phone call from the Care Home. My father had fallen over and hit his head. The paramedics were called and they had no choice but to take him into hospital to be assessed. The assessment said there was no concern around the fall, which was good news, but they decided to keep him in hospital to give them a chance to clear up the infection.
Again, there is the worry, the stress and the time it takes to keep my brother up to date.
On Monday my father has a routine hospital appointment to see the Consultant regarding his cutaneous lymphoma. On Thursday/Friday we didn’t know whether he was going to be still in hospital or back in the care home. We didn’t know whether he would be able to make the appointment and whether he would be allowed to go because of Covid restrictions.
Fortunately for me, my brother was able to pick up the reigns on this one.
Health – Type 1 Diabetes
I have Type 1 diabetes and for most of the time it is pretty well under control. My blood glucose levels are fairly consistent, we them being 80-85% within target and management is relatively easy and straightforward.
However, this week the blood glucose levels have been bouncing around a lot, going from low to high in very short periods of time. At some points during this last week I was down to 50-60% within target, which I can live for a short period of time but in the long term it is not acceptable.
When glucose levels bounce around like this it requires a far greater level intervention and management to try and keep them consistent and even. When the glucose levels are like this, it often makes you feel like crap, particularly when they go high. If you are already tired and drained, then its just another straw that is added to the pile I feel like I am dealing with.
Then there is all of the other small stuff that needs doing, stuff that would normally be fairly easy to sort out but at the moment is taking ages. Things like:
- Posting two letters, by recorded delivery, to the solicitors dealing with the sale of my Father’s house,
- Finding a local builder to repair/replace our garden fence which was damaged during the two storms around Christmas time
- Collecting Fudge’s dog food
- Ordering a new batch of insulin pumps
- Contacting Jura, to get my Jura Bean to Cup coffee machine repaired – it went bang just before Christmas.
- Keeping in touch with friends
- Getting to the recycling center – hopefully that is today’s job
Overloaded and Overwhelmed!!!!.
That feeling of being overloaded and overwhelmed is never a good feeling. Neither is that sinking feeling of not being able to keep on top of things to meet various deadlines or feeling you are maybe letting people and projects down. It can, if you’re not careful become a vicious downward spiral which can lead you down paths that nobody should ever really go down.
On Thursday night/Friday I was getting very close to being at that point. This weekend has had to be a very quiet weekend of not doing very much, apart from sleeping a lot of the time
Is there perfect mental health storm coming brewing????
Yes, there is. All of the pressures of work at the moment, combined with dealing with and the concerns around my father, and having to deal with my diabetes means then yes there is a prefect mental health storm brewing.
Is it going to happen?
The honest answer is I don’t actually know, but I don’t think it will. The reason I say that is. I have had similar experiences before, thankfully not that often, and I have learned from them. I also know there is help and support available.
The question is what is going to give?
Something will need to give because I can’t carry on like this, I shouldn’t have to carry on like this.
I am very lucky that I work for a company that has a very positive attitude towards this sort of situation and will help put measures in place.
So what am I going to do?
I know what is NOT going to happen.
- The additional work I am having to deal this week and next week will not go beyond the end of next week.
- If it looks like it will do then I will dig my heals in and get others to deal with it, which have already started to come into help.
- I will not be going that a vicious downward spiral because I feel totally overloaded and overwhelmed.
I know what IS GOING to happen.
- I will endeavour to make sure I take Fudge out for his evening walks
- I will endeavour to go to my Personal Training Session next week
- I will make sure from the end of next week I will not be overloaded with work, I will just be busy – as per normal.
They will be difficult to achieve those but I do know that I have a determination, which has always stood me in good stead in the past.
Will it happen again????
History has a habit of repeating itself. I can see there being a similar set of circumstances occurring in the future which could lead to the brewing of another perfect mental health storm. The trick is recognising them earlier enough and putting measures in place to deal with it – That’s easier said than done sometimes
Should it happen again???
No, it absolutely shouldn’t happen again.
The Balance is Wrong
Not everything is negative, there are plenty of positives in my life, but at the moment the balance is wrong.