When life won't let you take a break.

(Unrelated to the topic at hand:For the first time in a while I forgot to take a shoe photo! I hate it when this happens :( Oh well, it happens) 

I want to talk about burn out today, specifically when you have to work through burn out. Unfortunately it's pertinent to my mental state at the moment, and has been on and off for many years.

1.jpg

To me, burn out feels like molasses. It's an all encompassing feeling, which makes me physically and mentally feel slow and gluggy. The pit of anxiety and overwhelm likes to rear it's ugly head and I also tend to become withdrawn, irritable, and flitter between too much and too little sleep. For those who have experienced burnout before, this may sound really familiar (that being said, your feelings may be different) and for those of you who haven't experienged it, consider yourself lucky ! :) 

3.jpg

If I worked a normal job, to cure these feelings I would take a few days off to destress, cut down on my commitments and focus on doing things I enjoy. This becomes twisted when big parts of your job fit into "this makes me feel good and helps me to destress". For example, I find the pre gig responsibilities and post gig aftermath pretty stressful sometimes, but the act of playing a good gig takes away the bad feels like nothing else. I also rely on the gig for income, further complicating the situation. 

4.jpg

More often than not, this leads me to working through my burnout. I know it's not healthy and that it probably keeps the sads around for longer, but the alternative for me (which is immediately cutting back on creative projects) is far more scary. 

7.jpg
6.jpg

There have been periods of burnout which have ended in spouts of depression where I've been unable to work work to even 50% capacity for (seemingly) endless months. It's almost like once I loose the momentum it's 200% harder to return to my fullest productive self. 

5.jpg

Over the last 2 years, I've experienced a couple of burnouts which I've worked (as in not slowed down my job worked) my way through. As such I've developed a couple of coping mechanisms. My favourites are:

1) The brain dump. This is basically a "to do list, but it also includes human things such as "take some time out" "don't forget to breath" and "you don't need to worry/panic". For these lists I also assign different tasks to different days so I don't feel like the full list in one days work. 

2) Talking to friends/making last minuite plans. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH how important friends are. I've recently reconnected with my closest buddies/found some amazing new friends after a really awful breakup earlier this year. Without these people to hang with, I would find myself staying in and wallowing much more frequently. (Saying this, once I return to "normal" I still seek out their friendship, it's just when I'm feeling crappy, I tend to not see anyone at all for weeks at a time and disappear off the face of the earth!) 

9.jpg

3) Making a conscious effort not to beat myself up about productivity. If you can remember back to this year, this has been my only New Years resolution, and I've been doing pretty well at it! One of my mantras has become "you can only get what you have done today, done today". Whenever I feel myself slipping into "work guilt" I say this, either in my head or outloud. While it doesn't immediately solve the issue, it does help to calm my brain and make the feelings less strong/easier to work through. Along the same vein, every time I do a thing that's not feel sad and watch youtube I give myself a proverbial pat on the back. Whatever I'm trying to do may be small and insignificant, but the fact I did it, feeling like this is an absolute miracle. 

8.jpg

4) I try to remember this feeling isn't forever. This helps to keep the burnout sads from becoming existential (which is a whole other layer of weird). 

2.jpg

I'd like to conclude with something positive, but it's hard for me to think positively when i'm stuck smack bang in the middle of burnout. Real talk: Every time I "recover" from burnout I tell myself "this is the last time" but it never is. I suppose I'm scared that this cyclical feeling will continue my whole life. I'm also scared that one day the feeling will just swallow my whole (woah, that got dark quickly). That being said, I see so many people who are older than me functioning like humans should. I'm sure they've all been through periods like this, and look at them! Mental health. It's certainly a thing. 

LASTLY! I'd like to call your attention to my mailing list! https://mailchi.mp/edf9944672b3/the-emerald-ruby-mailing-list-signup It's a thing I have now because I don't trust the algorithmic gods to deliver the stuff I make to the people who want to see it! I'll be starting it up once I get back from my July tour, so if you'd like better access to my online life, feel free to pop your email in the thing! :) 

She Came Home (an unexpectedly happy post)

I have had the craziest January. Thankfully the tragedy that I alluded to in my last post has been resolved! My dog noodle (who features quite heavily in this post) went missing for a second time, about a week after she ran away during the New Years fireworks. She was gone for 6 days, and at the time of writing my last post, I was convinced I'd never seen her again. 

Bell Bottoms.jpg
dance.jpg

As far as loosing a pet goes, there's only one thing worse than the act of them going missing. Being far away from home where you cannot physically search for them. The entire time noodle was out in the wilderness  I was glued to my phone, hoping my parents would call, or that somebody would respond to one of the many cries for help I'd posted across the lost pet groups on Facebook. 

Chill .jpg
noodle.jpg
Head.jpg

The longer your pet (in my case, dog) is missing, the less hope you tend to be able to hold onto. I imagined her in all sorts of awful scenarios. In the wet stormy bushes dying of fear/cold, run over on the road, mauled by another dog, collapsing from starvation. I also cried a lot in private (I was on tour, surrounded by people constantly, so pretty much any moment alone was met with tears) 

Details.jpg
Staring into space .jpg

Lastly, just to add insult to the crushing loss I was already feeling, I was aware that I had this set of photos to post. Ones taken in my backyard just before I left with noodle being silly and lovely and soft and gorgeous. Had she not come home, this post would have been devastating to edit. 

Dog.jpg

Thankfully she's home safe. A lovely lady spotted her on the side of a road not too far from our house, and chased her for a kilometre until she was able to catch her, then return her home. I'm so very glad she's home.

(On the day I felt saddest, I managed to get enough alone time to record a tiny rendition of Scarborough fair. It was a nice distraction from the saddness hole I was in. You can watch it if you want : )

Amazing people and the privilage of never having felt the feeling of I Can't

Did you know that for many people "I can't" is a physical feeling? It feels like panic, it feels like tension, it feels like despair, and procrastination, and not living up to your "potential". it feels like letting your goals and dreams slip away because you just can't. Can is too much. Can takes too much energy, so instead you sit there in your "I can't-ness" and let it swollow you. 

Feet.jpg

For some people I can't is just a small feeling. It's feeling like they're not smart - rich - childless - good enough to do *insert thing here*. This feeling is valid and just as important to recognise. It's not the same as I won't either. I won't implies defiance. I won't implies choice. 

strap down.jpg

I can't is not a choice. There are many amazing people in this world. They do so many things, and lead extraordinary lives. Many will do interviews talking about how they just believed, and worked towards a goal. "It's easy, anyone can do it" they say. "you just have to save more, work more, chase your dreams, your goals and your desires." they say, like it's easy, like it's something everyone can do. These people don't understand. They've had the privelage of not experiencing "I can't" 

Glasses.jpg

That's not to say these amazing people haven't had to work hard, or experience hardship or make sacrifices, but they've stumbled upon a particular set of arbitrary circumstances that set them apart from other people. These include: Country of origin, race, gender, mental and physical health, supportive family/teachers/peers, knowing the right people, being in the right place at the right time. And because they're wonderful, but imperfect humans that have only ever lived as themselves, they mistake their success as not giving into "I can't" when it's usually not having experienced "I can't" in the first place. 

Scarf off.jpg

I sit in a weird space when it comes to this. I lead a jam packed life full of "chasing my art and living the dream", but I also experience the overwhelming feeling of I can't all the time. Let me tell you, I wouldn't be able to get past this if I didn't have such a lovely and supportive network. I would curl in a ball and cry all day. I would take a normal job I hated and stagnate. I wouldn't travel, I wouldn't see people. I would completely and utterly give into I can't. 

But I don't, because I'm supported and privileged. I think more people who say no to "I can't" need to be introspective and examine their privilege, especially before they preach the word of "everyone can do it", because not everyone can do it. It's not ideal, but it's one of the truest truths in our weird society. 

I suppose the conclusion is, if you give into your feelings of I can't, don't feel bad. Don't feel worthless, because you're not. Breaking out of I can't is hard. And if you're one of these wonderful amazing people preaching the word of "everyone can do it" stop and think about all of the help, support and circumstances you've experienced to get you there, and consider how different the experiences and resources other people have are different. 

On scarf.jpg

A little off topic, but relevant none the less: I recorded a new video today (technically yesterday now) It's a cute little song about tea, with a rather sad ending. Coincidently, I'm wearing the same outfit in the video, but It was not produced the same day!