Anxious. Overwhelmed. Insecure. Exhausted. Feeling like I am letting people down on all sides, professionally and personally.

There is just so much going on at the moment and it feels like I’m about to start dropping balls. 

I’m spending long hours at work learning new stuff and trying to keep things going without dropping the standards that the business expects. 

I’m also trying to prove myself worthy of this new role – that the business made the right decision to appoint me – so I drive myself relentlessly. 

Result? Feeling overwhelmed and anxious. And this has manifested as illness. I’m constantly sick. I sleep badly and have nightmares about missed deadlines and unhappy clients. 

This all eats away at me, making a mockery of any sense of enjoyment or achievement that I have in my new role. I keep expecting the worst. 

My sister picked up on this in one of my voice notes to her and this morning she sent me a valuable reminder of a simple way to fight this rising tide of fear: make a gratitude list. 

This was something she inspired me to do in 2013, when my old employer had yet another of its wobblies, and I sank into a well of depression. 

Back then, I started listing 5 things I was grateful for, in a Facebook status update every morning. 

It felt silly, at first, and was hard to do – amazingly hard to do – I couldn’t think of more than 2 or 3…astounding, really, when you consider the myriad blessings that filled my life at that point. 

But like the proverbial snowball that spawns an avalanche, those first few posts lead to a daily celebration of all the people, situations, feelings, epiphanies… things I had to be grateful for. And it inspired a few friends to make their own daily gratitude lists. 

Well, it’s time to do that again. I’m building these lists on my blog to create a rising tide of gratitude that will overwhelm the black dog of depression that is gnawing at my heart. 

Let’s start with 5 things I am grateful for, right now:

  1. My sister Lynn, for her daily inspirational and nurturing messages.
  2. Whatsapp voice notes. I get 15 minutes of my sister’s beautiful voice every day on my drive to work.
  3. The patience of friends. Friends like Koreshini, Ryan and the two Sarahs, and Dorothy, Maru, and Phil and Grethe, Anita and Werner, Steve, Allison, Natalie, Steffi, Daisy and Eugene and so many more, who know that I’m constantly working and that I haven’t forgotten them. Friends who miss me and every now and then do a gentle reminder that they are still there, patiently waiting. 
  4. My whole family – siblings, nephews and nieces, cousins and all, who tag me relentlessly on Facebook, reminding me that I am part of a family, despite the vast distances that separate us.
  5. A job that I love, and am good at. That I am passionate about.

There. That’s a start. Tomorrow I will add 5 more. Slowly, slowly – this will change the spaces inside me, filling them with love and gratitude and chasing away the dark fears.

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

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21 thoughts on “Rising Tides

  1. Awesome, chin up! I think we’ve all been there but it will get better 🙂 Love the idea of a gratitude list – I’ve also resorted to those in rough times and it definitely helps.

      1. I watched a TED talk this morning that equated silence for fear. My 2 cents, lift your voice when you need help, raise it when you need a time out and remember toh breathe. Hugs

  2. Dave, I can relate to the work pressures , the waking up at 4am, because the expectations and issues are like a tornado in my mind, inflitrating what once was a blissfull sleep.

    Your sister sounds like an amazing lady! How wonderful to know tha there is someone out there who sets aside 15 minutes in their day, every day, to send you a special voice note? That is love, the greatest kind!

    Keep sharing your gratitude list, it does wonders for the soul.

    Xoxo

    1. Chev, yes – that 4am – sometimes 3am! – wake up because of the chaos in our heads. How to change that to a force for good?

  3. My dear Dave, what can I say? You are a daily inspiration to me and I absolutely love and adore you. You will get through this. Its hard and foggy and awful at times, but you are loved in the biggest way. Xxx

  4. Thankx Dave – i love how you are constantly seizing the day and give us glimpses of your journey on here – visits to the beach and gratitude lists – you know the real reason you’re depressed is because there is no weekly Tandem Blog email banter going on behind the scenes so stop living in denial… but keep on dude – you are an inspiration to many…

    love brett fish

    1. HAHAHAHA! Brett! D’y’know that thought crossed my mind today? Like, why did we give up that camaraderie? That creativity? I miss those times. I miss belonging to writers’ collective. Maybe when life is a little less hectic…

      1. Um, if you were paying attention, we didn’t. We like Ross and Rachel were ON A BREAK… and i get home in two weeks and so the next round can begin after that [thinking short four week run now that everyone is recharged again!] Never say never. Except there.

  5. This works. Started in January and am a happier person.

    However, it seems to me that you could benefit from some time casting a fly to rising trout.

    Just putting it out there.

  6. Here are the things that help me, ESPECIALLY at this time of year. Sunlight, fresh air, nature, music, and exercise. Combine all together and I can’t help feeling better – usually even HAPPY. Add friends and/or ice-cream and well all problems solved.

    Re work, prioritise and do your best, and then surrender. You can oonly do what you reasonably can and if you know you ARE working hard and doing you best then that’s ok. Just communicate and let your boss/colleagues know if you think you are not going to be able to manage something. At long as you let someone know I have found they are usually more than ok with it.

    Also and again it’s relevant to this time of year. Prioritise gettingoutside in the daylight. You can always work on at night when it is dark, but you have to get the sun while it is out and shining. While a walk or run doesn;t actuallu change your responsibiities, it gives you better perspective and calmness to deal with them better. Do it and see.

    ps I will be in Stellenbosch next Saturday afternoon. Any chance we can have a little visit on my way home in the later afternoon?

    1. Jane, everything you say is true. I know this. Why do I need reminding? And why is it that at 3am, the opposite shouts out in my head.
      Please let’s meet – I’ll Whatsapp you.

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