How to Deal with Burnout

How to deal with burnout, depression and mental health

Generally, I have a very blessed and wonderful life, but I’ve always been quite open about that fact that I suffer from depression. These ‘down days’ are always impossible to pre-empt, sometimes not appearing for weeks or even months at a time, but over the years I’ve been able to develop coping mechanisms in order to maintain some sort of functionality when a depressive episode strikes. 

This year, however, the down days were increasingly more extreme and lasted for much longer periods of time. I was dealing with a number of negative and stressful situations in both my personal and professional life over a number of months and was struggling with feelings of pressure and de-motivation, but I began to find myself unable to complete even the most menial of tasks. I didn’t particularly want to go outside, my appetite increased and I began comfort eating excessively, I felt physically and mentally tired all the time but couldn’t sleep, I felt physically unwell, eventually developing laryngitis which took several weeks to recover from, I couldn’t concentrate to the point where I even forgot what I was saying mid-sentence. I even started to lose interest in the creative things that made me happy, becoming disillusioned with my own blog and the community. For me, feeling low was part of life that I had learned to accept and work with when I needed to, but when the bad days turned into bad weeks I knew that there was something wrong.  Continue reading

Just. Shut. Up.

Three years ago, The Bloke and I were renting a really nice terraced house. It was smaller than the one we’re in now, but it was cosy, with neutral decor and a nice landlord. Unfortunately, the walls were so thin that it was possible to hear someone sneeze next door. The first neighbour we had was a nasty woman, who spent her time screaming at her toddler, who cried all the time. After one particularly bad afternoon during the summer holidays, when I had spent the majority of the day listening to her constant yelling, I screamed at her to shut up through the wall. The shouting stopped immediately, and within the next week she moved out without telling the landlord – she just packed up and left. I don’t think my yelling at her would have been enough to cause that reaction, but I was torn by worry for the child and relief that I didn’t have to hear her voice any more. That was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that – I’d always been lucky to have nice neighbours and while there was occasionally some noise it certainly never bothered me before. Continue reading

Rise and Fall

At the minute, most days are what I would describe as being ‘inoffensive’ – the hours generally pass without euphoria or incident, and I generally go about my business with a sense of contentment. Sometimes I experience enormous high moments, and on rare occasions, absolutely crashing lows.

Today was such a day. In direct contrast to the beauty of yesterday, my Tuesday was filled with constant lateness, rudeness, apathy, lethargy and tantrums.

All. Bloody. Day.

I can be extremely short-tempered in my personal life, but I’m surprised by the levels of patience I’ve developed over the years when I’m in professional mode and it takes an awful lot for me to lose my temper. However, I had to be conscious of taking deep breaths, communicating in a low, calm voice and frequently reminding myself that today was just ‘one of those days,’ and that it would be over soon.

It’s amazing how quickly the old feelings return during moments of weakness. I haven’t felt truly anxious or panicky in a long time, but this afternoon I returned home with a stress-induced headache, a tight chest, nausea and knots in my stomach.

As always, the person I consult in times of anger (or, for that matter, happiness, sadness and anything else on the emotional spectrum) is mum. The fountain of all knowledge, she knows exactly what to say to put things into perspective, and combined with enjoying a cheeky cigarette (I know, I know) and listening to the ultimate 80’s stadium rock playlist while lying in a hot bubble bath, I now feel a little more on-track than I did.

I also discovered something awesome happens when you sing Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious to Siri… It didn’t quite understand my accent (and yes, I sang all the right words before you question it)…


I’m easily amused…

And while today has sucked monkey balls, I know that tomorrow is a new day and I’m privileged to be living it… And it will be better…

Annual Bloggers Bash: Anxiety Girl Strikes Again!


As this post appears, I will be in London, hopefully meeting a whole bunch of lovely UK bloggers for the Annual Bloggers Bash. I’ve scheduled it to publish during our meeting time so none of them can read it until afterwards. I will have undoubtedly spent a long time getting ready, I will be tired from exploring the city and being a tourist with The Bloke yesterday, and I will be feeling slightly bloated as I will have eaten my way through the Premier Inn buffet breakfast in an effort to calm my nerves…  Continue reading


imageI’m feeling really anxious today, but can’t put my finger on the reason why. I’ve been awake since 5.00am, and since then I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I should be doing something. I’ve been for a run, I’ve continued in yesterday’s house blitz and I’ve bought something nice for dinner later. However, it hasn’t helped.

It’s been an odd time – the students now know that I’m going, I’ve taught my last ever lesson as a classroom teacher, my final coursework folder is almost finished, my data is complete and from tomorrow I have just three days of activities with my form left in the academic year. Continue reading

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back


I saw this on Facebook this morning – perfect.

I went to the pub yesterday after work to meet my friend. It has been a challenging time for her – after ending her relationship of eleven years she has had to move house and adjust to living on her own for the first time since she moved to Birmingham in 2001. Understandably, she’s been through the whole spectrum of emotions, but yesterday I noticed that there was a slight change in her – it was the first time that she hadn’t mentioned her ex and she seemed much more settled. Just before we parted ways to go home, I recalled a conversation that we had just after the break-up, where she said that she wished she could use a time machine to skip ahead by six months just so she wouldn’t have to go through the process of changing her life. Six months later, she’s at the point where she wanted to be – she’s established in her new home, she’s enjoying her own company and she has reached a point where she doesn’t think about her ex every day. I’m proud of her – she’s been so strong and I’m glad everything is beginning to work out. She deserves it.

I can totally relate to her sentiments all those months ago. I want a time machine too.

I have just six weeks left until I leave my job. I have a plan for how I want my new life to be, but it seems that every time I take a step forward something intervenes and pushes me three steps backwards. While I often live life by the proverbial seat of my pants, being far too disorganised to plan effectively in the way that others appear to do, I have had to ensure that my decision to quit a permanent, full-time post will not have a financially devastating impact on the life that The Bloke and I live. I’ve saved every penny I can and have been living off as little as possible, I booked meetings with important people who are offering me exciting employment opportunities and I finally started to see a small light at the end of the tunnel. The Bloke and I have even started saving up for our first holiday in five years. Normally, because of my contracted hours, we have always had to plan any trips during the school holidays as I am not allowed time off during term-time, but we realised that we wouldn’t have the same restriction this year. We decided that we were going to get a package deal to somewhere in Europe in September – it’s much cheaper and there would be no children around as they would be at school, and we found an offer for the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia (watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to see just how stunning it is).


Daisy, The Dream Killer

However, this week has been a continuous battle. The meetings that were booked weeks ago were cancelled, my workload has been utterly ridiculous due to the fact that it is exam season, all of the coursework has to be finished and we have two major performances (including a musical theatre production) that happen within a week of each other. To add the icing on the cake, my cat, Daisy (who will now be referred to as ‘Daisy, The Dream Killer’) needed emergency dental surgery, taking a portion of my savings – essentially the money we had put away for the holiday, so now we have to start again. Consequently, the anxiety, panic and insomnia has returned and I went into what I consider to be ‘survival mode,’ getting through each day an hour at a time instead of looking at the big picture. I’ve breathed a sigh of relief as I’ve walked through the front door to my home every evening, and congratulated myself for making it through the day. My saving grace is normally the blog, but there has been no time to even look at it aside from a quick post at the beginning of the week, never mind contribute a post or reply to comments, and worse still, I’ve been that stressed out that I didn’t even notice. It was only when I received a few messages from some lovely bloggy friends that I realised just how much I needed to catch up on (thanks, by the way).

I want it to be over. It’s only six weeks, but it seems like an absolute lifetime away.

My friend provided the biggest inspiration yesterday. It’s still going to be a tough road ahead, but she’s proof that every small victory is one step closer to winning that war. Daisy has made a swift recovery and has now resumed her daily routine of sleeping, eating and sleeping some more. I still have several pay checks yet to contribute towards my savings. I will re-schedule the meetings. The next few weeks will be stressful, but it is just weeks – it’s isn’t as if I have to wait months, or years for my new life.

And when I’m sitting on a beautiful beach in September, I know the fight will be worth it.

What about you guys? How has your week been?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and you can also find me on my Facebook page and Pinterest

Frustrations With The Black Dog – Freewriting


I had plans for this week for the blog. Having a few extra days to myself meant that I have had much more time to do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do over the last few weeks. However, while the urge to write has been as strong as ever, every time I have sat down to create something, my mind has gone blank. I’ve experienced bloggers block on numerous occasions, but never as bad as this before. I have avoided posting something just for the sake of it, like I used to do in the early days of Suzie81 Speaks, but my lack of ideas has left me feeling really frustrated. Today I have decided to sit down and just write – freewriting was something I used when studying A Level English and I find that it is an effective way of unclogging the mind.

I’ve had quite a bad bout of down days over the last week, and this hasn’t helped. I’ve tried to remain as positive as possible, but the problem with ‘The Black Dog’ is that it takes time for it to subside, and I have to take things one day at a time until things start to ease. Depression has been a feature of my life for a number of years, but it isn’t a constant in the way that it seems to be with others. I can go for months feeling absolutely fine, and then it will suddenly hit me, usually after a period of extreme stress (which is often work related) and the only way that I can deal with it is to live life one day at a time and avoid looking at the big picture until things get better.

I often refrain from writing about my mental health until I feel better, mainly due to the large number of family and friends that now read my blog, but on days like today I offer no apologies to those who are put off or offended by my thoughts. This was the reason why the blog was created in the first place – I needed a place to exorcise the inner demons that were plaguing my everyday life and blogging has proven to be the best form of therapy I’ve ever had. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health issues and I feel that it is important to discuss them when I need to.

It has been particularly bad over the last few days. I seem to have spent the last few days feeling an intense agitation – the insomnia has returned with a vengeance, I have experienced high levels of anxiety, and the slightest little thing has irritated me because I have been so tired. For example, as I write this, the man who lives on my road who frequently walks up and down shouting to himself is stood outside my house and shouting the same things over and over to himself. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, he clearly has mental health issues and needs to be treated with understanding and compassion, but in my current state of mind I’m resisting the urge to fling open my door and yell at him to shut the f*ck up. However, I know that this will only make the situation worse and it certainly won’t make me feel any better. I’ve spent the week trying to remain calm and I’ve also been conscious not to take it out on The Bloke, who has also had a week off and has been in pain due to a torn muscle in his back, but he’s noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet and, as usual, he’s been understanding and supportive.

I have also tried to be proactive – I’ve been into work on several occasions and have tidied up my classrooms and cupboards, I’ve done some washing and I’ve treated myself to some tat from the new home store that has opened up on the high street, which always makes me happy, and I’m proud of myself for not taking my usual approach and just retreating to the couch, but I’m getting a bit fed up of feeling like this.

What I need is a break – a proper break away from everything that has been bringing me down. My youngest sister and her new husband have been on their honeymoon over the last week in New York, my middle sister has been jetting off all over Europe with her job and I’ve seen all the lovely pictures that my friends have been posting on various social media accounts of their recent adventures and holidays, and while I’m delighted that they are all having a wonderful time, it has made me realise that The Bloke and I need to get away. We aren’t financially destitute by any means, but over the last few years we have been hit with large unexpected bills which have had to take priority, which we are just beginning to recover from. We try and visit London a few times a year, but the last time we went on holiday was in 2010, when I surprised him with a trip to Paris for five days. We have very different ideas of what makes a holiday – he likes to have lots of things to see and do, whereas I like to lay about by a pool in gloriously hot weather and do nothing for a while – but we’ve decided that our next destination is Washington D.C. I visited there when I was supervising a school trip in 2010, and we ended up being stranded in the city for a week longer than our planned excursion because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which grounded all flights back to the UK. The extra week gave us the opportunity to see and experience many more things than we had originally planned, and I completely fell in love with the place, but having 56 young students to take care of meant that I had to constantly be in ‘teacher mode’ and I couldn’t truly relax during the entire trip. I want to go back to experience all of the same things again without having to tell someone where the toilet is or answer random questions like ‘Miss, what’s your favourite pizza topping?’ when I am sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and contemplating Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Still, it gives me something to look forward to and I feel safe in the knowledge that these feelings will eventually subside – they always do. And when it does, I am always left feeling grateful that I have lots of people and things in my life to be thankful for…

What about you guys? What are your tips for dealing with depression?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page


Image Credit: AJ Giel


Anxiety Central

imageI don’t deal with high pressured and stressful situations. My whole body tenses up, my stomach starts to churn and as it gets worse, I panic. I stop sleeping, I start getting irritable and have an overwhelming urge to eat anything with a high carb content and covered in grease and smoke a packet of cigarettes. Stress is not my friend.

This week has been anxiety central. Important multiple deadlines at work has meant that since Monday my routine has included 15 hours of teaching and paperwork, four or five hours of sleep and, towards the end of the week, about half an hour of tears each day, including on the day that was supposed to be my day off. At one point, I was so worked up that my skin felt like it was buzzing all over my body. There was no fun, no relaxation and no chance to sit back and just breathe.

Thankfully, everything was completed by the end of today. I left work as early as I possibly could, avoiding taking my laptop with me, treated The Bloke and I to a celebratory McDonalds and even though it isn’t yet 6.00pm I have changed into my jammies and have snuggled under a duvet with him and the cats. He’s been absolutely wonderful – he always is, but I couldn’t have got through this week without him.

I’ve missed the blog so much this week. I’ve missed you guys and I’ve missed reading all your stories, poems and admiring your photographs. The interaction that I gain from this community and the process of writing things down helps me to maintain my sanity…

So, for the next few hours, I’m all yours. Tell me about your week, share with me your favourite posts, give me tips for dealing with stress, anything.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my facebook page

Stand Back – My Head May Just Explode

imageIt’s been a tough few days. I’ve had several extremely busy teaching days, and as a music teacher there are always the added extras that accompany the new academic year – curriculum plans, open evenings, meetings, re-establishing rules and expectations, instrumental lessons, deadlines, data analysis… My head is swimming. Of course, everyone is in the same situation and I’m lucky that I work in a good school, but with the added anxiety caused by circumstances in my personal life I felt that I was walking around with almost a dark haze in front of my eyes and a huge weight pushing down on me today. Luckily, my lessons were focused around sixth form today and so there was a little more opportunity to attempt to try and organise myself and the department than there would have been if I had been surrounded by the younger ones all day.

I find that, as I age, I am becoming less resilient when coping with stress. In my twenties, I tackled everything head on and seemed to fly through things that I found difficult. Now, I still get the work done, but I often face an internal struggle and almost argue with myself rather than simply just getting on with it. I’m becoming more and more stubborn. However, I recently made a commitment to myself that I would ‘suck it up’ and just do what I needed to do.

Consequently, I’ve worked really hard, even more so than usual, and I’m proud of everything that I have achieved since I went back to work, but I’m shattered. After ticking off a large amount of items from an enormous list since 7.00am I decided that I was going to leave the laptop at school at the end of the meeting this evening, and when I stepped outside I was grateful that the weather was warm and the sky was blue. The Bloke is helping at the Open Evening at his own school, so on my way home I was able to take a little bit of time just to sit and try and breathe until I had calmed down a little. It helped, and after feeding the cats I find myself sitting on the couch with a precious few hours alone. I’m going to have a long hot bath, watch some mundane television and have an early night, and hopefully at some point the throbbing in my temples and knots in my stomach will subside… It still feels that my head may explode.

How do you cope with stress and anxiety? What do you do to relax?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog


An Anxious Week

I slept for hours yesterday. I remember getting up, eating breakfast, watching a little bit of television, and then I remember waking up after about six hours of very intense dreams that involved screaming at one of my favourite students for spamming my house with flyers, trying to have a bath at my friend’s house (which was on the beach for some reason) and being constantly interrupted, and having conversations with people that I haven’t spoken to in years. I awoke just ten minutes before The Bloke returned from work, at which point he found me sitting on the couch in a daze and still wearing my jammies.

I’ve had quite a bad bout of anxiety over the last few days, resulting in a permanent feeling of butterflies in my stomach and regular nightmares, which I don’t understand as I have had what I would consider to be a lovely relaxing week. My brain can’t seem to switch off.

However, I’ve had some lovely exchanges in the bloggy world – I was interviewed by the lovely Ronovan Writes (click on the link to see our chat), I’ve had an awesome response to my WordPress Community Experiment (there is still one day left if you wish to participate), and I’ve been really pleased to see the response that my Summer Competition Week 1 Winner, Aidan J Reid, has received. I’ve got a whole new set of posts sitting in my draft folder that need a little more editing, I met my friend for lunch, spent some quality time with the cats and I’ve managed to further my addiction of Castle because The Bloke purchased Season 6 on iTunes.

Time seems to be passing far too quickly. I spent the last few weeks of term wishing for the clock to tick away, and now I’m finding that my wish was granted. Perhaps it’s because I’m enjoying my days…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog