The Focus On You

Self-Care Is A Lifestyle

Tag: depression

 How To Recognize Burnout vs. Depression

“Ugh work is so depressing.”

“OMG I’m so burnt out on school.”

I’m sure you’ve heard these phrases before. I think most people have used the terms “burnout” and “depression” when they’re describing how tired they are. Since I cringe when diagnoses are used loosely, I want to discuss the difference between the two.

We know that depression doesn’t discriminate but burnout can have a profound effect on certain populations of people.

Who is likely to be affected by burnout?
  • Caregivers
  • Anyone with a job (seriously)
  • Helping professions (therapists, social workers, nurses, etc.)
  • Stay at home parents
  • Entrepeneurs
  • Creatives
  • First responders
  • Medical professionals
  • College students
  • Activists
Who is likely to be affected by depression?
  • Any human.

Although many of the signs of depression can mimic burnout, this ailment is directly linked to our professional or identifying roles. Anti-depressants can’t treat burnout. Depression is a serious diagnosis made by a licensed professional and can be life altering. It’s not an adjective to describe why you’re overworked or exhausted.

Many times burnout is driven by a person’s passion or obligation to someone else. Click To Tweet In young professionals, burnout is likely to occur when they walk in with 150% passion and drive, and their expectations are not met.

What are some of the signs of a person being burned out?

Tunnel vision: People who are burned out from their profession start to get narrow sighted. They may have forgotten why they are in this profession or why they are in school. They are also likely to forget what they’re grateful for. Tunnel vision causes someone to forget the compliment last week or the stellar deal they landed last month. The weight of their routine and daily stressors cause cynicism.

Overcomplaining: Unfortunately, burnout effects bleed into all areas of someone’s life. If they’re burned out at work, they’ll gripe about it at home, and vice versa. When someone starts complaining about everything, everywhere, it is usually a sign that they’re struggling somewhere in their schedule. This is harmful for helping professionals because a foul attitude affects how clients or patients are treated. As a helping professional I can’t roll my eyes or gripe out loud. I have learned to check that behavior and it’s usually a sign I need to adjust my schedule or increase my self-care.

Are You Ok?: If people you associate with start asking you this, beware. You’re definitely on the road to exhaustion. It may be wise to ask the person what differences they notice in you. If they can give helpful feedback, maybe they notice that you’re not eating, you’re cursing more, showing up late or you have snappy remarks. If you notice your “tells” then it won’t take a breakdown or one-on-one with the boss to make you snap out of your behavior.

Making More Mistakes: People who are burned out in their roles will put less effort into their usual tasks. Bosses will skip the agenda for meetings, parents will cook less meals, caregivers may neglect cleaning duties, etc. Studies have even shown that people with signs of burnout show different brain activity when doing normal tasks. Can you afford to make mistakes in your line of work because you’re not addressing your burnout?

How to deal?
  1. For caregivers in particular, find a way to delegate some responsibility or ask for respite. You need a break in your routine and even a few hours can make a difference. Find a way to change the routine with the person you care for. Watch a movie together, bring in exotic cuisine, rearrange pictures or furniture. Shake things up!

  2. If your burnout is work or school related, you could also benefit from a change of routine and scenery. Clean up the clutter in your work area, beautify your environment, add visual elements that promote peace, study in a new location, study at a different time of day, etc. The answer isn’t to quit your job or school. You have to make the time you spend manageable and fit it to your needs. And please assess whether you have vacation or sick time that is unused. I have been overwhelmed/burned out by my counseling schedule and had to plead to a former employer for an office day to catch up on paperwork. It may sound crazy but I actually looked forward to a day alone in my office, with some music and a schedule that allowed me to kill my stack of paperwork.

  3. Readjust your goals or projects. Maybe your burnout is due to poor boundaries. Are you taking on too much just to please someone? Did you take on a full course load at school just to prove to your family that you could handle it? For the sake of your mental health, you should reassess how much you’re willing to take on. Don’t martyr yourself when no one is going to notice or be supportive of your struggle.

Seriously, routines can kill us. Exhaustion and stress can lead us to the emergency room. No one sees what we go through except us. This means that no one knows what we need but us. Click To Tweet Unfortunately, it took being diagnosed with fibromyalgia to slow me down. And now I have no choice but to ask for help and to honor what my body needs. No one can heal me but me. And everyone deserves a break.

“Without self-correction we cannot thrive.”

 

 

 

The Connection Between Minority Mental Health And Belonging

As a Mexican-American, I naturally gravitate towards wellness issues that focus on people of color. Inclusivity is becoming more than just a buzzword, and honestly, it’s nice to finally be invited to the party.

In lieu of spouting off statistics about the effects of depression and anxiety on people of color, I want to explore a problem with mental health that goes unnoticed.

Belonging.

Being seen.

Although there are layers of barriers that people of color face in relation to mental illness (inadequate healthcare coverage, citizenship, poverty, taboo subject in your home), having a feeling of being unwanted or unseen can be damaging to one’s core.

You see belonging relates to fairness.

Fairness is what our kids gripe about in their classrooms. Fairness is missing in our board rooms, where the majority of upper management are Caucasian males. Abused women and mothers want fairness in courtrooms for restraining orders and custody agreements. (Don’t ask me how many times I have seen the court give the kids to an abusive father because he earns more money).

When you’re treated unfairly and go “unseen” you develop a sense that you don’t belong. For minorities, every incidence of being passed over for a job, harassed by cops, having nasty glares from sales associates or pre-judgments about your intelligence builds layers of “I don’t belong” messages.

Imagine adding on years of these messages with a newly diagnosed mental illness.

For anyone with mental illness you may wonder, who will believe me? Who will dismiss your illness and claim you have to “suck it up?” How do you talk about anxiety and depression with elder family members who survived a dangerous migration, escaping a war torn country or extreme poverty?

Even when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I wondered how I would be judged? How can I complain about being tired when I have friends who are running non-stop with kids, career, mortgages and large families? And how do I describe fibromyalgia as more than being “tired?”

And as popular culture focuses again on the mindset behind suicidal ideations, many suicide survivors would admit that their thoughts cannot be trusted with loved ones. You can have the greatest family in the world but suicide is not a topic you can bring up comfortably without people shoving questions and doctors down your throat. So if you feel suicidal, where can you feel like you belong?

Luckily, social media is providing groups and websites chock full of resources, hotlines and chats that are opening up discussions about all these sensitive topics.

My wish? In this expansive web of social connectivity, I want people struggling with painful symptoms to find a safe spot where they know they belong, and will be accepted.

And my continued passion with this blog and future projects, is to open up the door for people of color to have these conversations and begin the healing process.

Resources:

Talkspace – Online Therapy

Buddy Project: Project that uplifts young people with mental illness and pairs them with supportive friends. They frequently share Twitter threads full of resources (playlists, affirmations, etc).

The Focus On You podcast: Yes, I have a podcast now! I dig deeper into the topics I write about on this blog! I’m on Anchor, iTunes and Google Play!

Affirm podcast:  Podcast for women of color created by a mental health therapist.

To Write Love On Her Arms: Non-profit devoted to finding help for people dealing with suicide, self-harm and depression.

Tessera Collective: Online community and empowerment for girls and women of color.

PsychCentral: Mental health social network overseen by mental health professionals. Fabulous resource for ALL topics related to psychology.

Psychology Today: Online directory of licensed family, marriage, mental health, addictions and trauma therapists. Plug in your zip code or city and find a therapist tailored to your needs.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Trevor Project Crisis Line (LGBTQ): 1-866-488-7386

 

 

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