I don’t want to make any excuses for not being able to post here when I said I would. But what I will do instead is to tell you the truth.
I’ve been feeling OVERWHELMED… and BURNT OUT as of late… I was aware of this state I was in but I didn’t want to further magnify it by telling people how I just found myself crying out of the blue, how I suddenly just felt so depressed and ungrateful, how I’ve thought of leaving Mahal and Tuz… I didn’t mention anything about it on social media or as it was happening. But now that THAT PHASE is over, now that I think I have overcome those negative thoughts and feelings for the most part, perhaps it would be helpful for others in the same boat to let them know that they’re not alone and that no matter how bad those feelings can get, there is always a way (or ways) to overcome it and come out better than ever.
You might ask what was I feeling bad or burnt out about? Well… EVERYTHING — motherhood, our farm life, my online work and everything in between. And it didn’t help that I liked looking at the Instagram account of Love Marie Ongpauco Escudero (Heart Evangelista), a person I admire so much because aside from seeing a big part of my inner self in her, her being an Aquarian, I can just relate to her soul, her artistic and kikay side and her passions and aspirations. I used to dream to be like her (maybe not in that level because I am not THAT wealthy — I can only wish), but yeah, a big part of me wanted to pursue the things she is pursuing now — arts, travels, good deeds, fashion, a good comfortable life with someone you love.
And here I am, quite forgetting who I really am. I’m no longer acting (I used to do bit parts on TV before), I’m no longer writing as often as I’d like to (I always say that I will blog more often but who am I kidding, my energy is depleted with Tuz, our biz, our farm life and home life and there’s no more time nor energy left for my creative side except sleep… and sometimes I don’t even get to sleep at all), I’m no longer making soaps and beaded accessories and other crafts, I’m no longer partying with friends, I’m no longer traveling on a whim, I’m no longer singing and dancing and drawing and playing with music, I’m no longer taking the time to make myself feel pretty again.
Just writing about it now is sad and exhausting. It’s like going back into that state because all emotions attached to that experience are surfacing once again. (Take a deep breath, Jen!)
It’s like I’ve been feeling lost the past 2 weeks (or it could just be my hormones… am I pregnant? I haven’t checked yet. Can’t even remember the last time I had my period…) because I’ve just been drowning in tasks I had and needed to do that I couldn’t anymore give myself what I want.
- I want to write and blog.
- I want to get my nails done.
- I want to have my hair cut, colored and, rebonded.
- I want to go shopping for clothes, shoes, and accessories.
- I want to relax.
- I want to have a quiet moment to just be me, read a book or watch a movie.
- I want to have a girls’ night out
- I want to feel pretty again.
- I want to travel and stay in a nice hotel.
- I want, I want, I want!!!
And when I am burnt out, I don’t anymore have the energy to do what I want. I go on survival mode and do everything that has to be done instead so at least I can still be a good mom, a good partner, a good worker… a productive and helpful human being kahit papaano.
So despite me drowning in fatigue and emotional exhaustion, I tried to be positive about it. I:
- took care of Tuz
- helped Mahal with our farm biz
- kept our two homes (farmhouse and city pad) organized and clean.
- finished all my tasks for my clients
We don’t have any helpers right now since they’ve been on leave, and can’t find new good ones either which really baffles me… I mean so many Flipinos are complaining of not having enough available jobs in the country that they are very much willing to risk their lives and risk being away from their families by working abroad. And here we are in the boondocks trying to provide jobs to people who are in need (or we thought they needed jobs). We offer them good enough pay and benefits but they still can come up with excuses not to work.
Samantalang, me, personally, I haven’t said no to a client who wants to hire me or give me more jobs. Because more tasks mean more money, more savings, more resources to live the life we dream of living. I am having a hard time understanding people who are given the opportunity to work but do not want to work. It’s really quite puzzling to me. Maybe I am just a workaholic and they just value rest and relaxation more. I dunno.
So anyway, that’s my situation. Try to put yourself in my shoes and imagine doing everything with little or no help at all. How does it feel?
Yep, exhausting. How I wish I have my own glam team, my own farm team, my own VA team! Sa ngayon, hanggang wish na lang muna coz even if I can afford it, I don’t know where I can find these talented, trustworthy, and hardworking people. God help us!
Then I do everything all over again the next day, and the next day, and so on and so forth… until I somehow was able to muster some hidden power within me (by the grace of God), to fill myself up, to love myself a little bit more every day, get a better perspective on things so I can feel like my happy, blessed self again.
Considering that I am writing again now, you can say that I’ve somehow risen from my negative mental state. I am recovering. It helps that it’s already September which means Christmas (my 2nd most favorite time of the year next to Halloween) is just around the corner and will be for the next 4 months. Yep, Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated for almost half a year — September to January — lol!
In case you’ve been feeling the blues for whatever reason and you feel like your mental state is in peril, perhaps the things I did to help cheer myself up can help you as well. Or maybe you have better strategies, please do share.
1. Exercise and increase your physical activity.
It’s a good thing that I help out around the farm. And since our caretakers are on maternal and paternal leave and haven’t checked in with us or even texted us for almost a month now, I was really forced to do manual labor around the farm, watering plants, weeding, cutting, pruning, fetching water, cleaning, etc. aside from running after Tuz all day long. The increased heart rate is good for my health and the increased flow of endorphins in my system helped bring about good feelings.
2. Decrease sugar intake and eat raw vegetables that help brighten moods.
It’s a good thing that we now have more fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs at the farm. We recently harvested a ton of Beans, 2 varieties of Kale (Toscana and Model T), Arugula, Pechay, Lettuce (Iceberg, Lollo Rosso, and Romaine), Eggplant, Cucumber plus fresh fruits in season like Starfruit, Pomelo and Jackfruit. Our family of herbs is also increasing and we either eat them raw or drink them as a tea every day like Basil, Mint, Tarragon, Stevia, Celery, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Ashitaba, Lavender, Sage, Dill, Chili, Bell pepper.
With all the nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals these plants have, you not only get healthy physically when you eat them but mentally as well. So if you can buy them at your local supermarket, do so and make them a part of your everyday meals. Best if they’re organic. Organic veggies taste a lot more delicious than chemically-sprayed ones. You will definitely feel a whole lot better especially when you cut sugar and junk food from your diet.
3. Look at the eyes of your child
When Tuz is all good and behaved and doing everything according to our teachings, I look at him very intently and these overwhelming feelings of love envelope me. I feel so at peace and happy. Of course, it’s a different story altogether when he’s being terrible and bratty. But like what Mahal keeps telling me, I shouldn’t take Tuz so seriously. Being terrible and bratty is part of his development and it just means he’s growing healthily. Nevertheless, Tuz helps keep me centered and focused on my duties. He makes me realize that my life is different now because I’m no longer just thinking of me. It’s no longer about me. I’m thinking of him now and our family. He makes everything clearer to me.
4. Talk to your better half about it. Talk to trusted friends.
Mahal is my best friend. So even if the lover part of me is sometimes not okay about us, the best friend I have in him helps sees us through the rough and tough times. Add to that the fact that I have very few trusted friends left, so it’s really Mahal I turn to and share my insecurities with when the going gets really tough for me. And he has never failed to give me his all, his 200% even, even when he has nothing left to give. And for that, I am very, very grateful and makes me love him deeper and deeper, more and more.
Then I have few, good, trusted friends left who are there when I need them, who listen without judgment, who give good and sound pieces of advice. I am thankful for them too. They are some of the wealth I have left in this world.
5. Reward yourself with a little shopping spree
I’ve been feeling poor lately even if I have relatively more money in the bank now than before. And this is because, one, I never get to shop anymore and two, we live in an old creaky farmhouse with no modern amenities and we have been suffering from insect bites we can’t seem to control. Tuz and I have been looking like the pulubis we see in the streets because of the bad skin we’re having. And this is aggravating my negative mental health and levels of anxiety. We can’t any more wear shorts or sleeveless and those invisible insects are really freaking me out!
Living in the mountains has naturally gravitated us to living a simple life with no luxury and I kinda miss shopping for nice things just because I want to. I also want a nice, modern tiny farmhouse built that is insect-free but at the same time, I don’t want to spend my hard-earned money anymore especially on things that are redundant. But at the same time, I don’t want to keep depriving myself. Why work so hard if I can’t even enjoy my own money, right?
So I struck a balance between the two…
- I decided to limit my and Tuz’s time at the farm when my emotions can handle it which means be on a long distance relationship with Mahal from time to time (Tuz and I will stay in our modern tiny pad in the city when I don’t feel like going to the farm while Mahal works at the farm several days a week, but again, only if I have enough courage to miss him).
- I finally shopped but only for stuff that we need and allowed myself a few things that make me feel good about myself:
- I bought new clothes and shoes for Tuz because all his clothes are getting small, torn and really really muddy from playing in the mountains, that even washing them in bleach can’t clean them anymore;
- I bought new shoes for Mahal as well because all his pairs of shoes are worn out and some even have holes in them!
- I bought myself a few pieces of new clothes as well which I am reserving for our next trip, hopefully very soon. Most of my clothes are a decade old and even older and the last time I bought new clothes was last February for my birthday. I don’t even have new bikinis anymore. I have a ton from a long time ago which go on rotation whenever we’d go to the beach. I’d probably maxed out the mixing and matching of my clothes all these years that if you’re an avid reader of mine, you’ll notice that the clothes I wore for my SexyNomad blog before are still the same pieces of clothes I wear up to this day. Thank God they’re durable despite being affordable (most of them are clothes I used to sell online from trusted brands). So I think, after 6 months of no shopping, I deserve a few new pieces this time.
- I bought a few tubes of Dermatix (which is P700+ per tube!) to help heal the scars from all those insect bites Tuz and I suffered from (my poor baby); plus I bought several bottles of Off Lotion to ward off insect bites. I am also contacting local exterminators who use organic pest control materials to help kill those fleas and other insects we have at the farmhouse. Right now, no one yet is saying yes because we live very far from the city. 😦 So, Mahal made his own insect repellant which he sprayed the other day around the farmhouse and so far, so good. I haven’t had a single bite. Tuz, on the other hand, can’t be stopped from playing in the farm fields and the grass that he has once again been scratching his skin because of these bites. Haynaku!!! I need a more powerful insect repellant lotion for him!
- I’ve been wanting a new watch for a long time now because some of my old watches have gone missing — Nike Pesto and Baby G-Shock (I’ve just found my Baby G-Shock a while ago here at the farm), are broken (Invicta and Haurex), looks old, faded and worn out (Liz Claiborne) and has been given away (Anne Klein). I’ve been looking at G-Shock watches coz they’re not that expensive but very durable. But for some reason, I felt love at first sight with a gold Seiko 5 watch. It’s not that expensive but I know it’s very, very durable that it can practically last forever. And because I’m no longer that young, I think the color gold will look a lot better on my wrist than a Baby G. It will also go nice with all my old gold and pearl jewelry.
So you can say that I did myself some shopping therapy and it worked! I feel more balanced and at peace. Seriously! Shopping can really make you feel good about yourself especially when you know you have spent the right amount of money for it and didn’t go overboard, or worse, knee-deep in debt.
6. Count your blessings, material or otherwise and take an inventory of the things you have no matter how few.
I have this mantra in my head that goes like: “Thank you, God, for Tuz, for Hanz, for our life together. Thank you for everything we have and more.” Even when I don’t feel thankful, I say these words in my head and slowly, the bad feelings dissipate and I am just left with feelings of abundance and gratefulness. And when I feel more abundant, I am easily reminded of things I already have and all the more I count my blessings and say my prayer of thanks.
About counting my material blessings, I am able to do that when I do my spring cleaning or organizing. So, I organized my small jewelry collection. They’re a bunch of silver, gold and pearl sets that I’ve acquired since I first got a job 19 years ago. They needed some cleaning so I took them all out of my jewelry shelf, cleaned them all and reorganized them. I will probably need new jewelry boxes for each set because some of the storage containers I’ve put them in are already broken. Or maybe I’ll buy that big wooden jewelry box I saw in SM before. Or something like LoveMarie’s jewelry drawer with glass but on a smaller scale since I don’t have that much jewelry. I’ll see if I’m willing to shell out money for that. For now, I’ve put them in same old boxes and containers and some are just in microwable containers (kuripot talaga!) But soon, I’ll buy a nice jewelry storage box when I get paid by my new client.
Speaking of cleaning, I also cleaned all our shoes! Most of my shoes, I left in Manila because of lack of space in the car when we were moving here in Mindanao. What I brought with me are just my 5 old pairs of Crocs, some Ipanema and Havaianas slip-ons, one pair of Nike sneakers, and a few unbranded but sturdy footwear I bought at various tiangges before. I brought no stilettos nor heels nor boots nor any of those wedges and pointy shoes with me. And the ones I brought here were just lying outside our tiny pad on a shoe rack gathering dust and becoming hidden places for mosquitoes so finally, after almost a year, I brought them all inside our pad, cleaned them including the shoe rack, and organized them here inside our home. This way, I won’t feel like I have no shoes to wear. I also have 3 pairs of nice funky shoes from People are People I bought last March as a remembrance of my pay from another client I had before. They still look new until now since I rarely wear them these days except when we run errands haha.
I also organized all the old clothes I brought here with me (most are still back in Manila). This way, I won’t have a hard time mixing and matching my old ones with new ones. It also makes me feel not so deprived anymore coz looking at all of them makes me think that I still have nice clothes to wear kahit papaano.
Then I counted other items of convenience in our life right now. Like despite having no appliances in the farmhouse, we have appliances in our tiny pad — a 37” Sony LED TV, Panasonic Air Conditioning, Condura Fridge, Whirlpool 7.8Kg Washing Machine, Electrolux Digital Griller/Microwave, an Osterizer blender, a working stove, a rice cooker, a coffee maker, and a hot and cold water dispenser. If only we live in a bigger pad and the landlady will allow it, I would love to have an oven here and install a hot shower in the bathroom too. But for now, we’re okay. We’re healthy. We have a roof over our heads. We eat 3x a day and sometimes even more. We are able to get what we need and from time to time, even what we want. We’re okay. Plus we only have 2 more years to pay for our Chevy Trailblazer and my house in Alabang is earning income from rentals too. We have a huge farm with a huge potential where we are currently getting most of our food supplies and earning extra income from. We have our stocks slowly increasing. We’re okay. We’re fine.
Taking all these things into consideration, doing #1 up to #6, gave me a better perspective on my life and all its future possibilities. It helped dissipate my overwhelming feelings of relative poverty and it has helped improve my mental state. It made me look at my glass half full again instead of half empty.
How about you? How do you cope and rise above your negative mental state? Do share your experiences in the comments section.
Til my next post!