I'm going to try to keep this post as short as possible. I'm sorry if this has been discussed before.
How can you tell the difference between being burnt out and needing a break from your job/riding/whatever versus being depressed?
Background history: I wouldn't say I was "depressed" more so than the average teenager but I certainly had some drastic ups and downs. I feel that's typical? I went to college, graduated, took a job being the barn manager/instructor at a really nice, large (50+ horses, plus a mini donkey, a cow, and the barn cats) h/j facility. Really liked my job and the area I had moved to... minus my boss. She paid terribly (even for a barn job) and treated me poorly. I got yelled at a lot sometimes because I did in fact mess up (which I never minded. If I do something wrong, I'll own up to it) or sometimes just "because." I got accused of breaking things I hadn't touched, stealing stuff, etc. She apologized but continued to do it even after I spoke to her several times that I didn't appreciate being treated this way. I did learn a lot and loved the area so I stuck around for about 2 years. Eventually got tired of it, my boss wouldn't give me a raise even though I was barely covering my bills with my pay, working 80+ hour weeks every single week (salary pay), got NO time off, my hair was actually falling out, I never wanted to ride my own horse let alone other horses, I knew I was burning out. I was very, very stressed and very burnt out.
Quit the job and got a job back in my home town working at a breeding farm. Been there for almost two years now. It's a nice job, pays great for a barn job, I live at home with less bills to worry about, and I work an actual 50 hour week. When it's 5:00 pm, I leave no matter what. I get an hour lunch break. It's an awesome job for still working in a barn. But I'm still miserable. I'm just so unmotivated. Some days I just want to lay in bed. All. Day. Long. This, of course, makes me feel even worse. I feel like I can't focus AT ALL, like my brain has stopped working which pisses me off to no end because I've always had a sharp mind which is important to me in a barn. I recently took a break from riding for a few months because my horse was laid up and this helped with my riding slump. I usually WANT to ride again but I still drag myself sometimes. I don't know what else to do. I feel guilty super easily, especially if I don't go see my horse every day.
Is it just me still being burnt out from my previous job or is it something more? Mind you, I've gotten a lot less stressed and happier since when I quit my previous job but it's still there. How long does it take for being burnt out to go away?
(In case it matters, I stopped taking birth control about 4 months ago and that has helped a little but not a lot. I have a long history of BC making me moody (on it due to severe cramps) and have tried at least 7 different brands/kinds over the years.)
Feeling excessive guilt, fatigue, and lack of motivation are classic depression symptoms. Even if you are just "burnt out," it might be helpful for you to talk to some sort of counselor to work out your feelings about your prior job. Good luck to you.
A lot of things can make us feel lousy, and yes, imbalance of chemicals in the brain can be one of them.
Therapy and/or some medicine might be the way to go. But don't hesitate another minute, call the doctor and make that appointment. Life is too short to feel miserable!
I know counselors, the kind your family Dr sends you to and insurance will pay for and they do an awesome job.
Try one of those to sort what any mental health problems may be lurking there.
Once you know if something is off and what to do if so, do try to find some other to do than your job, like volunteering one evening or three at the local library, homeless shelter, tutoring kids, or maybe learning a new language or taking your dog to dog classes, whatever.
Find something else to do for a bit and see if that won't help control the mental fog of a life filled with only routine tasks.
Sounds like you are in a rut right now, which may be adding to any other that may be going on.
Work on this thru more than one path and something may lift you up.
Life is too short to just pass the time in a fog.
Thanks guys for your support and comments. I guess I expected these answers but I'm "chicken" about calling up a doctor and TALKING to someone about it, even though I know it will probably help.
Bluey, I actually am in the process of volunteering at the local SPCA. I applied and went to orientation, just need to get put into the schedule. I'm hoping this will help vary my life up a little. It's just hard sometimes to get out there and DO other things. I want to sleep and relax on my one day off a week!
Oh man, you HAVE to bite the bullet and speak to your doctor:
last year I was so exhausted, void of any energy. I did think I was depressed, though I was not feeling sad. Just absolutely tired.
Started actually before Christmas...then last fall I finally got tired of feeling tired, and dragged my butt to the doctor...
Oh my, I could have saved myself a lot of suffering, had I only gone sooner.
A diagnosis of Mono, combined with D deficiency....
Don't delay! Seriously! Bring some tissues if you must. But go. Now!
There is no good reason to feel like that all the time when we have so many tools to help make it better! I'm not just talking about drugs btw! There are a lot of great tools you can learn in counseling that help you identify your feelings, handle situations, etc in a healthier way.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
I agree about talking to your doc. One thing they should do is check your thyroid levels, as I have had several clients referred to me, think they are depressed (and feel bad about being depressed) only to discover their thyroid functioning was off. If those are all normal and there doesn't seem to be anything else physically (particuarly as this seems to be new, the fatigue, lack of interest in things that generally give you pleasure), sure, see if your doc knows someone, look online to see who in your area knows something about depression. They will likely tell you that even mild depression has three major components-a physiological aspect (which is why some antidepressants can be helpful), a behavioral aspect (people tend to isolate, not get as much social support, stop doing things they like, stop MOVING, basically) and a cognitive aspect (thoughts tend to be pessimistic, take a negative view of the future, others, and so forth). Therapy can be extremely helpful with someone who really knows about mood disorders, is warm and caring and whom you like!!
I second, third, fourth, whatever everything that was said above: SEE YOUR DOCTOR.
A combination of counseling and medication can do wonders. Or maybe just one of those, it all depends on the person and what you and your doctor decide on ... basically, what works best for YOU. It definitely sounds like depression could be a possibility, but you and your doctor are the ones to make that determination. Depression often feels like being "burnt out" - no matter what the activity. It sounds like you have a great logical handle on things as well, which can make things even harder: for example, I know I'm in a good situation, so why am I not happier? Talk this over with a professional who can help you sort it all out. Believe me, it can make a world of difference.
At the same time, it helps to seek out those who understand (COTH is great ...) as well as do what you can to find something, anything, that makes you happy. It could be trail riding when you usually train H/J(or whatever discipline) every day. Spending your free time with a great book or movie. Give your favorite horse, even that retired schoolmaster, an extra long pampering session. Something little, but out of your daily routine to help you find a moment of peace in the day. Just some suggestions, little things that have helped on particularly rough days here.
I can tell you first that you are not alone in this. I've experienced the same. My slow burning out/and depression started when I lost my horse. I stopped riding a while, was really depressed thought riding would make me happy. Rode for a little bit, had a lot of set backs (riding bad horses, confidence crushed). I got my own mare who I really enjoyed but over two years later we just weren't clicking (I think mostly because I was depressed and I didn't like anything including her at times). I worked in a barn for most of the time I had her which made it worse. I loved my job but at the end of the day I got my horses fed and I was horsed out for the day. I just wanted to go home shower and sleep, not ride. I felt guilty for not riding which made me more depressed...it's horrible cycle that your starting.
For me I made the decision to let my riding horse go, my older gelding is retired and turned out. I haven't ridden in about 6 weeks, but my brain is still saying "Go ride, you neglect your horse you need to ride more often." And you know what...I don't want to go ride, I feel like I have to ride because that's all I've known for the last 15 years -go to barn -ride horse- try to ride more horses. And now that I don't have that pressure of I have to go ride I've been happier. I'm not worried about money so much, I don't feel guilty for not getting to the barn. I love horses, but I can't let that be a part of my life right now. It was making me more depressed. When riding/horses start to become something you feel like you ought to/have to do you start to resent things.
I know this was long. But I understand where you are. If you ever need someone to talk feel free to pm me. Depression can be a process and it's full of a lot of ups and downs. Medication can help but mostly its finding the triggers and learning to either deal with them or changing your life so you don't encounter them.
I'd say go talk to a therapist and let them decide. The Internet is a good resource, but it does not replace a trained mental health professional.
If it were me, I'd start first with my primary doctor to rule out obvious physical causes. Lack of energy & mental fuzziness could be anything from thyroid levels to fibro myalgia to sleep apnea to any number of things. Anemia (low iron or b12) can also make a person feel so wiped out for seemingly no reason. If you're given a clean bill of health, then get a referral to a mental health professional for an evaluation.
Assuming you're not ill, there are things you can do that may help your brain chemistry. Exercise: even just a long walk a few times a week can help. Make yourself do it, even if you're not feeling like it. Eat better: I know it's tempting to eat the comfort foods when you feel yucky but be aware what you eat can make you feel worse. How are you sleeping? Do you feel fully rested after a full night's sleep? Exercise can help with sleep patterns. Limiting caffeine intake can help. Doing relaxation exercises may help. Turning off mentally stimulating activities by a certain time of night (no more midnight Facebook) may also help your brain settle.
A mental health professional can give you a bunch of options if it turns out you're suffering from Depression. Drugs are a popular option, and my only advice is to read up on the drug & ask questions if you're unsure about it. Cognitive therapy may help train your mind to get out of bad thought habits. Pairing up medication with regular follow-up visits is often a better idea than just drugs by itself.
In the meantime, don't beat yourself up over not seeing your horse every day. The time with your horse should be a fun time, not a burdensome chore. Maybe decide you won't ride for the next few months and then use the time to commit to some other unrelated interest/hobby/goal. When you do come back to riding, do it because you truly want to & you feel ready to come back.
If you are still having cramp issues take calcium - every day and more starting a few days before you are due. I prefer the caramel calcium chews. Really helped reduce the pain level of my cramps.
Sorry I can't help with the rest other than say - try getting out with friends and doing non-horsey things like going to the movies, roller skating, etc... - sounds almost like riding has become a chore so I'd stop riding for a bit BUT find another physical activity to help you (physical activity helps reduce stress and makes you happier).
Thanks guys. I appreciate the on going support, especially hearing that I'm not the only one. I think I'm going to call the doctor tomorrow to rule out any physical problems and go from there. I'm unsure about drugs so I'd definitely need to look into those before taking them and would want them to be in combination with something else, like therapy. They just worry me.
Philosoraptor - fantastic name by the way. I do not drink caffeine ever in any form. Grew up not drinking soda and coffee is gross to me. I do not sleep well (mostly because I have bad dreams) and wake up often. I try to get off facebook and my cell phone at a semi reasonable time. I do make an effort to eat better and exercise but sometimes it's just... I don't have the fight in me and eating poorly/taking a nap sounds better.
Valentina - My cramps are ridiculous. I take a multi vitamin every day as well as a calcium/vit d pill. I try to take a fish oil pill as well because I've heard that helps with cramps but honestly the only thing I've found that works 100% is birth control. And those all make me varying kinds of moody, depending on brand.
ABT - definitely sounds like the doctor could give you at least a step in the right direction. Everything you're writing sounds VERY familiar. Feel free to PM at any time (I try to check this at least every other day). The doctor knows the best route and it could be medicine, it could be talk therapy, it could be a combination of both. Don't rule any of it out. Mention all of your concerns to your doctor because they can give you the latest research on different therapies and meds (or at least direct you on where to learn more).
You have a lot of support here, whenever you need it!
Get your Vitamin D levels checked. I spend hours a day in the sun, eat the "right" foods and I was super low on my Vitamin D level. Once I started taking the Vitamin D supplement, energy increased, sinus infections went away, and I feel much better.
The Ear Nose Throat MD tested the Vitamin D levels trying to figure out why I kept getting sinus infections. My primary doctor somewhat dismissed that the low level had anything to do with lethargy, feeling like crap, no energy, not wanting to do anything, and the persistent infections. I will take the fact that I immediately felt better as proof that it was the Vitamin D.