Stress is a concept that for most of my life has been pretty alien.
While my married life was potted with problems, job insecurity, trying to keep family fed etc. it was generally stuff I simply just shrugged and got on with. I couldn’t control it, so didn’t stress over it. My degree was largely stress free, I asked for an extension for my final hand-ins but at the time the marriage was on it’s final legs and while it was causing problems it wasn’t causing much stress – although to say I didn’t have any isn’t true, I would on a number of occasions spend time on the phone with my parents in tears.. but I’m not sure it was strictly stress – just the result of a failing marriage.
As I’ve got involved with things the energy I put into them has increased and that has snowballed to the degree that this year has been a source of all kinds of things that can cause people to get stressed.
Money worries, Gender Clinic hassles, motorbike troubles are the ones I have little control over, but as I am a caring person.. others I have control over.. even if I don’t look after myself doing it.
Last week you’ll remember I was talking about ‘less is more’ – well I realised over the last 48 hours that one benefit of that should be my mental health.
Back in April I went to the Empire LARP event E1 as crew, I arrived with stress levels as a high level, and ended up leaving site early due to being broken.. I was broken because I cared about the people I worked with first and foremost, and worked extremely hard.. having already arrived stressed.. naturally I left.. well stressed – although superb support from my friends meant I didn’t melt down..
But it was around this time that it was highlighted to me that I needed to improve my form in Roller Derby – i.e. the way that I actually skate. As skating is something you do naturally, like walking down the street, this was never going to be easy.. but I was getting lots of great support from the rest of the league and fed off that support, my love of Derby and wish to pass assessments when they came up to push and work extremely hard.. but as what I was doing was not easy and Derby has definite mental areas.. naturally my stress levels weren’t particularly low..
When Empire E2 arrived on the door.. and I had a complete meltdown on Friday night.. but I have never been in that situation before – again felt really bad that I was having to get a LOT of support off my friends again.. which makes me feel guilty and more stress!!!
I was still working hard on Derby skills, but was starting to understand I needed to balance things.. less is more.. but unfortunately circumstances meant that didn’t happen straight away – which resulted in last weekend being a complete tear fest, for the third time in 2 months, lots of support from friends.. followed with guilt.. that finished up with a fantastic night with one of those friends at the local pub which was exactly what I needed – a chilled night with one of my best, and most supportive, friends just being friends – we went with two other friends, noodled with a guitar, had a laugh and just simply relaxed.
But I was still stressed.. because next week I was facing an itinery that would be tough for anyone. My schedule looked like :-
Saturday – Roller Derby Bout in Sheffield, NSOing as Penalty Tracker – low stress level, should be fun and enjoyable.
Sunday – was planning on partying with one of the teams on Saturday night, then practicing with them on Sunday.
Monday – Still up in Sheffield doing Voice Therapy – the therapist is very blunt and I really don’t enjoy going so do find this a bit stressful.
Tuesday – day off
Wednesday – Back up to Sheffield for GIC – this should be fairly stress free but depends on what they say about the ongoing ‘battle’ for my second referral. Then coming back home straight to Roller Derby Minimum Skills Test – I’m approaching this in as stress free an approach as possibly, but it’s a test – it’s not going to be stress free!
Thursday – Sunday – Empire E3
Sunday also working a shift.
So as you can see it wasn’t going to be a week that would do my stress levels much good, especially Empire as I care a lot about ‘my’ crew, so tend to make sure they are properly looked after and stress if we don’t have enough crew. So naturally I would worry about it – it’s my nature – and thus stress p… yeah you can see where this is going..
Anyway Sunday practice was cancelled and while talking to my team leader for E3 we decided I needed to skip Empire E3 – I would simply have level the event almost certainly broken and mentally exhausted.. so my week, while busy, is now a lot less stressful. I still have 3 trips to Sheffield and potentially two Minimum Skills Assessments to work through but I feel as I also have a week off work it’s all manageable.
On the same day as those two decisions were made, I made a third one which I feel was absolutely right – one of the ‘heads of departments’ in the roller derby team asked for volunteers to help out. I’m already in two other departments, plus working on my NSOing – so decided straight away while I would have put my hand up straight away in the past.. that less is more and by letting others take it on I was benefitting myself and giving others a chance to get involved in the league.
I think that’s what I’ve learnt… there is absolutely nothing wrong with rewarding other peoples support and encouragement with hard work, there’s nothing wrong with being caring, supportive and considerate.. but sometimes I need to learn to put number 1 first.. I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself over the last few months, and will continue to learn, but I think as a result I’m improving myself and will hopefully take this and move on in a positive manner..
So I think in conclusion what this little story shows, that if you life – be it a transition or just life in general – is giving you opportunities to do more and more things – it has to be balanced, because if you don’t give yourself time even the calmest and most laid back individuals will get stressed.. and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt.
I’ll still be getting involved in all sorts of stuff, overall the benefits outweight the stress, however I will try to balance it with at least some down time and try to look after myself too.
Huge thankyou to my long term friends, my new derby friends and my LARP friends – love you all to bits and wouldn’t be hopefully a better person, and be making the right decisions if it wasn’t for your support and help. Thankyou..
Less is more…