Episode 133 – Long Hours, Michelle Wexelblat Redux

Hi folks! We’re back this week with a discussion of the pressures of deadlines, and how much work we’re both putting in. This also includes a brief discussion of the difficulties of being the person working with people two very different time zones. We then have a long talk with returning guest Michelle Wexelblat and her experiences with Burnout. It’s a long one, but worth it!

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5 Replies to “Episode 133 – Long Hours, Michelle Wexelblat Redux”

  1. Loved this episode. The connection between concussion and burnout rings very true! I’ve recently undergone a couple of big changes of responsibility (I refuse to call them promotions) and by the end of last year I was convinced I’d done permanent physical to my squishy grey matter.

    After a week of recovery (thanks Christmas) I’m determined to not get there again.

    Thanks for sharing, Michelle, and hope the recovery continues.

  2. I’ve been catching up on a string of episodes I missed and you’ve had some real doozies while I was away. This one was a really emotional listen for me because I have a vestibular disorder and so many of these same problems. The only useful advice I’ve ever gotten about living with tinnitus and balance issues has all come from people on message boards.

    My advice for tinnitus is if it gets to a point where you think it might drive you insane, take your fingers and drum them against the back of your skull beneath your ears like you were drumming them against a desk, not hard just steadily. What you want to do is overwhelm the nerves that are trying to process sound that isn’t coming in from the ears (because of pre-existing injury) and thus creating the tinnitus. It’s not a long term fix but it can give you a much needed break. Also, never wear ear buds, they’ll make the tinnitus worse and also cause hearing damage. I use over ear headphones and turn them so I only have one ear covered at a time. The important thing is to remember to listen at a reasonable volume and switch sides regularly so you don’t just deafen one ear.

    My particular disorder (Meniere’s Disease) also causes visual processing problems and I have no sense of balance. I can’t look at screens for very long without getting sick either, though I’ve got the opposite response to night mode. White on black text (like this website) makes me see double. Something that helps is activating Windows night light mode, this makes the screen dim and hard to read but cuts down on the nausea and double vision. I can play videogames like Into the Breach that I’d otherwise have to skip with night mode on.

    I’ve also been disappointed buying books off the internet. Am I crazy or are they printing books smaller and smaller? It’s not even the size of the font, it’s that I need enough space between the lines of text to give me room to visually process what I’m reading. Ebooks are no help in this area at all. I’ve no advice except to say that YA books tend to be printed with lots of white space on the page. I don’t particularly like YA, but I’ve been checking YA books out of the local library just because I can read them even when I’m dizzy.

    My vertigo gives me panic attacks too. I tried taking meds but they did nothing for the anxiety and had really bad side effects. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve sort of been able to adjust to always being dizzy. It’s a little counter intuitive, but I find that balancing on one foot (sometimes while propped up against a wall) helps me ground myself. If I really focus my attention on the muscles in my feet it makes walking easier as well. I also bake a lot when I’m dizzy, something with really clear steps that I can focus on even when I feel sick helps. Over the last few years, I’ve learned to recognize when my anxiety is coming from physical ailments and not say the news. This isn’t something I set out to do, it just kind of happened. My brain visualizes the anxiety I feel when I’m sick as a sad golden retriever who follows me around whining in that way dogs do when they’re like “The lightning and thunder are scary human, why can’t you fix it like you do everything else?” I kind of talk to it like “I know, I wish I could fix it but I can’t, after I finish stacking this wood we’ll go inside and make pancakes and you can lick the bowl”. It’s kind of clever of my subconscious to embody my anxiety as the one creature in the world I can discover infinite patience for.

    I’m typing this out because when I used to try to go to doctors for help they’d always shrug at me and say the only way to deal with vertigo and tinnitus is to get used to them, but nobody tells you how to do that. I’ve met so many people who also have hearing/balance/vision issues and everybody adapts differently. I hope some of this could be useful to someone who’s still learning how to cope.

  3. Thank you very much for this episode, and I had a great time listening to you and Kevin talk. The idea of “brain junk food” is brilliant, and recalling my own burnout, I did indulge in a lot of the same (for me it was translated Chinese webnovels) in order to distract the pain.

  4. “Too much is too much, and you can’t self-care your way out of too much” is so very true. I was really struggling about a year ago with doing self-care stuff and STILL feeling worn out and burned out.

    It was exceptionally frustrating when people would urge me to “take good care of myself” (I.e. do that self-care thing), but not actually offer any concrete help with the “too-much-ness” of it all. When self-care became another to-do list item that felt like work, something had to give.

    Thank you to Michelle for describing and sharing her experience; it helps to know I was not alone in being unable to self-care my way out of too much.

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