Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The Full Plate Club

Thanks to Beyond Blue, I know that I’m not alone with regard to how my packed schedule contributes to depression.
Reader TJ wrote this in an e-mail to me:

One major factor to being suicidal was not enough time to recharge (regroup or downtime) between all my activities. I was feeling very overwhelmed and alone.

Reader Crissy wrote the following on my “What Makes People Relapse” post:

Those full plates that won’t go away just weigh us down–tediously staying in the back of our minds, or hiding in our hearts, or popping up in our dreams. Too many things to do, too many things to fix, no one to help. We do the small things and keep going, find something of interest and it picks you up . . . but that plate full of problems is still there. How do we thaw from the freeze and face that plate and wipe it clean? I wish I could quit feeling like all I am doing is procrastinating.


And reader Babs wrote this (also in an e-mail to me):

I spent quite a few years going to college, while teaching, and being music director of a church. All of my work was creative and I never felt like I had “down” time, and when I did I felt guilty that I wasn’t tackling another of the endless projects. Now that things have slowed down somewhat I find it so easy to let things slide. I used to have anorexia as a young adult, and again when I was reliving that part of my life in therapy. Well sometimes when I have to work hard to keep my weight down or try to get some of my former go-go-go to get things done, I wish I had a touch of both of those dysfunctional aspects of my life to pull up at will.
The thing that frustrates me it is that neither OCD or anorexia are a product of self-discipline….but sometimes I wish they were.


Babs hit on something that I hadn’t really thought of. Maybe I get the two confused—dysfunctional behavior and self-discipline. Maybe I keep myself so busy in an effort to not have to feel those things that you do by staying in one place—by packing my schedule so full that I won’t have time for friends or family vacations, and numbing myself by running from here to there, allowing no time for roots to settle.
Or maybe my self-esteem is still so shallow that I need a list of accolades and accomplishments to feel worthwhile. As if a prestigious journalism award or a book contract can validate myself—give me proof that I’m not a failure.
Perhaps I’m so scared of slowing down because it is when I did just that two years ago I fell apart.
At any rate, I’m getting sick of paying the membership fee (exhaustion) of the Full Plate Club.

  • Deb

    I am shocked at relizing I too feel the same pack my schedule full to avoid the settle feeling. The only bad thing is when I do slow down…I feel guilty. I feel selfish. I am 41 years and I feel the need to stop doing for everyone in my life and start only doing what makes me feel happy…even if it means that the people I love most feel deglected and abandond. How do you deal with that? I struggle daily and have been unable to sleep through the night because of always running scenarios through my head of what my family might be feeling…how can I stop this madness?

  • Larry Parker

    “Or maybe my self-esteem is still so shallow that I need a list of accolades and accomplishments to feel worthwhile. As if a prestigious journalism award or a book contract can validate myself — give me proof that I’m not a failure.”
    You hit the nail on the head, Therese.
    Imagine being cheered at a journalism convention for winning multiple awards — as I was in Baltimore several years ago — after having left the profession a short time before because my nerves couldn’t handle it. (I was having major panic attacks on the BW Parkway every morning and almost crashing on my way to the office — literally crashing, as in the car, in that case.)
    I admit I haven’t built up my self-esteem enough in almost a decade to stop making the false choice of your professional reputation or your life, either …

  • Margaret

    As a veteran (admittedly retired) of thirty plus years in the classroo, I did a lot of reading on self-esteem and attempted to incorporate esteem-building activities into my daily scedule. One of the things I learned was that self-esteem cannot be taught (even to ourselves!) it is rather earned by experiencing successes in our lives. That’s not all bad news, even if i’m not sure I buy it, but it does require the self-nurturing to admit our successes to ourselves and celebrate even the wee ones, like turning down that second slice of chocolate swirl cheesecake! At least in my case (and i suspect this is another common thread for many of us) my successes have to be big enough to catch my attention! On the advice of a therapist, I began adding an extra task to my routine (I know, who needs MORE on their already-full plate) by spending a few minutes after prayers each evening to thoroughly mentally review my day to deliberately locate and accept the small successes of the day (Things as seemingly unimportant or un-newsworthy as the fact that I spent a longer time out of bed than has become my habit) It takes a magnifying glass to find them at times, but I’ve found there’s always at least one or two thigs on which I can congratulate myself, and it DOES help me appreciate my progress more.

  • Chinamom

    Right on target, as usual. Guilty as charged. 😉 By all objective standards, I am an accomplished woman, but I often feel like … a nothing … unless I have five balls in the air juggling madly.

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