When does enough become too much? #ShadesTopic

Shades of Noir’s Content Developers discuss exhaustion, finding a balance, self-care, listening to your body’s signals and over-working. Can you relate? Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #ShadesTopic!

handsup-blacklivesmatter-2Image source: https://www.wired.com/2015/10/how-black-lives-matter-uses-social-media-to-fight-the-power/

Charisse Chikwiri:

“The answer to this question is subjective, it’s like asking whether the glass is half empty or half full, it is a matter of perspective and will be influenced by personal experience. For someone who is their own biggest critic (myself) and continuously puts pressure on themselves to “do more” because they feel like they’re not “doing enough”. For someone who constantly compares their present to their expectations of the future. For someone who is fuelled by a great deal of ambition, enough becomes too much when the body and mind start to show signs of exhaustion, which of course becomes unhealthy.

Exhaustions manifests itself in many forms, I have learnt. These forms could be lethargy, a lack of motivation, a general lack of enthusiasm, being unable to focus, fatigue, poor diet, skin issues, forgetfulness, panic attacks or hypersensitivity.

When there is a system overload and it all does become too much, the best and the only thing to do is to reboot. Yes there are deadlines, time is ticking and you can’t afford to push this project back any longer, but we matter more. Continuing to push on will result in the system crashing, kind of like how Mac’s function when they don’t have enough disk space – the simplest of tasks become strenuous.

The quality of the work that you manage to produce in the lead up to eventually shutting down is never your best, I have learnt. So making self-care a vital part of your everyday life and routine is crucial in order to be the best you, and in order to avoid letting enough become all too much to handle.

In all possible circumstances, balance is key.”


Katy Jalili:

“I am in pain and every inch of my body and brain hurts. Some days I feel like I have lost my mind and I can’t focus or remember important information. But most of all I’m tired, my emotions are in pain too.

Recently when people see my face they ask if “ I’m ok?” and “why I look so tired?”

You know,  sometimes I get by only eating one meal a day, so that’s probably why.

Yes, I work alot, and do a lot of different types of jobs, some are activism based and some are more creative based. But they all leave me feeling emotionally drained.

In my activism, I pour a lot of personal experiences in. When facing multiple oppressions, it is difficult to ignore intersectionality in activism. When running a campaign about women’s rights you can’t ignore queer and POC based issues. Sometimes there seem to be too many battles you’re fighting.

Maybe like Joan of Arc, she had a battle with herself, God and the English. Some may say Joan was queer, but at least she didn’t have to deal with racial marginalisation, being a woman made it hard enough. Her battle never ended and took her life, and that’s what it feels like sometimes for me.

I know I sound morbid, but maybe that’s what the third year of uni sounds like.

I think most of the struggle for me is pouring so much of my personal life and experience into the work I do, both activism and creativity (and it is hard to distinguish which one is what). Sometimes I think to myself would my life be easier if I wasn’t dealing with multiple oppression, would it still feel as difficult as it does? Looking at young white cis-gender and heterosexual people my age, I sometimes feel like I carry 10 times more pain and worry, I feel like I’ve aged more and as a result sometimes feel broken.

But how does self-care fit into this? You can’t self-care with a lush bath bomb, as it’s not always about pampering. Self-caring needs to be radicalised and tailored to (in my case) queer people of colour’s needs.

I don’t feel like there are not many spaces for me to practice self-care. I would say the spaces where you are in the company of people who care for you and understand your experiences on a personal level so that you feel safe and appreciated and cared for.

But on a less complicated level, leaving the country and deleting all social media, has helped so much before. Although it is hard to shut down your critical eye even abroad, and sometimes I wish I could do that, and relax only for a few hours without thinking of everything that is wrong.

Finding a balance is difficult, but perhaps doable. How do I find a balance between positive and negative? There are achievements being made every day as well as bad news being received. It’s hard to balance my emotions and feel ok.

But I think keeping a mental note (or sometimes physical notes) of good things that have happened or have been said to you, when you felt proud of yourself, makes things a dash easier. Also remembering that It’s ok to feel tired and sad.”


Mica Schlosser:

“I have to come clean. I’m writing about exhaustion, finding balance, and self-care at 6:35AM. Birds are singing and pink dawn is rising at the end of a long night of work. So– I’m not exactly in a position of authority when it comes to knowing when enough becomes too much. That being said, it’s mornings like these that force me to reflect on balance–and where I’ve gone wrong.

It’s a privilege and a joy to be able to do work I want to be doing. And often that feels more important than anything. I suppose one of the only downsides is how easy it is to over-work, because it often doesn’t feel like work. I’m grateful for each offer and opportunity. But finding the balance– before the tipping point when you’ve sacrificed time with friends and family to stay inside for four days in a row wearing the same unflattering floral sweatpants and eating a lot of lentils in the name of ‘efficiency’–can be tricky.
Despite what I may tell myself after cancelling plans or losing sleep, and as Oliver Burkeman recently discussed in the Guardian, we don’t have a ‘bottomless well of self-discipline’. There’s only so much we can do–or do well.

For me, a better balance will come from having confidence that new projects will keep coming–and in muting self-critical voices before they become self-destructive. And, from greater acceptance that working hard doesn’t just mean focusing on a job or an assignment. It can mean working at being a source of support for the people I care most about– and at taking care of myself.

But for today, I’ll find balance in the calm of early morning light.”


Tiffany Webster:

“I think about identity and roles that we play a lot. Roles we take on, within our personal lives, in our communities, our role in society. As a daughter, a sister, a friend, a familiar face. We have many roles that we take on daily and change according to our interactions, people we are with or find ourselves sharing a space with and I wonder if the way we are or the way we treat ourselves is our ‘true’ or ‘original’ role? The one no-one else is there to witness, the way we act in private when there is no-one around, or when we have no-one else to focus our attention on but ourselves. We have all taken on the role of the listener, adviser and loving friend when our own friend calls us in distress and needs someone to talk to when they feel like ‘enough is enough’.  I wonder – why is it so hard for us to take our own advice and speak to ourselves and be just as loving and kind and listen to our own distress? I use the term ‘us’ here, but I’m really speaking about myself. I’m guessing many go through these situations also; this is one of my many struggles.

I tend to take on more than I can handle. Especially when I find that I’m in new situations and have made new connections and feel like I’m on a roll, I end up saying YES to everything and then I realise; (Most of the time, later than sooner) actually, this is not practical or realistic. Juggling two jobs and being in full-time education is a struggle. Both mentally and physically. It’s do-able, but you have  got to get yourself  together. So it’s important to take time to chill out, make time for myself and try and keep myself on the top of my list but I never quite make it up there. As a consequence of this, I suffer.

A major issue I think I’m starting to realise is that I have trouble with one of the ‘simplest’ of skills which is prioritising tasks. At that same time, I think it comes down to procrastination. If there’s a certain task I’m scared to start or feel really anxious about, I’ll keep it till last or in the back of my head and say I’ll start tomorrow, eventually I will have to deal with it; There’s no way out of it and the longer I leave it I know the worst it will be for me to manage. But I still do it, like a form of self-sabotage.

Good Habits & Inspirations:

I’m sure everyone has done this at some point, but I actually NEED this.

I make lists. Every day I need a list, I list what I need to do every day and then put them in order of priority and time I should get them done by. It’s the only thing that helps me to organise my thoughts and to be honest, it’s become a good habit. It’s helped me quite a lot.

I constantly try to remember the words of JunglePussy of putting herself as a priority and her words: loving myself is a full-time job’. Because it is. But for me it’s not even part-time, it’s like temporary if even that. JunglePussy has been a such an inspiration for me. She is raw, unapologetic and upfront about her self-worth and self-love as a black woman. I am in awe of her, she gives me hope; that one day I can love myself as much as she has come to love herself and care for herself, wholly.

If you don’t know about Junglepussy, stop what you are doing and check her out.