Work/Life balance - what's that?

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Keep this one short as I tend to ramble. A barrier against depression is balancing work, fun time, family, relationships. maybe spiritual. Some people who take ADs do so because their life is not balance - and to allow them to keep working 60+ hours per week. Doing this and your life balance is gone - hippie philosophy - no - FACT. Excessive working means other VITAL areas in your life are ignored. You are more likely to become stressed leading to depression. No time to stay fit or enjoy hobbies - more depression. You're exhausted and grumpy at home - marriage breakup is around the corner. Your friends don't call because you're always working. But it's all good because you are 50% more productive and the company will love you for it - right? Sorry but no. Your effectiveness if anything will fall. And companies going through a restructure (redudancies!!) won't think of you and say you're too important because you work 60 hours every week.

Build up your resistence to mental (and physical) illness. Look at all aspects of your life and make sure they are balanced.

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi David, 

    not sure on this one, are you asking for advice or are you just releasing how you feel? 

    I think I understand some of the stuff about work/life balance. I used to power through all zinged up on caffeine. When I stayed off it for a couple of weeks I realised how tired I really was. 

    Sometimes I used to take the attitude of throwing myself into my work to avoid thinking about how I felt. I used to feel a slave to this work that didn't even make me happy anymore. I didn't know where I was going with it and all the future looked unhappy.

    Other times, I used to work really hard and then play really hard. That wasn't good either. 

    I hope you can work on your work-life balance. Sorry I can't think of any suggestions but I hope it helps to know that someone else can relate! 

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    • Posted

      Hi there

      I've went through some of what I said above - sometimes working to 3am in the morning. I wasn't made redundant - I chose to leave and am now starting a good role in the civil service. I've studied the effects of stress and it is really scary - not only depression but serious physical effects. I wanted to post that because of my experience - even if people thrive on excessive working (or think they do before one day it hits them) - other parts of life suffer - to the extent that bits of life begin to fall apart until eventually you realise how much you have lost. My advice to anyone is to work hard at your job, down tools at the right time (don't bring your laptop home) and focus on ALL the aspects of life.

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    • Posted

      Now that I understand! Hear hear! I am going to try and work at that mantra myself! I want to work to live, not live to work! What is the good of the money if  we don't have the time to spend it? What good is the success if we are always trying to reach the level? smile 
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  • Posted

    You are right it is extremely hard to maintain relationships when in the midst of depression as you only have the reserves to focus on your own survival.  Depression makes relationships difficult, vital areas of your life are ignored but only if YOU allow it to go untreated and not deal with underlying issues.

    My husband is a workaholic, we saw the life drain out of him over the past 2-3 years due to work and to the detriment of his health, family and hobbies.  I tried to get him to  take a proper break/holiday go out with his mates and do something he would enjoy all of which fell on deaf ears.

    I  blew up at him after months of acting oddly saying he couldn't do us any more, I told him if his job meant that much he should F**K off to it, he left  the family home and has been gone almost 8 months and still not getting help or treatment, goes from saying he doesn’t need anyone's help, knows he needs help to we will have to disagree he has any issues.   I didn't mind if affecting me I've had MH issues myself and am much stronger as a result but it began to affect our daughter  who needed counselling so that was the final straw.

     He said he needs to go it alone to control his food shopping and cleaning, also told me he had been stressed pressured and bullied at work.  He's admitted work has burnt him out and that people at work have hurt him yet it is the family who love him who are now suffering?.  He sent me an email to say nothing I had done then sent an email to our daughter to say he couldn't bear to be with me?  Said previously he's scared of hurting me emotionally for me not to wait for him to get better questioned why I was ever attracted to him and my affection, our son laughed he said he'd never seen Dad show me any affection!  Oh and after saying he loves me, never thought of being with anyone else or ever interested in anyone else is  Divorcing me!   I asked him a hundred times if he wanted a Divorce, nothing, I emailed him the other week and he said yes he wants a Divorce and said he thought he had said so?  Divorce after a happy relationship of 34 years is the least of my worries, we will shortly be facing repossession of our home and my real concern is where my daughter and myself will be living while he's in a room in someone house isolating himself and doing nothing to help himself, everything is slowly crumbling around him it's like watching a high speed train crash in slow motion, just as well we can laugh or we would all end up being sectioned!  The daughter was very upset after receiving his email, he treats us like work, she said she was going to copy and paste this response back to him and he probably wouldn’t even realise the kids are now so pi**ed of with him they want nothing to do with him.

    To cut a long story short we discovered a few weeks ago his office had said he was off on long term sick to now discover his job has gone, we don't know if he has quit or been sacked,  his employers an NHS Mental Health Trust have known he has been ill, we fear he has been taken advantage of?  I emailed him to ask about his job to be told he had agree with his employer that "the party line" is he's off sick but he's left the organisation and now setting up a Consultancy business.  He has left with hardly any money which is very odd for someone so intelligent who used to manage a 60 million budget,  even our kids have said he's a d*ck!  Someone who was worse than useless left with a 6 figure payoff, my husband who has worked at the organisation for 17 years worked his b*lls off and set the place up, done all the donkey work has left with virtually nothing, odd that he is now in considerable debt, surely if he was setting up a business he would have thought about this?

    So I would agree that despite how many hours you put in to your work no one really gives a sh*t about your well being sadly we are all numbers. 


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    • Posted

      Hi Jackie

      I'm not trained to comment on your husband other than to say it sounds very much like he became caught in a vicious circle. A stressed brain becomes a depressed brain and mentally impaired.His actions may not have been his normal self. A lot of what you say I can relate to. It can take months for a mind that has been under such stress to recover. Becoming a consultant is good if it is a way to control his hours/stress - however, I've done that as well and can quickly get out of hand.

      Whether it's companies, organisations or clients they don't really care. The best way to treat them is to allocate the right amount of time and effort. Then focus on other areas of life that are often significantly more imortant.

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    • Posted

      You are right David he has been caught in a viscious circle and I have tried to get him to slow down and enjoy life more. I've even been supportive of the job going but for him not to protect himself financially has come as a massive shock.  Having said that I joined a local MH carers support group and I met a highly intellingent lady who had been quite hight up the local government, she shared to me that she had done something which for her was totally out of character and stupid.  When she told me what she had done I wa shocked but now have a better understanding of how people who are mentally unwell and vulnerable  can be so easily taken advantage of so I'm no longer shocked at my husband's inability to protect himself financially.

      He did work as a consultant a while ago for half  a day per month but they could not afford him so no longer used his services.  There are very few jobs out there and even consultancy is hard to come by.  What scares me most is he has said his relationships are now cold, distant and hostile so how is he going to be able to do this without the necessary people skills?  He will I'm sure be handing his company car and laptop back soon, so on the pitance he has received how is he going to be able to afford it all?  It seems he hasn't thought any of this through. 

      We had 3 major moves throughout the UK for his job, for which he has now paid a very high price, no wife, no kids, no job and our home soon to be repossessed.  Is it really worth it?  I would have traded a much lower salary for more quality time as a couple and a family. 

      Our son said he hasn't been able to relate to him in 24 years how sad is that.  I hve been the one doing everything work, looking after kids, shopping, cleaning, banking, house moves.  It sounds mean but I'm making him sell the house and so far he's not managed that, lets see him fall on his face doing it.  I've had MH issues myself self harm, panic attacks and agoraphobia it takes hard work to get better and motivation and so far he isn't interested in any one but himself.

      I can cancer treament a few weeks ago nothing to ask if I was ok, same after our daughter had an operation nothing to ask if she is ok.  It's all so very bizarre that after 34 years he wants a clean break, guess that's the guilt and depression, he says it hurts to see me that's nbecasue he know what he's done to us all.  He won't be able to run forever we all have to face our fears at some point whether we like it or not.

      Apparently the NHS is the worst for bullying, the helpline said they receive some 90% calls all in relation to bullying.  I've even told my husband if we had nothing left at the end of all this it wouldn't matter as long as we have each other, at the end of the day family and love is far more important than status, money and material goods.

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  • Posted

    I cannot agree with your claim about anyone taking anti-depressants just to continue working long hours. There are amphetamines and other drugs that do that much more effectively. Then you say balancing everything in your life is a barrier to depression? This is a bit topsy turvey, David. Depression can have many causes but I do not think there is any guaranteed way of avoiding it if certain factors arise. Even an idyllic family life has not prevented some from falling victim to depression.

    I think I can see what you are getting at - stress. Everyone on this forum has mentioned stress in one form or another. Stress is not something to avoid - we all need certains levels of stress in order to manage our lives. This reminds me about tales of those who say they cannot be bothered to get out of bed. So that makes me want to ask one question. What do they do when they need to go to their lavatory? Stress forces  them to make the effort (and then why not stay out of bed?).

    It is not stress per se that is the culprit rather it is too much of one type of stress. Many people have worked extremely long hours and still maintained their family simply because they are driven that way and their family accept it. The stress of their work is like food to them and their loved ones may not like it very much but they recognise it is an essential part of that person.

    There is no recognised pattern for a balanced lifestyle; even such a term is just one of those new ideas currently being used by all and sundry. Life is complex, far too complex to be able to sit down and ascribe one hour for this two for that five minutes for something else in any pattern that can be followed or have the desired result.

    We all need to be healthy; as healthy as we possibly can be. Exercise is part of maintaining good health yet often some very healthy person will collapse and die on their morning run/jog/walk. So while we can attempt to build up resistence to physical problems we may not avoid them, still. As for mental health then this minefield is yet to be explored. It would be great if we could banish all mental illness just be adopting a particular plan. But would everyone accept that by following such a plan they would be free of all mental illness? Somehow I think that the human condition is such as to always present those who disagree and refuse to follow the rest. But the unknown is our biggest problem so who will have that crystal ball/

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    • Posted

      Hi Jaguar

      I might have to stick to my guns with this one. Taking ADs or any drug to work excessive hours is bad news. This differs from someone who needs help to live a normal life including their job.

      I agree that life is complex. But there are key elements such as family, friends, doing things that you enjoy, fitness that are neglected if someone is working excessive hours. If these elements are neglected then things are more likely to go wrong. I would even go as far to say that you can allocate specific time to other aspects of your life.

      I'm looking at this from my own experiences, and realise that there are situations that are different and I'm not qualified to comment on. I worked 60+ hours per week and burnt myself out. I nearly lost my family, my friends are a distant memory, my fitness is poor and my mind has a way to go before I can say it's recovered. Like the post above I'm now self employed focusing on long term contracts. This is purely to give me control back so I can focus more on other things in life.

      There is no crystal ball I know, and life throws us curve balls when we least expect it. My point was that there are many normal men and woman, fit, good marriages, enjoy hobbies etc that get caught in the trap of excessive working. It is easy to see how important things are neglected when that happens and the consequences. Depression isn't always caused by stress, but in a vast majority of cases, chronic and prolonged stress is the lead cause for depression and other mental illness. Research has shown that constant exposure to stress significantly reduces dopamine in the brain.

      Mental health including depression is definitely a mindfield and I've commented before that the understanding and treatment of mental illness lags behind - maybe because of the stigma in the past. But we can build up protection by making sure other parts of life are not neglected - it's not a failsafe tactic, but rather a way to make us stronger and more supported when life is difficult.

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