Do you take care of yourself?


Do you take care of yourself?

I very often don’t…

I love to give talks that matter. And while I love agile and retrospectives to bits, these are not my favourite talks to give.

Don’t misunderstand me: I like giving them, they do matter, they are important, and they may (or may not) influence the way we/you work.

There are just things that matter even more. It matters how we feel, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, how to take care.

I find that my most powerful talk is about stress and depression with various subtitles like “how love for your work can kill/hurt you” and the softer “and what you can do about it”.

I am prone to stress; I have been struck down twice and both times with a severe depression, which I suffer from, and get worse when I am stressed. As I talk openly about this, I discovered just how many have problems with stress and related diseases. And they did not talk about it! It was a hidden disease… Yes many people talked about being stressed and busy, but not the ones who where really hit by it.

So I decided to submit a talk. I was sure no one would accept it. The organizer of one of the best agile conferences, Chris McDermott at Lean Agile Scotland, decided to give me a chance. And the room was crammed – I think the room had chairs for 40 but there must have been 60-70 people in there…

It is one of the most powerful talks I have ever given (see it here); at least I am told that; I have yet to see it.

I have since given it three times. Every single time, at least one person comes up to me and thanks me; tell me that they will seek professional help – every time! And the video impacts people too. It is a really important subject.

This year at Agile Lean Scotland 2015 a guy came up to me and said “I just wanted to thank you for your talk last year. It really helped me and my wife”.

Now this may sound like a post to blow my own trumpet; and yes the talk makes me proud; if I can reach just one single person and make them go for help, I succeeded.

But this post is not about that.

This post is about how hard it is for me to take care of myself and how good I am at hiding it – even to myself.

I know a lot about this topic; I know what to do; I know what to do to care for myself; I am just missing one tiny bit: I am not able to do it for myself – yet (I hope it is yet).

I have been tired for a while and a few people did make remarks about this at lascot15, but I was coughing and not sleeping well, so that was my excuse. It was also my excuse to myself.

It wasn’t until I came home and expressed worry about a friend that I really saw my own state. He said: I worry more about you; you seem out of balance; not much, just glitches here and there…

And WHAM it hit me… I am out of balance. I am not in a good place; I have cared to much for others and not enough for me.

I recalled some of the signs I now know about, but did not see in the moment:
Invading a good friend’s personal space – something I am usually really careful about – and good at sensing boundaries (if I must say so myself). In this case he had to point this out to me.
Hugging a person that is not a hugger (When I realised, and we talked about he said: it is like some people don’t like spiders, and slowly they are able to get closer and closer to them.. that is hugs to me)
Feeling overwhelmed and not totally present.
Crying several times.
Shopping a lot – an easy superficial way of taking care of myself – not very effective 🙂

Now I am home for a bit and totally flat – feeling like I can hardly walk up my stairs.

Next thing is to rest and to get up and running again. And I will.

The point is: I did not see this until someone pointed it out and until I was able to let totally go with no plans.

So my question to you is:
Are you taking care of yourself?