The Meaning Behind My Meltdown

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The Meaning Behind My Meltdown

I am going to take a departure from my usual look-how-green-my-life-is posts and talk about something extremely personal.

I mean, deeply personal.

Now I’m doing so not because I’m an over-sharer. And unlike the new brand of ‘influencer’ I’m not writing this to contrive an appearance of being ‘human’ to commoditise my ‘authenticity’.

Take it, leave it or don’t believe it but here’s my truth:

Last week I had the meltdowns to end all meltdowns.

Extremely uncharacteristic of me.

Vulnerability is at odds with everything that I had been raised to believe. Overt emotional outbursts were not tolerated when I was a child. I was told in no uncertain terms that life is hard, just deal with it, best get on with it and just be grateful for living in Australia. No ifs, no buts, no crying. Crying won’t get you anywhere.

But you know what? That meltdown was the best thing that could have happened to me in light of my very long to-do list, self-imposed high standards and perceived external expectations.

An ugly episode that featured physical exhaustion, heart palpitations, heavy breathing, coughing, uncontrollable crying on my fiance’s shoulder, snotty nose. The works.

It wasn’t pretty. I was an absolute wreck. 

Jennifer Nini The Social Copywriter

So what contributed to this?

If you’re on my subscriber list you will no doubt be familiar with the circumstances but for those of you who are not, here’s what led me to being a basket case:

  • I am involved in three different business concepts which is beyond most people’s beliefs and even capabilities. One start up is all-consuming, but to be involved in three? Just out and out crazy.
  • Partly due to the cold winter season (I’m in Australia remember) and partly due to my workload, I got sick. Cold virus. And for the first time realised I couldn’t call in sick because… I work for myself!  So I continued working which made recovery that much slower.
  • I went to the doctor for a check up because I was sick and found that I am also dangerously Vitamin D deficient. The doctor told me it was the worst case she’d ever seen AND if I don’t get it sorted I’ll be at risk of osteoporosis by the time I’m in my 50s. Just great.
  • We also hired three new trainees to help with my workload in the long term. But for those of you who’ve employed staff in your business can attest – the huge commitment in time and resources creates more work in the short term.
  • Amongst all of this, I had to fly to my hometown of Melbourne (Australia) as mum turned 60 and my sister got engaged. I couldn’t afford to take time off work so amongst the family time and catch ups I was still logging in the work hours. The road to recovery came to an abrupt halt. I got sick again.
  • And then on top of that I ran a free seminar on marketing to help businesses in my local community get up to ‘digital speed’. With my workload and the preparations for the seminar it is little wonder that even though it was a ‘success’ I felt mentally and emotionally depleted.

Now can you see why I was a mess?

After the seminar on Tuesday, I cried. I cried on my fiancé’s shoulder. I cried because I was exhausted. I cried because I felt like I was letting people down. I cried because I had so much to do and I couldn’t work out how I’d get everything done. I cried because I just needed to. I cried because I am human.

Jennifer Nini, speaker, ethical blogger, digital marketer

And contrary to what we’re told, crying does indeed get you somewhere. You surrender, you release, you cleanse.

Now I’d like to say that life got better after that messy breakdown. But I’m a writer. Life doesn’t follow fairytale format. There’s often a plot twist.

My life is no exception.

Jen’s Meltdown – Part II.

Late Saturday afternoon after finally finishing up at the office (yes I worked part of my Saturday) we returned to the farm only to find our dog Dusty struggling to walk. In the hours to come he slowly deteriorated, his hind legs seized and then he collapsed. We found three ticks on him. Worst sign ever.

Having suffered through one of our other dogs passing away from a tick bite, I knew what was in store. We debated driving the hour back into town for Dusty to see a vet. We decided to stay and help Dusty in the only way we knew how: to love him through it.

We’d seen Dusty sick on a multitude of occasions. We live on a farm and he is not granted the same protection as dogs living in a sheltered, urban environment. Dusty is a farm dog. He roams outside of the boundaries when he shouldn’t. He challenges snakes and goannas when he shouldn’t. He eats rotting dead animal meat and he really shouldn’t. Ben and I can’t protect him from any of this just as a mother can’t protect her children from unknown perils. With freedom there is also danger. With the highs there are also lows. Such is life. Even for a dog.

So on a Saturday evening, awash with grief, emotionally exhausted from the month that was, I watched as Dusty lay on the wooden floor of our 100 year old Queenslander, his once strong body convulsing. I hugged him and told him how much I loved him and needed him to live. I prayed to the universe. I looked into his eyes as if to will him back to life. But mostly I drank champagne – Ben drinking his beer – while we sobbed over our handsome dog.

And against all odds, Dusty survived. 

My fiance Ben McGuire and my dog Dusty
My fiance Ben and our dog Dusty.

The learning lesson.

The next morning with barely a hang over and watching as Dusty jumped and licked and wagged his tail like nothing happened, I suddenly learned the lesson. No matter how important purpose-driven work is, its meaning can pale in comparison when faced with what’s truly important – losing someone you love (Dusty is not a ‘thing’).

So no matter how ‘conscious’ you are trying to be: eating organically grown whole foods, shopping mindfully, trying to transform capitalism for the better, meditating for 10 mins a day, taking deep breaths, practising yoga, contributing to ethical Kickstarter campaigns, helping to promote sustainable business, trying to minimise your environmental impact, basically trying to change the world, all of this does not make you immune to natural laws.

What goes up must come down. 

But what comes down can still pick itself back up. That’s what I’m doing now…

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