Have you ever had the feeling that you’re sharing too much?

I have, and lately I’ve been focusing on the idea of balance and boundaries; on what I should share and on what I should keep private. I thought I had it figured out, but this year has brought with it a big change.

Before I got sick, I was very successful both professionally and academically. I was heavily involved with student government, sat on many different academic committees and was knee-deep in thesis research; I was in heaven! While I had to be available to more than 25,000 students, I was still able maintain a comfortable divide between my personal/professional lives. I lived by the motto ‘When I say NO, my YES means more,’ and followed it to a T; I believed in respecting my time and being consistent in my approach. I was pretty driven, but when I reflect on that time, I can’t help but feel that some of my behaviour was cold and maybe a bit too intense.

As a very emotional person in my private life, I have to wonder if my professional life was so cold because I pushed it away; hard decisions were easy because I didn’t allow myself to become affected by them or the emotions of others. Looking back on relationships with my coworkers, only a few knew anything about me outside of work, just that I was a criminal justice major working on a thesis about Aboriginal youths. I feel strangely okay with that though.

Now that I’ve moved on from academia, I’ve found a new way to connect to people, but this time it’s personal. My blogging life directly involves my personal life; everything from my journey to a diagnosis, to my family, to my relationships, is out in the open. This world showcases how working through the initial stages of an illness can affect you, your life and everything/everyone within it; it’s an enormous change. As my private and professional lives continue to merge, I’m finding myself without a place to hide. Grant you, the perks are great; I get to work from the comfort of my house, many times I can snuggle up with a cuppa, my cat and my MacBook; but it’s the disconnect that is missing. Once I publish this I don’t have the opportunity to walk away to that other life, to that place that houses all my private emotions as now they’ve been expressed them all over this blog post. There is no place for me to be kept tucked away for safe-keeping because everything I hold close to my heart is now open and very much on display; it’s incredibly vulnerable; and I need balance.

The amount of strength and personal growth I gain from helping others is far beyond anything I could put into words but like the title infers, self-awareness comes first. Without it, I fear that I will burn out from sharing too much. One of my favourite lecturers said “the counseling is only as good as the counsellor,” and it fits so snuggly into this circumstance. As I say it over and over, I am reminded that I can only be as good as the care I give to myself and that taking the time to self-reflect will not only keep me focused but will keep me balanced. When it comes down to it, it’s about honouring the journey; these blog posts are special and I have found a lot of comfort and perspective in my fellow bloggers. I strive to inspire my readers and believe in the power of the written word. I am passionate about the time you spend with my blog and believe that with continued practice I will improve as a woman, writer and advocate; like Dr. D always says, “We’re in this together!”

About

Ashley Martin is a social justice and mental health advocate living with MS. Ashley has found an outlet to help others and by writing about her experiences both here and for the MS Society of Canada. Follower her journey on HMC's Supportive Minds Blog, and follow Ashley on Twitter.

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