Moodscope's blog



How much is too much? Thursday October 6, 2016

I like having limits.

I like having measuring cups so it takes the guess work out of cooking.

When my washing machine is full of clothes I know I can't put in anymore.

These may seem very simple things but they help me to know when enough is enough.

My problem that I have struggled with for years is of not knowing when I have done too much, taken on too much, until I am lying in an exhausted heap like a huge load of dirty washing strewn on the floor!

I wish that I had an emotional/energy/measuring cup that would let me know when my cup is full.

My strategy is I do the absolute minimum as I am afraid if I take on anything other than the absolute necessity I will become very tired and then ill.

This works for a while but I like helping others, I like joining groups, I like learning new skills, so before I know it, I have over committed myself and feel overwhelmed or exhausted or both.

When I don't get involved in my community, don't join groups or don't help friends and family I feel guilty and isolated.

I think my measuring jug would have to be personalised. We all know of people who have a mental illness and still manage to do so many things and not get sick.

I suppose knowing what we can cope with as individuals and work within those parameters.

So how do you know before you have done too much?

What are the signs you look for so you don't do too much?

How do you know when enough is enough?

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Permalink  |  Blog Home


Sally Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 6:29am

If it were that simple, we'd all have mastered it by now! The problem is, we don't recognise when we are overloading ourselves....often before it's too late! However, the tell tale signs may be ( and of course vary from person to person)
A feeling of being out of control.
A racing heartbeat.
Making mistake upon mistake. In my case, dropping things, not slowing down a process n my head and rushing as if my life depended on it.
Failing to notice and enjoy the simple things around me.
Getting hung up on detail and taking comments to heart, or not seeing the wider picture.
Lack of sleep.

Good luck, Leah, with finding that balance. Make sure you have your boundaries ( e.g.that is going to push me over the edge so I'll say No) and sanctuary ( this is what I do/ where I go when things get tough). For your own self preservation.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:42am

Sally Thanks for your comment. Everyone has signs I suppose when they have done too much, I cant pinpoint one thing, Thnaks your kind words.

Eva Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 7:45am

Hi Leah, it's tough this, learning my limits again, new ones. The quote of the day is interesting in this context, my indomitable will kept me going but beyond my physical capacity and then I crashed. I am trying to work out the energy "drains" currently, emotional ones for the most part, my mother for the most part. I too am stuck with limitations to what I can do now before I tip over into exhaustion. I am trying to listen to my body, and respond, and everyone e bar my mum is giving me the space to do so. Slowly though I think I am making progress, I seem to recover much re quickly than earlier this year, so I have hope. I could see the signs, on the way to the fall, but due to my situation hadn't the option to not keep going, I wouldn't have missed a second of time with my dad in hospital.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:44am

Eva Thanks for your comment. It is good you are listening to your body and learning to know what you are capable of.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 7:50am

Oh dear. This sounds terribly familiar. I do hope someone out there has some good ideas.....

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:45am

Thanks Mary. I too hope to learn of some good ideas.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:02am

I sort of know when I'm getting too high.... It's when I find myself at the gym twice a day, when I've joined six new committees/choirs/voluntary organisations and am surviving happily on three hours of sleep a night. Yes- I *know* I'm doing too much, but - oh - it feels soooooo good....

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:46am

Mary I too am better at knowing when I have done too many things when high.

Jul Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:48am

Dear Leah. I wish I knew what a normal day's activity is for people, say for someone my age and so on. I push myself each day to carry on as "normal". I probably do far more than people who don't suffer from depression/insomnia. I think if I had one or two bad nights when I normally slept well, I would take it easy the following days but as I always feel tired or whatever, I don't compensate for lack of sleep any more. Saying that, there are times when I feel worse than others but like you I can't pinpoint why that is or see it coming. It always takes my by surprise. And just to complicate matters, some months,something like too much travel will throw me off kilter but the next month it won't. Julxxx

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:50am

Jul thanks for your interesting remarks. It is hard when we can't find a pattern or make sense of our behaviour.

Tutti Frutti Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:55am

Hi Leah This one's really difficult. I need to be involved with life or l would end up really low. But the thought of going manic does scare me as I know that if I do I will end up taking roughly a year to get fully back on an even keel. My problem is that I seem to go so quickly through the stage where I can observe warning signs and still do something about it.

So one thing I do is work part time rather than full time even though my daughter no longer needs so much looking after and fit in some relaxing stuff for me - currently Pilates and singing lessons. I also have a rule that I shouldn't work more than 5 hours extra for more than 4 weeks in a row. I am very bad about sticking to it but at least it means my employer takes me seriously if I tell them that I am overworked and getting stressed. I also tend to notice that I am waking up too early and forcing myself to keep going because I feel that I have to. I have a prescription for low dose sleeping tablets to use on an occasional basis to try to get my sleep back under control before things get worse. Obviously I have to be careful not to overuse them and get medical attention if things don't sort out pretty quickly. I might also feel the urge and ability to overexercise and I tend to feel like painting my fingernails alternate pink and purple. The point at which I want to do this but haven't yet done it is about the last chance to go to the doctor and turn things around before it all goes horribly wrong.

One other thing I have tried when in this hypomanic state is an exercise where you write down all your many plans and prioritise them. You have to do the high priority ones first and avoid doing the low priority ones completely. I have done it once and found it really hard but it did help.

I will be interested to get some ideas from others.
Love TF x

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:52am

Tutti Frutti Thanks for your insights. I worked part time when my children were at home and now i work seven days a week in my shop but I am my own boss which is a real bonus.

Andrew Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:42am

Hi Leah - a very thought provoking blog this morning - thank you!In my view, the 'measuring cup' size varies, from day to day, from person to person, from situation to situation. What one person can do in their stride, another will be exhausted by - indeed what one day I can do, on another day I will be exhausted by. And it is often really hard to judge (until hindsight kicks ion after the event, and we berate ourselves for allowing things to get out of hand!)

Given this difficulty, and the unpredictability of the effect that life can have on us, my thinking is to give ourselves a sporting chance, and this goes back to the basics: Eat well, sleep well, rest well, connect with others, be active, exercise, go easy on alcohol, caffeine, tobacco etc. Same old same old, I know. But we are finely tuned and extremely complex machines, and if we don't maintain ourselves, we will break down, literally and metaphorically.
I believe eating well (and I include fluids in that) is probably THE most important aspect. Fuelled right, the body and mind are capable of amazing things. Fuelled wrong, the batteries die, the muscles ache, the head hurts and the machine splutters to a standstill!

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:54am

Andrew Basics are important and sometimes it can be something very simple that can make us feel overwhelmed. If I dont have enough water I can feel very irritable. Thanks for your thoughts.

The Gardener Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 11:17am

Hello Leah - my body now tells me when I've done enough - nothing wrong - just go muzzy - end of tether says it all. 5 days of disappointment, grief, being let down, increasing financial worries (house sale fell through, Brexit). I HAVE to keep going. Have one target - get my shop so that people will want to come in. So all 'chores' are at the most efficient possible. When I feel that things are slipping (like right now) will go and sit among my flowers with a sandwich and my knitting - having amalgamated the 'must do's' into one 'going out' to coincide with getting Mr G from respite. Current worry? My neighbours' panic as I scramble about on ladders. I think they have the First Aid services on stand-by.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:50pm

Gardener Sending a big hug to you. I admire the fact through all your troubles you still have a sense of humour and a steely determination. I would love to see your shop.I like the image of sitting with your sandwich and knitting among the flowers. May peace be with you.

Wyvern Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 11:33am

I am currently learning a 'new normal' having had surgery earlier this year, so I have physical energy limitations which I don't know how long it will take me to recover from, as well as managing my mental health and energy. So what can I do in a 'normal' day? I don't know what a normal day looks like yet. Each day is different and I just try to be really mindful about how my body and mind is feeling from moment to moment. I can be going along at what I think is 'quite happily', then suddenly I fade and I have to just stop.

I find that going for a short stroll late evening before getting ready for bed helps me to sleep - it seems to create a sort of mental break between the concerns of the day and the process of going to sleep, and the extra oxygen of being out in the fresh air might also be a contributory factor, I don't know. And I see things that I don't see during the day, that lift my spirits. Last night I watched the crescent moon setting in a glorious orange glow.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:54pm

Wyvern Thanks for your comment. You have given me things to think about. I hope you contiune to manage your 'new' normal and recover well. I think surgery makes one be patient.

the room above the garage Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 11:59am

Hi Leah, your blogs are super, they always get me thinking and considering! Guilty here of over doing things. Ridiculous at times. But I can't shake the need to please... Like Sally, a racing heart is often a sign for me and often there is no sign, I think I'm well so on I go until I crash. However, like Andrew, nutrition is a biggie for me. I'm really disciplined when it comes to (1) food and (2) sleep and my liquids changed for the better when I decided it was only me or alcohol who was leaving the boxing ring alive. I protect those two things like a warrior so I have a fighting chance.
Thank you for this today, love ratg x.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:57pm

Ratg, Thanks for your kind words.I am also a classic people pleaser. It is good you are very disciplined about food liquid and sleep. That must be helpful. Thanks again for your support.

Lexi Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 12:21pm

Hi Leah. I too usually only know that I've taken on too much when my back gives out and I fall apart exhausted. But lately I have been checking in with my loved ones before taking on something, asking them - do you think this is too much? If they think so, I use that as a guide. These are people who know me and love me, so I do trust them. Often I cannot see things properly when I'm in a high, so it is good for me to have outside guides. xo Lexi

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:59pm

Lexi Thanks for your comments. I think it is good that you have loved ones whose advcie you can trust.

Brum Mum Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 3:44pm

Leah, very apt. I have cancelled a commitment tomorrow to give me a fighting chance. Thank you.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:00pm

Brum I hope things go well for you. I know it is hard to cancel something so well done. Take carex

The Gardener Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 5:09pm

Dear Wyvern - you need immense patience after surgery or a long illness. When you are elderly fury is added as well - you confidently expect to return to the status quo ante - then feel cheated when you don't. 40 or so years ago I had to have a hysterectomy in the middle of a furiously busy time in my life. They said, then, I would have to take a month off from responsibilities. This was excellent news - I was doing 'A'lever Spanish at night school - a whole month of peaceful study. But my body said 'NO' as soon as I sat down comfortably and open a book I went to sleep. But I was fine at the end of the month. Andrew's 'recipe' if followed, is perfect, but we are human - and many of us are no longer our own masters.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:01pm

Gardener, Your advice to Wyvern is very helpful. As I said before even with your troubles you have compassion for others. Thank you xx

DAVE Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 8:19pm

Hi Leah,
Thank you for your blob, it's 7:44pm in Jersey Channel Islands right now, so I'm hoping you will open this my reply.

My solution in keeping 'balance' is I do NOT procrastinate......there's only so many ways to cut a cake...

YOUR time is....A. More important than anybody's. B. Husband/Wife and Children come second (with Bipolar).

As we are no use to ANYBODY unless we have order in our personal life, (There I go again ORDER in my life essential for me).
I make a list of my notes on my mobile phone ( a paper or diary list is good also) 'Things to be done', I deal with the most urgent or the most worrying issue immediately, get it out of the way, ('The Cake') because that takes more mental energy, and I need to get it 'out of the way'.

This gives me more energy to concentrate on lesser important issues.
I cross them out completed.

Next I deal with all these in order of urgency, this gives us more energy for kids family etc.
When I feel comfortable mentally, I turn to family and others who need my help/counsel.

When I receive a call, text, email or letter, I say I'll call you back in ten minutes....I need a few moments to think about my mood and energy level, to see if the task others need can fit in TODAY or TOMORROW, or whenever suits to the understanding of my capabilities....I refuse to be 'drawn in' UNLESS IT IS VITAL and IMMEDIATELY URGENT.

I, like the cake can be cut in only so many ways TODAY, as there's always tomorrow, when there will be a COMPLETE cake once more...If you get my drift.

That way I'm in control, and NOT allowing myself to give others 'POWER over me, who would use and abuse my help, and in so doing lose respect for me.

When we're in control we ATTRACT respect...This in turn builds Self Confidence and allows us to teach good principles and help others to 'Govern themselves'.

I would love you to try this process as it works for me.

God Bless you Leah.

Leve Dave X.

Leah Thu, Oct 6th 2016 @ 9:08pm

Dave, As I write it is 7.03am in Australia, so of course I read your reply. Thank you for taking time to comment. You have listed many useful points- some of which I already do- making lists of things to be done, and prioritising things. I like the idea of waiting ten minutes before answering a request. Trouble is that will encourage my tendency to procrastinate. The trouble with the cake analogy I would just want to eat it!!! Seriously I will reread this and try things that will help me. Cheers Leah

Orangeblossom Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 8:51am

Hi Leah, thanks for the blog. Knowing my limits and accepting them are sometimes two different things for me. It is a work in progress.

Tutti Frutti Fri, Oct 7th 2016 @ 10:05am

Orangeblossom I get that as well. I know I will struggle to maintain my weight at the end of my diet without giving up chocolate completely (the 2 squares approach just doesn't work for me when I am no longer counting everything) but currently rebelling against my decision to give up and gaining weight. Love TF x

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:37pm

Orange Blossom, Thanks for your comment. I too have a problem with the knowing of the limits and accepting them- it is a lifetime challenge for me!

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:39pm

Tutti Frutti, Thanks for your reply. I am currently giving up chocolate for a month but it just means I eat more of other sweet things!! I think in health promotion the hardets thing is to get people from the knowing to the doing.

Nicco Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 5:22pm

Hi Leah, I empathise with you and echo Sally's and Andrew's comments. The trouble is, the measuring jug changes from day to day. I do try to pace myself and look out for signs that I'm doing too much (I have M.E. and fibromyalgia) but I never seem to heed the warning signs until it's too late (sitting at the pc at 4am is a sure give-away!) Somehow recently, probably due to a very difficult situation I've had to deal with) I've found myself saying, "I've done all I can that's humanly possibly, and probably more, and nothing has changed so I have to leave them to it to sort out for themselves", and I've actually enjoyed taking a step back because I've found it a relief to let go of and so much less stress (if that makes sense). I'm getting used to doing this, along with realising that I can't always fix things, make things better, or change things. So I've transferred this philosophy into other areas of my life, too, ie, if the ironing doesn't get done on the day I'd allotted for it to be done, well, the sky won't fall in! I've done as much as I felt I could do that day and something has to give, and it's not going to be my physical or mental health! It's taken me many long years to learn that lesson and I think my mother's death 4yrs ago had something to do with it (she was manic about cleanliness and housework so I learnt that my worth depended on how clean I kept myself and my house). I do sometimes catch myself saying, "Oh, well, you're not here to see it, mother, and actually I live the way I want to now!" Good luck with finding your own personal balance, Leah. An M.E. self help course I went on said that to find our own level we have to think what we think we can achieve during a day, halve it, and if we can half of that done we have done well!

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:43pm

Nicco, Thanks for your thoughtful comment.I suppose I feel I havenot done all thats humanly possibly but have done all that I can cope with at this point in time. I like reading other people's strategies and experiences. Take care Leah

You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.