Let me preface this post by saying I am good. I know that many of my blog posts are on topics that may give the impression that I am dealing with a lot of emotional turmoil these last few months, but in reality these are all things I’ve dealt with in the last few years and being able to write about them has brought me even more relief. I may not be where I want to be just yet, but I know I will be and I’m happily enjoying life in the meantime. Getting here has been quite the journey. They say there are moments that define us, a cross roads in your life that mark a before and after. This is one of mine.
In June my youngest son graduated high school and prepared to go to college in the fall.
In July I found out my oldest son was expecting my first grandchild.
In August my daughter got married.
In September I packed up the home I’d raised my children in and moved to another state. I moved in with a guy I’d been dating only briefly, the only man besides my ex-husband that I have ever lived with.
And I started a new job.
There was A LOT of stuff going on……. Some of it was a result of decisions I made. Some of it was stuff that happened as a natural course of life condensed together in a very short amount of time. Like the most damaging storm system these highs and lows mixed together and started me on a tail spin.
Anxiety crept in and took hold so quickly and fiercely that by January I couldn’t go to the grocery store without having panic attacks. One minute I would be squeezing avocadoes and the next someone would hover too close and I’d leave my cart in the produce aisle and go. Other days I would make it victoriously to the cashier only to have them get too chatty and the panic would creep in and choke me. I got to really hate grocery stores!
With my new job I wasn’t able to stay behind a desk and spin data anymore, I had to actually TALK to people and lead meetings and give presentations to large groups. I would somehow manage to get through it, but then head right home and climb into bed completely and utterly exhausted from the interaction. I had always been an introvert, but this had gotten out of hand. I hated being around people and did everything to avoid it.
Before this I was the kind of person that would face adversity by putting my head down and work through it, but by February I knew I wasn’t fixing this. I’d gained weight. I was completely inactive. I was incredibly anti-social. I was irritable and angry all the time. My kids were the only people I voluntarily communicated with.
THIS WASN’T ME!
I had no idea what to do so I reached out for help. I ended up enrolled in a day program and stayed for five weeks. It was the hardest, most annoying, tear-filled, enlightening time of my life thus far. I was forced to talk about my emotions (YUCK!). People listened and didn’t judge me. They didn’t think what I was feeling was stupid or meaningless. I realized that I’d been working so hard to just keep my head above water for such a long time when I was finally done treading water I just gave up kicking altogether. I needed to learn how to live life for me. I needed to learn how to be me. I needed to realize who I was without all of the labels I’d given myself.
And find myself, I did. And hey, I was shocked to find out I was a pretty damn cool!
I remember those first days going back to work, worrying about what I was going to say when people would ask where I’d been. I had rehearsed it, a bland-not-giving-up-any-info response. I was able to do it at first. I found over the next few months as I worked very hard at feeling normal again I felt dishonest. I was ashamed of what had happened. I hate not being straight with people when I’m asked a question.
So what, I fell apart…….
It happens to the best of us and I was working my ass off to put myself back together. I had nothing to be embarrassed about. But HOW do you talk about it? What were people going to think? It just caused me more anxiety, but I was determined to start sharing what had happened. It was awkward at first. The reactions I received were not the ones I expected. People were incredibly supportive and some even shared their own similar stories. Yes, people I knew had gone through the same stuff. Strong, smart, I’ve-got-it-all-together people! Wow!
Over these last two years I’ve reached out to people that I can see are suffering from the same sort of thing. If you’re reading this and you are one of them, I’m not singling you out. I didn’t do it to be pain or for a pat on the back. I just know what it’s like to be in that dark place feeling all alone with no one in your corner. I just want you to know, there is. Sometimes the response I get from people is “you don’t know what it’s like”. You are right, I don’t understand what it feels like to be in YOUR story. Yours is different from mine, but it doesn’t matter what got us there. It sucks, plain and simple.
I am very thankful I am not where I was two years ago.
Even on my good days IT IS A DAILY DECISION to have a different mindset.
- To be thankful for what I have and where I am
- To be positive even when things get me down
- To keep moving – my body, my life, my dreams
You can roll your eyes and tell me I suck for having this rosey, cliché outlook on life, but for me it works. Two years ago I’m sure I was told the same thing and I’m positive I rolled my eyes, swore under my breath, and did everything to ignore the person speaking. Now, I embrace it. It’s good stuff.
As 2016 is wrapping up I can look back at these last two years and know that I’ve come a long freaking way. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because it’s too easy to break them. I do make promises to myself though and I have promised to keep moving forward and accepting life and situations for what they are.
If you are feeling like anxiety or depression is getting the better of you, please make a promise to yourself that for 2017…..or NOW….you will take care of you. You are not alone. Please reach out for help. I know how much that one little decision changed my life. I hope it can change yours.