Tag Archives: depression

A Three Year Journey, Never Intended

Three years I began a New Life.  Or should I say I began a New Journey in my Life.  A New Journey sounds so much better and more intriguing, wouldn’t you agree?  I would assume it depends on whether it is a Journey one intended to take.

I went home for lunch on a Thursday afternoon, it was August 5, 2011.  I’d been having “episodes” of unknown origin, but they were mimicking TIA’s or mini-strokes.  I had been to the hospital ER many, many times; had more CT scans of my head than I probably should have in my lifetime; and, had freaked out my friends, my co-workers and myself more than once.  On this day, instead of going to the ER, I called my doctor.  I thought that was a wise move, since I was tired of wasting everyone’s time and resources to be told that they didn’t know what was wrong.  The doctor told me I had to see a neurologist and until I did, no more work.  Little did I know that it would take a year, and my insistence at seeing a third neurologist to get a diagnosis and a solution.  Of course, by this time, I had no job, which meant I had to move because I could no longer afford where I was living.  Of course this provoked just a little (sarcasm here) stress in my life, which caused the RA to go out of control.   Additionally, I lost two of my main supports, which were my old neighbors.  I had not planned on that.  I’ve never returned to work and my health is such now, that it seems unlikely I ever will.  Although, I would like nothing better.

There are many details, twists and turns that life has taken throughout these past three years, far too many to mention here.  The life lessons are always the most important; the demons we struggle with and overcome; the challenges we face and win; and the realization of who and what really matters.  I know that these will continue throughout my life, I hope to get better at dealing with them and at letting go of the little things and the things I cannot change.  I am finding that, unfortunately, that also means letting go of people.  There are people in my life who let me down to the point that I can never trust them again; who have shown me their true character and, not that I am perfect, it is cruel; and, there are those who have, at least in their own honesty, walked away from me.  This has been the hardest part of my journey during the past three years.  Or maybe it has been the hurt I have caused others, for I know I have.  I have let people down in ways for which I have many regrets.  I have tried to make amends where possible and apologies when I can.  And tried to do it better the next time.  I guess that is all to do.

It has been an interesting journey.  I have learned a lot about myself, my world and the people in my world.  I have been to the depths of depression and have had wonderful friends to pull me back up.  I have had major health crises that without my friends I would literally not have survived.  And I have had triumphs that my friends were with me to celebrate and share.  What have I learned? That I have the BEST FRIENDS, that I am BLESSED they are in my life; that no matter how dark or lonely some days may get, they will ALWAYS be there, just one phone call away.  I have also learned that I can handle much more than I thought I could, and I really thought I was pretty strong before.  I’ve learned to be more independent and to ask for help only when it is truly needed.  I’ve learned to let the little things go and not stress about them as much.  I’ve learned to be GRATEFUL for all that I have, for it is so much!  I’m learning to ENJOY EACH MOMENT because it is all I really have and to stop expecting things to be a certain way.  It appears that when I can release my expectations, I am pleasantly surprised by something new!  The biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have a lot to learn!  This is good, for life will continue with its twists and turns and how boring it would be without them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday’s Fears

It has been too long since I have posted.  I know this, not because of the date, but because my head is exploding with words.  It seems that the only times I have a lot to say are the times I have little time to write.  While the times I have a lot of time to write are the times I feel I have little to say.  I believe that is fear, my friends.  So, today I am taking the time to write and hoping that I am ready for the company that is coming in 70 minutes.  No, I am not showered or dressed yet, so I will have to type rather quickly!

I am back in my funk.  That bicycle I bought July 4th has left my garage three times and one was to go to the bike shop to be repaired.  So I have only been on it twice.  Okay, so I’ve had a double ear infection like forever and the doctor said riding it might not be good, and I have had trouble just keeping my balance while walking, but this would not have stopped me in the past.  So is my common sense getting better or am I just becoming too compliant? I hate being compliant!

The weather here has been perfect, 70’s and low humidity.  We have set records for cool weather in July!  I have slept.  In the house with the windows open at least, but I have slept.  Of course, I found out this has contributed to the double ear infection problem, so now I am sleeping with the windows closed and the air-conditioning on while the weather outside is perfect.  And the kicker:  I am 53 years old and I may need to get tubes in my ears…I think I am a little young to be going through my second childhood!  Don’t little kids get these when they are like 3? I’m no expert on these things, I didn’t have kids and dogs generally don’t get tubes in their ears!

Speaking of dogs, my youngest, and some would say my favorite, Willie (Princess Wilhelmina) has now been diagnosed with allergies and is taking daily medicine.  She is also eating a lot. She is supposed to be a mini doxie, but I am unsure how long we will be keeping the mini part.  I’ve already started the diet; I did that the day I started the medicine and we went to the park for a walk before we started the medicine.  I am very familiar with steroids.  I started them the day before.  I did not do the diet or the walk for myself, however.  I’ve always been better at taking care of others.  I did begin to be more careful with my diet last night, right after I ate the candy bar and the cookies.  I did not eat them in front of Willie, though, so that counts, right?  Today, I am hoping to go back to the park with Willie and might even take my oldest, Rudy, who is diabetic. (I didn’t eat the candy bar or cookies in front of him either.)  Of course that would leave the middle child at home by herself, which would increase my guilt significantly.  This usually means we all stay home.  And sleep.

My other project for today is to “let go” of my former life.  In my previous life I was a mental health therapist.  I was very good at what I did and I believe I helped a lot of people.  This illness has removed my ability to do that work anymore.  I could never handle the stress, the hours and the mental acuity required.  I no longer have the memory that is needed.  That all sucks and makes me extremely sad.  So I have decided not to look at all the books I have that related to my former life.  It is time to give them to someone who can use them.  I have no idea who that is, but maybe my local library does.  So I will start there.  Today a friend will help me box them up and I will deliver them next week.  In addition, I am going to make my “office” at home more of a “studio” where I can be more creative.  Now, it looks like an office, very practical and business like.  I am not business like any more.  Now I am all over the place, I “flit” and that’s okay.  I want to be comfy when I create, not sit at a desk in a desk chair that hurts my body.  So that needs to change.  And today is the day it begins.  It will be a fun project.  I will start with cleaning out the space, so I know what I need/want.  Then I can hit the thrift stores to see what I can find.  What an adventure! Kind of exciting, getting to create a new space in which to create. I am a writer now: maybe not an author (yet), but a writer.  That is my new profession and I am very grateful that I have it.  If I can ever get past the fear of putting the words on the paper!

 

 

Self-Worth Doesn’t Have to be Proven

As I turned over the Thought for the Day calendar page this morning it read “I am neither too little or too much.  I do not have to prove myself to anyone.”  Wow, I thought, isn’t that the damn truth!  No I really didn’t think that.  What I really thought was, No I really don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not anymore.  I am just me and that is all I want to be.  Sure I have aspirations and I will achieve them, not all of them because I can’t physically do all of them anymore, however, I can achieve most!  My bucket list? I don’t know that I have one; maybe that is something I should create too.

It struck me though how much time I have spent trying to prove myself to someone else.  Whether it be my parents, a sibling, a lover, a colleague, or a friend; I have spent an enormous amount of my life proving my worth to someone!  I don’t really think I am alone in this.  We all do it everyday.  We have to; it is the way our society works.  It is not always a negative.  We have to be able to show that we have the ability to perform our jobs well.  We have to show that we are capable of handling finances in order to get a house mortgage.  We always have to demonstrate that we can handle responsibility in any situation before we are given more.  That’s just the way it works, and that’s not a bad thing.

What I am really talking about is proving our self-worth.  No one should have to prove self-worth.  Everyone is worthy!  Just by nature of being born.  It doesn’t matter on what side of the tracks you were born or raised.  It doesn’t matter what career you chose.  It doesn’t matter if your liberal or conservative; christian or pagan; black, white or purple; straight or gay.  What does matter, at least to me, is that you do the best YOU can.  Not the best I can, or the best John Doe can, just the best YOU can. And since no one can tell what that is, there is no one who can really judge you!  So proving someone else’s self-worth, really is not a possibility!

I have really struggled with my self-worth in the past two and a half years.  That is when I lost my job, my career, because of my health issues. I was told by three doctors I could not work anymore.  I had based a lot of who I was on what I did.  I was raised with a strong work ethic. Without a job, a career, I was totally lost.  I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark, black pit.  I had to move from the four acre place I was living, which is where I grew up; and into a small house with a postcard sized yard.  I’ve sold about all I can that has value to pay the bills.  And I kept sinking deeper and deeper.  I stopped laughing; people no longer interested me; I could not reach out; the mask would not work anymore; and,  my eyes could not hide the pain.  Some people gave up trying to help and went away, they just didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the energy to keep trying.  I get that and I get them.  And then there are the ones who stayed.  The ones who supported me: gave me the emotional lifelines to keep me going; the financial help to pay the bills; helped me figure out how to survive; spent time with me when I was not very fun to be around.  And my “kids.” Three furry kids: Rudy, whose 12 and has diabetes; Willie, whose 5 and is the Princess of the house; and Alli, whose 8, and, god love her, drives me insane!  Without the three of them, I’m not sure I would have made it through all of this.  I know there are a lot of people who have thought, and some have said, that I could not “afford” to keep them, and financially they are correct.  They just didn’t get that I could not “afford” to give them up and still stay alive.  Of course, I filed for Social Security Disability in August of 2011, when it became clear that I could not return to work. (Even though I still planned to try to.)  I was denied twice and then had to wait for a hearing.  Anyone familiar with this process knows that it takes a very long time!  Well, my time finally came last week, I had my hearing, and I believe it went well.  Now I wait, yes more waiting, for the official outcome and hopefully some income.

Since the hearing, and the positive feeling that my lawyer and I have about it, it feels that I am rapidly climbing out of the deep, dark, black pit.  It is still there and I am not totally free of it, however I can see light again.  And I wonder, how did a man (the judge) affect my self-worth in 10 minutes? How did he, whom I had never met before, allow me to come up out of the pit, when all the people who really care about me, were unable to do that?  Was it validation by an outside source?  Was it that he held my future in his hands?  Or did it have nothing to do with him personally.  Was it that the “system” had finally come through for me?  I am not sure.  I haven’t figured all that out, and I am not sure that it even matters.  (Except that I am an analyzer, so I will chew on it.) It just is what it is.  And my self-worth has increased.  I do feel validated.  I still wish I could work.  I still wish I was able to work.  But I have accepted that I can’t.  I think I am done with that battle.  At least for today.

So my self-worth?  It gets defined by me.  It’s not about what I can do or what I can’t do.  It’s about who I am.  It’s about what I believe.  It’s about what I value.  It’s about how I spend my time, because that reflects what I believe and what I value.  It’s about how I treat other people, because that reflects how I believe I deserve to be treated.  And it is ultimately about love…because who and what I love, and the way I love, is reflection of my soul.

How do you define your self-worth?

 

Walking on a Tightrope

I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to share this, yet somehow not sharing takes away from the essence of what I want this blog to be: an authentic look at life, the way I see it, so that it can create discussion and thought for those who read it.  I’ve thought about adding humor to it, however I find that humor is something that escapes me on most days.  It is not that I am avoiding humor, for I do look for it always, I just don’t find really funny things in my everyday life.  So for explanations sake here goes: I have Psoriatic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, Hypoadrenalism and Hemiplegic Migraines.  Lots of fancy words! I can sum it all up very succinctly: there are many days when life just sucks! Balancing the medications, I think I am up to 15 or so, with the symptoms and side effects is a full-time job; and yes, you got it, I can’t work.  At least not at anything that provides an income.  My “job” is battling disease which involves my immune system attacking my body to destroy it…not only my joints but my organs also.  To do this, I take medications that cause cancer and can kill me in other ways.  What a trade off! Yet it is the only way I can live, as the pain is way too intense otherwise.  Of course, the medications for the auto-immune diseases, Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis, have caused other diseases, like hypoadrenalism, and have made that seem like a larger issue than what I had when I started! It all gets very complicated and confusing. I will talk more about this as I continue to post, as it is an ongoing saga.

I try to stay positive. I try to say that these diseases will not define who I am or what I can do.  Yet I know in my head and my heart that they do each and every day.  Maybe this is why the humor is hard to find and why I have such a difficult time being authentic, the difference between how I see myself–capable and desiring–is very different from my reality–full of disease and unable to do the things I want. How do I find authenticity in this? I have tried to deny the diseased part and think of myself as only capable, however this leads to more physical pain as I overdo.  I have tried to accept the diseased part and give myself allowances for it, however this leads to more depression as I do not want to be diseased.  Many days, ok every day, I walk this tight rope hoping that I don’t fall off, as I don’t want to fall into the pit of depression.  Maybe this is why I cannot find humor, I am using all my energy to stay on the tightrope.  It takes a lot of concentration to stay up here, there is little left for anything else. Maybe this is why I am so tired all time…oh yeah, there is also this disease my body is fighting.  If only it was as easy as it looks on TV…