Monthly Archives: October 2014

Twists and Turns

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Life is full of twists and turns. You think you are on a certain path, then suddenly the road before you makes a sharp turn, and you begin heading into unknown territory.

This can be exciting. But it can also be terrifying.

My life took another unexpected twist this week. I guess I can’t say it was completely unexpected as I knew it was always a possibility this would happen, but I hoped and prayed it wouldn’t.

For those of you who read my last post, you know I was in a deep depression last week that led to me being off work for a week. Well, I wasn’t ready to go back yet this week and again went to visit my doctor. She put me on an indefinite leave of absence from work.

While working through some things last week, I had already decided that I was going to quit my job. The stress of it was too much and I knew if I didn’t resign, it wouldn’t be long before I ended up in the hospital. It was the stress and pressure of the job that triggered my depression.

This is the third time this has happened. I have had to take 3 leaves of absences in 5 years with 3 different jobs.

This time I realized I had to face reality. It was clear that the issue was not with any of the jobs. The issue was my depression. The stress and pressure of working full time is something I just can’t handle because of my illness.

Admitting this to myself is hard. I still haven’t fully accepted it.

But I did resign from my job. When I told them about the indefinite leave, I also requested that they not hold the position for me. It wasn’t fair to them for me to take an extended amount of time off, and I also knew that I would probably never return to full time work again. They are a small company and need someone in the role that I was in.

Since resigning from my job, I have been dealing with all kinds of different emotions.

Sadness.

Frustration.

Relief.

Confusion.

Fear.

Fear has been the biggest one. It has led to not sleeping and middle of the night anxiety attacks.

Fear of what my life is going to look like going forward. Fear of never being able to be independent. Fear of not having the financial means to take care of myself. Fear of never being able to travel or do things I want to do. Fear of becoming a burden to my family.

And finally, fear of what people are going to think. One of the first things asked when you meet someone new is, “what do you do for a living?”

What are they going to think when my answer is “nothing”?

I know I shouldn’t care what others think. I’m working on that, but I’ve been judged a lot because of my illness, so it’s a natural fear for me.

There is a part of me that feels completely defeated. I feel like I am giving up. That maybe I should have tried harder.

And a part of me feels like a failure.

I tried to lead a healthy, normal life. I’ve lived alone for a decade, had a couple of careers, worked full time, volunteered, had lots of friends. I tried really hard. And I suffered a lot trying to keep up with what life expected of me.

But now I need to face my limitations. I need to accept what I can and cannot do. I need to accept that my life isn’t going to be what is considered normal for most.

Then there is the other part of me that knows and trusts that there is still something ahead for me. No, I won’t be able to work a typical 40 hour per week job. No, I won’t be able to handle too much stress. And I know that my depression can surface at any time, crushing me, taking away my energy and spirit.

But I look back at all I have been through. All I have experienced. All the twists and turns of my life so far. And things have always turned out ok.

God has always taken care of me. I look back and see how events lined up to bring me where I am. And I know there is more for me.

I know I have a purpose that I have not yet fulfilled.

For now, I am taking the time to rest and heal. My focus is on getting healthy again.

I know I will recover as I have many times before. Like all of my previous times of depression, this time will make me stronger.

One thing I do know is that this disease will not defeat me. I’ve been through the worst of it and I have survived. I am a fighter. And when my defences are down and I am weak, there are people around me who will fight for me.

I know I can always count on that.

And most importantly, I have my faith. God has never abandoned me before. And I know He never will.

 

Please feel free to share this blog with others.

 

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Potholes

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All drivers have experienced it. Driving along a stretch of road, sailing smoothly on cruise control, windows down, hair blowing in the wind, tunes on the radio, and then BAM! You hit a pothole that snaps you out of your peaceful, enjoyable journey. It’s shocking, unexpected and quite jarring. It can even be damaging depending on the size of the hole that just tried to eat your car.

I hit a pothole this week. Only mine wasn’t on the road while driving. Mine was a life pothole. It yanked me out of my daily routine, smacked me in the face and left me to try and pick up the pieces.

When I first started this blog almost a year ago, it was to raise awareness about mental health and living with depression. Over the year, the blog evolved and became about living each day and making the best of life. I’ve tried to write posts that are positive, inspiring and life giving. I have been focusing on the good.

And I want to continue to do that.

But I don’t want to forget why I began writing here to begin with. I wanted to share my story of depression, the ups and downs, the judgement and the support, the struggles and the triumphs. I wanted to be honest and real about what it is like to live with mental illness.

How can I be real if I don’t share my times of struggle as well as all of the good?

My goal is to be vulnerable and hopefully through my openness and honesty, I can help someone else who goes through what I go through. Depression is awful. It is suffocating, exhausting, painful and cruel.

My depression attacked in full force this week. I have been struggling on and off for a few weeks, hiding it as best I can and pretending everything is fine, while enduring the inner battle. But that is exhausting and on Monday I broke.

I left work and headed straight to the doctor where I was put on a leave of absence for one week. My doctor told me to go back and see her if I wasn’t ready to go back to work next week.

The last few days have been spent mostly in bed. There have been tears, but mostly I am too exhausted to do anything. I get up for a couple of hours and then have to go back to bed. Yesterday washing my face and brushing my teeth left me so exhausted that I went back to bed for 6 hours.

Today I went out for a few hours and then fell asleep almost immediately when I got home. I am worn out. I don’t have much of an appetite. When I am awake, my mind is racing so fast that I get overwhelmed and panicked. Then exhaustion takes over again and I go back to bed.

Why am I sharing this? I promise I am not looking for sympathy. I am sharing this because this is depression. This is what it looks like. And there are millions of people around the world who are suffering.

And many of those suffering are not as lucky as I am, because I have solid support around me. I have an amazing family caring for me. I have friends supporting, loving and praying for me. I have a good doctor who is working with me to help me heal.

And I have hope.

I have hope because I know I will pull through this. I have hope because I am not in this alone. I have hope because I have faith. I’ve been here before and God has always given me the strength to fight through it. He has never failed me.

And I have worked really hard to get where I am today. Nobody can accuse me of not trying. I have tried really hard to be healthy and happy, and for the most part I have done quite well.

Depression is a disease. It is an illness I have and am forced to deal with. It is not who I am.

However, this latest bout of my depression has brought up some questions, and I realize I do have some decisions to make in the near future. But for now I am focused on getting better.

I am also recognizing that perhaps I need to take some pressure off myself as well. I need to take it one step at a time, day by day.

And that’s ok.

Because it will get better.

I will get better.

 

 

Family

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Family can be much more than blood relations. Yes, we are all born into a family, but we also have the opportunity to create a family or families throughout our lives. If we’re lucky, we’ll have many families including the one that shares our DNA.

I have been blessed by family in countless ways. I was born into an amazing family. My mom, dad and sister are fantastic people, who I love deeply. My extended family is full of wonderful, kind, generous and caring individuals. I have two beautiful nieces and two awesome nephews, and a brother in law who is the brother I never had. Yes, I am lucky. God placed me in an incredible family.

I have also been blessed by the families I have built in my life. Friends who mean so much to me that they are much more than just friends. They are a part of me and hold special places in my heart. They are the ones that I may not see or talk to often, but when we are together, it is like we were never apart. Our lives and hearts are intertwined and there is a bond that cannot be broken.

17 months ago I moved back to the Windsor area to spend some time with my immediate family. I loved being near them and ended up sticking around and now have no plans to leave.

Living close to my family has been a gift. It was something I desperately needed, but had no idea that I was missing. The best decision I ever made was stay here instead of heading back to Toronto.

I love being able to go out for dinner with my parents, or drop by my sister’s house for a visit, or take my niece and nephew out for ice cream. Nothing compares to being physically close to them.

Today I feel doubly blessed because I am close to the family God gave me, and over the last 6 months I have built an incredible family around me as well.

In March 2014 I started a church gathering in Windsor. The church is Three Rivers, and it is an international church that was started by my friends and pastors in Australia. They asked me to start and lead a gathering in Windsor, and with just 4 others, we began to meet weekly.

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The start was slow and there were weeks when only 2 of us showed up. We wondered if we would ever grow, but we kept going, relying on faith.

Over the last few months our gathering has grown, reaching double digits in numbers.

But it isn’t the number that attends that matters. What matters is the family we have created.

I have attended many church gatherings, home churches and small groups, but I have never experienced anything quite like what we have at Three Rivers Windsor.

We are so much more than a home church. We are more than just a community of people gathering to worship our Lord. We are a family.

We are doing life together, sharing our stories, being vulnerable, supporting one another, and cheering each other on.

It is more than just a weekly gathering. We are going to dinners, grabbing coffee, talking on the phone, asking advice, sharing our struggles, attending shows and sporting events, and hanging out together.

We are bonding and digging deep together. We are able to admit our mistakes, share our faults and divulge our imperfections without judgement or backlash. Instead the response is acceptance and love.

Our family is a safe place. We’ve laughed together and cried together. We share our ups and downs, the good days and the bad. We offer each other advice or a shoulder to cry on.

We are a family.

We lift each other up, never put each other down. We accept each person who walks through the door, no matter their struggles or brokenness. We fight for each other and we pray for each other. We encourage each other and we listen to each other.

The tagline of Three Rivers is Belong and Be Loved.

And that is truly what it is. All are welcome. All are accepted. None of us are perfect. We all struggle. We are all broken.

But we know we are loved. And we know we belong.

We are family.

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