Monthly Archives: March 2015

Never Alone

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I am not naturally an open person. Various experiences in my early life caused me to shut down and keep everything bottled up. For years I never let anyone in. I lost the ability to trust, so I tried to handle all of my struggles on my own, which often didn’t work out too well.

Over the last few years, I have been learning to be more open. I am learning to share what I am feeling and going through, although I am not great at it. I have been blessed with amazing people in my life and so I have learned to trust again.

But my instinct is still to bottle everything up. My instinct is to isolate myself and deal with things alone.

I have been living on my own for the past two weeks while my parents are on vacation. This is the first time I have really been alone in months, and it is the first time since my breakdown in October.

For weeks leading up to my parents departure, I was nervous about being on my own for three weeks. Then they left and a couple of days later my anxiety went through the roof.

I became paranoid about things like leaving the stove on, not locking the door, not closing the garage door or leaving my straightener on when I left the house. I started checking all of these things over and over before leaving the house. One day, I even turned around on my way to work to confirm yet again that I had shut the garage door. Even when I hadn’t used the stove, I feared it was left on.

Even after checking and confirming that doors were locked, the stove was off and my straightener was unplugged, I was plagued with worry until I got home again.

I had a couple of panic attacks because of this anxiety.

When I saw my psychiatrist I told her what was going on and she began asking me lots of questions, and I realized she was trying to determine if I might have OCD. She made a slight change to my meds to see if it would help.

I don’t know yet if the med change has made a difference. What I do know is that these anxieties have surfaced because I am alone.

Except that I am not.

Yes, I am living alone in the house for three weeks, but I am far from alone. Last weekend at my church gathering, I shared with my prayer group that I was experiencing heightened anxiety as a result of being on my own right now. I told them everything I was going through, and a weight was almost immediately lifted from my shoulders.

They prayed for me, and I know they have been continuing to pray for me because I can feel it. And suddenly things are different this week. The anxiety is not gone, but it has been eased. Instead of checking if my straightener is unplugged 10 times, I am checking twice. The same goes for the stove, locked doors and garage door.

I am calmer, and trusting myself that I have done what I need to do before leaving the house. I still go through a checklist in my head as I go out the door, and I may run back to check one more time, but I am not panicked over it anymore.

Because I am not alone. My parents are checking in regularly, my sister is calling me, my friends are texting and calling. I am alone in the house, but not alone.

Sometime in the next year, I am going to need to move out of my parents’ house and be on my own again. This is something that I have been worried about. But I am less worried now. Just because I live alone doesn’t mean I will be lonely or anxious. I’ve learned that this week. I can function on my own. I can get to work on time. I can plan social events. I can make it to my commitments.

I am doing just fine.

And I know that if anything were to happen, I have countless people I can call for help and support.

So often in this life, many of us feel completely alone. But sometimes it is because we choose to isolate ourselves. We shut people out and fail to acknowledge those around us who love and support us. Those who want to know us, those who want to help.

I have been reminded of that. And I hope you know that too.

We are never alone.

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The Good Tired

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As many of my regular readers know, on October 4th 2014, I walked out of work and went straight to my doctor because my depression had once again become too much to bear. My doctor first put me on a one week leave of absence, which quickly led to being off work indefinitely. I quit my job and wondered if I would ever be able to work full time again.

In all honesty, I thought I was done. I had reached a point where I believed I couldn’t function in a regular full time work environment, and thought I would have to be on disability for the rest of my life.

For three and a half months, I struggled with my next steps. I wasn’t working, I wasn’t healing as well as I had in the past and I was exhausted. Every moment of every day I was exhausted, even though I was doing nothing. I spent 75% of my time sleeping, which led me to feeling even more tired.

Exhaustion is a symptom of depression. It is unfotunately a very big part of depression. No matter what I could not feel energized. Yes, the depression was zapping my energy, but the fact that I had nothing to do was also stealing it.

I started to find ways to fill my days. First I did puzzles and played games on my iPad to get my mind working. I would try to plan something for each day just to get myself out of bed, even if it was as simple as going to the drug store for toothpaste.

I started making jewelry, just for something to do, and it became a hobby I really enjoyed. I filled many days creating earrings, bracelets and necklaces. I spent many hours browsing beads, wires, clasps, charms and pendants at Michaels.

I continued leading the Three Rivers Windsor gathering every Sunday evening, one of the highlights of my week.

But I was still asleep more than I was awake. And I was still always tired.

In January, I started casually looking at part time jobs as I was beginning to feel ready to try and work a few hours a week. I applied for one job on the evening of January 8th for a part time position at a gym called Beach Walk Family Fitness. Within the hour I had a response in my email and an interview set up for Tuesday January 13th.

On the 13th I had an interview at 11am. An hour later I was asked to go in for some training that evening. I began working/training the next day, and worked every day for the rest of the week.

It all happened really fast and I can admit I was overwhelmed. I went from not working and barely doing anything, to working 5 days a week, shifts ranging from 4-8 hours in length. Now I was really exhausted!

But it was a completely different kind of exhausted. For the first time in a long time, it was a good exhausted. It felt good to be tired. It was an earned tired. It was an ‘I was busy and I accomplished something today’ tired.

My head would hit the pillow at night and I was asleep almost instantly. There was no tossing and turning, no mind spinning out of control, no waking up throughout the night.

It was a good, honest, ‘I need this’, sleep.

And it was a sleep I woke easily from, which was something I hadn’t experienced in many months.

These days I still feel tired, but it is that good tired. It is the ‘I accomplished something today’ tired. It is the ‘I am living my life’ tired.

I am energized while I am awake, and I fall asleep easily when it is time for bed. I am waking up when I need to, on time, and I am falling asleep naturally when my body and mind are tired. I am no longer taking a sleep aid every night. In fact I have only taken a sleep aid twice in the last month and a half.

And it feels good. I feel good.

Before I was desperately trying to fill my days. Now I have so much I want to do and can’t always fit it all in. How great is that?

I feel alive again. I feel useful again.

And I love my new job. I had only been looking for a part time job with about 15 hours a week. With this job I have been working 25-32 hours a week since I started, and I actually want more!

This job has been a blessing. It has helped me in the healing process and helped me to feel whole again. Every day I get to meet new people. Every day I get a chance to get to know someone new. Every day I get a chance to brighten someone else’s day with a smile or a warm greeting or a listening ear. (You’d be surprised how many people open up to gym employees). And I love it!

I feel helpful and useful. My manager is continually giving me more stuff to do, and I am continually asking for more responsibility. I am being handed admin duties, and I am being given information and tasks that most employees don’t have. I am being told that I am liked and trusted.

I feel valued, and I feel appreciated, two things I didn’t often feel at my last job.

And I am feeling the good tired.

Life has turned itself around, and I once again feel as though I am on the right path. I look forward to getting up in the morning.

And it is great.

 

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