Progress

The holidays came and they brought with them happiness. I was excited to watch our girls open their gifts and I was excited to see our family and friends. I took some additional time off of work to spend time with the girls and hang out and play with all the new stuff and purge the old stuff. Shortly after Christmas we took off for Arizona to go off-roading again with our friends. That was an eventful trip with only one mishap. On New Year’s Eve there was a man that was pretty intoxicated and was very loud and a little obnoxious. I mean he meant well and was having a good time but he was just a little too loud for comfort. We were playing a dice game, Left Right Center, and of course he had to sit directly across from me. As the game progressed the worse I got. My anxiety began to go crazy, I could not sit still, my mind was racing and I was struggling to keep it together. I kept looking for my husband but he was somewhere else. A friend saw that I was struggling and offered to get me a glass of wine and sent me a few text messages meant to make me laugh. Finally the game had come to a close and he left but at that point I was then done. I was mentally drained from trying to keep it together. Other people were getting a little frustrated with his behavior as well but we understand that he was just trying to have a good time. I’m not throwing blame or anything, it’s just these little occurrences that shut me down and most times I cannot come back from it. That night was one of them as I found myself back in our motor home, alone, way before midnight leaving my husband and daughter to celebrate New Year’s together.

It’s just one of those things that I will have to learn to accept unless I am able to develop some sort of coping mechanism that can pull me together. I’m learning that I just need to accept these occurrences as long as they don’t take over and affect my life. And by accepting the bad days and not giving in to the sadness/anxiety means that I am making progress.

So this is what it feels like

My friend had warned me about blowing money and to be careful. I was the thrifty one in the family and soon found myself blowing money left and right. Now, it was Christmas shopping season but I went above and beyond. Our youngest daughter had been asking for a dirt bike for some time now and our middle child was turning 16 two days after Christmas. I immediately wanted to buy both girls these big gifts for their birthdays since they were both on and after Christmas babies. I went to my husband and told him that I wanted to get the girls the car and dirt bike and I think he was a little shocked. We ended up buying our youngest a new dirt bike and we found a killer deal on a used Fiat 500 that was super clean and very low mileage. The minute we made both purchases I felt so happy. Like it was the first time I truly felt happiness in a long time. And when I sit back and compare what I thought was happiness to what I was currently feeling wasn’t even comparable. It felt amazing, like a high, knowing how happy we were going to make our girls. I hated having to keep it a secret so long, I just wanted to tell them so bad.

Our oldest daughter had come out with her boyfriend and we all had a wonderful time. My parents also came out and we all went and spent the day Santa’s Village. Again, pure joy and happiness. Just getting to hang with my family and laugh felt amazing. We ice skated and went zip-lining and rock climbing and much more. I remember thinking that if this is happiness what the heck was I experiencing all these years because the two don’t compare.

I was stoked to finally being able to truly feel emotions, even the negative ones. I knew things were progressing and I was healing. I knew that this was something that I was going to live with for the rest of my life and that I was going to experience highs and lows. But the difference now is that I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel and my skies wouldn’t always be gray.

Gotta make that money

My next hurdle was knowing that I had to go back to work at some point. Now work was not the complete cause of everything that happened but it was the final straw that broke this camels back. Me holding everything in for all of these years along with the pressures of life and the stress at work and me spreading myself thin just did me in. Ricky kept telling me that I didn’t have to go back to work for at least a year because I was collecting a portion of my income through disability. I was close to making what I made working plus you figure gas and food and after school care for our youngest it would all even out.

Right after Thanksgiving my employer sent me a letter telling me that if I didn’t report back to work on December 10th I would no longer have a position with my company because I did not qualify for FMLA since I hadn’t been there a year yet. I received the letter on Tuesday the 4th and I had to report in less than a week. After I got off the phone with my HR coordinator from confirming what the letter said I about lost my shit. My last memory of work was my nervous breakdown and so I was scared that with my mental well-being not as strong as it could be and I am still healing, I was worried that going back to work would set me into another tailspin. Ricky again told me that I did not have to go back and that we could make it work but I did not want to alter our lifestyle and put stress on him. Plus, I needed to go back to keep my medical benefits. That week I cleaned everything, I organized closets and anything I could get my hands on, I went through and gutted my daughters closet and deep cleaned her room and moved all her furniture around (good thing she was stoked with the outcome). I could not sit still for longer then 20 minutes. My mind was constantly racing and I slept like poop that week.

D-day had arrived and I returned to work. I clocked in, took the hugs that were given, poured myself a big cup of coffee, and went to talk with my supervisor. The one person that had put so much stress on my shoulders had resigned so that relieved some of the anxiety I was experiencing. I then found out that things were so much better throughout the clinics and communication was better and people were happier and morale was better. I literally had so much weight immediately taken off my shoulders. I felt so much relief after that talk. I was told to take things slowly, I didn’t have to deal with patients unless I felt comfortable and my high need patients were being handled by other staff. They took my work cell phone away which was amazing because clients did not need that much access to me. They were making so many accommodations for me that I was now so excited to be back. I was happy to see my co-workers because I did miss them. It felt good to be back in action (just at a slower pace).

It felt good to be back, I was relieved to know that things were much more emotionally supportive. It felt good to be back in the saddle and know that I was taking baby steps at getting back to my life.

Familiar Interactions

Interacting with people is something I took baby steps into because in all honesty…it scared the shit out of me. Now that everyone knows what I have been through and how close I was to ending it all, I kind of felt like everyone was looking at me and felt sorry for me. I also felt that I had let those I care about down. The first time I had to interact with family was when I went to my aunt and uncle’s house because my little cousin came home to visit and we did a big dinner for everyone to come and see her and the new baby. Well I was shitting bricks the entire drive down there. I started to get super nervous the closer I got to the house. And when we walked in my anxiety was through the roof. I knew everyone there loved and cared about me but in my demented mind I was thinking that they all were pitying me or felt sorry for me. I made through the evening and went home. Part of that drive I just cried as my daughter slept in the backseat. It just hurt that I couldn’t enjoy myself and that internally my brain was a complete shit show.

My best friend Michelle aka my sister from another mother had a baby shower coming up and I just couldn’t even consider going. Just the thought alone scared the poop out of me. I didn’t want people asking me how I was doing or talk about anything regarding what happened on Michelle and Matt’s special day. I also couldn’t handle large crowds. So I drove out to there house to visit with Michelle and her mom. We hung out for a little, talked a little about how I was doing, and just chit-chatted a while. I also went and visited with my aunt and hung out for a little bit and just talked. It felt good but I still just felt internally anxious.

Thanksgiving was coming up and we had planned a trip to Arizona to go off-roading for 5 days with a bunch of friends, Ricky’s best friend Chris and Kevin/Codi and their kids. My husband gave me the option to cancel and stay home but I knew I needed to get out and riding relaxed me. For the most part it went well. I had a nightmare that woke me up screaming the morning of Thanksgiving (more on that another post). I didn’t hang out late at night like I usually did. One night I started to have a panic attack while sitting by the fire. I remember sitting in the middle of everyone and I would be in conversation with someone but everyone else was talking amongst themselves and then someone else was trying to ask me a question when it came on. It was just this weird feeling where all I could hear was everyone else talking and my brain couldn’t keep up. Thank goodness Codi had stayed up to hang out with me because she had picked up on it. We started playing a card game, Cards Against Humanity, and it was kind of hard to concentrate. I had a few laughs and then I drew a card that said something along the lines of committing suicide. I remember just sitting there staring at the car and my mind was blank. Like nothing happening up stairs and I couldn’t put it down or play a card or even discard it. Codi was sitting next to me and saw the card and grabbed it out of my hand and gave me a new one and snapped me out of it. The days went on, we rode, we drank, we laughed and I had a good time. It was a getaway that I’m glad we went on.

I was making progress one day at a time and I knew I needed to include the people that cared and loved me. I went about it the way I could and tried not to push myself. I also had to remind myself that people loved and cared about me, not pity me or feel bad for me.

Flash Forward

All my previous posts have dated back to the end of 2017 from when everything began. But today I come to you live at 10:22 am on January 11, 2019 from my office. I am back at work and have been since December 10th. I have had many good days with a few bad days and a just a few so-so days. But today is just a shitty day all together. I wanted to jump forward to today because I have been reading several different blogs and I have found something that I have been struggling with that I have kept to myself that many others struggle daily with. I keep it in because I don’t want to scare those around me.

I’m still carrying the feeling in my heart that I am better off gone and that my friends and family would be better off without me. I came to work with a smile, an on point outfit and fresh hair but internally I feel like shit. You would look at me and think everything is okay because that is what I want people to think. I don’t want to be that depressing person, I don’t want to be Eeyore. I still find myself questioning what would be better for everyone and what would be better for me….here or gone? Now as you read this I don’t want anyone to panic, I have no intent to harm myself, I am not having any suicidal thoughts nor ideations. I am simply struggling with the idea that I am doing more good than bad to those around me. As I sit here and write this I am trying to keep the tears at bay because I don’t want to mess my make-up because again, I am at work. I love my life, I love my family, I love my friends, I love my job, I love where I live….but I would love not to feel the pain and I would love not to have these feelings.

I keep reminding myself that these days will come and go and that I need to remember the days where I am so happy that I feel like a kid in a candy store. I need to remember that my little mini me will only be raised by my husband and I. I need to remember that I will be the only woman my husband loves for the rest of his life. And I need to remember that this is a minor setback and that there are bigger and better things waiting for me out there. And I know all of this, I just want to get these feelings off my chest because I have seen and read so many other stories of people struggling with the same thing that I am. I wear a necklace with a key that says “Let Go” around my neck everyday as a reminder to just let go of the things that I cannot control and just take things day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

Progress

I started to do more to get back into the swing of things. I made sure laundry was done, house was cleaned (because it needed to not because I was using it as a stress reliever), I worked out in the yard and I spent time hanging out on the couch watching movies. But with every day of progress I had days that felt like I was taking a step backwards. I found it hard to be in crowds, I struggled with family functions, I started to struggle with my sleep, and I began having nightmares (more on that later). I tried to remember to take it day by day and not get down on myself. I allowed myself to cry if that’s what I felt like doing as long as I wasn’t constantly doing it. The only thing that kept nagging at me was what to do with my career. My husband kept telling me that I didn’t have to go back and that I should just take a year off. But all I could think about is how that would change our lifestyle and I didn’t want to put our financial obligations all on his shoulders. I tried not to worry about it and instead take it day by day.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress” ~Frederick Douglass

Moving On

Those next few days were all new territory for me. After reading my last post you would think everything was honky dory and I lived happily ever after. I was thankful for the new start but now I had to figure everything out all over again. I had to be vocal about my feelings with those around me. I had to focus on me and me only. I wasn’t allowed to worry or stress or try and help everyone else. I wasn’t allowed to think past the current. I wasn’t allowed to plan things. I wasn’t allowed to clean or organize because I was stressed or worried (that was probably the hardest because I would clean daily). I found myself sitting on my ass watching tv. My mom would call me regularly to see how I was doing. Kevin would call or text to check in on me. I would get text messages here and there with people just dropping by to say they loved me. But I still had no clue what to do. How the heck to you recover or heal from wanting to kill yourself? I’ve lived with the depression and anxiety and OCD for years and here I am having to start over at 36. Not knowing what to do is what started to get to me. I am the type of person that has a plan for almost everything, organizes her closet by color, has to have the towels folded a particular way and cannot stand when things are uneven. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…..I’m a crazy fucking control freak. But dude, my house is on point and I get shit done !! 🙂 But anyways, back to my story. I began to feel like I was worthless again. I had all these people checking in on me and all I could think was that “I’ve let all these people down” instead of “wow, look at all these people that love and care about me”. I was focusing on the negatives instead of the positives. I pretty much expected myself to just rebound quickly and things would move right along to a smooth recovery (you’re having the control freak thought again). I felt bad that I kept everything in from my parents, my brother, my husband, my best friends and so on. I felt bad that I got so angry at Codi and Kevin, even though they are the ones that pretty much saved my life. I felt like I let my kids down. I was feeling all of these negative emotions when and I didn’t know how to stop them.

I was told I needed to get out and go for a jog or a hike or just go outside and work on the yards (all stuff I like). After about a week I took my first hike up the closest mountain which overlooks the entire town and holy shit balls was it amazing.It felt good to get out and see the natural beauty of where I live and to release all of the pent up energy. And then shit took a turn for the worse. I was walking around and I found a swiss army knife on the ground. I started checking it out to see if it was in good condition and in working order and that’s when I found the knife. I sat on the rock and just stared at it and then my wrist. I started to think that I could just end it right now, end all of my negative thoughts, end all the pain and finally be free of it all. After everything I had just been through, I actually sat there and contemplated cutting my wrists. And then I was like, “what the fuck Liz” and I remember standing up and throwing the knife as far a I could. It scared me that I even considered it and thought about it. I stayed up on the mountain a little longer and then went home where Rick was waiting. I told him what happened, well the less worrisome version, because I didn’t want him to worry and send me back to the hospital. After that I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself to heal quickly when I needed to just slow down and take it day by day. This was not going to be a sprint but instead a marathon.

From then on I made sure I got out of the house a little each day. I would work on the yards, go for walks, watch Christmas movies, went back to coaching soccer, and cleaning because it needed to be done and not because I was stressing or anxious. I needed to do the things that made me happy at a pace I could handle. I was still thrown some curve balls; 1) When I went back to soccer I found it hard to focus because there were people everywhere yelling and laughing and just loud noises and it freaked me out. But I pushed through it because I loved soccer and I wanted to be there for my daughter 2) I didn’t want to go into town to do any type of shopping. I didn’t want to run in to people and see the pity in their eyes. I thought that people were staring at me and feeling sorry for me so I went shopping with my friend Christyl out of the area. 3) I wasn’t able to take my daughter trick-or-treating because of all the people and yelling and kids laughing and the loud noise. Thank god I had amazing people in my healing circle and Kevin and Codi took her with them.

Things also got better. I finally got the courage to send Codi a text message. I missed her so much and she saved me and I couldn’t bare to see her because of the anger I had toward her that night. And not long after the text we went over to their house and I was able to finally see her and give her the biggest hug ever. And then Christyl and I went to Glen Ivy and spent the day getting a massage, facial, mud bath and all types of relaxing stuff. It was nice to get out of the house and spend time with someone that I knew wasn’t judging me or had pity for me. We both had a wonderful time. And then I started riding my quad again, that was very cathartic. Rick, Kevin and I went out for a ride one day and boy did I feel. All this time I would go through the motions but I still couldn’t feel happiness or joy or humor…just the sadness still lingering. But when I was alone on my quad it felt good. Then we started going on night rides in the side-by-sides with Kevin and Codi and family and that felt good. And then we did a day ride with Chad and Christyl and Chris and kids and that also felt good.

I began to realize that all the advice I told my patients about taking things in stride and taking one day at a time was the same advice I myself needed to take. I would eventually start to feel the emotions again, I just had to be patient. I would have my bad days, I just needed to remind myself that those will pass. I just needed to take one day at a time.