This post is a little longer than I would usually do. I tossed up whether to break it up into Part 5 and Part 6 but after thinking about it – I decided that it feels like it’s time to wrap up my unplugged series – so all that is left to say is contained within Part 5. I do hope you won’t mind reading through it all!
HOW AM I NOW?
I’m in a much better place now – but I am changed. I didn’t know it at first, but I can feel it with certainty now. I will never again be the same person I was before the incident … but that is ok with me … in fact I believe it is a blessing! I have some issues that still need working through and some that could be permanent or at least long-lasting that I will need to adapt my life to accommodate.
Let’s firstly talk about the Big D (depression) and get that one out of the way. I refer to the Big D as a ‘he’ – I mean no offence to all the males that might read this. The Big D visited me way back when this all first happened but then seemed to dissipate to the point where it was anxiety that was the main concern. It seems I had been living with a false sense of security though as he was lurking just under the surface all that time.
You may remember me saying that when I was in hospital in May 2012 I refused anti-depressants. I did this because I wanted the chance to try and handle it naturally. I believe people are whacked on drugs far too quickly these days – before being given any chance of trying alternative methods first. I also believe that medications treat the symptoms but do not treat the underlying reasons that the Big D has visited in the first place. I wanted the chance to work my way through things in my own way. Additionally, I did not want the weight gain that inevitably comes with taking anti-depressants (please note that this is not the case for everyone!).
I was doing well – the Big D had gone (or so I thought). Unfortunately, the Big D wasn’t finished with me. In March this year he came back for an unwelcome visit. He crept up on me out of the blue and caught me unprepared. It was so sudden and so fierce that he took the breath out of me as he pushed me into the dark hole and smothered me in a thick, heavy darkness. It was as bad, if not worse, then the first time he had visited. I was so mad, so angry! How dare he visit me again! I was rid of him and I had done it all by myself by being pro-active. I started my blog. I was practicing positive thinking and gratitude. I was expressing myself and working my way through what had happened to me. I was proud of myself for not just falling in a heap but taking active steps to fight the Big D off.
Some of you might remember when in my angry efforts to fight off the Big D, I wrote a blog post and published it. I wanted people to see what the Big D does to you. I was attempting a thoughtful but raw expression of what the Big D is. It was stupid to do that. I was too far under the Big D’s influence. I eventually deleted that blog post. It was angry and whiny and so not me. It was him and he is too ugly and revolting to be on my blog.
So here I was 10 months on, back in the same place I started. I made a doctor’s appointment and I asked for anti-depressants. I was exhausted and tired. I had tried everything and I had no energy left. I decided that I needed a little helping hand this time to rid myself of the Big D. I am on the most minimum dose. It has helped. I am not jumping around for joy but the Big D has backed off and I am hopeful that he is not anywhere nearby. I have gained weight (ho-hum!). I still stand by my right to have a chance to try and work through it my own way first. If I were to do the time over again, I would make the same choice.
Now let’s talk about my new companion Miss A (Anxiety). I think of Anxiety as a female, because she can be such a bitch (sorry girls!!) LOL. Miss A is not causing as much trouble as she used to. Well – she is not quite as extreme as she was initially, but she is still with me and I think she could be sticking around for the long-term.
She is a ball of fear that lives within me all day, every day. I feel her mostly in my chest. She is mostly just a dull presence unless I or someone else pushes her buttons. She causes me frequent headaches and sometimes quite severe migraines. She makes me avoid doing things that might upset her – like:
- Going into the city (that is where I worked – now a no go zone)
- Anywhere with lots of noise (my head can’t handle it – I now have a noise sensitivity)
- Crowded places (freak me out)
- Driving somewhere unfamiliar (I will most certainly die!)
- Trying to do too many things in one day (I get overwhelmed, befuddled and exhausted)
I do try to push her boundaries. I recently went to my first blogger meet up. It was not far from home and therefore not in unfamiliar territory (big bonus). It was with some bloggers I had got to know quite well on-line and felt excited to meet. I was not anxious about it until the night before. What would I wear? What would they think of me? Would I be a disappointment? What if Miss A froze my social capabilities and I made a dill of myself? The morning of the event, I could feel the knot of fear worsening in my chest. I felt that I looked awful in everything I tried on. I couldn’t make my hair look right. I could feel a headache developing. I took Panadol. I took a Valium (yep I have some on hand just in case!). I spoke to myself saying things like “It’s just the anxiety. You’ll be fine. You’re good at chatting. No-one cares what you look like. You will enjoy yourself. They will like you.” I felt a new confidence wash over me. I am getting better at handling Miss A. I went to that blogger meet up. I drove there, I parked my car and I walked in with confidence. I chatted with ease to most of those present. I enjoyed myself very much!
I will keep pushing the boundaries with Miss A. I think she will be around for quite some time, so it’s in my best interest to work out how to handle her! 😉
Understanding my limitations
I used to work full-time in the city. I’d spend 2 hours per day commuting. I’d leave home between 7:00 – 7:30am and not get home till somewhere between 6:00 – 7:00pm. I would walk through the door straight to the kitchen to cook dinner. I would run my kids around to their various activities, attend school events, and was Secretary on a Committee at the school. Additionally I ran a household – washing, ironing, cleaning, gardening, cooking. I would go to pilates once per week. I went to boot camp on a Saturday. I exercised each day. I made a point of cooking healthy, nutritional food. I tried to keep up with friends and family. I looked after our two dogs….and more!
I have to pace myself very, very differently nowadays. I can no longer handle a fast pace or too much activity in one day. I am very easily overwhelmed and I tire out more quickly than I ever used to.
I am not as organised I used to be. My mind is a little more scattered and has trouble concentrating for long periods. I have to do things in short spurts.
As to which of these things will be with me for the long-term and which might improve – it is a mystery. Whatever the case may be, I’ve adjusted my sails and am doing what I can to manage what I want to do as best as I can.
As for the past and all that happened in May 2012 – it has been released. I don’t think about it. I don’t dwell on it. Rather – I think that perhaps it happened for a reason. That reason being that that phase of my life was no longer serving me and that my life was meant to move along a new path that leads to better things.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNT ABOUT MYSELF?
- I remember doing a Myers Briggs Test at work years ago. I scored quite highly as an extrovert but a bit higher as an introvert. I could lean both ways … but at my core I was an introvert. I have learnt that as I have got older and particularly following the incident in May 2012 – there is no question that I am leaning far, far more towards my introvert side. I need lots and lots of time alone. Alone time is how I restore my energy and is essential for me.
- I have become far more spiritual and reflective. For the first time in my life I am reading spiritual/self-help books. I read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and have just had delivered the next two books I ordered to read: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L. Hay. I am loving reading these kind of books. They are comforting and empowering. I am interested in learning to meditate. It’s the key to quieting a busy mind and finding peace and calm. I plan to soon start doing Yoga. This will beautifully complement the direction in which I am wanting to take my life.
- I love to express myself through writing. I love having my own blog. I did a lot of writing in my work but of course it was not the same kind of writing I do for my blog. Having a blog is a great outlet and has been like therapy for me. There is a tendency to over-share a bit on a blog and I constantly have to analyse what is ok to share and what feels too uncomfortable to share. Strangely, I am more comfortable having complete strangers reading my blog than knowing that family or close friends are reading my blog. It is hard but in the end I do what I want to do for ME. If I want to share this stuff and I feel comfortable to do so – then I try not to think about who might be reading it. If it changes their opinion of me, then that is their story, not mine.
- Photography. I had an existing interest in photography. In fact, my husband bought me my first SLR camera a few years back for my birthday. Back then of course I did not have the time to learn how to use my new camera to its potential or to practice my photography. By doing my 365 Grateful Project and needing to take a photograph each day, my interest in photography was re-ignited. There has always been a need within me for creativity. It disappeared when children came along and life became too busy. I get a strong sense that my renewed love for Photography is what I am meant to be pursuing right now and that it will lead me in the direction which is intended for me. Perhaps it will unlock some more creativity within me that has been squashed and tucked away all these years. Time will tell!
Stuff I need to work on
- Balance. I’m still working on getting the right balance and order in my life. I’m still disorganised. I need to better balance: housework / photography studies / blogging / keeping up with friends and family / exercise. I am doing all those things – except exercise. I know that I need to fit in some regular exercise. I also know that I no longer feel like a gym is the place for me. I believe long brisk walks in the outdoors is better food for my soul. I think I need to better schedule my weeks!
- I have a serious self-esteem issue. I have a lot of negative self talk that goes on. I struggle with accepting my aging self and all that comes with it – the constant struggles with weight, the changes to my body and face, the strange pre-menopausal hormonal changes and their effects, the invisibility that comes with middle age.
- Photographs of myself. Oh dear. I have a real problem here. I cannot stand photographs of myself. I’ve put a few of myself on my blog and on other social media but only ones that are approved as ‘acceptable’ by myself. Recently, I realised just how severe this problem is. Another blogger (who I adore – you know who you are) posted a photograph of me, at the recent blogger event I attended, on Instagram. I saw it and was horrified. In my mind – I looked awful! Worse than awful … revolting!! I was slouched, my hair looked awful, my neck looked droopy, I looked OLD and unattractive. I posted some comment along the lines of how awful I look and how unphotogenic I am. Then Miss A sat bolt upright and told me that by doing that I had insulted this blogger. This blogger had written such kind and lovely words about me being gorgeous and intuitive…and there I go and say how revolting I am! I really hope that my insecurities and self-esteem issues didn’t mean that I insulted this blogger.
I recently went out with my sisters. I told them about the photograph and showed it to them. They said things like “Oh it’s fine. You look nice. There’s nothing wrong with it etc”. So … do I have some unrealistic vision in my head of what I look like so that when I see a photograph of what I really look like I am in shock? Then one of my sisters says “Oh that’s nothing. You should see this photo that was taken of me at a wedding I went to recently”. She pulls out her phone and brings up the photograph. She looks fine! She looks just like her! She says “but look how fat and dowdy that dress makes me look”. It didn’t make her look fat and dowdy. She looked fine! So does she too have an unrealistic image of herself in her head so that when she sees a photograph of herself she is shocked and hates it? How many women do this to themselves? What is this weird phenomena? Why do I cringe in horror at just about every photograph I see of myself? Quite obviously this problem is all tied in with my self-esteem issues. It is one that I intend to resolve. See the next dot point!
- Loving and accepting myself. This is the big one. This is the key to everything! If I can achieve this, then I believe I will achieve happiness and if I achieve that then everything in my life will fall into place. As I said earlier, I have had some new books arrive, one of which is “You can Heal Your Life” by Louise L. Hay. I have opened the front cover and read the first few pages. I know this will make my post even longer but it IS my post so I can write as much as I want LOL. I want to share the notes she wrote at the beginning of the book which outline her philosophy.
We are each responsible for all of our experiences.
Every thought we think is creating our future.
The point of power is always in the present moment.
Everyone suffers from self-hatred and guilt.
The bottom line for everyone is, “I’m not good enough.”
It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.
We create every so-called illness in our body.
Resentment, criticism, and guilt are the most damaging patterns.
Releasing resentment will dissolve even cancer.
We must release the past and forgive everyone.
We must be willing to begin to learn to love ourselves.
Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the keys to positive changes.
When we really love ourselves, everything in our life works.
For now I am listening to what my body and inner self are telling me. I believe that by doing this, it will lead me along this new path that I am sure I am meant to travel.
I am learning to pace myself as I juggle the following:
- Continuing to write for and evolve my blog
- Doing a Diploma in Professional Photography (on-line)
- Running a household
- Looking after my two dogs
- Being a good mum
- Being a good wife
- Learning to love and nurture myself
- Keeping up with friends and family
- Trying to introduce some regular exercise!
Sometimes it all gets too much for me and I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it is all going along well. Every now and then (like now) I need a little bloggy break to catch up on things that have been neglected.
It is my hope that eventually I will learn to love and accept myself, I will become more present and conscious in the now, I will find peace and happiness, and that ultimately the stars will align, everything will fall into place and my future becomes crystal clear. I hope to be able to combine my passions (writing, photography and who knows what else might arise) and make them my new career. I want to love what I do and do what I love. In the meantime, I will continue to push the boundaries with Miss A, kick the Big D to the curb, learn to overcome my self-esteem issues, and continue to pace myself within my current and future limitations.
This brings us to the end of this series. I hope that someone out there has gained something from reading the series and perhaps even has some new hope or ideas on how to get through a similar situation. Thank you for listening!
The images used for this posts banner image are not my own and image credits are below.
Other images used in this post are hyperlinked directly to their original source.
Linking up with Essentially Jess’s #IBOT
Categories: General Mish Mash