BringChange2Mind

November 16, 2010

Making Hard Decisions

Filed under: Story, Youth — Tags: , , , , , , — Linea @ 12:29 pm

A few months ago I got the exciting opportunity to work on a project that fit perfectly with my interests. Though I already had three part time jobs I felt that this opportunity was too exciting and wonderful to pass up. I convinced myself that I could do it. I am a pro at juggling many things and persuaded myself I could manage it all based on the fact that I do my best work when I am right on the edge of having too much.

All was running smoothly at the beginning, but like life always does, something I had not planned or scheduled occurred. Though I am not really religious it was as if something or someone was stepping in to intervene, reminding me that when you schedule every minute of your life you have no time to take care of yourself or those unexpected events.

As I was going along working all of my jobs, feeling excited and challenged, I forgot about my yearly manic/mixed episode. I forgot that sometimes I can’t actually control my feelings and mind and that I can’t just make it go away by ignoring it.

On a Sunday afternoon, after weeks of anxious energy and agitated depression I had a visit from my parents. Though my parents are wonderfully caring and always present we rarely sit in my apartment and talk. But this day, the two sat across from me in true intervention style.

They were worried. They knew I had stopped eating again, losing ten pounds in a little over two weeks. They knew I wasn’t sleeping, but instead cleaning the bathroom at midnight. My wonderful parents knew that though I loved this project and the woman I was working for it was detrimental to my health, the added anxiety taking me through the roof with my mixed, energized and anxious depression.

My drive to do everything is like an addiction. Though I know it is bad for me I simply cannot stop, constantly convincing myself that it is necessary. I had to quit this need to do everything at once. I had to stop working for ten hours a day for months without taking care of myself, seeing my friends, or even spending time with my boyfriend. My life had been nothing but work so even thinking about cutting back led to anxiety attack after anxiety attack.

Something dramatic had to change before I had to be hospitalized again, and yet, I couldn’t image my life with one less thing on my plate. I didn’t know what to do to take care of myself.

I eventually resigned from the position, sending the email with my heart in my throat and my eyes swollen with tears. Today I am trying to continue taking care of myself. Trying to find time to just sit and do nothing. But it still makes me unbelievably anxious.

Taking care of yourself is a process. And though people may think I am “together” or “stable” it is something I still struggle with. We all deal with the frustration and pain that accompanies these illnesses in different ways but it is important to remind ourselves to care for our needs, even if it seems impossible and painful in itself.

I am very lucky to have the family I have to help me realize when I am in a bad place, but many times all we have is ourselves. Remember to check in with yourself when you feel that you are moving further from a place of safety and care. Reach out to friends as you try to change bad habits or make changes in your life. I know for me it will be a constant process as more and more opportunities come my way, but I will try because I know that I want to continue the work that I am doing, because I know that I want to see my friends and family again, and because, most importantly, I know I don’t want to be hospitalized again.

What are you doing to take care of yourself? How do you make these difficult changes and why is it important?

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6 Comments »

  1. Really awesome & honest writing! 4 words——W.R.A.P. I don’t think enough people know about this.

    Comment by Bronna — November 16, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  2. You did the right thing! Sometimes it is essential to sit on the couch and just relax. Everyone has different ways of taking care. I like to cook elaborate meals while drinking wine and watching “The Real Housewives of Wherever”… This does absolutely nothing to get my grad school homework done or make the house cleaner, or grade student work, but it renews me so I can get back to work when I want to. I was thinking about Americans vs. some Europeans in terms of work, family time, etc. We work too hard, and don’t spend enough time eating, sleeping, and playing in healthy ways. I wonder how our entire society can shift into a more balanced way of life? Maybe we should start a movement called, “Americans for healthy happiness, less work, and good food”. I feel like I, at least am more productive when I do something nice for myself every day. Spas should be free! So should dark chocolate! I want a damn siesta every single day! I could go on…

    Comment by Jordan Swain — November 16, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  3. This is true to my life in ways you wouldn’t even believe. Your mom was right when she commented on my blog the other week about how much our experiences have in common. I just wanted to commend you for being so open about the day-to-day struggle. I definitely know how hard that can be. As someone else who lives very publicly with a mental health disorder, I’m truly grateful to have your perspective. You’re right that we all need to make more times for ourselves and always keep in the back of our mind that things can go haywire at any time. Loved reading this post.

    Be well,

    Marc

    PS. You’re incredible 🙂

    Comment by Marc Peters — November 16, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  4. Well done, you did what you had to do and I know how difficult that decision must have been. The process you mention will never end. Best wishes.

    Comment by valnyc — November 16, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  5. I can truely relate to what you have exprienced. I, myself, as a person who tends to be and overachiever and a perfectionist, find it hard to slow down and take care of myself. As someone who works as a mental health, I understand the desire to become involved with every project. I can only say that I at one point felt the same as you, that I do better with more on my plate. I have learned, and some would say the hard way, that I can not do this. It did indeed nearly cost me my life, but through that experience I have taken that lesson and moved forward to share it with others. I now know that the only one who has the highest expectations of me is myself. I have given myself the grace and permission to be human, flawed and beautiful in all of my experiences. That is what makes me who I am.

    Comment by Katie — November 16, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

  6. Hi Linea,

    A heartbreaking, but honest piece to read.

    I’ve been struggling lately too, as this is my first fall/winter in a couple years where I don’t have the help of antidepressant meds to help me through the darkness and stress. Actively maintaining good mental health can be a challenge and often gets pushed down in priorities as you have mentioned. Recently, to work towards the good mental health, I have been trying new recipes (breads, soups) to perk my interest in eating and teaching myself new crafting skills (sewing, crocheting). I find that learning something new is a great distraction from negative thoughts and also a confidence booster.

    You take care of yourself, Linea. And when you’re ready for some social activity, I’m in the neighborhood. 🙂

    Alyssa

    Comment by Alyssa — November 16, 2010 @ 3:01 pm


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