Where Have I Even Been?

It’s been awhile; like A LONG WHILE SINCE MY LAST POST.

A lot has changed. I am currently free writing without revisiting my former posts that span over a year’s length. I want to give some insight, but maybe re-focus my intentions. My life itself was spiraling through this span of a year and then shooting back up into oblivion, all-the-while riding this Crazy Train and trying to decipher its course (heads up- don’t try and figure out the course); I think my train was lost and then looked like it would derail and then jumped back on ‘course’ and then switched to a new course.  I’m not really sure I’ve even had the words to understand or begin to understand my life and then equip any extra time to type it out; As much as I’ve felt like there’s never been more to say.

The most important lesson I learned within this last year was to just live.

My train was speeding up:

I began 2017 full of life changes (some notated through this blog): I had a minor surgery the day before New Year’s Eve and was working from home for a while when an opportunity literally fell into my lap; I began working for an agency I believed in and helping people. I was, also, working my new job and the one I was transitioning out of for awhile in two very different cities; commuting from Tacoma to Maple Valley and back (approx. only 30 miles BUT to Washingtonians we know that traffic on I-5 and then via the 18 could get pretty miserable).  I loved my new position and helping people get a little bit of help within their lives and be an ear to listen, but like all good things- they come to an end (insert wince of pain). 

CRASH:

I worked, in my perspective, alongside a pretty evil monster who manipulated everyone and everything. This person was pretty heartless and needless to say, we were very weary of one another- the difference is she held a great deal of power and I was brand new who laid all my cards and opinions on the table (what a great lesson I have learned since). I won’t say too much more because she isn’t worth the energy, but I was not the only one. Surprise, surprise I was laid off a few months after starting due to “re-organization of resources.” This human being smiled and offered to help me carry my things to my car; knowing full well that she was responsible for this. Thank God I have self-restraint- because that probably could have landed me an assault charge  on my scotch clean record.  I am not going to lie, this experience drastically ripped through every aspect of my being and tested my true depth of strength and resilience.

I had no livelihood; for the first time in my life- I had no job or way of producing a paycheck. I had less than $350 a week to live off (of course no savings either)- where the first three weeks of the month in Unemployment took care of my rent and my car payment- alone. I got sued for medical debt, I almost defaulted on my student loans, I wracked up more debt, and I was just a bitter, sad, depressed mess.

I am someone who deeply prides myself off of my work and success, and here I was unemployed and had JUST (the month prior) moved into a more expensive apartment in the city.

Yet, I met this guy about two months earlier. Before I derail you into a longer story I need to set the stage: online dating is so taboo and yet so commonly used. I don’t think I know anyone who has not or does not use some sort of Tinder, Plenty of Fish or Bumble, and this was no different. I went through a lot of heart ache over time: being used, my heart played with, having to play mommy, or just cool enough to “kick it” with, yet not cool enough to date. I grew tired of it all. So here comes this guy when I was on the up-and-up (beaming with confidence) who conveniently had his “truck stolen” and needed me to drive to him. “Yeah okay?!?,” I told myself. “Just another one of those guys.”

My confident, independent self still drove over there- yeah I know, but he was cute and I was bored.

TO BE CLEAR: I do not recommend driving to a stranger’s house to MEET a random individual because you’re bored, BUT let this dude mess with my train of crazy.

(I kind of felt bad later in our journey because he legit had his truck stolen and received a ticket in the mail, from the City, with some dude running through a red light in his stolen truck)

Well, to make a long story long, I never really left. He very quickly became my soulmate, best friend, and someone worth desperately fighting for. So right in the middle of this new job (INSERT SASSY HEAD TILT), here comes this incredible guy AND this move to a new city- all between February and April of 2017. I WAS MAKING MY MOMMA PROUD.


May 19th arrives and I take the day off so I can officiate a good friend’s magical wedding (a beautiful day full of love and excitement). Joey and I are sitting at a table and I go through my work emails to try and catch up, and a one sentence email pops up from a person I had never heard of or seen –

 “Make yourself available to meet with me Monday at 1:00.”

(Imagine a furrowed brow line, sweating poms that ensue, flared nostrils and an increased heartbeat)

Conversation that proceeds:

 

Joey- “What’s wrong?”

Me- “I just got fired.”

Joey- “No, you didn’t.”

Me- “We shall see Monday.”

I’ll save you the rest of the story about me yelling and throwing things around my office and the tears of panic of WHAT THE FU*K AM I GOING TO DO and, then, frantically driving all over the road to get to Joey’s work so I can burrow into his chest with crocodile tears and a panic attack (side-bar I officially left my previous job of 3 years that I was working part-time (while also working full-time for this agency) on April 30th– so the timing was impeccable).

My world crashed, and it crashed hard,

but he helped save me and helped me save myself. He made sure I had everything I ever needed and even what I wanted. He surprised me with flowers. Joey truly picked me up every time that I was down, and I still don’t know if I deserve a love as pure as his-

This my main squeeze ❤

20170730_164418

Yet, what I really want to get to is that I realized I had choices. Many choices.

I had the choice to crumble in depression. I had the choice to give up.  I had the choice to fly off the wall and make destructive decisions. I had the choice to run away or hide. I had the choice to have a pity party (trust me- I definitely did do some of these).

I, also, had the choice to get back up. To fight. To not accept defeat. To work harder than ever. Even while my mental health was running a Spartan marathon with no water, in last place, and with a broken femur. The bipolar didn’t so much keep me down (shockingly), but the anxiety and worry hunted and haunted me everywhere I turned. I would panic out of nowhere and everyday. I couldn’t leave the house. I stopped seeing friends. I stopped trying in a lot of ways. I rarely went out or enjoyed myself in social settings.

I turned deeper into alternative anxiety relief (i.e. m a r i j u a n a). In the very best way I was fighting, I was also flailing. I had a few close people walk out on me (or me them depending on perspective); honestly it could have been for the very best.

Yet, I craved this sense of relief that m a r i j u a n a stopped giving me. Fortunately, I had a friend who was also on the job hunt; we would apply for a good amount of jobs together, psych ourselves up for interviews and then find a random adventure to get into as to not keep sinking in our sad souls (or at least so I wouldn’t sink in my sad soul).

I was not alone in this trying time, when when my friend left, Joey would come home; and the simple presence of having someone there, during what felt like torture, made all of the difference.

My Train began to chug again:

My darling friend and I drove to a place out in nature one day. We began to explore the area we had been to so many times and take random turns down roads when ALL OF A SUDDEN everything quieted down inside of me.

I was able to be my most authentic self out in the middle of nature, enjoying every blessing this world has to offer to us. It was almost as if my whole heart was re-filled in a matter of seconds. Of course, I had to take A MILLION pictures to remember these moments forever (only after sitting within it for quite a while), but it was almost as if I captured my spirit in these photos and realized how much beauty was around me (also within myself) and I was able to articulately share it through social media with those around me.

I found a new passion, a new sense of adventure and a way to help mend what felt like a never-ending puncture within my soul. But, whenever I would come back, my anxiety would only stay away for a little while. I found myself leaving almost everyday to really avoid these dreadful feelings of angst, disappointment, and worry.

I applied at over 400 jobs within two months of unemployment, following-up, writing the most amazing cover letters- and ended up with 4 interviews. One’s that didn’t work out. I was defeated in so many ways. I found myself desperately burying my head in applications to starve off my anxiety while I was not in the woods or near some water source. Over and over the days passed- little to no hope of finding a decent job and then escaping to some destination to feel whatever relief I could.

My days on the train ran together & then:

The day before the Fourth of July about 4:30 am, I get a call from a hospital (about an hour away) that my dad was being rushed in for emergency surgery. I made it to the hospital just as they were just going to send him back. They had no idea what was wrong, but knew he was in a life or death situation. This surgery could be any amount of time because it is both exploratory and life-saving. The surgeon pulls me outside and asks me a bunch of questions and reviews his chart and tells me that I need to prepare for the worst. At this very same time, another doctor says her mother went in for a similar surgery and its so routine that I should not worry.

I sat outside in the waiting room, alone, watching the screen with his number go from one stage to the next. About four hours go by and he is just stuck in recovery and they wouldn’t let me see him. I waited and began to panic. Finally, I went to the desk to request information where they ensure the front desk that he is taking his time to pull from the anesthesia and it’s just taking longer than normal, but all is fine. Another hour goes by and I become impatient and DEMAND to know what the hell is going on?!?

Well, he’s being admitted to the ICU- I wait EVEN LONGER and then finally am given directions down to a basement floor where I have to wait in another waiting room for what feels like an eternity. His heart is in a funky arrhythmia, he can’t breathe on his own, he had an ulcer that ripped open his stomach, he is not awake and can’t talk (with tubes and wires and a million machines connected to him and they tell me that he is essentially not going to make it (again then another provider would say something else).

Thankfully, my brother, his wife, and Joey, plus some close friends would come to be there with me, for him, and for me.

For days this goes on. He is in the ICU for about a week. Where he can’t remember much of anything and I needed to get ready to make preparations for his death. Again, I’ll spare more, but I was crushed. I kept his will and Power of Attorney next to me at all times. I cried on the grass outside the hospital, chain-smoking cigarettes, not knowing what to do- I freaked out on all the doctors for giving me a million different stories and trails to follow for them to all end up as dead ends.

Finally, his doctor called me from her personal number and told me that he was not well, chances were against him that he would not get better and even if he had a chance to function, he would need around the clock care for an infinite amount of time, but that was IF his chances were good.

Well, joke IS on them because my prideful, strong and ornery father bounced back. It took about 2 weeks in the hospital and a month in rehab, but he survived.

During this, I was blessed with an opportunity, handed to me by a good friend, to begin working again (THANK YOU). I had to take A HUGE PAY-CUT and, essentially, start ALL OVER, but I was working and had an amazing set of patients, an incredible Doctor, and special therapists whom I grew close to. I began to prioritize my free time and be out adventuring, spending time with the few people I was still close to, loving on my family, and taking pictures in beautiful destinations.

Here are a few of my photos from a few adventures the last year:


And yet:

My anxiety would just never lighten.

No matter my amount of sleep, staying busy, my diet, water intake, lack of caffeine, meditation, seeing counselors (this seemed to heighten it unfortunately). Things turned around drastically, but I just worried non-stop, had nightmares, imagined the worst, gained a bunch of weight back- I was okay and physically not okay simultaneously pulling and pushing and forgetting what my worth and purpose was.

My confidence dropped. My self-esteem flew out the window. Your girl was a mess. This is just one example, not the hospital or doctors’ visits; because I could not control my breathing and had hyperventilated for five hours straight (bless Joey’s heart for not leaving me like a bat out of Hell).

The commonality is that I just felt so trapped and so comfortable simultaneously. Like I couldn’t get out of any life situation if I wanted to and I didn’t want to because I was scared to have nothing if I left. I have felt more anger in my soul than ever and have finally understood every negative and jaded elderly person that says, “life sucks, Kid.”

My train tracks of crazy didn’t stop or discontinue, they just changed course? I was so scared of being bipolar and depressed and derailing altogether that I was completely blind to THIS side of my mental health. Panic and Worry are probably the hardest of all (and serious b#*ches). Bipolar and depression suck, please do not get me wrong, but I know what to do with those at this stage in my life- there are signs before they strengthen and I have a routine of what to do.

Anxiety comes from just looking out the window,

“WHAT IF THE BIG EARTHQUAKE HITS WHILE I AM SLEEPING (which it statistically will) AND I AM TRAPPED BY MY BOOKCASE AND CRUSHED TO DEATH?”

No seriously, if you know anything about me I’m a paranoid freak that dooms day preps and gets random epiphanies that the world is ending in flame and destruction and fire- it’s pretty awful (I’ve spent hours researching the composition of my former apartment building; DIGGING THROUGH COUNTY AND BUILDING RECORDS ONLINE and then reading research on buildings that survive earthquakes- can you say CRAZY).

We travel to California last Labor Day weekend hit a wee bit of turbulence,

“WE ARE GOING DOWN AND I AM GOING TO BURN ALIVE OR SUFFOCATE OR DROWN AND ALL OF MY LIFE TROUBLES WERE FOR NOTHING (TEARS AND PANIC WHILE IN BETWEEN TWO STRANGERS).”

It’s 4:00, it’s been a great day- here’s a damn PANIC ATTACK.

Yet, I want to make it very clear, IN LEARNING AND EXPERIENCING ALL LIFE HAD TO SHOVEL THIS PAST YEAR, that my actions and choices around my mental health very distinctly made it better or worse.

  • Don’t drink a shit ton of caffeine- that will mess with your heart rate.
  • Drink MORE water (if you aren’t annoyed with the amount of times you’ve peed- DRINK MORE) it will take the edge off.
  • Bury yourself in something that distracts you and makes you so happy that there is no room to panic (or at least it won’t get worse) .
    • Puppies? Music? Painting? Smelling perfumes? Watching Military families reuniting after deployment? Babies? Popping pimple videos (I don’t judge)?
  • Open yourself up to those around you and be very clear what you are experiencing.
  • Most importantly give yourself a break! The same empathy you have for other people, give that love to yourself.
  • Make appointments with medical health care providers and begin to find a regimen that works for you!
  • Don’t be afraid to say NO when you do not want to do something.
  • Yet, try and scare yourself too- because the things that help us overcome are when we face our fears; most of the time it is worth it.

If you experience any sort of panic attack or high-anxiety situation suddenly:

  • Find an out to a safe quiet place
  • Focus solely on breathing and slowing and controlling it
  • Reach out to have someone with you OR call someone (it can really help)
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Drink small sips of COLD water
  • Have a healthy snack ready for when the attack ends because chances are you’ll need some nourishment (but feel nauseous during the attack)
    • I, personally, use cold wet washcloths and ice packs around my head, neck, and around my stomach to re-focus my energy on warming up versus panicking (remember to wrap ice packs with a towel and use for only 20 minutes at a time to avoid any sort of hypothermia).***
  • Find a HEALTHY distraction
    • I.E. don’t smoke- it’s an irritant helps obstruct breathing which is what you need to help curb the attack
  • Seek medical attention when (click here)

Side note: also work on finding some common triggers that weaken your spirit OVER TIME  in order to be more mindful as to the totality of your health- or that keep you feeling good overtime. Its the little steps each and every day that make all of the difference over time; vs. the steps directly during the panic.

For instance: I’ve found that the news and social media heightens my anxiety (it makes me think I need to amount to others and I find that I am way more negative and having to spend a lot of time filtering through correct and incorrect information- which stresses me the eff out).

In addition, I have also found that educational TED Talks and Podcasts have helped me insurmountably over time (it is a way to view  the world from a million completely different lenses- with a positive outlook).

With all being said- my journey on this Crazy Train has me on quite a few stops, derailments, lost, future focused, and confused as to which way is the caboose, all of which I never really expected, but I guess that is what the train ticket disclaimed all along. It all is pretty damn crazy.

I want to ensure all who are reading that it can and will get better (sometimes after it gets worse), but eventually better. Take it day by day and give it enough time.  I am now engaged to that sucker who stayed by my side. We moved to a new city in a different state. I have a job making more money than I ever have. We are in Escrow on a house. We have an incredible little puppy (who is not so little). Yet, there are still great days and not-so-great days. I do not know what’s next, but living this adventure has been and will be so worth it (even when its not).

Until next time (hopefully not in a few years)-

M

 *** I am not a doctor and do not substitute this for genuine medical advice- just using my collection of knowledge to help in a situation where you are needing a distraction ***
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