Sunday, February 1, 2015

Reflections from 2014

I haven't written in a very, very long time so I thought it fitting to take some time this weekend and write for fun. I should, of course, have done this while business was slow (because everyone was buying Christmas presents instead of resumes)...but now is as good a time as any.

Well, for anyone that knows me personally or who follows me on Facebook knows that I had a severe panic and anxiety episode that showed symptoms as early as October 2013, exacerbated right after the holidays in 2013 and stayed really bad until I got linked together with the right care providers and medicines in late January 2014. I don't really remember much of the month prior to that. I spent most of my days trying to sleep or eat. I lost 10lbs during that time.

From there, it was and has been an uphill battle to get back to feeling like myself. I spent most of 2014 being scared of things. Being afraid to eat (which my medicine not only cured, but caused a 30-pound weight gain, which hurts the self-esteem pretty badly). We are, however, in the process of starting to diet and eat better together thanks to some good books from the in-laws. The "we" I am referring to is me and my now-fiance Michael. He spent a good part of 2014 serving as more of a caretaker than a partner and I am happy to say now that he has effectively been able to return to a more "partner-in-crime" capacity. Still, it's been a transition going from being almost wholly dependent on him to learning how to spread my own wings. Sometimes that comes naturally and I almost feel 100% again. Other times, the bad days still rear their ugly heads. Nevertheless, each day is ultimately a little more normal and farther away from what I went through a year ago. Others strive for excitement and worldly adventures. I strive to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine, eat a cheesesteak, see friends and shop in Dollar tree without having any moments where my confidence in my stability is shaken to its core.

Outside of my major GAD/Panic Disorder and Depression flare-up, it was just a difficult year overall; even the most even-tempered individual would have wigged out a little. My aunt died in late October after suffering for over a decade with numerous health issues. The worst part of that is that we spent most of that decade not talking, for reasons none of my immediate or extended family members recall anymore. When someone dies in an untimely manner (no matter the state of their health), it's hard to grapple with the anger and the resentment over losing someone too soon. It's also been continually difficult, as one of the many left behind, to think of the what-ifs. I wonder if she'd still be here if I visited more, called more, spoke up on her behalf more when she didn't have the strength to in the presence of her (incopmpetent) care providers. I should have been her care provider. I used to be able to swoop in if you knew me two years ago. I lost my helping tools when she needed them the most.  It gets better with the passing of time, but it never really stops hurting when you love someone that much. She was an integral part of m childhood, adolescence and early adulthood and it's been very hard to go on in the world knowing that she isn't co-existing here with me. Plus, my mom lost her great-cousin Al and he was a pretty steady fixture in my childhood and a great man.

My parents also lost two of their three pets this year, each long before they should have died. One was due to an accident (being hit by a car) and the other suffered from epilepsy for most of her life and suffered from a stroke or some other form of trauma before the vet decided it was best for her to be laid to rest.  I am thankful and humbled by the fact that both of our own pets have been doing well health-wise. But I've noticed, both with me and those close in age to me that I talk to, that the older we get, the more we're aware of mortality in general. When my friends and I were in college, we all thought we were invincible.

Though I lost a lot of friends and acquaintances to death (and saw them lose family members, too)...I never really thought about when I would have to deal with that and how I would cope. Then once it started to happen, I went the complete opposite way and I live in fear of losing everything. But I lost my job and survived. I found a gig that perfectly complements my skill set and my current situation. Had this whole messy breakdown not happened, I would still be working in settings that made me feel uncomfortable, underpaid and in some cases emotionally abused. Life is too short and no one deserves that. I  believe that one should feel comfortable and happy in a job. It was a happy accident  that I finally found a writing job that allows me to use the skills I gleaned from both degrees I earned.

Sometimes loss doesn't mean death in the literal sense-I logically know I can't control when people do and don't die. But this year, I did lose or grow distant from a small unrelated group of longtime friends when I got sick. It's unexpected when the people you believe to be most compassionate and supportive suddenly become unavailable or overly self-absorbed during the one time you need them...after all the times you've been their rock.

And in turn, you find compassion and healing from folks you haven't talked to in years, but affected enough that they decided to reach out to offer words of love and encouragement. The friends piece has been a great lesson in setting boundaries. I take the time to care for and nurture those that do the same. Even if my health or schedule doesn't allow me to take road trips or send extravagant presents...I still make an effort. It's been a lonely year and I finally realized that in order to stop being lonely, I have to let love in. And let go of those that don't love me. That process doesn't have to be negative. Sometimes, relationships just need a breather or room to grow. And in that time, I choose to favor nurturing and fruitful relationships in place of the ones that drain me.

Still a work in progress...still hanging on. -L

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