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Life of V

The journey from being broken to being queen

Grateful.

There are many things in my life that depression does not let me see. I tend to focus on the negative, and has clouded the positive so it stays hidden. Ignored. While I was growing up, I felt ignored, overlooked, forgotten by everyone unless I was needed for some reason. Lonely. Even when surrounded by people. Those people felt like more foes than friends.

So I built the wall.

Sometimes it crumbled a bit. Sometimes it fell. But I always rebuilt it. Because I felt like I was surrounded by enemies. I needed to build a fortress. I stopped letting people in. That left me alone with my own worst enemy.

Myself.

I am almost 34 years old. I have fought my own mind for so many years, I’m not even really sure if I’ve ever been any other way. I don’t remember. But that could be my mind being a dick.

I guess I should consider myself lucky. I’m now aware of my battle. There are some people who are in a war and don’t even know it. I think that used to be me. Hindsight is not always 20/20. I wear glasses. Blind as a bat without them. Ignorant to my fight, I thought I was just a miserable worthless cunt. (sorry if you hate that word) I thought I deserved every betrayal. I thought I was just destined to be alone, and unhappy, just used by others until I wasn’t needed anymore. I thought that was just my life.

After several recent discussions with doctors, we’ve come to the conclusion that mom’s death caused PTSD, and on top of the depression and anxiety I was already carrying, everything came to a head, and I crashed. Hard. More than once. And these… angels… in my life, swooped in and surrounded me. Chad, my friends, my coworkers, people from throughout my walks of life who never gave up on me, even though I had a hard time seeing it (sorry guys, sometimes I’m not too observant). So many people reached out to offer support and encouragement and help, I was overwhelmed. I thought I was alone in the world. Cast aside. Unnoticed. Unwanted. Well, I guess I was wrong.

I am damaged. It’s true. I have a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings, because I’ve been so guarded for so long. I push I am trying. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it’s pretty awesome. I’ve felt misunderstood for so long, when thoughts and emotions come through crystal clear, I treasure those moments, even even they leave me crying and blubbering.

I still hide a lot. I am not winning the fight at the moment. These past few weeks have been rough on me. My depression anxiety has led me to stress leave, again. I am not taking care of myself. I am trying, but I keep failing. I’m just… exhausted. I’m on a waiting list to get in to see a counselor or therapist with city mental health, and the doctors I’ve been seeing have changed my prescription, and have encouraged more exercise and hobbies, something simple like going for short walks or reading a book or baking. And I try, I can manage something for a day, and then I crumple into exhaustion all over again. Even baking is exhausting for me right now. And it’s my FAVOURITEST THING EVER. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m going to keep trying things, and hope that something works, but I feel like the idiot doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

For today, I am going to limit myself to cooking a turkey and the fixin’s. I can handle that today. I might start to cry at some point during the preparation, that seems to happen pretty much every day these days. But I’ve accepted that and am drinking more water to compensate. It’s just part of who I am at the moment. I can’t help how I feel.

I can help how I react and communicate. My mother taught me to be grateful for the things that I have, and work toward the things I don’t have yet. While all this is going on inside me, I am still grateful for many things. I am grateful for Chad and my friends, far and wide, who let me know they’re thinking of me and are there for me if ever I need someone. My family, who have my best interests at heart, and help me chase the ducks who keep getting out of line. Sonny, who is an endless source of fluffy cuddles and entertainment and companionship. For my sense of humour, which I use to get myself out of pretty much any tense situation. Most of my situations are tense these days, so the self-depreciating humour is on point. I am grateful that I can look in the mirror anytime and see my mother’s face. And my grandmother’s face. It’s freaky. But it’s also awesome.

I am also grateful it’s Sunday and now that I’ve poured my heart out into blog, I’m tired and can take a nap.

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Maintenance in Progress

I bought a journal. I know I have literally a hundred notebooks (and I am using literally correctly… I actually have about 100 notebooks… and a shopping addiction apparently). This one feels special. It’s a leather bound, I don’t even know how many pages, impulse Walmart purchase. It looks like something in which I’ll find fantastical beasts, and come to think of it, that may be true. It looks like a book. Not a notebook, but a book. My book. The book of my brain. The book of my thoughts, my discoveries, my creativity. My depression and the fight. This blog is very much the same, but this is more of a “hey friends, I’m still alive and here’s why” medium. The physical book in my hands, with my cursive and scribbles and ramblings. It’s for me.

I think it’s going to help me. I sat and wrote for a solid hour the other day, and it felt like a weight had been lifted from me. I poured a lot into that one coffee and panic attack fueled, surprisingly neat cursive session. Yes, I still write in cursive. It ain’t as fancy as it was when I was in grade 3, but it flows. And boy does it flow.

There are already tear stains on one of the pages. I’m 3 pages in. There’s been a lot of angst and panic and general feeling of worthlessness as of late. I put too much pressure on myself to get it right the first time, and that builds on me until I can’t seem to do anything without panicking about something else I need to be doing. I feel the need to catch up to everyone else in my life, I had to stop. Not everyone is at the same place in their lives. Some people are older and have a lot more ground under their feet. Some are younger and have it all figured out. Not everyone is going to meet the same obstacles, and therefore, can’t be expected to be in the same spot in the race as everyone else. Or handling that race. I don’t deal with hurdles very well, it seems. I feel like each one is more of a challenge and I fear I can’t measure up. And then as I struggle, my physical health goes by the wayside too. I stop taking care of my needs. I don’t exercise. I eat healthy, but I eat too much. Everything hurts. I get sick more often. And then process continues until I feel like I’m crawling in the mud.

Fuck, I hate feeling like that. I am stuck in such a rut, everytime I try to climb out, life seems to throw more shit on me and I slide back down. And then there I am, still wallowing, and covered in shit. I need to take a shower. Mentally. In. The. Worst. Way.

After coming home from a torrential downpour filled camping weekend to see the Perseid meteor shower (which couldn’t be seen because of the rain that was supposed to be long fucking gone by the time we set up camp but carried on straight fucking through until after we packed up camp on motherfucking Sunday… *inhales* *serenity now* ……yeah, no, I’m still kinda pissed) I came home to some jarring news from my family. I won’t go into details, for their sake, but suffice it to say, it was the cherry on the fucking Sunday… I mean sundae. Actually…  the cherry on the sunday was that I somehow got either a stomach bug or a mild case of food poisoning (either way, I was spewing from nearly every orifice… there’s your mental picture of the day!). I felt like I was going through the day encased in cement blocks. I felt drained. I was tired. I have a strong family though, we came together to take steps to fix everything. It will be a long road, but it took a long time for things to break, a quick fix won’t stand. It’s going to take a long time to heal, as with any wounds. So, now I am back, thankfully, the flu or whatever has subsided, and I am having time to focus. My recharge period didn’t go as planned. In fact, it was crushed with the weight of a thousand suns, but that’s in the past. Right?

I have a couple more days to focus and set plans for my own healing in motion. There are a lot of things I haven’t dealt with, and they keep recurring like a nightmare. A nightmare I’m ready to put to bed. God, my puns are on point today. I have hit another lull and it’s not working for me anymore. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of being sick. I am tired of comparing myself to everyone else and trying to keep up with other people’s expectations of me (expectations that likely don’t exist, but they do in my brain). I need to get out of this, before I slip further backwards and it’s more and more difficult to climb out. I can’t go back to that dark place. I feel myself slipping back there, and I need to cry out for help this time. I can’t fight it by myself.

By bottling up all my fears, I make it harder for myself to open up to myself, let alone other people. That sure as hell can’t be healthy for me. So, I need to do something out it. I feel like I’m starting all over again, back at square one. I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve come a long way, and hey, I ain’t dead yet. That’s gotta count for something. More of my life needs to count for something. I feel like a robot just moving along to keep everything going smoothly in the world. Automatic. That can’t be a healthy feeling either. I constantly feel like I’m not good enough, and I’ve just about had enough of that feeling. Like, seriously. I don’t let up for a second. I’d never treat another human being like this, why do I keep treating myself like this? This is why I feel unbalanced. I argue with myself. And I lose.

Time to start treating myself like I matter. My friends and family have been doing it for years.

First up. Take a shower while singing along with Adele. Time to do some healing.

Sorting the laundry

Living with an anxiety disorder is an exhausting existence. There’s an active volcano in my brain that could erupt at any moment, causing devastation and a meltdown in the middle of the grocery aisle. It’s been happening more often in recent weeks and quite frankly, I am dead tired in trying to figure out how to keep up with it. Treatments have side effects and add that on top of already feeling like you’re about to fall off your plane of existence into oblivion… and well, it makes it incredibly difficult to get up the energy to do anything. My new medication is affecting my balance, so now I’m stumbling and falling a lot, which makes me look like I’m intoxicated. I then have anxious feelings about whether or not anyone thinks I am drunk at work, and I worry about that… and the snowball effect has begun. I have a worst case scenario mindset and my brain just runs with that. Nothing else… not like using logic to, I dunno, communicate with your fellow humans or not jump to the worst conclusion I could come up with for what other people are going to think about me…. yeah. Stuff like that. I know I’m rambling right now, but this is kind of therapeutic right now, and who knows, it might help me tighten a few of the screws I have loose.

So, I’m stumbling, and off balance. The doctor says it is one of the more common side effects of the new medication I am trying. So, we’re going to see if it sorts itself out in a week or so and if it doesn’t, we will try something else. Cool. It is a pain in the ass to be dizzy and off balance, like I’m on a boat and I haven’t got my sea legs yet. I am in week two of the most anxious and on edge I have felt in months, and like most people who deal with anxiety and panic, there’s nothing specific to pinpoint why it’s happening. I’d been on the same medication for months, things were status quo at my job, homelife was average with no blips on the radar, and then…. BAM. It was like a nuclear meltdown. Everything instantly seemed to be vapourised to ashes. Afraid of everything from being outside, to being around people in such a “fragile” state. Afraid of being by myself and afraid of being with someone. Horrified by my own thoughts, mostly thoughts of failure and worthlessness and the feeling of this weight in my muscles and bones, I ached like I haven’t ached in months.

Pardon my français, but it knocked me the fuck OUT. I feel like I fell flat on my face after tripping over my own feet. You know that saying, the only person in your way is you? Boy, ain’t it the truth? I keep realizing each time these brick walls smash me in the face, it’s me that’s built the brick wall. Something in my mind won’t let me rest. Keeps pressuring me to do more, be more, and flawlessly of course, because if I don’t look like I’ve been doing this my whole life and have every single duck in a row, I am a failure as a human being and am therefore a waste of time and energy. How’s that for being hard on yourself? Seriously, I am so fucking done with thinking this way. You’re killin’ me Smalls.

I really need to sort my shit out. I am so tired of living with so much doom and gloom in my head. I am so tired of just existing, and not living! I know I’m going to need help. And it’s going to be hard for me to ask for help. I’ve taken a first step and gone to the doctor. We talked for awhile and I described how I was feeling, and with Chad by my side, basically spilled my guts about how shitty I was feeling. I think I even swore a few times. Blood tests, new medication trial, and I’m being referred to a psychiatrist. Ze ball iz rollin’. I also got some breathing exercises, and was encouraged to continue my journal, because he said it truly can help sort out your thoughts and make a plan for the future.

 

So here we are.

 

I guess I’ve been airing my dirty laundry… time to sort, I guess? (Who am I kidding, I wash everything on cold and hope for the best… except my bras… those bitches are expensive)

 

The Other Shoe

Ya know how just a few days ago, I wrote about how things were starting to come up Vicky? Well, I spoke a little soon. Not really, but that’s how it feels today.

Two days ago, I had a massive panic attack when I went to Kent Home Supplies to buy ant traps. Absolutely nothing happened. I walked in, grabbed a box of traps, paid, and walked out. Pleasant transaction with the cashier, found it easily in the store, nothing loud or franticly busy, nothing out of the ordinary. Then in the parking lot, I started sobbing as if someone punched me in the face. I sat in my car and cried and screamed until my throat was sore and I ran out of tears. My heart was pounding so hard against my ribcage, my eyeballs were rattling around in their sockets and I had trouble focusing.

Then I went to work… yep. As soon as I walked in, one of my coworkers took a look at me and immediately knew there was something wrong. With barely a word, he understood what was going on, and sprung into action, getting things at work in order while I backed off and got my head together. He sensed it was pretty jarring, because he called in people to cover my shifts for the rest of the weekend. My team is holding down the fort while I figure my shit out and get back on my path. People in Charlottetown, PEI are working with the team here to balance the operations at work so I can take a moment. How did my life get so blessed that when I kinda mentally fall overboard, I have a crew of people spanning two provinces who are actively helping me get back on the ship?

So here I am, overboard… kinda flailing… literally actually, I’m very twitchy and nervous today. The slightest sound makes my muscles spasm and I’m jumpy. I’ve got a massive headache, all my muscles are tense and sore, I can hardly focus on anything (this post is taking foreverrrrrr to get the words all out). But it’s helping.

I don’t know what triggers my panic attacks. It’s frustrating as all hell. I went to the doctor to talk to him about how I was feeling. Chad went with me. I spilled everything that was on my mind and what was worrying me about my body and my mind. Dr. G is a kind and patient man, bless him, and he listened to all my worries, even the ones I had a hard time putting into words. He’s started me on a new medication to see if it helps my anxiety attacks, and he’s also getting me to have some bloodwork done, and we’re testing for literally everything under the sun. So many boxes are ticked on that paper.

He’s also referring my to a psychiatrist. Until then, he’s given me some breathing exercises to try (including some youtube links! yay!).

I am thankful that I have a little time to rest after my panic episode. It frustrates me when I am not productive and energetic and on the ball. I know that’s how a lot of people feel, but I also never seem to give myself a break. I always feel the need to be working or else I’m not of any value to anyone. If I’m not at work, I’m usually working on something for work, and it’s because like any decent human being, I want to see the business do well, and I seem to forget that it doesn’t fall solely on my shoulders. That also frustrates me. I get so tunnel visioned into my own rhythm that I forget there are people around me who are going “hey… you know I’m here too, right? I can do some of this! LET ME DO SOME OF THIS. I like doing some of this.” (Come to think of it… one of the girls at work may have said these exact words to me at some point) *lightbulb moment* Okay, okay, not a lightbulb moment, I’ve actually been working on that for a while now, and I feel like I’m getting better at it. I’ve got to stop putting so much pressure on my brain. It’s gonna be the end of me. It frustrates me when I get in these ruts. A lot of things frustrate me. Notice that?

Oh what I wouldn’t give to feel normal and relaxed and… balanced. It never really goes away. I wish I had the answers… I’m not as good an actress as I used to be.

7 months…

… 7 months was the last time I felt the urge to write.

That stinks. I love writing. I’m pretty good at it. But then things pile up, the snowball effect, and life kinda gets away from you for a moment… or a few months.

But I did a thing. In the last 7 months, I’ve left one job… a job I was at for nearly 3 years… and took a stab in the dark at something I never thought I’d have the courage to do.

I applied for a restaurant manager job.

EEK!

I’ve been working in kitchens for a loooooooong time, nearly 15 years. I know how kitchens run. So, when job searching, an ad caught my eye and made me a bit excited. Restaurant manager. “ooh, wouldn’t that be nice?” I thought. And almost immediately, the anxiety and poor self esteem and negative thoughts that have plagued me my whole life came in and said “you’ve got no experience managing, they’ll never even consider you” and “you can’t run a kitchen. You’ve never done it before”. I almost didn’t give it a second look.

But I mentioned it to Chad. 🙂

And off it went from there. I’ve never had a cheerleader in my life who pushes me to do the things I never thought I could do. He makes me want to be better, yet still loves me the way I am. Broken and twitchy and moody as fuck. He still loves me.

He and I are coming up on 6 years together. He’s seen me at my worst, the lowest moment of my life, and he stood by me and held me together and helped me be strong. He doesn’t seem to mind that I’m a bit mentally unstable; he’s been able to maneuver through my anxiety and pull me from the weeds to keep going. I’ve never trusted another human being more in my entire life. I love him so much.

He also believes in me like no one else has (save for maybe my mum). He encouraged the crap out of me and lo and behold, I sent my resumé for the manager job. Being the way I am, I was upfront in telling them I had no actual managerial experience, but I knew my way around a restaurant. I also wore a really cute skirt to my interview 😉 (that perfect red one Brittany!!!) The owner of the business was at the interview and well, let me tell you, that was pretty intimidating. But something in my mind said “fuck it. I’ve got as good a chance as anyone!” and away I went.

And you know what? She HIRED me!

Can I get a hell yes!

So, I’ve been managing a burger restaurant in Bedford for the last 5 months. I’ve also been managing my mental health pretty well these last few months. I mean, I’ve had some setbacks, a couple of panic attacks that crashed into me outta nowhere, and I’ve been battling this ever-looming sense of anxiety and an internalized pressure cooker of needing to be strong and perfect and have everything together and have everyone love me and constantly impressing people. Yeah. There’s always that. But I’m learning how to talk to my inner demons and tell them to shut the fuck up. I’m fine. I really am. It’s a constant battle, and I’m exhausted all the time. But I’m actually doing it! And I’m even learning to enjoy myself in my downtime. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

I have learned a lot in the last few months. Not only have I learned the ins and outs of managing a restaurant, I’ve learned to place more trust in my co-workers instead of listening to the voice within saying it’s always a competition and a ruthless one at that. See? My mind is fucked up. The people I work with are wonderful and supportive and they actually seem to like me 🙂 *nervous laughter* (That’s my brain telling me that people just “tolerate” me for the sake of getting through the day and never giving me a second thought… I tell ya…. fucked. up.)

I’m learning how to tell those thoughts apart from my own thoughts. My depression is always hanging out in the background, trying to make me believe the worst in everything, including myself. It’s a constant struggle that’s really hard to describe. Waterboarding with negativity, doom and gloom, basically. But I’m beginning to loosen the restraints. I’m finding my job rather enjoyable, it’s a mix of customer service, cooking, math, food science, psychic prediction, being a know-it-all (which I loooooove haha), and I get to go shopping every week for certain things (and I loooove hanging out at the wholesale clubs. I find so much cool stuff to come back and buy on my days off haha). I also get to hang out all day with a pretty awesome, yet somewhat rambunctious group of people. The staff at the restaurant is full of personality, a good melting pot of delightful weirdos who are good at their jobs 🙂 I love each and every one of them like they were my own kids, even though they’re not kids. Not kids. Young adults with waaaaaaaaaay more energy than I’ve got, but it’s awesome. We made over 3000 specialty burgers for Burger Week and everyone survived as a team. I am beyond impressed. We’re gonna do 4000 next year. I haven’t told them that yet though 😉

So there it is… my last few months, in a nutshell. Came to a fork in the road, I decided to go in a different direction. I thought I got lost, but it turns out, I was just making a new road for myself. I’ll keep you updated as to where I end up 😉

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