Leader

I’ve been at my current job as a nurse educator, for six months now.

My boss recently asked me…”is this job what you expected?”

My answer was NO. It’s so much more, in a kind of good kind of not so good kind of way.  I’ll explain.

Career wise, I’ve hit the jackpot, but when it comes to balance and my mental health, I’m struggling.

I told my therapist a few weeks ago that depression has robbed me of my creativity and ability to act ‘fast’, or think fast (depression does make life slow down, according to research and my psychiatrist).

So, I have struggled these pass six months to perform at my absolute best, while battling the woes of depression and anxiety; anxiety from the lack of creativity and slowness plaguing my life right now.

Am I qualified for this job? Can I perform and put on that mask that’s needed to appear as though my life, thinking isn’t slow, and to show the world that I am a creative person? All of these things have wondered in my mind.

I was afraid, in the beginning of starting this job, that involves teaching nurses, that I wasn’t able to put the mask on as well as I have been in the past; I was getting bad criticism from my colleagues, saying that my presentations were monotone and lifeless…I was afraid of that ( I was struggling with my depression, my mood during that time).

Well, that feedback continued to happen for another month, until I finally was able to fix my mask on another way- I had to do better and not let depression rob me of such a great opportunity.

So, how did I conquer my mood and perform on my job? I’m not gonna lie, it was difficult, but the key to donning on a strong mask, was to deny myself, my feelings, and be the best actor who put on the greatest show- it worked; smiling more, even when extremely forced, worked and the bad feedback stopped.

Just because the bad feedback stopped, didn’t stop my anxiety from acting up from the sheer fear of bad criticism from my colleagues; and this fear I battle every time I get ready to present or go to a meeting where I have to lead it and be able to think fast, or create new plans to better nursing and my profession; it’s hard.

But, I continue to truck on, though it’s hard to get up sometimes knowing that those I work with our expecting a strong leader rather than a mentally weak individual; I know I’m not alone.

I know there are other business women and men, like me, who are mentally struggling professionals.  But it’s important for us to remember that through all the meetings, expectations from others, and enormous workload, we can’t forget to remember to care for our mental health- a true leader knows how to serve others and most importantly yourself.

 

Enough

Have you ever felt like you’ve had enough; you reached the ‘ extent of what was required of you’ ?

Well if the answer is a yes, then I pose a new question; what is required of you?

I asked myself this today as I thumbed tediously through the over 80 emails awaiting my stamp of approval in my work inbox, after I had gone to Publix to pick out the most juiciest of steak for dinner, and then when I brought those filet mignons home to sear on the stove, as well as prepare a plethora of vegetable choices for my picky toddlers…I had enough.

At that moment, as the asparagus began to cool down on the stove, and as the seared steaks finished being well done in the five hundred degree oven, I asked myself, can I do more?

Sure.

So I did a load of laundry,but was that enough?

Why yes.

Had I done all that was required of me?

Thats kind of a loaded question, but of course, as I’ve learned over these years living with depression, sometimes you have to be selfish.

Putting shame and guilt aside(for not accomplishing more than what I had done for the day), I said I had had enough.

Could I have gone on a walk, picked up the toys scattered across the tiny house we live in, and even folded that laundry load I had started; yes, but why?

Why would I do more and send my already serotonin deprived brain to an all to familiar pit of decaying dreams- I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s not pretty.

So, what do you do when you’ve had enough ?

Do nothing.

Yep, that’s right, defy everything, be selfish and take care of you, by basking in the state of nothingness.

And that’s what I did.  Absolutely nothing.

Since my mind likes to wonder into guiltville for feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much when I get in these states, I took time to do an inventory of my day (fact based evidence), and I recognized that I’m pretty bad ass.

I made money for my family today, fed them, and made the extra effort to breathe, so I’d say I accomplished a lot, AND I even showered, which for those in the depressed camp, you know how hard that can be.

So, yes, it’s ok to say enough and to be selfish when you need to; even if all you can do is go to the grocery store to walk the aisles instead of actually buying the food to prepare a meal-it’s OK, you are a bad ass too.

Annoyance

Do you ever get annoyed with life?

I’m currently feeling all of the synonyms of the word.  Irritation, exasperation, vexation, indignation…I could go on for hours.

an·noy·ance
əˈnoiəns/
noun
the feeling or state of being annoyed; irritation.
“a look of annoyance on his face”
Thank you Google for your immediate search feedback.
I am definitely in a state of being annoyed; irritation to the max.
Today hasn’t been the best mood day.  In fact, it’s been quite filled up with excessive tiredness and irritability; annoyance.  That’s just the unknown of the chemical imbalance of the brain.  Some days it wants to put out enough serotonin, and some days, namely today, it doesn’t.  So, I’m annoyed.
I’m often asked what my triggers are; what makes me spiral down hill?  Well, unfortunately, my triggers are the good ol’ responsibilities of life; can’t part with those too easily.  I’ve had to be hospitalized when I’ve gotten to the unbearable point of severe anaphylactic shock from responsibilities of life.  No, I’m not there today, thank God, but responsibilities, motherhood, wifehood, heck personhood, are not compatible with this mood that I’m in.
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The safe bet, when you are in this state of severe chemical imbalance, is to grab a life line.  Have someone take care of the kids, stop doing the laundry, get some alone time, draw, write, or do something that has nothing to do with the responsibilities of life.
No lifeline today for me.
Derrick is sick with God knows what, and I’m just the same ol sick in the head, with severe trigger issues with responsibilities (that was a little harsh on myself).
So, I’m waiting patiently, inwardly crying as I endure the screams of my 18 month old after her older sister decided to turn rogue on her and push her, among so many other noises and things to do that are so overwhelming.
Then, just as I am writing this, as I was silently praying for a lifeline, here comes my sick husband to the rescue.  The crying has stopped, I am writing in my own space, and the responsibilities have dwindled for the time being.  Relief…

Mindfulness: Germantown Series

I love art.

Any kind of art will do, but photography and writing have always been at the top of my list.

I’m no photographer or best selling author, but in the words of John Steinbeck,

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

So, I write and believe, write more, then believe again, just as he suggests, and the same can be said for my photography.

Nashville, at its city center, is evolving into something new, with some retained and restored, beautiful history.  Germantown, North Nashville, less then 10 minutes from my current home, is gorgeous.  There is so much character that is being preserved on each historic street, and I sought out to capture some of its history.

When I’m taking pictures and editing them, I truly feel like I am doing the most important thing in the world; mindfulness is right in front of me daily, right here in my own city.

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You…

I’ve said this to my husband a million times over,

Sometimes, it’s not you or the family that motivates me to keep pressing forward, but it’s you, the reader.

You.

There may only be one of you that read my words or maybe I’m just enamored with the thought that I am encouraging at least one person to keep fighting, but when I’m at my lowest, wondering what is the point of my suffering, YOU motivate me.

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You motivate me, because when I think about how precious your life is, how amazing your intricate makeup is, to make you you, I feel a little strength to keep fighting and keep writing; to keep being as real and open as possible, so that you feel, in the words of my dear friend, “that I’m doing good”, even at your lowest.

There are horrid lows of depression, and also ‘gifts of depression’, in the wise words of my therapist.

The gift is that thing that makes you hold on when you want to give up, trust me I’ve been there.  You get tired of fighting and feel like this world doesn’t need you, but how can that be true when you were made so wonderfully.

Your heart beats, because there is purpose for you.  It may not be clear what that purpose is, but the clouds will part enough, one day, for you to see that purpose.

So keep fighting.

And that is why I keep fighting, because I know what it’s like to be so low that you can only see rain, but it’s those like you that have helped me hold on when I read your precious words, so it’s only logical that I pay it forward.

So, this open letter is to you, the you that has read my blog from the beginning, or the you that has never read my blog, if only but one sentence.

I thank God for you, and please keep fighting.

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Antiquing Alone

For as long as I can remember, the sight of old things, you know, your great grandmother’s jewelry box or that worn piece of furniture you found on the side of the road, that only needs a little sanding and staining to be renewed, these junky treasures have always had a warm place in my heart; I feel butterflies in the pits of my stomach, now that’s true love.

Anyway, my psychiatrist has always urged me, and my husband to take four hours, alone, at least once a week, to partake in activities that we like to do.

Now, at one point, this was very difficult to do.  The lack of motivation to move from one spot in my bed to another spot in the bed, has been like pushing a car, alone, up a mountain; it’s been rough to even think about things I liked to do and was willing to do these days, due to depressions grip on me. But, with much patience, though painful, and perseverance through the tough lows, taking my prescribed medications, praying, and pushing myself beyond my body’s limits at times, I can say that my motivation is full throttle!  It’s only been a week with this mustang engine like motivation, but I’m taking advantage of the ride while it’s still here, and I’m not looking back.

So, I got a babysitter for today ( thanks Ms. Kim) and I was off.

I went to the east side of town.  I wanted to look at potential homes to buy, since there is constant construction on this side of town and beautiful new homes to view, literally every week.  After driving around the historic Inglewood neighborhood, I had high hopes of going to the bookstore, but the big beautiful antique sign from my peripheral vision while driving, changed my plans today.

I hit self-care’s jackpot!

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Farmhouse-East Nashville

 

If only you could have witnessed the semblance of joy exuding from my body, as I made a quick u turn into junk Disneyland.  I was so excited to walk in that store.

I was there for over an hour, studying each piece and thinking about it’s history, while silently contemplating where I would put things and how I could convince my husband that I needed all the things I wanted to buy.

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i just settled on one thing though, in the end; a chair.

I managed to bargain the price down to 15$ from 20$ (should have said 10, oh well), and me and the hot new seat were off to the bookstore;  no, no we weren’t.

I stumbled across another antique store around the corner and it is by far the most fun, eclectic, and beautiful shop ever.

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OMG (old made good)

Its called OMG ( old made good-love that name), and the shop owner was so cool, that we even struck up a convo about entrepreneurship and being creative- great times.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself today.

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I ended my day with a trip to Home Depot for a few DIY items for my new chair, then went home to find that my irritability that I have been having more of lately ( a symptom of depression), was back to rear it’s ugly head, and my kids whining, was a huge part of my trigger.

Depression, as my counselor would say, likes to hang on to the negative, and make me think that the return of the irritability made the day a bad day, but I beg to differ.

Today was a good day, and I’ve come a long way.

 

 

911

I’m anxious.

Like the expected sequence of events that follow anxiety, my mind shutters at the thoughts of the future; tomorrow.  After the students have been taught, illustrating their dearth of new nursing knowledge, as I quietly deny intrusive thoughts, I’ll drive to a familiar place.

You’d think, after countless times of going to the doctor, routine or emergent, by choice or not by choice, that I would be calm about another go at it, but denial engulfs me, yet fear surrounds me; a scary place to be.

I have to have a procedure done.  A procedure that ironically falls within a month adorned with pink and a height of tribute to the strongest of survivors.  I can’t stop thinking about the moment I discovered a strange new part of me; both astoundedly freightened and strangely accepting of it.

I’m a nurse.  I know what to do in those moments.  I know what to assess for to confirm or reaffirm a strange finding, but that didn’t change how I felt in that moment.  Who knows what this new finding may be.  The doctors questioned the image of it, I lay there emotionally unmoved.  It was like I had already been in this situation before, a sort of dejavu.  But this was definitely the present.

Im not surprised at how I reacted as I lay quietly for hours on the table, exposed, vulnerable and alone; physically.  Yet I knew I wasn’t alone.  There’s been this cool and calmness that has been in me lately.  I expect the unexpected.  I remain unflinched by the inordinate, though my body responds in its normal mode of panic.  But I know why I’m calm.  His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

My relationship with God is different now.  I recognize that I’m not exempt from strife.  I’m not above reproach.  Why has it taken me so long to get that? To not be moved by every storm?  I don’t know.  But this valley I’ve been in for over two years now, is starting to show me more and more how his ways are not our ways.

I’ve never cursed him, and I never will.  I feel like Job.  So much pain, so much loss, and so much weight, more than I’ve thought I could bear at some points, but no where near the amount of strife he had to endure; I still feel a close semblance to his struggle.

I’ve called for help, I’ve called on him many times.

911 God. I’m ready to tap out, I’ve said, so many times, yet he keeps me going, though I don’t understand.  But he tells me “I’m preparing you for something”, so I press on.  And as I try to calm my body’s normal reaction to intense amounts of stress, the pounding of my heart and increase in the depth of each breath, I don’t feel the urge to cry out 911; not because I don’t care, not because I’m bigger than God (cause I’m not), not because I don’t believe, but only because I believe.

I believe that his will is perfect.  I believe he doesn’t make any mistakes.  I believe that whatever happens, whether it feels good or not, it is good.  So though my heart will pound away. Though my breath may become more labored, I still will hold on to this gift he has given me in this journey; the need not to dial 911.

I trust him.

 

(photo: courtesy of stocksnap.io)