Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My 300th post: Thoughts on self-care

This is my 300th post... very hard to believe, considering blogging has been sort of an ebb and flow experience for me.

Lately something has been bothering me more and more.... I have noticed an overall decline in my energy, and have basically been feeling worse and worse. This has been going on for about a month or so, and it has me worried. I don't feel I have much energy at all, am easily tired, want to sleep more and more, but my quality of sleep is not good. And my body hurts more and more. I am moving it less and less, due to the increasing pain and exhaustion. Those I talk to tell me to rest, and I do, most of the time, but it seems to make it worse, not better. And I just can't force myself to do much else these days. Today I worked in three counties, and tomorrow and Friday I am working in the other two counties, and I am still working lots of hours per week. But I am less and less able to do it.

This also scares me because I have applied for a very physical job and had an interview on Monday. The interview was mediocre. But the job would mean 8 more hours a day on my feet. To even think about it now makes me want to crawl under a rock and never emerge.

I am trying to force myself to walk more, move more, and NOT TO ISOLATE as part of my self-care idea. However, tonight I have an Al-Anon meeting in less than an hour, and I am aching all over, and really want nothing more than to go home, put on a nightgown and go to bed (like I have for the last 4 days). I've felt feverish, weak and generally like I have the flu. But not bad enough to get a day off.

My idea is that if I keep trying to live better, I will eventually feel better.
Does anyone have any idea when that will happen?
Just wondering.

P.S. Thanks for reading the past 300 posts of mental drivel. I've been doing this now since 2008. Two years of words.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A weekend of isolation just doesn't cut it anymore.

This weekend started out fine. I attended my Saturday morning Al-Anon group and then took my daughters to lunch and then swimming at the (indoor) pool in our apartment complex. Then we went to get some snacks, as I had every intention of watching basketball. However, I went home, got in bed with my junk food, and basically did not budge until Sunday night, when I had to go do some home visits with my clients.

It used to be that spending a weekend in isolation was good for my soul. Now it just makes me feel lazy, achy, and irritable.

I take this as a good sign. Maybe I want to join the human race again?

Now, let's not get CRAZY...

So here it is Monday, and I am back at work, looking at a giant mess on my desk, and basically a bit loopy when I think about all the paperwork I am trying to slog through. On the bright side, I am sipping sweet tea and soon will be chilling to Pandora radio, Billie Holiday radio, a station I have designed for myself. Gotta love that.

And sooner or later, I will get to go home. I am launching a full out attack on the paperwork, and can always finish up tomorrow....

The important thing, I am learning, for me, is to appreciate the small things.

So here I go. Off to do just that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Looking elsewhere...

I am so glad that it is Friday that I could burst. This week seemed to last forever, and I had several meeting commitments at work. I still managed my Monday and Wednesday Al-Anon meetings, and plan on going tonight and tomorrow as well. I am also glad this month is coming to a close next week. March has taken a lot out of me.

Last week I applied for another job online, and yesterday I got a call for an interview. This job is a COMPLETE departure from what I do now, and has nothing to do with any of the education I have either. It is at a place that I love to frequent when I can afford it, and it is a very upscale coffee shop. I would just be making coffee and waiting on customers. Issue is, it pays more than the three-in-one job I have right now, that I end up working minimum of 60 hours a week.... Also this is a job where if I work over 40 hours, I will actually be paid overtime. I have grown to realize that in my current field, I have basically done the work of the two or three people, often making great positive changes for the agencies I've worked for, to the point of helping run these agencies. Yet when the subject of getting paid a commensurate wage comes up (and it is always raised by me), they offer me a new job title or some shit, and never any more money. It is ridiculous. So I am a bit over this, and getting too old and sick to live without health insurance, or work hundreds of hours, solving every crisis, on call 24/7, without getting paid for it. So am I willing to do a job that has nothing to do with my life for the last 25 years of job experience at the age of 40? YES.

Who knows? Living may be interesting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Checking in....

I've been busy and lazy and no longer have Internet service at home, so blogging has not been a priority for me lately. I've been reading lots of blogs, especially my favorites, because my homepage is iGoogle and I have Google Reader on it, but not been blogging myself.

The past few weeks I have relented and went back on medication. I was hoping - and still hope - that this is something I won't have to do the rest of my life, but for the moment, it beats the alternative. Hell, it may even be keeping me alive. Who knows? The long and short of it is that I am no longer in the depths of despair. I am still not an optimist, nor optimistic about the future. But I don't think that I won't be able to make it any longer... (what an awkward sentence) Those of you who have been there will know what I mean. And those of you who haven't, well, use your imagination, or judge me; at this point I know that it's not up to me.

Part of the reason I am feeling better I attribute to the weather. It's finally spring in Kentucky, and we have fabulous seasons. Today it may reach 70 degrees (F), so I am planning on doing a road trip to visit my last two out of town clients this afternoon. I am glad that I have the ability to somewhat plan my schedule at times to do this when the weather is not bad.

On the home front, things are the same. I finally declared war on the mess last weekend, and spent most of the day cleaning the tiny kitchen. It had not been cleaned AT ALL since before I went into the hospital, so there was about 3 to 4 weeks of dirty dishes, trash, etc. All gone now. The entire day I was resentful about having to clean up after the other 3 people who live in my apartment, especially when two of them are perfectly capable of doing dishes or taking out the trash - at 14 and 47, they really should. I was also horrified to find they have been telling my 4 yr old daughter just to "throw that on the floor, mommy will get it." This, to me, is beyond obnoxious.

Two days ago I came home from a 11 hour work day and my Al-Anon meeting and my husband was drunk. I avoided him the best I could, but honestly, I was seething inside. I read until I fell asleep. Then yesterday he calls me at work, sober, and he asks me what I am planning to do that evening (meaning what am I going to make them for supper). I told him, "Well that depends in part on you. If I come home and you are drunk like you were last night, I am leaving." He said he was only drinking, not drunk (despite the fact he almost fell over in the kitchen while meddling while I was making dinner). I told him "Alcoholics can't drink. Drinking is drunk to an alcoholic." He admitted that was true. And he said no more. And he was not drunk when I got home last night. But of course, today is another day. And I have no expectations for him at all anymore.

At work I have been keeping more healthy boundaries. This has caused some major flack of course. One person who makes more than me yet has less than 1/3 the education or experience stated she was not going to be on call, and talked about how much she resented doing anything after business hours. She has only recently, in the past 3 weeks, had to do any of it because I have stopped doing it all. I did it for a year, never complained. Now it is actually funny - and affirming - to me to hear someone else complain about it and make a big deal about it. In the same meeting, I clarified my job title and explained to the owners of the company that I was in actuality still doing three jobs and really would not be available to handle every crisis that occurs. Still no money coming my way, so I am the lowest paid person I know doing even one of my job titles. But for my sanity, I have pulled back. Yesterday I even told them I had put in my 8 hours and I was tired, so I was going home and going to bed. And I did. It was a nice 30 minute nap.

So today I am working on lots of paperwork, meeting someone at the office here in 30 minutes to help do an assessment, and then going to visit out of town clients in the afternoon. Here's to a day with some sanity and serenity...

Friday, March 12, 2010

A long strange trip....

It's been over a week since I have blogged, and that is because I have been through alot in the last week or so.

Last Friday I checked myself into the hospital, and stayed there until Monday. Since I've been out I have been sore, tired, and basically feeling out of sorts trying to adjust to MANUALLY, PURPOSEFULLY slowing my life down somewhat. I've also felt like I have had the flu, to the point of going to bed yesterday at 3PM (totally unlike me).

So I beg forgiveness, I will try to do better soon. At home there is no Internet access at the moment, so I am reduced to blogging between paperwork and clients at work. Look forward to there being a better post soon...

Friday, March 5, 2010

One day at a time

Well, today was the last day of my work week. As I threatened last week, I am going to take a day or so off to get some counseling and hopefully get my mental health treatment back on track. And by "back on track" I mean to *begin.* I have been coached by my family of origin not to tell too much, or else I may be committed. And I have been the recipient of several guilt trips from my family over how I am abandoning them to seek help for myself. And of course, several people at work did their best to talk me out of taking a day off. Apparently the idea that I won't be around to listen to and solve all the crises is scaring the hell out of more than a few of them.

So when I think about one day at a time, I usually think in terms of just making it through whatever day I am stuck in. I spend the entire day running ragged, being called to this place/topic/crisis/task and that one, back and forth, and not really given time in between to complete anything. Then I get home, thinking, "At last this hideous day is over." And then I am so anxious about the idea of having to face another day, I can't get to sleep. And I wake up, stressed out and depressed at the idea of having to face another day of life. Naturally my thoughts turn to ending this cycle of samsara.

Well, I am literally too tired to think anymore. I may be out of blogland for a few days. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Easy does it

Today I am thinking about the concept of self care. I am overwhelmed with so many tiny little aspects of my life, and feel like I am losing my grip on my priorities, and sometimes even reality. I *KNOW* what "easy does it" means. Why is it so hard to put into practice???

Prior to the program, I created and fostered others' dependence on me because I thought that was the way to make people care about me. I thought I had to earn the love of others through working hard and getting them to like me. I thought if I took care of myself I would be selfish and uncaring. And I always had to be the best at whatever I did. If I was anything less than the best, I would not be worthy of anyone's love.

Now it's not like I have been blessed with an abundance of self esteem; quite the opposite. It's more like I am just too tired to try to excel at everything and take care of everyone else's problems. And there is a part of me that just cares a little less what others think about me anymore. It's not that I don't want people to like me. I am just learning that I can't control what others think about anything, including me.

Since I have stopped trying to be the perfect solution to everyone else, it appears others have not gotten the memo.
They still think I am supposed to fix or control things, that I am supposed to solve every issue or problem. It's exhausting.

So for tonight, I am taking deep breaths, trying to get some sleep, and not panic about everything that is crashing around me. That may be all I can do. And hopefully, it will be enough. For now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Let go and let god...

I just received a phone call where my sister asked my husband to come watch her son because my mother has the flu. What my sister did not tell him was her son is sick with the flu too. And both she and my mother want my husband to come over there to watch him from 4:30AM on, knowing my daughter - WHO IS NOT SICK WITH THE FLU - would have to come too. No thought or consideration about exposing her to an illness that is obviously very contagious. Her son has infected everyone in his house, including his mother and grandmother. Also no thought to the fact that I will most likely catch it too, as I have to drive everyone in my house everywhere as my husband's car still isn't running. None of them work. But I work 7 days a week, and really can't afford to be ill.

They also were calling to tell me not to seek treatment for my depression. They have both done their best to talk me out of getting any help for the depression, which is getting worse and worse, and have told me that I will lose my children and my job "If it gets out" that I have sought treatment or admitted that I am depressed. It's almost as if they would rather have me suffer in the disease than get help. I am not sure why they feel so threatened.

It's hard to face the fact that people who are supposed to love you, and people I have made myself ill for, don't really care.

This is one of those times that I am glad that I have listened a bit at meetings. I have learned enough from conversations and reading to know that I cannot control another person's actions, or how they feel about me.

This weekend I worked very hard cleaning out the old house. I am actively grieving over the loss of the house, and what it represented to me. It has been very difficult being there and letting go of the idea I had of myself and my life there. It represented my finally growing up and having a decent home where there was room for my children to grow up, for me to write, and for us to have heat and air conditioning, and a decent quality of life. During this time, I have been overwhelmed.

Of course, throughout the entire process, I have been fielding phone calls from work on an almost hourly basis, staff calling about "crises" which are mostly manufactured or just drama.

My blood pressure yesterday was 140/98.

Once again, this is one of those times I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to someone wiser than I. My self care response has been to repeat the title slogan above, and go to bed. Not to go to my bed and not get out, not to isolate, but to try to sleep. The anxiety has made that quite difficult, as well as the ringing of the work phone. Tonight I managed to sleep 2 hours, and during that time I got 2 work calls, the last one just before 11pm. During the day I am in training for the next two days, so I am only turning on the work phone for the morning and afternoon breaks and the lunch hour. I have heard to turn the phone off, but I work with people who are supported 24/7 by the agency, so I am supposed to be available to call out 24/7. I am grateful to be in training, to have someone else being in charge for just a little while, and all I have to do is listen. it's the closest thing I have had to a day off in quite a while.

I am grateful that my daughters have not succumbed to the flu that everyone else seems to be fighting at the moment. I am happy they have so far stayed well. My older daughter did stay home today with a sore throat, but that was from working in the house cleaning it out on Sunday for about 10 hours. With no heat on, it never got above 35 or 40 in the house.

I am grateful we got my husband's car to run long enough to get it to a mechanic in our old town. They will have it for 2 weeks and we will pick it up on the 12th. Then he will be able to drive himself to and from work. And I will not have to get up and pick him up at midnight Thursdays through Sundays. That may allow me to sleep more.

I am grateful that I am going to be seeking treatment on Friday for my depression. I am grateful for the program a therapist located to assist working people without insurance with access to mental health care. I am grateful that this therapist has come through with this resource. At first I was not that impressed with her, but I trusted the process and it may be panning out.

I am grateful that my husband helped out a little bit with the move issues. I had asked him to do about 4 tasks, and he did three of them, and refused to do the last, as it is cleaning out a refrigerator of spoiled food and he is disgusted by it. Since it has to be done, of course it will left for me to do. This is how my life has been for about the past 30 years.

I am grateful that tomorrow is another day. And if I am not here for it, I am grateful no matter what. If I am here, I am grateful for the chance that things just might get better.