Let’s Talk Mental Health

Well, today is “Bell Let’s Talk Day” here in Canada. It is a day we as a country try to show, that having any sort of mental health is not a stigma, you are human and its always ok to talk about it.

I have always been open and honest about having suffer from anxiety, but I think I am just going to be real and honest here. I did blog earlier about how bad 2020 was, but I’m going to be real again;

I faced a lot of changes and challenges in 2020; one of the things I had learn and realize that I am not always in control, and I have to let things go, let those chips fall as they do, and then work with where they land.

For me with work things changed so fast when covid hit, we were unsure of this virus, the outcome and how to deal as an office, as humans and the slow realization that we would be limited to seeing people was a huge change.

I embraced it all as best as I could. I had manager changes; roles changed and people were shifted on teams, a whole lot of changes and my plate of work just became basically a serving tray. I just kept my head down and continued to be the hard worker that I am. My office was in my living room, I stole Koren’s craft table and just made the best of it. I constantly was staring at my work, regardless of the time of day, whether I was “on the clock” or not. My work because of the lockdown was all I had to do, so I just worked. Soon I was working 50+ hour work weeks, I was becoming exhausted. I just was drained. I was burnt-out.

By this time, it was near the end of July and I just was full speed ahead; working still from home and just not seeing other humans. This was killing me as I am a person who needs human contact, I live for hugs and I mostly live for conversations that are not read as emails. So I was drained, I felt like my spirit was just being sucked away.

By the start of August, I was again asking for help, being so short staffed and waking up in the middle of the night, remembering or thinking “did I do that” “or oh shit I forgot to do x”. 

My own health was all over the place, I kept having random infections, pains in my belly and having to go for ultrasounds, blood work and constantly peeing in a cup etc, as I just was in pain. My body was not happy.

I remember the day I knew something was wrong, the day it finally hit me. I remember sitting on my balcony, watching the world go by, texting with a friend, I remember saying to him, I feel so numb, I’m broken, something is wrong with me. It was the same day, that the doctor called me, not my own family doctor, but one that was following up with the latest tests and she just asked me “Jodie are you ok” and it was at this point, I just started crying and I could not stop. I remember saying over and over, I am so sorry, I don’t know what is wrong with me. She told me she knew what was wrong. She talked to me for well over an hour, made sure I was ok. She told me I need medication; to get back to being the me, that I knew and wanted to be back to. She wrote me off of work for 2 weeks with a follow up, as she wanted me to be off for min of 4 weeks. I had this guilt of I can’t leave work that long, who is going to do my work. But I knew I had to take care of me. I am the only version of me. So I unplugged. Sat on my balcony, read, played some stupid game on my ipad. But mostly I slept. My body wanted to sleep. For me to return to work, I had to leave my house, there was no way I could continue working from home.

During the time I was off, we moved my “office” to Koren’s bedroom and I had my living room back, to being my own space, I was able to cut myself off from work, as it was no longer “in my face” constantly.

When I did return to work, I physically returned to work for 3 days a week. This worked, it was a balance. As always things changed in the fall with the pandemic and we were busier yet again. I knew the signs this time as I was waking up again with anxiety attacks, unable to sleep properly. I went back to my family doctor and we talked, we got my medication adjusted again. I was off again in November sick, as I was not doing well mentally, the lack of sleep, change in medications just had me all over again. I never wanted to go back to the at zombie state again.

So as we are now in January, coming up to a year that I was “sent home to work”, I reflect on how much has changed, how much have I changed? Do I feel I have my anxiety controlled; no. I will speak to my doctor again, as I am back to waking up at 3 to 4am having anxiety, over at times the silliest thing, but the lack of sleep just changes my focus; I end up forgetting to eat, I feel that my mind sucks all my energy and I just become so exhausted.

Can I sleep a night through without taking something to sleep – no; this is why I know I need to speak to my doctor. This is why I know the balance has been lost again with work and me.

Living with anxiety and panic attacks; they are never fun, always come at the wrong time, whether I am trying to sleep, my mind thinks of things and I just can’t shut it down. Or I’ll be working and things are just overwhelming and I just get completely twisted and turned that I can’t breathe, so I have to take a breather.  I know the signs; I can almost predict if I feel that feeling growing in the bottom of my tummy. I know who to call during the day (I have some of the best coworkers around, they just know how to be perfect).

Having anxiety and panic attacks, and needing daily medication does not define me. It does not make me less of a friend, a daughter, a sister or a coworker. I am still human. I am Jodie.

Should anyone be afraid to admit they have anxiety, panic attacks or even sad moments, no not at all. If the world pandemic has taught me anything, it is to take more time for me. Slow down and mostly admit when you have a bad day. Someday’s I just feel happy I got out of bed or I got 5 hours of straight sleep. There are times, with working from home, I just need to walk away from my “office”, go and do something for me.  I have started knitting just to calm me, give me something to do in the evenings. I am not perfect at all, and I am sending these imperfect dish cloths to those who have said they want one. This keeps me busy in the evening and keeps me calm.

So never be afraid to be you; our imperfections make us perfect. The bad days never out run the good days. The storms break, the light shines and rain makes us grow.

If you ever need to chat, I am always available. Don’t keep emotions and thoughts bottled; it does no good for you, your own body. Your friends and family are there; you just need to start the conversation.

Continue to love you. Stay strong!

** if anyone wants one of these dishcloth – reach out.

Small Steps in to 2021

Well we are 16 beautiful days into 2021. Although I don’t see much difference from 2020. I know most of us will be able to give some positives from 2020, but most are going to remember the gray days.

So when I stayed awake to welcome in 2021, I think I personally just needed to make sure it happened, no ball got stuck and we did make it safely over to 2021.

I am not big on setting resolutions of what I want to do for the full year, because lets me real, I wouldn’t be able to stick them out for the full year. I didn’t reach any of my 2020 goals, which was to run physically in person 20 runs to celebrate 2020. I ran no runs in person in 2020. So that goal was washed away, plus all the other ones I had set.

This year I decided to set no resolutions. I end up becoming hard on myself and feel like I’ve failed. So this year I am going to be kind to myself.

I’m not setting a goal for the full year, but basically either by the month or the quarter. This way I can see the “light” and work towards something that is more achievable. Something that I can check off the success list. Small steps lead farther, over big leaps.

So first up is from January 1 to April 1; lose 25lbs. Odd number and really in 3 months its 8lbs a month, which seems low, but I am not going to pick a crazy high weekly amount that just puts stress on me. We are back in a “stay at home order” here in Ontario, gyms are closed and its winter. So I want something that is obtainable for me.  Something that is not going to cause me to put hard pressure on myself. We usually are our own worst critics and we can be so hard on ourselves. Covid has changed everything, especially mental health, so I am going to be kind to me.

Now that Christmas has officially been removed from the condo, I have room to workout. Which will be either on my “lunch hour” or after I finish work. This way I can get some exercise in and on nice days go for a walk around the block.

I’ve had the misfortune of still being sick with a horrible virus, which it has now been 29 days. I go this coming week for more testing to try and get to the bottom of it all. So people, please stay home, wear a mask and wash your damn hands.

I decided this is the year that I will truly make it about me and making sure I am happy or at least I am on a path that I am ok with. Covid is not going away anytime soon, until more people basically stay the hell home and the vaccine gets to more people.  I am slowly working away on getting a better balance in the work and home life, especially now that I am home more. Looking back at 2020, I believe it was a year of learning, but also at the same time, I reflect and realize even more now how much I stretched myself thin. Not this year, more about balance and working on my small goals I set for myself.

So to anyone who is already struggling with 2021 – remember everything starts with a small step, even 2021. Small steps. I will be keeping you all updated on my progress and my health!

Stay safe – wash your damn hands

Hiatus for 2020

2020 was a wild, bumpy ride of a year, with many curves, dips and turns, and some wild storms to weather along the way.  

I did no in person runs in 2020, it was the year of virtual runs. I’m going to be honest; I do not like virtual runs. They are not the same as being in person, with friends, finish lines and free banana’s! They are very hard mentally for me to have the same excitement, or even get out the door for a “virtual run”. It was almost like a training run with a medal waiting at home for me.  I had runs that were to happen, but just couldn’t due to the boarders being closed (Chicago Marathon, Pittsburgh Marathon weekend and onwards).

In March, the world came to a halt, I found myself working from home, and facing a whole new uncertainty. Everything changed and nothing was normal. Work became the front and centre of my life, as it almost consumed me all day and night, there was no work-life balance. We as a country and province did not really have an understanding of what “covid” actually was so everyone was staying inside and following the rules.

I just went to being on autopilot. Every day was just floating into the next, as I was not leaving my Condo. I was unaware how much my own mental health was slipping; I was falling into depression, all without realizing it. I was suffering anxiety attacks and I was to the point of not being able to sleep. It just came crashing down in August and I needed to take a break from work/life, from the direction of my doctor. I did not realize I was not putting me first. I never knew or acknowledged I was broken.

The fall I started to take back my life and make a “new normal”, with setting more lines for the balance between work and home (it is hard to do when work and home are the same place). I still struggled with the balance.

Roll into the Holiday time, Toronto being on lockdown it was not a very festive time. I celebrated my birthday in Covid, which 10 months before December, I never thought I would not be able to hug my friends and see my friends. Social Distancing was the new phrase we all learned to say. We all learned to wash our hands 1000 times a day.

I closed off 2020 with a negative covid test, but never leaving my condo for 2+ weeks as I was purely exhausted, had trouble breathing, congested, loss of my voice and sounded like a 90 year old smoker with being winded. The holidays were missed and I don’t remember much, even now I still am suffering lung pains and congestion.  I have stopped having naps, so I guess this is a positive.

I missed the gym in 2020. I am a treadmill runner especially in the summer and the winter; it’s a more controlled air environment. So the summer I mostly did walks around the neighborhood.  My condo did not open their gym or the pool due to covid. (my condo currently has a no visitor policy in place).

2020 taught me who I am, how strong I am and how much of a warrior I can be. I’ve learned a lot of who I am as a person, when I have a breaking point, how to take the time I need for myself. Learning to unplug is a huge one for me. I cried a lot. I did a lot of reflecting on my balcony. I am a big believer that our mental health should be discussed, there is nothing to be ashamed of, with having bad days and having really really bad days. We survive all of our bad days.

I did cut my coffee down to maybe just 2 coffees a day, from my normal 5-8 a day.

2020 showed me who is a friend for just pure friendship and who is someone who only is a friend when it benefits them. 2020 taught me to slow down, well it forced me to slow down and to accept that I can’t always control all things within my life and this is ok.  

I learned its ok to have my “give a shit button” to be broken once and awhile. It’s ok to say “no” to people who always rely on me, and need my good expertise in things. No is a very acceptable word.

So with the end of 2020, I was happy to see the year depart. I still am deprived of hugs (I am a HUGE hugger), but I am looking forward to what 2021 will bring both.

Much Love