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.