Sick Day

“I think I’m coming down with something.”

A phrase that we hear, and might say ourselves, from time to time. You know the feeling; tired, run down, maybe some sneezes and sniffles or a scratchy throat that are the unmistakable hints that you’ve caught something and you’re getting sick.

So what do you do?

If you’re like me, you start loading up on vitamin c and drinking more water. Add in a wonderful brew of garlic, ginger, lemon and honey to help battle the germs. Make sure to rest more and try to take it easy so that my body can fight off the bug that is running rampant inside my normally healthy body. I’m lucky enough to have access to a sauna and that’s always part of my arsenal of wiping out the illness. Take some time off work and get better.  In short, I turn my attention to doing whatever I can to help make myself get better as quickly as I can. It’s what we have been told we should do, need to do, for ourselves and for the most part we do. Even I do, and I’m not great at taking care of myself.

So let’s flip this from physical to mental health.

“I am burned out and done. Just done.”

A phrase – or some variation of that gets said fairly often too. Words that convey the simple fact that things are just too much right now, or that our ability to meet the mental or emotional demands on us are just not up to it. Whether it’s work stress or personal issues, whether it’s the tap out from depression, anxiety, grief, exhaustion or any myriad of mental health issues – chronic or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do once we have hit that point.

So what do we do? In a perfect world, you would look at what it is that’s the main issue and address it. What do you need, right that moment, to make things better? Then do that. What do you need, long term, to help yourself? Then do that. You would find support or take yourself away from what is causing you stress. You would get help in the form of counselling or medication or therapies that work for you. You would take a day off, maybe a few if you can and take time to get better.

What actually happens though?

We cough and sneeze and call in or email and say we’re sick and stay home. Everyone tells us how much they hope we get better soon and that we should rest and not push ourselves – just take it easy and get better.

 

or….

 

We don’t think we can get out of bed because of the heavy and dark depression or the anxiety that is crippling today or *insert your own version here* but we do it anyways; we get dressed in between panic attacks and sobs that ruin the makeup we’ve already had to re-do twice and we put on clothes that we feel like we can hide inside of. We pull ourselves together and we became masters at faking being “okay” or “fine, just tired” so that we don’t have to try to explain.

Or we don’t get out of bed. We call in or email and say we have a migraine or stomach flu – anything that can be gone in 24 hours so that there won’t be too many questions tomorrow when we do manage to pull ourselves together and make it to the outside world again. We become masters at lying and hiding what is really wrong.

Why? Because making a call and saying “I’m not okay today. I’m not well and it’s not my body that’s the problem.” is not something that we know how to do. It’s also not something that we know how to hear and respond to either. That’s okay though because the only way things will change is if we start changing them after we admit that there is something that needs changing.

So today I did something I never do. Today I called in “sick” and didn’t lie about why. I said I was taking a mental health day and that I was just simply burned out and needed a day to rest and recharge and get my head screwed on straight. You know what? The reply was “good for you, do what you need to.”. Yes, I was nervous about being that honest but I also know that I need to start walking the talk about getting rid of stigma if I really mean it – and I do. Yes, I do realize that I am incredibly lucky that I can do that and that not all of us can. Not everyone has time off available and not everyone works in an environment that you could say those words and not worry about how it will affect your job security. But if you do, and can, please do it when you need to. It’s the only way that taking care of our mental health will start being seen as just as normal and necessary as taking care of our physical health.

I Want You To Know

What do you value? What goals do you have that you want to achieve and how do they relate to the values that you hold true for yourself and how you want to live your life.

 

A couple of questions among a few today in a course that I’m taking. Questions that opened the door into a journaling task. A task that was to be done quickly, in class, not taking more than a few minutes. Designed to let us jot down our instinctive responses without over-thinking and without trying to analyze. Simply to write down our most basic “what do you want”. An exercise that was to tie into last week’s look at why we fail or succeed in making changes in areas of our lives that we say we want to change. Simple.

 

But first, before what I want, a little background.

I’ve been living with a depression for the last few (okay, many) months and fighting even acknowledging it to myself, never mind to anyone else. I’ve just barely started being open about how deep the shadows are to my partner and letting glimpses of how I’m doing be seen by a couple of others. most definitely not ok is indicative of just how bad it is right now. It’s that depression that fogs over everything right now for me. It’s dark and heavy and exhausting, and I’m so tired of it.

 

Sitting in class today, looking at my paper and holding my pen in hand, trying to even feel what I want so that I can write it down. Tears coming to my eyes again – like they had been off and on for most of the class – as I am overwhelmed by the sadness that I felt. Sadness that the one word that was front and centre felt so far from me. The one word that slowly came into my mind to explain what I want more than anything else just made me want to give up with how unattainable it felt to me.

 

Light.

 

I want to be light again. I am so exhausted from the heaviness of depression and grief that I sometimes forget what it feels like to not be crushed by it. I know that I have times that it’s merely a shadow and that I do peek out from under it but on days like today, those times are hard to remember – even harder to recall how it feels to have that lightness of being.

 

The sadness I feel in writing that hurts because within that is a deeper, more urgent want that wiggles in my mind as I work towards that lightness again. A sadness for what this darkness has made so hard lately. Connections, re-connections of relationships lost and let go of in my depression and grief, reassurance to those who are close to me still (even with all my efforts to push away hard).

 

I so desperately want the people who are in my life to know that it’s not all dark and heavy – and that I DO know that. I am blessed and I have so much in my life that does bring me happiness and laughter and light…and I am trying so hard to be aware of those times just as , if not even more than, the times when the heaviness weighs in.

 

I want and need for the people in my life to see when I’m having a light and easy day and there are smiles and joy to not worry if a cloud rolls in for a few minutes, maybe some tears or sadness will come. But it’ll pass. A single cloud doesn’t ruin a beautiful day. I promise.

 

I want and need for the people in my life to know that when the clouds pile up and darken and stick around, they’ll pass too. It might take longer than a moment, but they will. They always do, some days I have a harder time remembering that but I promise that they will pass too.

 

I want and need for the people in my life to know that it IS getting better and I need for you to remind me of that when I fall apart and share that I don’t know if it is – or ever will be better.

I want you to know how much it means to me that you are there to tell me that when I can’t see it.

 

I want you to know that I hide behind “I’m ok, just tired” or “I’m fine” like you do too…and I see you and it’s ok to hide behind that if you need to; I know sometimes I need to not share how I really am too. It’s ok when it’s too much.

 

I want you to know that sometimes I can be what we all are in some way or other:

Perfectly okay and doing great.

A mess.

Loved and loving.

Falling apart.

Grateful for all the amazing and wonderful things and people in my life.

Overwhelmed and lost in depression

Joyful and light.

Hurt.

Laughing, smiling, sincerely happy and content.

Scared that it won’t ever be different.

Excited for tomorrow..

Wanting to give up.

 

I want to say thank you for being in my life. Whether you are someone who I share a few minutes with once or twice a year…a casual friend… a chosen family or close friend…or my partner, my love… I want you to know that I can be, like we all are, both a work in progress and a masterpiece, all at the same time.

 

A Year of Yes

A year of saying yes starts today.

It was 25 years ago today that my life changed forever (happy birthday today to my oldest!) and it’s as good a day as any for me to start another step on my path. Seems kind of fitting somehow actually.

A concept that was introduced to me by my partner and something that has taken hold in my musings.

To say yes instead of no or maybe. Not something as sweeping as saying yes to everything that comes my way; I’m wanting a shake up in how I live but I’m not completely off my rocker, thank you very much.

Essentially how I see it is simple. To make a conscious decision to not stay stuck in patterns of behaviour that have become unhealthy and limiting to myself. The only way to change is to change. It really is that simple.

It’s not saying yes to every option I am presented with or with every opportunity that comes my way. What my year of yes will be is taking the chances that I would normally knee jerk into a “no”. It’s not letting my fears or reservations make my decisions for me like I have been. It’s being conscious of choosing to nudge myself outside of the comfortable areas that I have come to hibernate so well within these past few years. It’s not automatically shutting down an opportunity that excites me because I’m nervous or uncertain. It’s feeling all that and deciding to do it anyways. It’s trying something when I’m not sure if I’ll succeed or not. It’s seeing risks and taking them.

It’s more than saying yes to invitations, it’s also saying yes to what I ask of myself. It’s not limiting myself and my growth anymore due to fears or insecurities. It’s believing in myself again and my potential and letting myself rise to the bar that has no set height except for where I set it…. and I’m tired of keeping it set as low as I have. It’s telling myself to shut up when I say I can’t or shouldn’t. It’s saying yes, you can and you should, and you will.
Is it scary? Yes. Look, I said it… that wasn’t too bad 🙂

Connections

Thinking over connecting a lot lately. With grieving and depression the last few years it’s something that has been lost, to some degree, in my life. It’s something that, when I reflect on the last year or so, it has started to creep back in, almost unnoticed to me.

We all impact each others lives, mostly in non-physical ways. We use expressions like “that touches my heart” or “I see you” when what is happening has nothing at all to do with physical connection but rather, it is different. Everyone can see me or hear me or touch me with the senses that we associate with those words. So very few persons though actually see me or hear me or touch me though in the ways that I have walled off and closed off these past few years. Connecting. Whether it has been for a few moments or seconds or for longer, I have started to connect again. A little reach out or a tentative reach back to a hand or a shoulder offered. A dance of me wanting to connect but wanting to push away and run at the same time.

There have been little connections here and there though, and I’ve started to see that lately. So small that to the other persons involved, they may be inconsequential and not even remembered. Yet they are, to me. Part of me seeing and celebrating the simple fact that I can still connect – and I am – is recognizing it. This musing is my way of honouring that I need to bring awareness to the little things that are actually massive things when living with grief and trying to slog out depression (which I am still trying to deny is even a fact for me 😉 ).

I meet someone and spend time with them and have a great evening talking and laughing and I walk away feeling lighter and with a smile on my face. I tell them I had a great evening. What I don’t say is how much that means to me.

My partner and I spend a few days in a strange city and we are welcomed and made
to feel like family almost by a couple of people that I barely know but who are
friends of hers already. We leave, hugging and telling them how appreciative we
are and I tell them how happy I am to have met them. I cry later thinking how
long it’s been since I’ve felt so open and comfortable with people. But I never
tell them that.

That is repeated in another city a couple of days later. Time spent in the private
spaces or persons lives and spaces. A card game leaving us crying with laughter. Easy and fun and simple…and good. More left unsaid but definitely felt.

We go out to a friend’s home for dinner with them and their children. We are invited in
and welcomed and fed and brought into the folds of their lives for a couple of
hours. It is open and genuine and beautiful and … good. We leave and hug and I
feel like there aren’t words to say how good it feels.

A crazy and amazing few days in the desert and little connections abound.

A shared moment laughing over an identical dress with someone who shares my introverted
stress and need to hide.

A quiet few minutes with a person I’ve seen around for years but barely know as she draws a design for me in a hotel room.

Sitting under a tree in the heat and just enjoying company with a friend.

Ridiculous sexy parodies of burlesque in a room that feels like a sauna shared with a friend.

Summer hours in sunshine and dust around campfires and lakes. Sharing camp stove lighters and laughing over outdoor cooking foibles.

Tears or giggles or both. Shared and felt.

Seeing and feeling friendships glimmer into being as walls start to be lowered. Sharing space and energies, however brief. They all have an impact and leaves ripples in their wake.

Experiences that show me that even the small steps are still progress.

Being able to give words to this awareness and to reach out and say thank you to the people in my life who are part of my life… this is the best small step so far.

The Impossibility of What They Demand

They rest inside me, deeply, persistent in their demands for release.

Monsters of thoughts and emotions that are dark with the density they possess.

The weight of them suffocating me lately.

The days fly by in a flurry of avoidance and boundaries of sanity.

The evening hours tick grossly by – second by second with the heaviness of it all.

The monsters – the thoughts – the emotions – form into words, and then sentences in my mind.

Filling volumes of expression that careen around inside of me.

They exhaust me so deeply there that I have nothing left with which to give them voice.

So they continue their dance inside of me.

Ever faster and more frantic they dance to their drums.

Boundaried only by the confines of my weariness.

By my inability to let them find footing and leap outward in the words that they demand be written.

They draw in all the energy I have, consuming it entirely.

All the energy that it would take for me to set them free.

So they stay where they are.

Thunderous in the silence they create.

Ellipsis

Ellipsis

 

It is an indication of words omitted, unwritten, silenced.

Words. Thoughts. Feelings.

Expressions of love, hate, fury, passion, apathy, joy, rage, loss…

Never to be shared, never divulged.

A single whispered word of bliss or an ocean’s worth of tears shrunk down to nothing.

It is the beautiful shadow that the chosen words can hide deeply inside of.

Secreted away, far from the person who will never know what is just out of sight.

Its brevity belies the enormity that it cloaks in its marks.

 

You ask, and I answer.

 

“I am …”

Tired

Exhausted

Weary from trying

Barely holding on, still living with too many days that I just want to let go

Smiling when that is the last thing I want to do

Cold

So very cold, down deep where I used to be on fire

Hurting, still – again – more, and for longer, than I ever thought I could

Screaming inside, the deafening sound of pain drowning out the small talk

Scared

Terrified that I won’t make it

Afraid to show you this darkness

Frightened by my desire to just give up some days – and by how easy it would be

Not fine

So definitely not fine

So far from fine that I am doubtful some days that I ever will be again

Weary from trying

Exhausted

Tired

“Doing pretty well, and you?”

Just going to jot this down

It resonates
Strikes a chord or rings a bell
Whatever the saying that catches what IT does.
Yes I say to myself. Yes. That’s it.
A tumble of words fly around in my brain. Whole sentences sometimes.
A vastness in a second.
I grab something. Anything. To capture it before it’s gone
Lessons of I’ll write that idea down later learned in the blankness of the forgotten that is left when I don’t.
Notes that are one word only. Images of entirety held in time by a syllable or two.  Volumes of works reduced to minuscule expressions of saved for later.
For me to return to and breathe life into when I have time. Or thoughts. Or. Or.
Scraps of papers litter my spaces with quickly scribbled sentences and paragraphs even. The chaotic running screaming needing to escape torrent of me falling out and onto the paper. To be made sense of later. To be given order and expanded and made more. Later.
Not now.
My phone full of notes that I have types feverishly in an attempt to not lose what has broken the surface and deserves to be rescued and made safe from the void of later if it isn’t somehow made real. Now.
So much tucked away and treasured and held tight for someday. One day. Eventually. Soon. Maybe. Definitely. Tomorrow. But not now.
Later.
For now I’ll just jot this down so I don’t forget.