Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review

Every year Dave Barry does a Year in Review. I decided to do one too only mine isn't nearly as wittily crafted. Since time was so elusive for me this year I wanted to remember the things that happened in my life. I meant to write more often but the unimportant things constantly got in the way. I am always amazed that the years go by so quickly and yet so much happens.

...started off with a bang. Instead of eating the traditional corned beef, cabbage, and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, I feasted on Gatorade, Sprite, Jello (not red or purple though) and lovely Halflytely Bowel Prep solution. January 2 brought a colonoscopy to check for signs of Ulcerative Colitis which I was diagnosed through blood test the previous October. I was told I was much to young to be there to which I responded, "all right, can I go home then?" No such luck. I started to wake up during the procedure and recalled a very unpleasant sensation down below and voices saying to knock me back out. After coming back to earth, I received wonderful pictures of my innards as the doctor explained everything to me and my husband as my mind wandered. She told me everything looked good and I wasn't currently showing signs of Ulcerative Colitis. The first words out of my dopey mouth were, "OK, can I try to get pregnant now?" She told me she wanted to do an upper GI series so coming off my BCP would have to wait a few more weeks. At the end of January I quit my BCP.

...was fairly uneventful, I mean how can you top a colonoscopy? We visited my younger brother, sister-in-law, and nephew up north for my nephew's first birthday. Their small town hadn't changed at all since we were last there for their wedding the previous year.

...marked 10 years of togetherness for Brandon and I. Later we ventured to the hill country for a family camp out.

April partner in crime at work left me for greener pastures. I was tossed around from office to office. I was ignored. Then they realized how much work she actually did, realized they couldn't keep up and stayed permanently in panic mode. My mood started to dip.

...I realized that I needed help to get out of the disaster that was becoming my life. I researched counselors while all I really wanted to do was crawl in a hole. I found sympathetic friends who understood what I was going through. We flew out to Phoenix to visit my older brother and his family. It was a welcome distraction and then back to my crap-tastic life.

...I started counseling. She told me to see my doctor. My doctor put me on drugs. (Yippee!!) I bared my soul. I learned that I needn't call my self stupid.

...I paid off my student loans 5 years early, I was no longer a slave! It was cooler than usual. It rained a lot, which was nice. Our bills were cheaper and the weather matched my moods. I was starting to feel better, I no longer begged for God to take me home.

...after spending a good deal of money fixing something on his 1990 truck, my husband killed it on the way back from picking it up. Somehow the coolant exited as he drove the short trip back. His truck overheated and he blew the head gasket. I was glad to get rid of the POS although we planned to replace it in October and not August. Weeks of searching for a new (used) car ensued as we took turns driving each other to work in the opposite direction each day.

...we were still searching for a car. We finally found a 2002 in good condition and paid cash for it. This brought lectures on how we should have taken out a loan and invested the money we spent instead. (Talk about Stupid Tax) This really brought Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover into perspective. He said people would think us crazy and he was right. My other younger brother got engaged.

...I came to the startling realization that I needed to quit my job. I wasn't getting anything out of my job except for endless hours of banging my head against the wall and stress. I made plans for a departure at the end of the year. I needed to take a sabbatical and seek God's direction in my life. Surprisingly this left me feeling strangely optimistic (clearly the Lord at work) instead of the trepidation I felt months earlier when I "knew" I was stuck where I was and couldn't quit my job without having another lined up. I also informed my counselor and my doctor that I was quitting my antidepressants. My partner in crime who left for greener pastures decided to return from said greener pastures for a much higher salary. I questioned her sanity.

...brought the start of the preparation for the hectic holiday season. My older brother who in years past always waited until Christmas Eve to do all of his shopping bragged informed me that he was almost finished with his Christmas shopping. We attended our couple friend's destination outdoor wedding which turned out to be rainy and nearly freezing. We were of course attacked by the "pregnancy paparazzi" all weekend. The house we shared with another couple and college friends (mind we have all been out for years now) turned into an all night frat party complete with booze, stripping (by the guys), and guys banging on my door in the wee hours. I got lots of sheepish I'm sorries from my husband who had assured me when making the arrangements that his buddies had all grown up now. Apparently they never do.

...I announced to the head of my department that I was leaving for personal reasons. Everyone thought it was a huge joke. I later found out that my boss was let go that same day because her husband who also works with us announced he was leaving to work for a competitor. Seeing as we had been in panic mode since April, it was now stepped up a notch. I told them I would leave in January to give them adequate time to replace all of us. I was subjected to horrible group sales meetings in a clear attempt to motivate me and show me all the excitement I would be missing if I left; all of the "oh-we-are-just-too-busy-Rachel-is-faster-just-give-it-to-her-even-
though-it-isn't-her-work-and-she-is-overloaded-too," extra work; the hours of working late so I couldn't even attempt to do Christmas shopping; and keeping up with my extra-curricular holiday obligations. Luckily our company shuts down between Christmas and New Year's and I was told the Friday before Christmas that if I finished all of my work I could go early. Even more fortunately my counterparts in the eastern office had their lines of communication go down, so before they could send me anymore of their BS work I hightailed it out of there. The weekend before I spent helping everyone else get ready for all the festivities. Christmas found us united with my brothers who live out of town and a week jam-packed with family togetherness.

And now on this last day of the year I am sitting peacefully relaxing with my wonderful husband with no commitments and no where to be but right here. The year has had it's ups and downs. I have laughed and cried and I have learned. 2008 is a year of change for me. I'm starting the year by finally taking some time for myself. I am going to seek God's direction and purpose for my life. I am excited for the possibilities. Who knows what the year will bring for us? A career change? More growth? A new title of mommy? Bring it on!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I Did it...

I Quit my job!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Dark Side of Me Continued

...I continued going to therapy once a week. I found it very difficult at times. She asked me hard questions, questions I couldn't answer. She prescribed journaling , she wanted me to keep it with me at all times and to just write whatever was in my head. She also gave me many assignments that I found difficult; recalling first good and bad memories, recalling when I did something good that deserved merit. I found that doing these exercises didn't help me all that much.

I soon discovered that I had entirely unrealistic expectations of myself, that I didn't know where they came from. I have always seemed to have high self-esteem. All through school growing up when I was teased I would brush it off or completely ignore it. (I learned a thing or two growing up with brothers.) I didn't ever care what anyone else thought of me. If they hated me, thought me ugly, that was their problem, not mine. I didn't suffer from peer pressure, I didn't have to keep up with societal trends. I was my own person, the world be damned. What I discovered is I am entirely too hard on myself. I had lofty expectations that

I could never meet. So I constantly put myself down. I was filled with "negative self talk." At one point I was told to wear a rubber band and snap myself every time I thought or said something negative about myself. Yeah, not so much.

I also discovered this wasn't the first bought of depression I suffered. I was able to clearly identify periods in my life where I was depressed. Those 2 months in college (I remember the winter Olympics were going on.) I distinctly remember riding in the car around town and wanting to open the door while it was moving and jump out. When I graduated from college during a huge slump in the economy and couldn't find a job. I did some seriously destructive things during that time. Soon after I was married. My husband was working night shifts because he was having difficulty finding a job in his degree field. He would leave for work before I got home from work. I would come home and lie on the couch flipping through channels until about midnight when I would get up to go to bed. I wouldn't cook dinner for myself, what was the point. And I couldn't tell him how unhappy I was because I knew he already felt bad himself. (I did tell him about it much later when we learned to communicate better.) I remember at one point taking my wedding ring off and throwing it across the room. He got up and started to walk out on me.

So now that I knew this had been a recurrent problem, I knew that I was going to overcome it. I was not going to let this define me as a person. Now that I was discovering what some of my problems were and where they came from I knew more what I needed to do.

First, I needed to stop the medication. In replacement of my constant anxiety I became completely apathetic. I didn't worry about anything anymore because I found myself just not caring about anything. I felt numb and I didn't like it. I also suffered other annoying side effects that I didn't want to deal with anymore. I firmly told both my doctor and my counselor that I wanted to ween off the medication. They both agreed with my judgment and allowed me to come off. What an exciting time that was! After completely coming off the medication, I felt like I was constantly hit with low-grade electrical shock especially when I was tired. I would get sudden spells of dizziness and feel off balance. When all of this finally went away, I was a happy person.

My next job was to let go the "rules" I had put in place for my life. I needed to stop with the unrealistic expectations and just live my life as best I could. I needed to stop expecting myself to be so perfect.

The whole journey has been difficult, but now that I know what I am dealing with, I am able to face it head on rather that piling it all up in the back of my head somewhere. I still have difficult days when the darkness overwhelms me, but those days are fewer and much farther between.