Breakdowns, Birthdays and Finding Balance

Journey Photo

So this post has been a long time coming. I’m known for my sense of fun, so serious posts are hard to write. I mulled it over and rewrote it multiple times. Then I figured screw it, I’m just going to write like I always do. From the hip, and the heart. Buckle up, it might get bumpy.

Some of you may know about the health crisis I had in 2012. Those of you who do not you can read about the vacation of doom and health crisis to get up to speed. Long story short I’ve been abusing my body for a long time. I suffer from an extreme case of IBS which has taken control of my life on so many levels. It all came to a head on a road trip where my health got so out of control I had to be rushed to the hospital. I ended up on morphine and told they thought I had diverticulitis. My hubs had to hop on a plane to come rescue us and drive myself and my daughter home as we were stuck in another province. Not only was I suffering physically but mentally I was out to lunch. Dehydration and exhaustion had taken a toll, and stress had taken over in a big way. I crossed over to the dark side my friends, and I was not sure I’d ever make my way back.

I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky sort of chick. I go with the flow, I try not to stress out over life’s inconveniences, and I try to find the funny in most situations. So the mental breakdown that ensued during and after the trip rocked me to my core. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. I would get in the car and start to shake. I would burst into tears every time I had to drive somewhere. Cripes, even at home alone I’d burst into tears for no apparent reason.

I went to my doctor who booked me to see my gastro specialist, in the meantime she suggested anti-anxiety meds. You see I had a panic attack in the office and hid in the bathroom. They had to come find me. I was shaking and completely unable to control the tears. And it freaked me right the heck out. This person was not me. I’m in control of my emotions. Or so I thought. We talked for a long time about what had happened on the trip. I was dehydrated, my blood pressure was completely wacky from the elevation, I was exhausted, and I was in so much pain from my IBS I had to be prescribed morphine to control it. My world had spun wildly out of control.

Days passed while I slept off all the meds. Once I was out of my drug haze I realized what had happened. I do not think until that moment I fully understood what had transpired. It was like I was someone else. I walked by my son’s room on the way to  the laundry room a few days later and I completely broke down. Then I realized a large part of my issue was simply grief over my son moving out. How silly right. I mean intellectually I know my kids have to move out at some point. I’m fully aware B-Dude is doing the right thing by getting his PHD in Alberta. I am so very proud of him and happy to see him doing so well. But bottom line is I’ve been a stay at home mom for 24 years and my first child just  moved out of the house, across the country and I miss him. I missed him so much I cried violently for days. Always alone, never telling anyone what was going on. It’s how I cope, I’m stoic and strong, I do not have breakdowns and certainly not in front of people. I do not like to come off as weak or incapable. Such a silly way to go through life.

Kids

I made lots of trips back to the doctor over the course of many weeks. I was still feeling off, not right physically or mentally. Yet I did not want to take medication for it. In my mind I wanted to be myself again before taking any medication. I wanted to see if I could cope with life on my own without medication to ease things. Again, what is wrong with me? So many people take anti-anxiety meds. I have no idea why I was so against it. Stoic, stubborn and just plain stupid would be the answer.

I was lucky enough to be rushed up the list to see the gastro guy. I think I was flagged as an emergency since I’d been in the hospital. I love my gastro doctor. He looks exactly like James Earle Jones and sounds like him too. So it’s always a pleasure to visit him. He knows me as the silly lady who on a dare while going under the giggle juice did the Darth Vader “Luke I am Your Father” imitation…in Darth Vader’s voice no less. What can I say, if you dare me to do something I’m going to do it, even under the influence of heavy drugs.

We met before the colonoscopy and had a very long chat about my illness. Most people would be upset with what he had to say about the incident on the trip and my illness in general. For me it was a huge relief and I love his honesty. I told him how I’d tried to change my habits before the trip, that I tried to do a cleanse before the trip, that some folks had been telling me they cured their IBS by this method or that method and I was completely convinced I could cure myself. He looked me straight in the eye and said “there is NO cure for IBS, you will always be sick on some level. While we can improve your quality of life tremendously you will never be cured. You have an extreme case that’s aggravated by stress, so it’s going to flare up on occasion. I’d love to tell you I can cure you, but that’s not going to happen. I can promise you we can try to lessen the amount of attacks you have significantly.” Now this might strike some as odd, or depressing. To me it was freeing. I’ve had this illness for over 18 years and the only time it truly drives me mad is when I let other people convince me they know the magic cure. Then I have a bad day or eat something that bothers it and I get bummed out (bad pun I know). The truth about IBS is every single person flares with different foods and social triggers. No two patients are the same. So what works for some might now work for others. After 18 years and lots of trial, error and disappointments I should know better. IBS is part of who I am. But it’s not all that I am. Nor does it control me on a daily basis. But on the flip side thinking I have any control over it will just lead to heartache. And for me lots of morphine. My doc booked my colonoscopy as he was sceptical the issue was diverticulitis. I’m happy to report I do not have diverticulitis. I just have a really severe case of IBS. That gives me comfort, knowing what it is means I can cope with it and move forward.

This tale leads up to one thing. My life was completely out of balance. My health was out of balance. My mind was out of balance. Every aspect of my life had somehow gotten out of control. I knew I had to do something and make changes. So I’ve been slowly attempting some things quietly to see how it goes. I’ve been trying to eat better and exercise a bit more. To date I feel so much better and l’ve lost 10 pounds, which I’m certain I gained back over the holidays and B-Dude’s visit. However with my birthday approaching and a fresh new year I knew it was time to speak up about what’s been going on.

I do not make New Year’s resolutions. In my opinion they tend to lead to disappointment. So instead of making a resolution to remove things from my life, I’m making a declaration to add things to my life. I thought about just declaring to get Iphone and make Instagram my new obsession. That way all my other obsessions would pale in comparison. But that did not seem like a very grown up way to behave. So after a lot of thought and preparation I’ve decided to make 2013 the year I go on a journey to add balance to my life. Physical balance, mental balance, and finding a way to balance all the things in my life I want to do and achieve without sacrificing one thing for another. I used to be a very organized person, a bit like Martha, only quite frankly I could have given her advice on organization. I was that good at it. I was always on top of everything, juggling all the balls in the air without dropping them. Then the kids hit University and somewhere along the way I got lazy. It happens. Admitting you were skating by with minimal effort is never easy. It’s what I’ve been doing for quite some time.

So my goal is to restore the balance. To find that place inside myself where I am happy with me. I think so many of us moms (dads too!) get busy and stop taking care of our own needs. It’s a shame and I hope to turn that around. It’s okay to want things in life. I’ve learned I want to pursue my passion, but not at the expense of my family. But in turn I don’t want to put my dreams and goals on the back-burner for my family. It’s a double-edged sword. Finding that balance between family and work. Trying not to let one suffer while taking care of the other.

I’d love to share the journey with you. My goals are:

  • to find balance in my work
  • to find balance for my family time
  • to find balance for my health
  • to find balance for my mental health
  • to find balance in my home

I plan to share the ups and downs with you if you’d like to come along for the ride. Baby steps is the way to tackle things like this. I’ve been working on ways to change things in my life. Some ways I’m doing this are:

  • making a schedule for work based on how many free hours I have each day to devote to it (I made a chart to help me stay focused)
  • we’ve made calendars and divided time for things like the barn, school and work (organizing our time means we now know when we all have time together)
  • the decision was made to join WW (it’s my birthday gift to myself) and make changes slowly to improve my health, also some new meds are available for IBS that I start next week
  • this is one I am still wrestling with, do I try anti-anxiety meds or continue to go it alone since I finally feel like myself again (part of my success is meditation, hokey as that might sound)
  • we have made a list of projects to organize the house one step at a time, right now I am tackling the new blog room

I am positive I can turn my life around. Once upon a time I was healthy on every level. I used to run, workout, eat well and have a wickedly organized home and family. I am quite certain it’s possible to achieve all these things again. It’s not about perfection, it’s about making life easier and less stressful.

Part of finding the balance is learning to say no to things in my life that are not working for me. This part of the journey was tough for me. I had to really look at my life and how I was coping with outside influences. I’ve since quit my job at the barn. It was a hard decision but the right one for me on an emotional level. It’s hard to work for friends. I’ve been down that road before and it never ends well. This was the best thing for all us involved in order to keep the barn a stress free environment. It’s the only place in my life I can go to get away from all the stress of my every day life. I need to keep it as my sanctuary, and working there was not conducive to that.

What I learned about myself through some evaluation of friendships is that I have a tendency to allow my friends to take advantage of me. It’s odd since I do not allow my family or strangers to do that. Yet with many of my friends I found myself in a constant state of disappointment. I value my friendships so much and it led to feeling hurt by some of them who let us down in a time of need. It was hard not to feel bitter as I know I would do (and have done) anything for them. Yet they were not willing to do the same. What I’ve come to realize is I cannot control how others behave, only how I react to their behaviour. So I will no longer allow people to take advantage of my kindness, nor will I hold a grudge against anyone for the past. I allowed this to happen by being over eager to help, and by allowing people to treat me in that manner. Moving forward I will not allow myself to be put in that position. I’ve learned that saying no to others is acceptable. My true friends will understand my need to take my self-respect back.

As you can tell this has been a hard road for me, one with lots of looking inside myself and not liking what I see. Yet being open to that is the only way to move forward in life. You have to let stuff go in order to move past it. I’m ready to start a new life with a balanced approach to everything in it.

Balance is my goal. Food is my passion. I shall find a way to make this all work. Life is a journey folks, there are lots of twists and turns along the road. But when you reach your destination everything else fades away.

Toodles and smoochies! xx 

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Comments

  1. 1

    I am so unbelievably proud of you for sharing such a personal part of your life with those of us who love you. I’m so blessed to be able to call you my friend!
    No matter which direction your road winds, just remember not to look behind you, because there’s no point…. you can’t change a thing.
    Don’t look ahead of you… enjoy the moment you are in at that moment.
    Be sure to look beside you though, because that’s where I’ll be <3

    • 2

      You are so sweet Becca. This comment made my heart melt. Thank you so much for all your kindness. Your friendship means so much to me. xx

  2. 3

    I have faith in you Kim, I know that if anyone can turn their life around, you’ll be able to do it. Plus you have so many friends that love you we’re always here for support.

    • 4

      Ah crap Dennis, you made me cry. I’m not suppose to be crying any more. Lol! Thanks my friend. I am motivated to make lots of positive changes in my life and my work. It’s so cool to see progress happening. Thank you so much for everything. Talk soon. I owe you a phone call. xx

  3. 5

    You’re a brave lady. Tremendous post – thanks so much for sharing. I wouldn’t be afraid of the anti-anxiety drugs if they help, but of course that’s a decision you can only make with your doctor. Good luck. I’m rooting for you!

    • 6

      Thank you so much John. I’m holding off the meds for another month while I start some ibs meds. I’m hoping not to need the anxiety ones. I feel so much better now. I think listening to my body is the key. I’m trying so hard to just chill out. So far so good. Thanks for your support. xx

  4. 7

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I too have had a hard time finding balance in my life and reading this really touched me. I look forward to finding balance along the way with you. I have been so unhappy for so long trying to make everyone else happy. I will be turning the big 40 next month and I have decided this is the year I find peace within myself and find my true joy. Much love to you!

    • 8

      I think so many of us woman do this. We always put others first and we take a back seat. I appreciate your support and kind words so much. I love that you shared your own story with me and my readers, it was super brave of you. I hope you find the balance you are looking for. I’ll be here if you ever need a friend to lean on. Love right back at ya. xx

  5. 9

    I know you’ve had a rough ride this year, Kim. You’re such a caring soul and always have encouragement for others battling their own demons. God bless you and give you strength. Love, Cindy

  6. 11

    I’m squeezing your hand. And hugging you. I adore you, you incredible woman.

  7. 13

    Thank you for sharing this post. I wish you all the best for 2013. This seems to be the year that many of us are making difficult changes.
    Please know that we will always be here to support you, encourage you, and provide a long-distance hug.

    • 14

      Thanks so much Heather. It means so much to me and I appreciate the support so much. Thanks for the hug and sending one right back to you. xx

  8. 15

    Kim,
    What a courageous post you wrote. There is no doubt in my mind that you are on the right road now. It is truly amazing what a strong muscle our mind is and it is so hard when we go through periods like you described.
    Sometimes we have to go through these times in order to see where we are truly meant to be.
    Know that you have a great support system who believes in you.
    Isabel

  9. 17

    Kim, you poor dear. It’s hard to find a balance. I’m currently trying to find mine. Let’s journey together. I’m with ya, doll!

  10. 19

    Balance is always a good goal in life. This is an inspiring post and there´s no reason why you can´t achieve everything you want Kim. Have a great week!

  11. 21

    You are phenomenal. You are amazing. I am in constant awe of your wonderousness. I know you will find the balance <3

  12. 23

    You’ve definitely come a long way, the first step being admitting you have a problem (in your case losing balance). I think it’s wonderful that you are still positive and strong despite the hardship.

    I was in a similar boat with taking anxiety meds except mine was anti depression. I was afraid that if I took them, I would never be able to feel good without them. I can proudly say I overcame depression without them. I’m not saying you should not take them, but it is possible, a little bit of hope. However, there is no shame in taking them either. Maybe try natural stress relievers, like yoga or basic meditation. Things you can do in 15 minutes so if you do get an attack, you can listen to relaxation music or focus on your breathing or whatever. Different scents help too, even if it’s small like a lavender car freshener or lotion.

    You have great strength. You can do it, Kim :)

    • 24

      Thanks so much Carla. I appreciate you telling your own story, it helps me so much. For now I am not going to take anything and see how it goes. I’ve held off since September so I think I’m going to be okay without them. Meditation helps a lot. It helps give me the ability to quiet the nonsense when it starts up in my head when I travel. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but that’s just ibs in general, always unpredictable. I’m so happy to have friends like you in my life. xx

  13. 25

    Amen to you for writing about your struggle. I too have been dealing with health (especially GI) issues for years that have led to a myriad of physical and mental problems along the way but have never been able to completely “come clean” about it all – the meds I got put on (antianxiety / antipsychotic), the manic depression, the OCD and the body dysmorphia. I still can’t figure out how to explain it all to loved ones, let alone the world. Thanks for being an inspiration.

    • 26

      Sarah thank you so much for sharing your own story. It’s so hard to explain GI issues to folks, let alone mental aspects to it. I have a family member who thinks if I just eat wheat I’ll be cured, even though I’ve explained for 15 years I’m allergic to wheat. This winter this person gave me wheat in something and lied about it. I broke out in hives then was sick for days. Can you imagine? Don’t even get me started on people who think ibs is all in our heads. I can totally relate to your struggles and if you ever want to talk let me know. And if you decide to write about I’ll be there by your side when it goes live. It’s scary as hell but so cathartic. If you choose to keep it to yourself just know you’re not alone. Every day is a struggle for me but I just refuse to let it ruin my life. At the end of the day I’m not sweating the small stuff any more. xx

  14. 27

    Like I said to you recently, there are so many of us who adore you. You are wonderful and I know that you can do anything you set your mind to.

    I will get to working on a WW friendly turtle treat for FBF!

  15. 29

    So..I have no blog – I have nothing to sell – I have no website. I am a “lurker”.(Admitting it is half the battle….right??? LOL) I LOVE reading about other people’s lives, and take from the reading what I, myself, need. YOU made me cry. Period. I have fibromyalgia and anxiety. LOTS and LOTS of anxiety. I do take meds at night, so I can TRY to shut off my brain, so I can TRY to get some sleep – they don’t always work. Then in the morning, I take meds for depression, and meds to try to ramp up my energy. Sometimes they work..sometimes they don’t. I JUST turned 50 -oh God :( – and both of my babies are in college. I miss them soooooooo bad. I can talk about them and start crying. AND I’m now unemployed, live in a tiny town in the mountains of Colorado, and the trying to get a job, is exhausting. OK – so…here are the good things in my life…I have a fabulous husband of 21 years, who loves me as much as I love him! My two babies are growing and strong, blossoming, learning about the world around them – and are happy and healthy! I have a roof over my head, heat that comes out of the furnace, water out of the tap, and plenty of food for our bellies. (and 2 dogs, a cat, and a goldfish). :)
    So, when I read about YOU needing balance in your life..that’s exactly how I feel. My thoughts are ALL over the place, and never seem to quiet down. I’m thinking that I need “balance” in MY life, also! I will be here with you – every step of the way, and we – maybe – will be able to help each other out.
    GOD – this seems to be a BOOK, and to you – and your followers – I am incredibly sorry. I just think I wanted you to know that you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do and would like to do something about it, doesn’t know where to start, but I feel you are on the right path. If not..then find another one, that is why there are “forks” in the road!!
    I want to Thank You from the bottom of my heart, for pouring out YOUR heart to the world.
    Do what you can..and screw the rest! It will still be there on your “good” days.
    Thanks for letting ME rant, and I truly hope the “new normal” for you happens soon.

    • 30

      Hi Jana. Thanks so much for sharing such a personal story, I appreciate it so much. You are really brave to put it out there like this. I am so thankful that you did. It helps to know I’m not alone and that what I had to say touched some folks. I am so sorry you are struggling and sad. It’s a hard thing when the kids grow up, you are happy for them and heartbroken all at the same time. It’s so hard to describe to people. I am so sorry for your health struggles, that sounds awful. I feel for you, being in constant pain is rough. It takes a serious toll on the mind and body. Feel free to stop by any time and share. I love hearing from people and it helps to know we can support each other. Things are always easier when you have friends to help. I’m here if you need me. Thank you for sharing. xx

  16. 31

    This will be your year, Kim! You can do it. As others have said, there are many people supporting you. <3

  17. 33

    You know I’m all about balance. It’s my thing, as it were. And so I think that’s an excellent goal and far better than saying ‘I will lose 50 lbs. by next month’ or ‘I will become a yoga master.’ One day at a time, one step at a time and we’re here listening and reading whenever you want to share.

  18. 35

    A very moving and inspiring post my friend. You are so courageous and I have faith that your journey will definitely get better from here – this dark patch had the silver lining as it seems to have given you a chance of self discovery.
    We are here to share that journey with :)

    Hugs
    Uru

  19. 37

    It’s good to see you talk about it all. It sounds to me like you have many things on their way to being under control and the path clear ahead of you. I think that is half the battle. As for the meds, I would hate to make any pronouncement on that. I know they can help enormously but if you feel you are getting back to your old self, then maybe they are not an essential part of the process back to good health, emotional and physical. Good luck on your journey.

    • 38

      Thanks so much Suzanne. I appreciate your support so much. I am determined to be my normal self again, for what that’s worth. lol

  20. 39

    I am in awe of your bravery and perseverance, confronting the things you need to change and acknowledging those you cannot (like other people!) There is no shame in taking medication for anxiety and if it helps get you over a hump, just do it. You can always stop if you decide it’s not for you after all. We are here for you and rooting for you!

    I am sure you have helped innumerable people with what you shared today. I look forward to reading future posts about your journey towards wellness.

    Much love,

    Stacy XOXO

  21. 40

    Gob Bless you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. Keep strong to your faith & you will be alright. As one of your other readers said don’t look behind or forward but try to live in the moment for now. Keep journaling!

  22. 41

    Happy birthday, Kim!!! I love your plan…and glad you’re going to try some of the recommended medications. Could you start with the IBS meds first, then add the antianxiety meds in a few weeks if needed? I see a wonderful future ahead, my friend!!!! xx

  23. 42

    For years we thought the hubster had Chrones disease come to find out he has IBS also. I feel for you my friend. For me, it is theraputic to talk about stuff that we are bothered with, most of the time it helps me put things into perspective. You made wonderful goals this year, that is very admirable.

  24. 43

    Wishing you all the best in this journey.

  25. 45

    I love that you opened up here and shared such a personal part of your life and your struggles with your health. I also really admire how you’re striving to take back control and strike balance in your life. I know that you can do it and I’ll be looking forward to reading about it and supporting you along the way. xoxo Happy Birthday!

  26. 46

    Dear Kim, I am so sorry to hear how hard the last few months have been for you emotionally and physically. You are amazing… because you still have so much humor and wit. No one would truly know how hard and dark your days have been. I wish you a wonderful journey to restore balance back into your life. We are all rooting for you and we can learn from you as well. Everyone deserves to have balance and peace in their life… and physical well being. I hope the doctors can ease your physical ailments and you can do the rest with your family and friends around to support you. The food blogging community is here to walk this journey with you too. Take care my friend. :)

  27. 47

    I admire you for being able to share what you did. It takes strength and anyone who can demonstrate such strength can get through anything. I’m wishing balance for you in so many ways. Mostly I wish you happiness and health.

  28. 48

    Kim, you are such a strong woman, have I told you lately how much I admire you and how awesome you are on all levels? I look forward to sharing your journey with you and so glad that I can call you a friend. Big, big hugs to you!

  29. 49

    I’m so glad you took the time to write this all out and share with us. It must have been freeing and helpful (I know it would have been for me, anyway). Seeking balance is something I struggle with, too, so I’m excited to go on this journey with you. Best wishes, always!

  30. 50

    Kim, I’m so glad that you are on your path to balance and wellness in all its forms. It’s always hard to either realize (or admit) what the root cause of the problems we each face are, but it’s definitely easier to tackle them and get back on track once we’ve identified what we’re really dealing with (rather than treating the symptoms but not the cause). Thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest and open. It takes courage to share these things and I hope you know how much your own very personal story will help others, even if they may be dealing with completely different circumstances. All the best to you and a very, very happy birthday!!

  31. 51

    oh girl, you are one incredible incredible incredible soul. I love you to the core. One, you can juggle balls. OK, I am not going to laugh. Maybe just a little.
    More importantly, I am so proud of you for sharing such a personal journey. That takes courage. Awesome courage.
    I am proud to be your friend. Maybe only a blogging friend, but a friend nonetheless.
    I wish you peace love and healing on your journey. Know that you truly have friends who love you – even from afar.
    xx

  32. 52

    Kim–I know you have to feel better just by writing about what has transpired over the past year. I think we all need to sit back and reassess our lives from time to time and figure a way to balance it all.

  33. 53

    Aww Kim, I am so happy to hear about your positive changes and search for balance. Don’t feel guilty about feeling sad about your son! He is off making you proud.

  34. 54

    Well………..that was a scary read,,,,more so because I saw a lot of myself in that blog up to and including both kids having now left the house for their respective careers after many years of university. Things are vastly different around here, my life revolved around them and their activities, my work, house, husband and dog and now all is quiet…well the husband and dog are still here :S It’s almost like rebuilding your life without all the chaos of kids and their sports and activities. I miss them everyday but text and talk to them frequently. I am now learning to do “me” things….sometimes I even do “we” things with the hubby :) Hang on tight there girl……we are in for some interesting years ahead in the ride we all call life…it will a be good <3

  35. 55

    posts like this are so hard to write; i seriously admire you for being able to be so honest and just put it all out there. Girl; that’s brave and also awesome.
    I think you’re fantastic; i think you do fantastic things and i expect you could climb mountains and conquer anything which crosses your path. balance is actually one of the things i’m focusing on this year as well; who couldn’t work on that, right? so just know we’re all in this together, and i’m pulling for you. as are like, a bajillion other poeple, from the looks of it. :)

  36. 56

    Kim – I admire your outlook and strength. Stress can do a number on people and your doctor is wise. For those that let you down, I’m so sorry and hope that they realize that it was their loss, not yours. You are amazing and I hope that this year you do find the balance you are looking for! *hugs*

  37. 57
    Frank @ Kraemer's Culinary Blog says:

    Kim you’ll get through this. You have such a positive view on life it’s truly inspiring. I wish you all the best.

  38. 58

    Thanks for sharing this touching, honest post. I can only imagine how much it will affect me one day when my kids start moving out – I know it’s natural, but it will be beyond strange, and I’m seeing my parents struggle with it too. I hope you find the balance you’re seeking – and meditation doesn’t sound hokey, I am a total believer in it’s power to help focus and relax.

  39. 59

    You’ll find it Kim. We all support your journey, dear.
    LL

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