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.
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