Today Was One Of Those Days

Everyone has a bad day at work every now and then. You cry, you scream, watch a movie, play a video game, pet your cat, and move on. Bad days come and go and sometimes you can even laugh about them.

Then there are the days that make you question why you are in this field and if you actually have any faith left in humanity anymore. Today was one of those days.

This week has been crisis after crisis. Then I get a new referral for a family. And it’s a doozy. I can’t share details for obvious reasons (HIPPA Privacy Laws and wanting to keep my job and all that). But this family knocked me on my ass, ripped out my heart, stomped on it a few times, and left me totally speechless and crying for all the pain they have been through.

I don’t understand how human beings can be so cruel to one another. I really don’t get it. Then they drag their children through their mess not caring about the damage they are doing. It is so unconscionable. The damage done as a child can have long lasting effects. It can literally change the way the brain operates in the future and not in a good way. I can personally attest to this.

Please pray for this family tonight. I can’t give any details but just pray for comfort, healing, and peace. Also pray that I can hold myself together enough to be of use to this family and that I will have the right words they need to hear.

I Quit: Poem About Social Work

Today I quit my job
I’d had it up to here
I was tired of all the stress
The crying and the tears.

I went back the next day
Just as I knew I would
Because I know I’m needed
To bring some love and good

Tomorrow I’ll quit my job
Because of this or that
Paperwork piled high
But I always somehow come back

Why do I do this silly dance
Round and Round I go
Soaring with the few highs
Crashing often in the lows

Am I madwoman
Doing the same over and over again
Or do I just stay in this work
For the totally incredible friends

Some days I lose my ability
To love, to feel, to care
As the stress piles on and on
And becomes too much to bear

I eat chocolate to ease the pain
Color when I can
Get lost in good books
So I don’t have to think about it again

I show up early
Work late most days
I do it for the idea of hope
(Definitely not the pay)!

So if I can spread kindness
Give resources here and there
Show others it’s not hopeless
Then I guess I really do care

So here’s to a broken system
We do what we can do
I’ll show up early tomorrow
Bring hope, healing, and a little love for you

Baby Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

wordle-depression

Happy to report that after two weeks of safety quarantining in our home both my husband and I have not experienced any symptoms of COVID and can rejoin the world outside our doors.The sun is shining and there is a beautiful breeze outside today. All is technically well. And yet both myself and my husband are struggling horribly with depression right now.

We both have gained a significant amount of weight due to being home and no gym to speak of. We sporadically exercise when we have the motivation (which is not often). People say we should just go for walks. Good advice except he has back pain and I have back and foot pain (thanks heel spurs). So I work and bake and we snack ourselves into momentary bliss, then feel like assholes when we’re done eating.

I love my husband more then life itself, but I cannot make this better for him and he can’t make it better for me. His mother keeps making snide comments about our weight and her being disappointed in him that he’s not working. Then we discuss his sister’s upcoming divorce and all this serves to make everyone miserable. Then we discuss the current state of our State and everything crumbles.

I feel like I’m sinking in quicksand with no way out. I feel the darkness closing in around me as it always does when I am depressed. It wraps me in its invisible bubble and though I can’t see it, I feel it. It literally colors everything more gray and dull. All enjoyment to be had is sucked away.

I know this will end but I am tired of these cycles of depression, recovery, more depression, etc. I feel I have no right to these feelings. I am working. I am paying my bills. I have toilet paper for crying out loud. My kitties love me and snuggle me daily. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Yes I know chemical imbalance….need to change your thoughts…eat better….get some sleep…practice mindfulness…etc…etc. But honestly right now I would like to crawl under the covers and never come out again unless I can get a brain transplant. And a total body makeover.

Sometimes Not Knowing The Whole Truth Is A Good Thing

Today was exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. My cats decided that 5AM was the perfect time to start rampaging around my bedroom and knocking things over. Tried to give them 3 changes to calm down then kicked them both out. Got basically a total of 4 hours of sleep.

So on to work in my home office which is drowning in paperwork and various debris related to work. I put in some notes about how crazy all the parents are feeling, how stressed and how despite this they are doing their damn best. I feel like there should be a gold star options in my notes to say THIS ONE IS REALLY TRYING so that the state can see how awesome these parents are at taking care of their children with special needs during this pandemic.

Then 9:30AM rolled around and it’s time for our Team Meeting. I was looking forward to this as we all decided that today will be hat day and I was rocking my Philadelphia Eagles NFC Championship hat from the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl. We had fun, we got caught up with each other, we laughed, we learned…and then…

Our CEO joined our team meeting towards the end. Apparently she was supposed to be there the whole time but was having technical difficulties. After praising us for all our hard work she proceeded to tell us that we will most likely not be returning to our office for about 6-8 months. My jaw dropped and I was stunned, but because I am now a Team Lead, I have to maintain a modicum of dignity so I silently stared at the screen and smiled stupidly. The meeting eventually ended and we all logged off to go work for the rest of the day.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to break down and scream and yell and stomp my feet like a two year old and scream “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” until I was blue in the face. Why? Because I miss my co-workers. I miss real human interaction. I miss hugs and laughs and real connection. Most days I just kind of float through work in some kind of haze. I don’t even know how I get to my end time some days. It’s just work, work, work, and no interaction other then work related stuff. I want to walk down the halls and visit our secretaries. I want to see my co-workers all over the building laughing and smiling and rolling our eyes at some new thing a parent said or did or a new policy that has been rolled out.

I know I am lucky I am still working. I know I am not a doctor, nurse, or grocery store employee. But my job is essential and I feel myself and my co-workers deserve some recognition. We are providing mental health services to children all over the state and helping families cope with all of this. We are teaching kids how to feed themselves, how to be potty trained, how to communicate. Without these services many of our children would fall apart. We have dedicated therapists that still go into these homes and work with children that are tired, cranky, hyperactive, bouncing off the walls, suicidal, homicidal, abusing drugs, being abused…the list goes on and on.

I don’t even really know the point of this post. I just really miss real live people.

 

 

Because of COVID-19

Because of COVID-19

I work from home 5 days a week and spend 9-10 hours a day staring at my computer
I don’t get to see my co-workers except on a screen
I ache because I can’t offer in person support
I miss kiddos and parents I work with
I can’t concentrate or sit at my desk consistently.

Because of COVID-19

I have missed out on many community activities I looked forward to
I will most likely not get to recharge my soul at the beach this year
I cannot go to church or my book club in person
I will spend my birthday in quarantine

Because of COVID-19

I have to wear a mask to go to any store
I have to ignore the claustrophobia that overtakes me when I wear a mask
I have to hold my temper when someone else is NOT wearing a mask in public
I have to look at masks all over parking lots because people won’t throw them out
I have washed my hands until they are raw

Because of COVID-19

I see people getting sick and some dying
I see people pretending this is “no big deal” or thinking “it’s not real”
I see parents ready to pull their hair out because being a teacher and parent is hard.
I see teachers pulling their hair out because being a parent and teacher is hard.

Because of COVID-19

I appreciate what I had before a lot more
I have seen neighbors take care of each other
I have seen teachers get the recognition they deserve for how hard they work
I have seen meals delivered to our ER and ICU by neighbors wanting to show some love
I have learned to utilize every coping skill known to me to cope.

Because of COVID-19

I feel things will never be the same again
I also feel maybe they shouldn’t be.

A Creeping Loss of Normal

The week of March 15th-22nd  was the last time the grocery store  I shop at had its last full shopping ad. Now it is a one page double sided ad with very little on sale and even if it’s not on sale, not much can be found. Pasta is wiped out, canned goods are gone, finding toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, and any kind of disinfectant has become like a search for the Holy Grail.

March 17th was the last day I remember being able to work in my office. Now I work from home. I do video conferences with parents who are going out of their minds trying to educate their special needs children and also get them to sit still long enough to do anything. It’s nice not to have to drive all over the place but I miss seeing my parents and kiddos in person.

Also on March 17th there were 267 people in my state diagnosed with COVID-19 and 3 had died. As of today, April 12th, there are 61,850 people diagnosed and 2,350 deaths. It took only 26 days for this virus to get so out of control. That’s not even a full month yet.

On April 4th I saw a lot more people wearing masks and gloves in the stores while shopping. Initially it was only older people who were doing this but now more people around my age were wearing them. It was unnerving to say the least. There were taped lines you could not cross. You got warned to not step over the blue line to order your food from the deli. They had put up plastic barriers between the customers and the cashiers so we didn’t breathe on one another or God forbid accidentally sneeze on one another. People with allergies were never so hated as they are now.

This past week you were not allowed into the store unless you had some sort of face covering. My husband and I shopped wearing bandanas over our faces. You also had to wait to get into the grocery store because only a few people were allowed in the store at a time. It only took about seven minutes of waiting but it was weird to stand in line just to get into the grocery store. I saw my friend in line while I was there. I couldn’t even hug her because we all had to be SIX FEET APART AT ALL TIMES (said the booming voice of the security guards by the entrance.

I am a total introvert by every standard of the word but I miss being able to go out into the world to eat out, to go to the library (WHY is a library not considered essential when we are all stuck in our houses?!), literally any reason to get out of the house. My husband and I walk a few feet from the house to get the mail during the week because it has become the most exciting part of the day where we can get out of our house and breathe fresh air.

We are not prisoners. We are allowed to be outside and take walks but I don’t feel safe doing that. I want to be outside but at the same time I feel like everyone and everything is contaminated. I feel like I am contaminated and if I so much as breathe on anyone I am going to kill them. I know that sounds ridiculous but when I see the numbers I freak out. And there is so much fear being spread that I don’t know what is true or false anymore.

I don’t know if things will ever go back to normal even once this crisis passes. I think it is going to leave an indelible mark on all of us. Some for the good. Some for the worse. But nobody is going to come out of this the same as they went into it.

Please stay safe my friends. Wash your hands, cover your face, but above all be kind and be true. There is a lot of fear out there. Be a light in this dark time.

Finances, Anxiety, Depression and Adulting

This evening I filed my income taxes which should have made me happy. One more annoying task done in the long list that is adulthood. Instead it has added to my ever increasing depression about our finances and how much I suck at sticking with a budget. The prices of everything keep going up, but my paycheck does not. So I get depressed and comfort myself with food, which makes me bad because of my diabetes, so then I feel worse and I just don’t even want to eat anymore.

Work is a disaster right now with every time you come in there is a new change, a new policy, a new skill you need to know RIGHT STAT NOW!! People are quitting, people are being moved around, there has been a lot of yelling and crying and basically it has been full on bedlam right now.

I was so damn depressed by our staff meeting on Thursday (not to mention having a stupid sinus infection) that I called out sick on Friday. It was a full on mental health day emergency. Literally all I did on Friday was lay on the couch, watch TV, and fall asleep on and off. This naturally led to a night of insomnia since I slept so much of the day away.

Can I just tell you that insomnia and depression are not good friends and they should not be allowed to hang out together. It’s like one is bad enough on it’s own but when they combine in my life they usually bring anxiety to the party and then it’s full on hell in my brain that won’t shut off. I took my meds, I tried deep breathing and not a damn thing was working. I even prayed which usually always works for me because talking to God is soothing. But I couldn’t stay focused. So then I felt I was making God mad because I could not stop jumping from one rabbit trail to the next.

I applied for a Team Lead position at my work and while I was only halfheartedly interested, I figured I’m already doing most of what is required so I might as well get paid for it. So the morning of our staff meeting we were told to come in at 11:15am. So naturally I did not look at my e-mail until around 9:30am figuring I had plenty of time. At 6pm the night before, someone from upper management e-mailed us requesting 6 additional documents for our applications and told us to be ready to interview after our staff meeting. Seriously?!?!

So instead of having a nice relaxing morning where I actually got to enjoy breakfast, I had to rush around the house to get to the office early to print all the documents then again rush to where the meeting was being held (we have two offices).  I was so frazzled that I forgot to change into dress pants for the interview (we’re allowed to dress down for staff meeting day).

When I arrived at the office my supervisor started flipping out because I was not fully dressed up. I told her I had just gotten the e-mail this morning because we had been told when the work day is done, to not check our calls or emails unless we were on call. She proceeded to tell me I should have checked at 9AM and I said that we never have to work the morning of staff meetings. Then I left the meeting area and went to the kitchen to give myself a minute because of course I was crying. A few peers helped me to calm down and I returned to the meeting but honestly I just tuned out some of it because I’m so damn tired of the “You guys are great! We appreciate all your hard work!! Now here are 25 things you are doing wrong and you better fix it right now because the state is breathing down our necks.”

I need a break but every time I take a break something else happens at work and the work keeps piling up. And I’m so damn exhausted that I don’t want to talk to or see anyone because I am so damn tired of people. I just got made a deaconess at my church which involves a lot of interaction with people and especially the women of the church. I am happy I was elected but honestly exhausted just thinking about the next few months. I spend so much time during the week talking and catering to peoples needs that by the time the weekend rolls around I just want to curl up in a ball and avoid all human contact. Isn’t that awful?

So then my interview. Thankfully I was with colleagues who know me and make me feel comfortable. I had to answer a bunch of questions about leadership and what my areas of strength are and where I can improve. Honestly at that point I was so depressed and sick I couldn’t even be nervous. Some other me showed up to the interview because at one point it was like another person was speaking through me and I felt very disconnected from my body but at the same time knew what was going on. The other me must have done good because everyone looked happy at the end of the interview.

This was mainly a venting post but if you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions they are always welcome. How do you cope when life gets too overwhelming?

 

 

Morning Mindfulness

I’ve been told that to manage my anxiety I should try to practice more mindfulness. Mindfulness is basically trying to be fully aware of what is going on around you and being present in the moment.

So on my drive to work this morning instead of thinking about my busy day and how I was going to get everything done, I focused on the cold air blowing inside my car from my open windows while the heater blew hot air on my feet (I’m weird,  I know). I focused on the sun, blue sky, and puffy white clouds. I enjoyed passing the small farm and seeing the morning fog hover over the fields like a ghost. I was actually fully aware of the other cars on the road instead of only half aware since normally I would be stuck in my head. And I fully enjoyed the music blasting from my car’s stereo because who doesn’t love Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot or The Impression That I Get by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at 8AM? Okay maybe that’s just me, but you can substitute some of your favorite songs for mine.

By the time I got to work I was relaxed, I was happy, and I felt like I was ready to take on the day. Now will I be calm in about an hour from now? Maybe, maybe not. But if I can at least start my day on the right foot, that’s got to count for something right?!

What are some ways that you manage your anxiety when things are stressful? Have you ever tried mindfulness before? What was your experience with it?

 

 

The Twists and Turns of the Past Month

Early October, my husband calls me at work saying he doesn’t feel well and is going to Urgent Care. The doctor there says he looks okay but wants him to go to the Emergency Room because he can’t get a full breath in. Turns out he had a massive blood clot in his lungs and another in his leg. One day later and I would have lost my love and best friend. He’s now on medication and doing fine but three days in the hospital were very scary for me. I got a taste of what it would be like to live alone, without my best friend, and I definitely did not like it. There was much sobbing and fear.

On the same day my husband went to Urgent Care, I was sent home from work early because I was totally and completely burnt out. I was snapping at my boss, crying, stomping around like a 2 year old, and engaging in much muttering under my breath. Thank God in the long run she sent me home because then I was able to deal with my husband. But at the time it made me angry because I had SO MUCH WORK TO DO!!

My boss has finally realized driving her team into the ground was not working so as a team we came up with expectations that seem more reasonable. This has lifted a load off my shoulders in the best possible way because I felt like I was drowning and would never recover from the stress of it all.

Last weekend I went to an Apple Festival with my mother in law and a bunch of people from her work. It was the most wonderful weekend I had in awhile. There was  crisp fall breeze, the scent of fresh apples in the air, beautiful leaves that were changing color, craft vendors, and of course fresh apple cider which is literally one of my most favorite drinks on the planet. The whole day was a big soul refresher and for the first time in months I fell asleep contented and did not wake up once.

Also in the past month I have joined two Bible studies. One is for people struggling with mental health issues called Hope and Grace. They meet every week and its a great group of people. I am making my husband go with me for support but it’s actually helpful to him so YAY! I also joined a Bible study about Romans which is very difficult because the book they are using is written like a college text book and is very hard to get through. But the people are nice so I’m going to keep trying.

My church has been doing a sermon series on the Beatitudes (Matthew Chapter 5 in the Bible). It has been very helpful in giving me insight into what God is looking for in a person. I also finished reading a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. That book blew me away! It really made me question how I am doing things when it comes to my relationship with God and also some strongholds I have in place that are getting in the way of my relationship with God which has been tough.

My fellow blogger, Jenny Lawson, also opened up her own book store which I was really excited to hear. You can find her blog here. She is one of the most hilarious writers I’ve ever read and you should definitely read her books. I would love to meet her in person one day.

Well that’s it folks. My mental health is back on track, I am no longer wallowing in despair and I hope to be writing more often.

 

Depression and Social Media

When I go on Facebook lately I see a lot of posts about supporting people with mental illness and #endthestigma. While I appreciate the thoughts and really wish we could live in a world where people with mental illness are not stigmatized the fact is it’s easier to post some nice memes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. then to actually follow through with what you are posting.

People are tolerant of someone complaining about feeling depressed or anxious but only up to a certain point. If day, after day, you share the reality of feeling suicidal and depressed or anxious or whatever, somehow that becomes “annoying” and you are being a “drain” on people. So people stop posting because they don’t want to be a “bother” or “bring people down.” But the depression or anxiety is not gone and now that person is more isolated then when they started to try and reach out. But hey, post some cat memes or some jokes and your likes will soar.

I am a person who is going through a bout of depression and has some major anxiety occurring with work. I am a good, hardworking person who likes to give my all and may have some perfectionistic tendencies (thanks mom!). But lately I can’t get things done, I can’t get organized, I can’t think, I can’t keep up. I am literally drowning in work. And nobody cares at work. I’ve tried talking to my supervisor. I’ve tried reorganizing my week. I’ve tried working extra hours (which I’m technically not supposed to do) Today I worked a total of 11.75 hours when technically I was only supposed to work 6 to get to a 40 hour work week. My job does NOT like you to have overtime. But there was constant crisis after crisis this week. So I wound up working 5 hours of overtime and I am STILL not close to being finished.

My counselor wants me to take a break from work and ideally quit my job. I would like to quit my job. But the reality is that I’m the only one working right now, I have the health insurance, so I cannot afford to quit. Plus this is cold and flu season and also Christmas is coming and all of the expenses with that.

Some days I want to check out of life. I want to hang myself at my office from the bathroom door with a sign that says I Give Up. I dream of slitting my throat at my desk and leaving a note detailing why. I think to myself that this may be the only way to get the attention of administration that what they are doing is not working for anyone.

But alas I have this husband of mine that I love more then life itself and I can’t do that to him. I know it would devastate him. I also have a grandmom that already lost my dad and I know this would crush her to the core. So I keep getting up, struggling through the day and praying the next one will be better. I am hanging on by a thread but at least I’m still hanging on.