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Honest Leaf Journey

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I really thought that I was doing okay. But this week a couple of friends sent me messages expressing their concern, and an incident at work made me realize that I'm very out of control. I'm still groggy, but I'm waking up. It's these reflections that lead me to trace back my steps and try to figure out what's really going on.


Last summer was one of the hardest in a long time. I was freshly in a job after being unemployed, but I was being bullied by my peers, and crying at work. I was living virtually alone for the first time after my divorce, I had moved out from my friends' home (and felt guilty about staying far longer than anyone had previously planned). 2 months after moving in to my rented room, I had to move again, under the pressure of my roommate (and subsequently me) being evicted.

The storm was palpable in the air.
The winds of change felt like they could tear me apart.
I clung to familiar places, found things to hold onto.

But if I were a leaf, I would be one blown from the tree.
Still in one piece, I survived, but I stopped growing.

I didn't realize it. I was focused on surviving. I focused on performing well at work. Afraid I wasn't in the right head space for even more change, I didn't look for another job despite the long hours and high stress. I took comfort in them, in the security of high stress. I've been there before. I thought I had a high tolerance for difficulties, and accepted that it was just part of life. I lost some healthy habits, but still ate pretty healthfully despite not using my kitchen.

I beat myself up a little too often. I resolved to work on it, be more self-forgiving, kind. I probably wrote blogs about it. Secretly, I fought an internal struggle against destructive, painful thoughts. I cried in my car because I couldn't understand why, after I had done so well for years, I couldn't wrangle them. I tried sheer force and determination. I briefly thought I should use my work's employee assistance program for help.

That leaf (me) was being trampled in the street.

Late last year the main bully/work peer left. My responsibility increased, as did my hours. I never missed work or used vacation. During my time off, I would forget what I wanted to accomplish. I would forget promises I had made, plans previously sparked, or even how to relax. I still hadn't developed my solitary exercise plan, but I started on the Fitness Contest at work. A short 8 weeks served to show me that my heart was still fantasizing about my old healthy habits, but reality was that they were slipping away. Then the Wellness Director quit, and so did the programs.

By Christmas I got really sick. Everyone had been having this monster flu. I didn't get the flu, I got some kind of Strep throat, and worked through 3 days of increasing disability. My boss made me go to the doctor one afternoon, and the Dr. made me not go back to work. Sick for New Years, I chose less healthy soups to survive. I used my illness as an excuse to splurge.

And that is probably when the flood came.
The leaf was swept into the drains, and out into the wilderness.

(Floating downstream may almost feel relaxing. Hmmm... It may even feel like progress.)

I've compared depression to a leaf floating downstream before. Introduced to the concept during a high school assembly encouraging action against going with the flow (and eventually ending up "somewhere"), it struck a chord.

I still didn't realize it, but I was quieting those destructive thoughts with diversion and avoidance. And, probably, comforting foods. It was long before a couple of months of not eating as healthy turned into weight gain. Temporary diversion ate up my remaining healthy habits, and I felt very much back to square one. Incredibly, I had even more hours at work, as we were understaffed and on top of my other duties I was tasked to learn an intricate report that can only be done after work.

(...But the leaf can't predict the hurdles, and more often then not, end up beaten up by rocks, or stranded until the next wave.)

I noticed my food choices, but couldn't figure out why I kept DOING that. Looking back at the past 6 months (now), I even had days when I thought I was recommitted to eating healthy, only to inexplicably be drawn to after-dinner excesses. (I use that term loosely, because it could mean something as simple as a candybar to a 2nd dinner.)

(It changes the leaf. But maybe only others can see it.)

I only realize today that I stopped having those internal fights about self-destruction some time in there. But, instead of stopping them in a healthy way, I was ignoring them and they were taking the reigns behind the scenes.

(The leaf is drowning, underwater most of the time. The illusion of peacefulness or invincibility is deceptive...)

Fully adrift in depression, I am partially disconnected from my most powerful and painful thoughts. It FEELs more functional, but it's not really.

(The leaf ends up damaged.)

(Weakened, the real danger lies ahead, and leaf might not see it in time.)

(You, like the leaf, or as the leaf, can end up in a very scary situation. Unsure of where to turn, disoriented by how you got here, and a little more disheartened than even before, because it all seems so out of control, and you feel so powerless and growing hopelessness - the traditional hallmarks of deep depression.)

This is where I am right now, not to frighten anyone. Realizing it is empowering, and is the first step toward healthy change. Like anything, denial delays improvement. Next, I will need to swim upstream. Pull myself out of the creek, and plant the seeds for new growth.

This week I have to apologize to the HRG at work, repair relationships that might be skewed, demand assurances so that I can trust again, and regain trust myself. I need to clean up my life, my car, my room. I need to track my spending, my food, my exercise. I need to take time for my exercise, give myself time for health, for learning, for growth, and for healing. I will need help, and give myself permission to contact the "free" EAP (that my health insurance fees deducted from my paychecks pay for). I need to build my strength in positive thoughts, real action, and good accomplishments.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Awareness is a HUGE step forward. I just *know* you will take that awareness and transform it, incorporate it into your life in the best of possible ways...

    1653 days ago
    praying for this leaf and hoping she finds a solid rock to lean on
    1656 days ago
  • HAPPY92003
    I am praying for this beautiful leaf to find a solid rock to land on and bask in the sun:) Your writing is beautiful, poetic even as it makes me sad...praying for you beautiful girl!

    1664 days ago
    Praying for you, Jocelyn. Please keep us posted on how you're doing, okay? Much hugs and love to you!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1665 days ago
    Don't forget that if it weren't for leaves we wouldn't be able to breathe... You figured out what you need. Now it's time to get organized and start making it happen.

    emoticon emoticon
    1666 days ago
    Praying for you. HUGs
    1666 days ago
    I agree with Jes. Do a little bit at a time. Just pick one thing.

    Go back to the Spark streaks idea. Please don't overwhelm yourself by trying to shoulder too many changes at once.


    You know my number - or just shoot me an email, if you ever need an ear...

    1666 days ago

    I hear you and am proud of you. You have a plan. DO use the resources available to you. We all need help to crawl out of the hole that is depression. Sometimes life just throws so much at us at once it's overwhelming. It happens to the best of us. How do I know? Because it's happening to you! YOU are amazing! YOU are powerful! YOU will overcome, but you absolutely don't have to do it alone. I am HERE. I am plucking you (my leafy friend) out of the water and I am gently shaking the water (those pesky negative thoughts) off of you and setting you in the sun. Find the LIGHT (the sunlight, your inner light...this little light of mine). Your smile. Your Spark so you, my lovely leaf, can once again dance in the wind...or at your favorite Zumba class.

    Hugs from OH!

    Yours truly,
    1666 days ago
    One bit at a time.

    There's lots to do.

    Make a list. Big stuff. Small stuff. In between stuff. Stuff that will take years. Stuff that will take minutes.

    Start on it. Small, big, medium, whatever. Mix it up. Something small, to get the sense of accomplishment (e. g. cleaning the car). Something big, broken down into chunks, doing one chunk (e. g. a walk, as progress toward weight loss).

    Write down your accomplishments. Date them. Put them in a jar. Every day, add to the jar. Every bad day, grab a piece of paper out of the jar, and read it. Put the paper back. Add poems, pictures, encouraging words, fortune cookie fortunes, pretty rocks, some nice leaves, perhaps, whatever you like.

    Withdraw from the bank when you're feeling low. Make a deposit when you're feeling good.

    You will get through this.
    1667 days ago
    All of us can identify with at least parts of your journey... hang in there, you know we're rooting for you!
    1667 days ago
  • .DUSTY.
    I'm so sorry you're having to deal with so much at one time. Is there any way that you feel up to finding a new job? It just sounds to me that that is one of the main causes of why you are feeling so down. Spending 8 or more hours at a job that you really don't like or isn't fulfilling can't be good.

    Maybe just getting your resume updated and looking in the paper might give you a hopeful boost?

    BIG emoticon
    1667 days ago
  • ONUTHIN125
    Very moving blog. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1667 days ago
    You can do this, Joc. And know that you have me supporting you if you ever need anything. emoticon
    1667 days ago
    What powerful blog, Jocelyn. You have taken the first step by writing this blog. I agree with you and using EAP service you are paying for at work. I'm truly heart broken to hear that you have been thorough so, much in these past months. Make sure you take some time for yourself to heal and recover. emoticon
    1667 days ago
    Very thoughtful blog - sorry you've been through so much - but now you go girl, and blossom, okay??? emoticon
    1667 days ago
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