As you might know this year has been a struggle for me. I know I might seem like I have it all together, but I suffer from this illness as much as everyone else. This past year started with my dear Mother-in-law being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and is ending with me once again recovering from surgery. Along the way good things did happen...my cousin got married, our oldest got his masters in molecular pathology and got a job and we connected with some family members that we had missed, to name a few. And some sad things happened...my Mother-in-law passed away, my husbands sister is now estranged from the family thru her own choice and I have had some health issues.
Right now I am struggling with the fact that I wanted to have 2011 be the year that I had no major medical problems (2010 was pretty bad) and well...that ship has sailed already. I also miss my Mother-in-law a lot, especially at this time of the year. This was her time...she loved the holidays. Being Jewish, I never had a Christmas, but since Hubs is Catholic once we got together I had my first Christmas. She let me be a kid on Christmas morning, even though it was in a spectator capacity (yes we did gifts). It was also the 25th anniversary of my son Eric's birth and death, which just happened and I really don't think I have dealt with yet.
It's the time of the year to reflect back on the past year and this year there's a lot that I have learned, quite a few things that I have started working on, as well as things to work on in the future. I have not been successful in every endeavor, but I did try to learn something from each thing I attempted. That is who I am...I try to learn and teach, it's just built into me.
This year I learned that:
I am strong
I am not alone in the world
I can't do much about my past mistakes, but I can learn from them
Life is too short to let those negative feelings in
I am in charge of me, I make my own decisions and no one else
I am loved by my family for being who I am
I am going to make mistakes, it's part of life
I can't give from empty
Don't sweat the small stuff
Take victory in each little step, no matter how small
I can not change people, I can only change myself
And many more things that elude me at this time.
I know these to be true, although I still struggle to remember them.
I think everyone should write a list of what you have learned this year about yourself. This is how we change and grown, which I believe is an essential part of life.
More importantly I learned this:
That sometimes I am suppose to feel sad, mad, angry and afraid to name a few feelings. Yes these are what I consider negative feelings, but they are also a part of life and everyone feels them sometimes. What I have tried to share with you this year is ways to 'talk back' to your bad feelings, since people who suffer from depression and anxiety usually have a harder time letting go of these feelings.
For instance I went to my Psychiatrist (PDoc) after I got back from my month in New York which ended with my Mother-in-laws death. I told her about the major panic attack I had after the funeral. It started when we went to Eric's grave site. By the time we got to the car, I was in full blown panic mode. When we got back to the house I went right to the bedroom and to sleep. She said 2 things...first she was proud that I didn't call her for an emergency pill (she said she would have given me some if I had asked), but more importantly she said that was OK, I was probably suppose to feel like that on that day at that moment. She also remarked that I was able to handle it by going to bed for a while. She has said that more than once since, about other panicky times I have had this year. I am learning that sometimes I'm feeling what I am suppose to feel. There are times that having these feelings and emotions what we need.
As it says in Turn Turn Turn
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late
It seems to me that although we suffer from a horrible illness and we want our meds and therapy to 'fix' us, that there are times we need to 'feel'. Now I am going to get on my soapbox for a moment...If what you are doing to 'fix' yourself, be it meds and/or therapy, is not working...it might be time for a change. A new PDoc, a talk with your PDoc about your concerns, using a PDoc instead of a family doctor (I am not slamming family doctors, they just don't have the knowledge and experience to handle most cases), changing therapist, starting therapy to name a few. But please think about your treatment and be your own best advocate for your treatment. If it's working for you, like it is me, that's great. My wish is for everyone to find wonderful PDoc and therapist. And if you don't know where to look, there are places to call. Every state and I would think area has mental health help. It might be hard to find, there are services out there. And there's always the phone.
And while we are on the subject (OK maybe I am not off the soap box yet) do some research. It overwhelmingly shows that meds alone do not do the trick. You need to learn how to cope with your feelings and find ways to train your brain to think differently. Please think about this over the next few weeks. I am not saying that everyone needs a therapist (I know the cost could be prohibitive), but there's other ways to work on yourself. Reading, journaling, etc.
I just wanted to share these thoughts with you. And would love to hear your thoughts.
Also I know I dropped the ball on the book...another lesson is on its way, I promise.