2020, where is the reset button?

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It has been way too long since I have sat down to blog. 2020 started off with a kick in the gut and I had been in a downward spiral for most of the first quarter of the year. Then add our current COVID-19 pandemoniac. Where is the reset button?

My year started with a former cherished friendship ending. The need to get back on am antidepressant. My anxiety level was out of control – I literally had to pull over on the side of the road in a sketchy part of town (that I was unfamiliar with) because I had a major panic attack and could not longer drive. Thankfully, I was riding with a friend who was able to get us to our destination. My graduate school practicum was put on hold, which pushed my graduation date back. My oldest son came back home from college for the semester. I was torn with whether or not to continue with my non-profit because things weren’t going as I had planned. In short, my life was a hot mess!

I am happy to say, I am no longer on a downward spiral, however, I still have a lot of work to do. I reached out and contacted a life coach to help me get myself together. It was one of the best investments I have made in myself in a long time. While I am not able to travel like I had planned to do this year due to current state of our country, I am finding other ways to take the time to love on me. I am a giver and love to take care of others, often at the expense of neglecting myself. No more!

I will be celebrating another birthday this week. It always seems that something keeps me from celebrating the way that I want – weather, family, finances, health – this year is coronavirus. However, instead of being down about not being able to celebrate by dressing up and going to a fancy restaurant to eat, I am using this social distance time to do some more work on me.

I had an exercise during my last coaching session that I am still trying to process. Full disclosure: I tend to ignore issues and try to convince myself that I am fine or that the problem no longer bothers me, when all I have really done is suppress the issue. Of course, it will surface unexpectedly and throw me off balance. So now instead of suppressing these things, I am slowing working on addressing them so they no longer have a hold on my life and keep me bound. This exercise had me list the people in my life that I felt had hurt or mistreated me, that I hold resentment to, or that I felt an injustice had occurred. Surprisingly, my initial list only included five people. But was even more surprising was the fact that some of these people had hurt me in my youth and I never dealt with it. The next step of the exercise was to pick the person that I felt had hurt me the least and then explain how I feel about what they did to hurt me. That wasn’t too horrible to do since I knew why I was angry at this person. The next part was for me to verbally say that I forgive them and that I am releasing them and the hurt that I felt because I was worthy of being loved, accepted, happy, and living a life free of this baggage. Now, when I say that was extremely hard to do, it was horrible. I did not expect to have such a emotional response or for it to be this difficult to handle. This was for the person that I feel hurt me the least and I was an emotional wreck. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to deal with the other names on the list. While I know it needs to be done, I may need a Xanax and bottle of wine afterwards!

I think this activity is so hard for me because I have had such an issue with low self-esteem, low self-worth, allowing others to use and abuse me, not feeling worthy of being loved, or feeling that I am not good enough. While some of these things have caused me to be an “accomplisher” and goal-oriented, I have never given myself the space to enjoy my accomplishments before moving on to the next goal. I am slowly learning to celebrate me, invest in myself, and practicing more self-care. I AM enough, I AM worthy, I am lovable, valuable and needed. I am not perfect, but I am a work in progress.

I am hoping everything will fall in place for me to be able to complete my summer and fall practicums. I will complete my Community Health Worker certification in May (thank goodness for online classes). I have added a new program to my nonprofit – men’s health, that people seem to be excited about. I will hopefully get to complete at least one out of state trip – my April and September trips were cancelled and I am uncertain how my May trip will fair. I have started back exercising, which I had missed but could not do due to severe back pain for the last year. I was able to look at myself in the mirror earlier this week and actually smile at my reflection in it’s natural state. I am loving the person I am becoming and enjoying learning more about myself. Pain may have been the catalyst for the change in behavior, but I am not defined or being held hostage by the pain. Love it or hate it, I will not apologize for who I am!

I came across this picture and it so appropriate for where I am in my life currently.

Mid-March Update

March has been a very unusual month for me and we are only halfway through it.

I have only worked ONE day since February 17th. One week was for a scheduled staycation. The remainder of time has been due to what started as a lower back injury due to rearranging my house, which later changed to sacroiliac joint (i.e. hip) pain. Due to the nature of my work (a bedside nurse), I have been restricted from working. Thankfully, I will get a needed injection next week and will hopefully be able to return to work without restrictions. I sure miss my coworkers and the patients that I have the privilege to care for.

In the meantime, I have been keeping myself busy with ways to make my nonprofit successful. I have a few (more) potential partnerships in the works. I had lunch with a wonderful member of the community who understands the trials of having a small non-profit organization and was given some tips on ways to raise funds. I have been preparing for a college health fair next week where we will have a booth to provide information about our programs. I was interviewed by a journalism student to discuss the work that I do with my nonprofit. I am excited that the name of the organization is starting to be mentioned in our community a little more. We are working hard on brand awareness.

I have also started classes in my new degree program, public health. I am enjoying the content of the class thus far, although I despise having a group project.

I have continued working with my life coach. I think I have cried at least once in each of the sessions. After a couple of very stressful situations trying to find a therapist, I had my first appointment with a psychiatrist today. It wasn’t too heavy since it was more focused on what I want to gain from my therapy sessions. I have my first “real” session next week, so I will definitely share my thoughts afterwards. I have continued working on one of my bad habits/obsessions and happy that I am slowly making progress.

I have enjoyed the amount of time that I have been able to spend with my 9 year old son. I have missed our mother-son dates. He may be getting tired of seeing me every day, but I am loving it. I feel comfortable with some of the changes that I have made because I know that I am providing a better life for the both of us. I still have a lot of work to do and progress to make, but I am going to enjoy each and every day and quit taking things for granted.

Movie date with my son

Ready or Not, 2019 is Here…

I have been so negligent of this blog.  There are several reasons why, one being that I have been super busy with my non-profit and the other, I have been in an emotional funk for a few months.

There have been some pretty amazing things that happened in 2018:

  • I started a non-profit, Defense Against Diabetes, Facebook,
  • Working full time & maintaining a 4.0 GPA in grad school,
  • My oldest child graduated from high school & started college,
  • My daughter had her sweet 16,
  • I ran my first 1/2 marathon,
  • I bought a new car,
  • Had a successful first fundraiser, and
  • I formed some new friendships within the community as a result of my non-profit.

Yet, I still often feel/felt unfulfilled, inept, and not good enough.

As the year was drawing near a close, I started doing some soul-searching because I did not want to continue being bogged down with negative energy (most of which was self-inflicted) in the new year.  I am still on this journey of discovering where some of my deep-seated fears and anxiety stem from so that I can find a way to resolve those issues and continue on my journey of being the best me I can be.

I recently listened to “Girl, Wash Your Face” via Audible (because who has time to sit and actually READ a book?).  I really enjoyed the book and will actually purchase it because it made me think about some things that I have unresolved in my life that are the basis for why I push myself as hard as I do.  I totally related to the author on several fronts.

I am considering eliciting the help of a therapist as well as a life coach to help sort through the things I am aware of but have avoided dealing with, but also to discover the things that I never considered that have influenced me.  While the thought of this all is scary, I know that I have to do it, if I am ever going to be truly happy.  No one else has the power to make me happy, that is a decision I have to make on my own.  I have to learn more about me and figure out what makes me happy.

Cheers to the new year and the new me!

Birthing a Dream

In previous posts, I have discussed how I am a nurse and in graduate school.  I may have even mentioned that I have an interest in type 2 diabetes, particularly among youth.  Well, I am pleased to say that I am in the process of becoming a Lifestyle Coach so that I can implement a youth diabetes prevention program in my city.

As I have embarked on this journey, I have discovered that there are not a lot of resources for youth at risk for or who have type 2 diabetes.  I have always wanted to work in preventative medicine because I believe if we can make positive changes in lifestyle while young, those habits are more likely to follow through adulthood.  Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease.  Just because someone has a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, that does not mean that they will.

Another fascinating fact that I discovered is that there is not a Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) recognized Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in mid-Missouri.  This is interesting to me because there are a lot of rural areas in mid-Missouri and a lot of patients with and at risk for diabetes.

Due to the lack of prevention programs available in my area, I am working to becoming certified to implement a prevention program.  I am unsure if I am going to partner with a church-based program that is currently being offered through my county health department.  Or if I will take steps to start a non-profit organization.  I am waiting to hear back from the CDC to find out if I could run the DPP as an independent organization or if I have to partner with business.  I also am having to decide if I want to focus solely on adults at this time since the program through the CDC is for those 18 and older.  Or if I will partner with another organization to start a program and form my non-profit organization that targets high-risk youth.  So many decisions to be made.  While researching how to start a non-profit, I have come to realize it is a lot of work!  I do not know anything about writing a business plan!  I’m just a nurse!

At the end of the day, I never envisioned myself starting a non-profit organization, being in a leadership role, or teaching in group settings.  However, my desire to make a difference has led me in this direction.  The learning curve is steep, and I am having to network, which is something that makes me uncomfortable.  There will likely be bumps along the way in addition to some disappointment, but I am in this for the long haul.  The sleepless nights, tears, and frustration will be worth it if I can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Wish me luck!

Mental Health & Our Youth

I volunteered to pick up a shift as a sitter for the pediatric unit over the weekend.  Usually when I sit, it’s for a suicide attempt and/or overdose patient.  Sadly, I am no longer shocked by the number of patients we would see in a week for this.  However, the patient that I was sitting with was in for seizure monitoring.  To make this story short, the patient needed more assistance than seizure monitoring.  After the parent’s not liking the information that the doctor’s gave them, they decided they wanted to leave AMA (against medical advice).  Which I thought was weird because they had just agreed to the treatment plan.  So then things got really awkward because the patient is mouthing “Help me” and “this is what I deal with everyday” while the mom is on a rant.  I asked to be relieved so I could relay this information to the doctors and nurse caring for the patient.  Luckily, they eventually agreed to having the patient evaluated by a psychologist, but it took some work to get to that point.

The point of that story was to provide some insight into the challenges that health care providers face when it comes to getting assistance for our youth.  I was able to talk to the patient while the parents were out of the room and some of the things that were shared broke my heart and I wanted to do all that I could to make sure they obtained the assistance needed.  Psychiatric issues run on both sides of the family but the family was more concerned with being able to get back home than getting their child the care that was needed.

This isn’t the first time I have witnessed a family not willing to acknowledge that there is a potential for psychiatric reasons for the behavior or they are in denial.  I have witnessed a mother and daughter joking about the daughter’s admission for cutting herself again.  I did not see what was funny about the situation.  We have had to prevent family members from visiting patients because they would get the patient upset because they did not want to accept a diagnosis.  I have had patients tell me that they will attempt suicide again if they have to go back home with their family.  I literally cried when I walked out of that room because I knew it was an unsafe environment and I feared that one of her attempts would be eventually be successful.

Being a child is so much harder it seems than when I was growing up.  While there is more awareness about mental health, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  There are so many children who are attempting to kill themselves and it is often chalked up to “attention seeking”.  Which in some cases that may be true, but there are may children out there who genuinely want to die for a multitude of reasons and often their home life is the reason but they have no one they can confide in or who believes them when they try to explain the way that they feel and the thoughts they are having.

I used to want to be a social worker but quickly realized that was not the field for me because I would have a hard time taking work home with me.  I want to save as many children as I can but unfortunately I would not be able to and would have to send kids back to places that I knew were not safe for them.  Not to say that being a nurse is any easier.  There have been many parents I have wanted to shake some sense into but cannot or prevent them from being able to take their child home because they were too selfish to really see what was going on with their child.

Ignoring the symptoms and behaviors of mental illness is not going to make the issue go away.  Pretending that it doesn’t exist does not mean that it will go away.  Ignoring only leads to finding ways to self-medicate which often is unsafe for the person and possibly for those around them.  More needs to be done to treat mental illness and it should be taking place at as early an age as possible.