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.

Happy New Year! (Super late)

I can’t believe this is my first time writing in 2018 and we are almost halfway through the month of February.  Quite a bit has been going on in my life which is part of the reason I have not written.  I am currently on a brief break before my next classes start, so I figured I would do some writing.  I managed to get a B+ in my MPH course which dropped my GPA down to a 3.65 because I missed an A- by 0.04 points.  I was a little bit upset but did not have the energy to dispute that grade as that class caused me so much stress and anger, I was just happy to be finished.  I have a 4.0 in my FNP program!  Yay!  While I enjoy both programs,  I am thinking that I will have to focus on one, FNP, and continue the MPH at a later time.  I am happy to report that the last three weeks of both classes, I got over my procrastination bug and actually submitted all assignments early!  Now to see if I can keep that trend as I start my next round of classes in a week.

I FINALLY met my 2017 goal weight in January, which I’m okay with since I could not walk the last four months of 2017.  The problem I am running into now is lack of motivation to go to the gym.  I have had more “bad” weeks than good, so I am trying to get back on track with working out consistently.  I have managed to get down to an 11-minute mile but I want to shave at least another minute off of that.  I also want to complete a 5K and half marathon this year.   This means I really need to step my workout game up.

My oldest son signed his letter of intent last week to play football in college which was pretty exciting!  And he is still getting acceptance letters in the mail, thankful for options!  Now that we know where he is going to college, I can go back to focusing on preparations for graduation, which we still have yet to receive the graduation announcements that cost two arms and a leg!

I’m trying to plan a last minute trip to celebrate turning 40 next month but can’t figure out where to go that will be warm in March.  I’m open to suggestions.  Hopefully I figure something out soon.  I have a lot to be thankful for and I love to celebrate!  I am looking forward to seeing what other good things 2018 has in store.

Bah Humbug

OMG! I am so freaking frazzled I want to scream, but nothing will come out.  I want to cry but can’t shed a tear.  What is causing these feelings?  I have no idea.  Last time I wrote, it was about my anxiety and depression.  This week has been an intense battle with my depression.  Is it the holidays that is making me feel this way?  Um, I don’t think so.  I have never been a big fan of Christmas, not even as a child.  I had decent presents, especially for there being 7 children in the house.  We would decorate a live tree, bake cookies, hang stockings, the whole shebang.  But I have never enjoyed decorating the tree, watching Christmas movies or singing Christmas carols.  I mean, I dread the passing of Thanksgiving because all the “foolishness” begins.  I thought I would continue such traditions when I had children, yea, that didn’t happen.  I don’t know if I have somehow ruined my children’s youth by not following the “rules” of Christmas.  I mean,  our Christmas tree is doing good to be put up and decorated every other year.  I have always let their father have them on Christmas, so I never saw a need to put it up and take it right back down.

So what has had me in such a funk all week?  The never-ending battle of feeling like I’m not good enough.  I am forever comparing myself to others.  Most days, I do not want to get out of bed.  I have been planning how I can avoid everyone that is not necessary for the next few weeks or months.  I don’t want to be bothered by people.  The crazy thing is, it is not a fear of being judged that has me wanting to hide. It’s the fear that I don’t matter, that I’m insignificant, that no one cares about me.  Invisible-Doug-Liman-VR-Series-1920x1080-32fv9i5xkp649cc6u2t6h6

Is it unrealistic to think this way?  I don’t know.  It is how I often feel.  I just want to be loved, to feel loved, to be wanted, needed, desired.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe I am asking too much of the people around me who have no clue I need validation from them.  I am not angry with anyone because that would be unfair to them.  I try to always be there for others, even without them asking, yet I have time asking for what I need from others.  I figure they should just know.  Again, I know that is unfair, but I cannot help it.

I can literally see myself going back into my shell and hiding from the world (as much as I can while still being a mother, employee, and student).  I have no one in my life that I trust with me – my emotions, my faults, my quirks.  That makes for a very lonely existence.

Luckily, I work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I don’t have to dwell on the fact that I will be alone on what should be one of the happiest days of the year.  I can sleep the day away and hope someone brings some food into work, so I don’t have to cook.  LOL.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Mental Health Problem? Yeah, right.

As a nurse, while I work on a primarily medical-surgical unit, I still have to deal with patients who have mental health issues, because as you can guess, one cannot separate themselves at will from their mental health issues.  One of the problems with mental health is there are typically no outside signs of the disease because it’s primarily internal.  I am by no means a psych expert and am trying to learn more about this area.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for over 10 years.  This post was triggered by an episode I had over the weekend.  It took me by surprise because it should have been a happy time in my life.  My son’s football banquet was on Sunday and he earned a varsity letter and I was ecstatic.  We got news that he got accepted to one of the colleges that he applied to.  Again, I was happy (despite that not being my first choice of colleges for him).  But I got home and had that gnawing sharp pain in my chest that I am all too familiar with – I was having an anxiety attack.  But why?  That’s what I seem to ask myself most of the time because I genuinely do not know what I am subconsciously stressing about.  There are high stress times that I have my anxiety attacks and I can usually get out of it a lot faster.  When I don’t know the cause, like this past weekend, it lasts a day or so dealing with breath-taking intense chest pain, fear of going to sleep, and praying it doesn’t turn into a migraine.  Then I’m completely drained for a few days afterwards.

Here’s my back story.  A year or so after I had my first child, I kept feeling like I was having a hard attack, which then made me paranoid to fall asleep, thinking I might die in my sleep and my son would be all alone.  After several trips to the emergency room and have EKGs and stress test done and being treating for heartburn, it was determined that I was experiencing panic/anxiety attacks.  The solution – anxiety meds.  So, fast forward to the present, I still struggle with my anxiety and depression.  Add in there a component of OCD – I get fixated on things and it is a struggle to force my brain to quit thinking about it, which adds to my frustration.

Over all the years I have dealt with this, not once has a doctor suggested a psychiatrist or psychologist.  I have met with counselors in the past that I have found to be ineffective or a waste of my time, but I probably really do need to talk to someone.  I’ve been on and off meds over the years, currently off them, as I feel like I don’t need them all the time.  Writing is a healthy/safe outlet for me, as I can share exactly how I am feeling and not be judged for the way I feel or perceive things.  I am often obsessed with what others think of me. Since I was a little girl, I have always felt unloved/unlovable, never felt like I was good enough, and wishing I had never been born.  While I have never attempted suicide, I sure have felt like it was the best option as I felt like my children would be better off without me and that no one would even notice I was gone.  While I know that is not true, it doesn’t stop the thoughts.

I have posted all of this because no matter how hard I try to keep it together, I don’t have it all together.  As a nurse, I always encourage my patients to seek the help they need, which at times is difficult because when there are budget cuts, mental health services are often the first to get cut.  I wish there was a magic pill that would cure mental health diseases but unfortunately, that will likely never happen.  In the meantime, I just hope that society would be more understanding that people who have mental health issues are not attention seeking and that they can’t always put a smile on their face and act like everything is okay.  Some days it is a chore to get out of the bed and try to function as a “normal” person.  I hope that we can quit being so quick to judge.  Even if you don’t understand what someone is experiencing, being available to listen sometimes makes a world of difference.