Five year journey, part 1

I’m thinking about the last five years, because the blog I started in 2014 went poof as I switched providers. (Always read the instructions thoroughly before switching website hosts, kids.) Then a bit of magic happened and I could save my texts and restore posts; the photos were already saved. 

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As I went through and relinked photos, I saw that I’d been talking about stress and things bothering me on and off. It isn’t just a process to heal; it can also be a process getting sick. (These posts now have the tag “personal” for my own purposes, but they may serve you, too.)

The communists of the Cold War era would make five year plans. Life coaches and career advisers often ask you where you see yourself in five years’ time. That’s a question I’ve never been able to answer. In 2014, I was on a healing path, having explored A Course in Miracles and finding ho’oponopono since 2009. A big rift in my family relations had been healed at this point. I was feeling pretty darned good in 2014. 

I remember I found myself in a situation a couple of years earlier, where I had to learn a lot of new things. Nothing like doing that to confirm that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks. And a good thing that was, because in 2014, I lost my job in one department due to downsizing, but got another job in another department, requiring me to learn entirely new things. And I did. 

I was still riding high on whatever wave this was through 2015. Slowly, in 2016, something was catching up to me. Not the age of my bathroom (a museum piece at this point, and finally renovated in 2016), but something else. We were downsized again; everybody in my (new) department had to reapply for their jobs. I got lucky, once again, and got my job back, but it was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had at work because of what it did to all of us. So the winter of 2016/2017 sucked. Easter week of 2017 came and sucked with only one day of warmth and sunshine; the rest was chilly, cloudy and wet.

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

Summer of 2017 as seen from inside a boat

I had family visiting that Easter and the visit became rather challenging and disappointing. It did feed the thing catching up to me. By the fall of 2017, I was not doing well, calling in sick to work after a panic attack. I basically stood at my own front door in tears because I couldn’t bear the thought of walking through and going to work. That’s  a pretty strong message! I’m sure that a rainy, cool summer with no trip abroad hadn’t helped my spirits, either. My boss thought transfering me to a temporary position as a beta tester for IT would be a good fit. And for a while it was.

In the midst of all this, I was taking evening classes, dealing with a frozen shoulder, catching up on US tax filing in order to renounce my US citizenship, getting a Norwegian citizenship, and finally severing one of the last ties to my country of birth on January 30, 2018. (Still have final tax return to go as of this writing.)

The summer of 2018 the thing catching up to me finally introduced itself. “Hi, my full name is Depression Anxiety Panic-Attack. I’m moving in. I’m going to terrify you and make you feel useless and helpless and keep you from going on vacation. For starters.”

Well, this was unfamiliar territory. I’ve always been a worry-wort but I’ve also been able to think it away. But this time, two things happened: This new feeling was stronger than anything I’d experienced before—and I seemed to be locked into it, not thinking about my spiritual toolbox and how it could help. The library was open but I didn’t think to go in. 

But, even when shit happens, I’m a lucky girl. A friend had been through the same thing and was ready to spend time with me and let me talk. I got a full refund on the vacation trip I had to cancel. I had the satisfaction of knowing that canceling had been the right thing. I enjoyed a relaxing “staycation” with a few museum visits and lots of sunshine and heat. (2018 was a record-breaking hot and dry summer.) Back at work after my summer vacation was over, I seemed to be all right—until I wasn’t. 

On August 30 2018, I went on partial sick leave. It’s almost 6 months later, and I’m still on partial sick leave. 

I talked to the company psychologist back in September/October. That handful of meetings did me a lot of good, and helped me be gentle with myself. I identified the triggers and the latent self-talk I didn’t know I had. Childhood stuff, of course. A whole story of good and bad, of guilt, loss and confusion. Of me trying to be a Good Girl so the family will start being loving and supportive again like it used to be. I didn’t know I was still trying to be a Good Girl 40-50 years later.

My insurance through my employer then got me another therapist for 10 more sessions. As I built myself back up with her help, I stretched the sessions out more. I have two left. Here too was some lovely synchronicity: I’d discovered yoga mantras and my therapist practiced yoga and gave me some tips.

My GP, who is fresh out of med school, also turned out to be a fantastic listener and the one who reminded me that no matter what I learned in therapy, that was just the start, getting the necessary tools. All the healing and work was going to come after and take time. Bless him for reminding me that this stuff takes time! And for a constant diet of partial sick leave.

So here I am. Feeling a lot better than in a long while. So good, in fact, that I feel like applying for work. I realize now that the job that saved me in 2014 is not a good fit in the long run. 2019 will be the year I figure out where to go next. I’m too old to leave my employer, but changing departments is no problem. I’ve just got to make myself ready.

But baby steps. Bit by bit.

A version of the Gayatri mantra that I learned by heart to help myself. More about that in part 2.