January has always been a difficult month for me. With less sun and warm days and days off to look forward to, it’s easy to fall into a depressed state. I’ve been sleeping a lot more, and I have less energy to do the things I love.
The difference this year is I acknowledge it’s January (so simple, right?), and I know where my lack of energy is stemming from. For the next three weeks of the month, now that I’ve recovered from the holidays, I am making a commitment to write every day (not necessarily on this blog). It doesn’t have to be much — yesterday, I wrote two sentences — and it can take the form of any medium.
But I hope by making this commitment to myself, I can keep the winter blues at bay and find some fulfillment on the most challenging days. Sometimes, a little self-compassion and confidence can go a long way.
A few months ago, I was feeling a bit lost on my personal and professional paths. I was being particularly hard on myself for getting wrapped up in what I called “failed initiatives.” I had put myself out there, and I felt rejected. So, taking a cue from Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer when it comes to self-compassion (she wrote the book on it), I wrote a letter to myself, from the perspective of a close friend (I’ve included an excerpt below). Continue reading
How you feel
Who you love
Who you are
Words of wisdom from a good friend of mine.
This past month, I have been struggling to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but there is a sadness quietly overtaking me. I can’t pinpoint any one direct cause, but certain circumstances have destroyed my spirit time and time again. Just when I think I have built up enough resilience to conquer another day, another stumbling block takes me down.
I feel way too much. When I see others hurting, it hurts me, too. And I am seeing so many hurting right now (myself included). I try to focus on the small successes. Just last month, I visited my endocrinologist and learned I had decreased my A1C (average blood sugar levels over the past three months) by phenomenal measures. It’s crazy to think that when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I had an A1C of 16.0 (that’s not functional, by the way), and now I have an A1C of 5.8. Continue reading
I’m finally on vacation. I should be excited, right? I was certainly excited leading up to this week. But right now? I’m burnt out.
Ever since I entered the professional 9-5 realm almost a decade ago, I haven’t had more than 10 days of paid vacation per year (and some years, I didn’t even have that). It’s a luxury — paid vacation. But as someone whose independent nature lends itself to a career of freedom and autonomy, the structure of the 9-5 can be a struggle. I mostly stick with it for the benefits (so far, it’s been the only way I can afford my diabetes).
But some things happened this past week that made me question how I’m spending the majority of my time and whether I am actually on a path to self-fulfillment. And then I realized just how exhausted I am from all the pressure — pressure from my body (diabetes), my bank account, my career, my relationships, etc. I know that I will be leaving in a few days to a mountain getaway, free from worldly distractions. Yet, I feel I am losing momentum and motivation. Continue reading
This past weekend, by all accounts, should have been a wonderful weekend. And in many ways, it was. I spent some quality time with cool friends, and I met some even cooler people. I finally visited the Big Apple and learned that Broadway is a street, not a place (this one may haunt me for a while).
But while I was gallivanting through New York City completely overwhelmed yet in awe of Central Park, Times Square and the darkness of the skyscrapers, others were hurting. On Sunday, I received some heartbreaking news, and out of respect for the parties involved, I will not disclose here. But needless to say, it’s the kind of news that brings someone like me to tears on the spot.
And on that same day, a woman at a gas station banged a bathroom door into my head (on accident, of course, but it hurt like hell – I still have a tender bruise). The weather was raining and overcast, and we were at the beach. Mother Nature couldn’t have been crueler (okay, I suppose a hurricane would have done it). My blood sugar levels were all over the place — from severe highs to severe lows.
Physically, I felt depleted and weak. Emotionally, I was hurting. And I was fortunate I was surrounded by such amazing people who let me process my emotions in my own time and even acknowledge that while I wanted to blame myself, I had done my best to be the most supportive friend I could be, and that was enough. When I returned to the sunny skies of DC on Monday, I received more bad news. Continue reading
When I was a little girl, I loved car rides. This was before I met Motion Sickness. My family used to take vacations in the summer, and we drove to our destination whether that be the six-hour ride to Smoky Mountains or the 14-hour trek to Disney World.
My dad played Golden Oldie’s from the radio or Disney tunes on cassette. My mom would drive, my dad would film, and my brother and I would be content in the backseat. I was overwhelmed by the imagery. I loved following the different shapes and colors of the trees, watching the yellow lines on the road become one and taking in all the makes and models of other vehicles on the highway.
I could sit for hours in silence, feeling the fresh air and letting the music provide a backdrop for whatever story I dreamed up. I gave those trees a soul, and while I didn’t know who else traveled on the roads with us, I somehow felt connected to them. I used my imagination to give them their own stories. It was where my creative spirit was born.
So why, as an adult, is it so hard for me to sit back and do nothing? Why can’t I just remain still for a moment and relish the world going by? Continue reading
Last weekend, while thousands marched for science in DC, I met up with a longtime friend for the annual Howard County GreenFest. And while watching a documentary on the plight of migratory birds did not aid in my feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (although I highly recommend the film), meeting up with my friend gave me some perspective.
She’s the one who originally encouraged me to write about my struggles with diabetes and insurance coverage. She’s the one who introduced me to my first book producing gig and a mentor who is still having a profound impact on me post-mortem. And when I summed up the indifference I felt towards my current life, she gave me hope.
“It seems like what you need right now is to feel empowered in your daily life,” she said to me over lunch at David’s Natural Market in Columbia.
But when I feel so distraught and useless and anxious about the current political climate, how do I change circumstances outside of my control in order to feel empowered again? Continue reading
About four months ago, I decided to change careers and end a long-term relationship. Those first two months I was on what I like to call a “change high.” I was so overwhelmed and in love with the new wonderful opportunities in my life. I felt so energized and full of life.
But then that third month arrived, and something slowly started changing. I felt exhausted all of the time. I stopped eating and exercising on a regular basis. I slept more and cancelled on social plans. What used to take me 30 minutes to do then took an hour. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning and constantly found myself running late for my job. My blood sugar levels were harder and harder to control, and I felt sick most of the time. I lost interest in all activities that once brought me joy. My social anxiety returned. A lot of anxiety returned. I overreacted to the littlest things at work and at home. I no longer felt confident in my direction.
I am still emerging from that hole of hopelessness. I cannot explain what exactly pinpointed such a depressive episode. But a few weeks ago, I started reaching out to family, friends and colleagues. I started being honest about how I felt about a lot of things. And rather than be met with scrutiny, I was met with support.
I still have that support. And on truly harrowing days it’s that support that really gets me through. In the meantime, I’m taking the time to explore opportunities and challenges. What is it about my current circumstances that make me feel so value-less and useless? What can I do to change that, regardless of the risks?
I’m not one to feel alive waiting in line for the rollercoaster. I feel alive when I am on the rollercoaster and crossing that first hill and putting my hands in the air. And I’d like to share this journey with you. I don’t have all the answers. But I recognize we are not alone in our struggles and only by connecting can we really, truly feel alive.
I’m planning to post more on this blog over the next month. And to give you a glimpse of the past six weeks, here are a few short episodes. Continue reading