So now that you know some of the back-story, here's some perspective on my current life situation. My house flooded 3 months ago tomorrow. Two-thirds of my family have been sleeping on air mattresses since the flood. We have no (adult size) appliances and most of our personal items were destroyed. While my husband has been attempting to do a lot of the reconstruction of our home, I've been trying to reconstruct myself confidence. Before the flood, I'd just started working on a Doctoral degree in nursing, and I was recruited to work with an insurance company as an RN case manager. I had just started my own business and was working on building a clientele. So being a mom, wife, student, business owner, and learning a new job at the same time was pretty stressful.
Add in waking up to water rushing into your home at 2 am, and you've got yourself a full blown nervous breakdown.
I withdrew from my classes; took a leave of absence from school. I took a hiatus from my business. I quit eating, my clothes got bigger. I was in denial about the house. I ignored projects. I cried when my flooded vehicle was towed away. I had an extra margarita as I cried, openly, at Chili's. I had nightmares for weeks. I could hear water coming into the house, waves crashing on the walls outside. I would wake up and look around at my house with no walls. I was falling apart.
So I got some help. I found a counselor.
I told my mom, dad, and sister that I had gotten a counselor.
I told a friend, she laughed.
I knew that seeking help for mental health issues was not something that people of color normally did... but I never imagined I would get so much backlash. Despite all of the outside noise, I listened to the now screaming voice inside my head that was saying, "YOU HAVE TO GO!". So I went. Talking about myself every Monday night for an hour isn't always the most fun thing to do, and sometimes I don't even want to go. One night my husband asked me if it was working. I told him I didn't know. I'm assuming it's one of those things that you just have to wait out.
During one visit, my counselor (we will call her Mrs. J), asked me a rhetorical question, or at least I thought it was meant to be rhetorical... she asked, "why do you think it's reasonable for you to do all of those things when you wouldn't advise someone else to do it?" Welp. I can tell you that this isn't something that just happened overnight, okay? Being a mom and wife, all of my adult life, became the norm for me. Throw in school, and I had myself something to do outside the home. I graduated and started working in my career field. So then I was a working mother. I excelled in my field of work, so I felt it was time to back to school. So then I was a mom, with a full-time job, and taking a full load in a Master's Degree program. Add on the fact that my husband got deployed (again), making me (technically) a single mother, with a full-time job, taking a full load of classes, plus I was lonely and worried. ADD IN extracurricular activities for the kids so they wouldn't get bored, and carpooling other mother's kids around, and I had pretty much figured out how to be 20 places at once, on no sleep at all. It was the gradual progression of things that got me in the spot I am today, so it never occurred to me that it was too much until it was too late.
After taking some time to think all this through, I returned to Mrs. J's office a week later and said, "I don't want to compete with myself anymore. I'm tired." I feel like I am Definitely Growing. When I took a leave of absence from school after the flood, I was so disappointed with myself for not being able to continue. Now, I look back and can't remember why I even went back to school. Was it because I needed to keep up with others? Was my Master's Degree not good enough? I've accepted the fact that a Doctoral Degree is not going to happen right now. I am okay with taking time for myself. I'm learning to be patient with myself, as I am still growing. I am eating at least 2 meals a day. Probably not the best food, but I'm eating. I keep a journal, mostly because I love the way pencil lead sounds on rough paper. I painted my office purple, my favorite color, and now I have the confidence to paint the rest of the house. I feel better. I hope that I'm continuing down a path to self-improvement, and away from the path of self-destruction. I hope that I will continue to grow. - ND